Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth battles weather in live interview as lights nearly crash into him

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A Labour Shadow Minister battled the elements during a live TV interview – as gusts of wind nearly blew a lighting rig into him.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth spoke to Sky News outside his home, despite some decidedly inclement weather.

Driving rain and strong gusts of wind blew his umbrella inside out as he was answering questions from Sky host Sophie Ridge.

And a lighting rig toppled over, forcing him to catch it before it hit him in the face.

But Ashworth carried on – and managed to answer questions about Covid-19 vaccines.

Asked whether people should be forced to take a Coronavirus vaccine, he said no.

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"We did, about 150 years ago I think, introduce compulsory vaccination legislation in this country," he said.

"And it led to mass demonstrations in this country."

It was at this point that he excused himself as his umbrella blew out and the lights fell towards him.

"The equipment is falling over. The umbrella has gone," he said. "This is going to be one of those ones. Those clips that goes viral no doubt."

But he continued: "The point I was making was that we did in the United Kingdom introduce compulsory vaccination laws in the 1850s as it happens, I know it's a long time ago.

"But it just led to mass demonstrations. It led to the Anti-Vaccination league and our vaccination rates actually fell."

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Mr Ashworth is calling on the government to crack down on anti-vaccination content on social media websites.

He and Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens said Government involvement with social media platforms, aimed at anti-vaccination content, did not go far enough.

The two shadow cabinet ministers said in their letter to the Culture Secretary: "While we welcomed the creation of a disinformation unit within government it has been disappointing that ministers have been unable to provide any information on its work or to say how much content it has reported to social media companies for removal.

"The announced collaboration with social media companies last week was welcome but feels grossly inadequate with a promise by them to remove only the content which is flagged by government and which generates profit.

"What we need is action now and – since these companies have been unable to take action themselves – we are calling on the Government to introduce emergency legislation which would include financial and criminal penalties for continued failure to act.

" Labour would give the Government the votes it needs to get such a bill through the House of Commons.

"One person who does not take the vaccine because of this harmful content is one too many."

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A Government spokesperson said: "Letting vaccine disinformation spread unchecked could cost British lives.

"We take this issue extremely seriously and have secured a major commitment from Facebook, Twitter and Google to tackle it by not profiting from such material, and by responding to flagged content more swiftly.

"We continue to work closely with social media firms to promote authoritative sources of information so people have access to vaccine facts not fiction."

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