Tories close London primary schools because of the pandemic but ignore danger to children in the rest of the country – so Labour decides to pretend it had opposed Johnson’s strategy, only a fortnight after siding with him against councils and unions on school closures
The dire Wes Streeting has been accused of trying to ‘gaslight’ the UK public as the Tories yet again pour contempt on most of the country – and, even worse, on the safety of our children.
After months of insisting that schools must stay open, Boris Johnson and Gavin Williamson have finally admitted that keeping schools open is fuelling the pandemic and putting children at risk – but their u-turn only affects London, where primary schools will remain closed in the new year. Children in the rest of the country will still return, with only a minimal delay in the worst-affected regions and none elsewhere.
Keeping schools open when they are not remotely safe has always been insanity, as they were always liable to pass the virus to more vulnerable members of their family and the scientific consensus has long been that schools have been the driver of the second wave of the pandemic. And now even the Tories have been forced, with even their own ‘SAGE’ committees clamouring for closures, to recognise the facts – but they are protecting London and leaving children and their families elsewhere at the mercy of the virus.
How has Labour reacted to being exposed by yet another Tory u-turn after Keir Starmer has spent so long enabling and even demanding schools stay open? Shadow Schools minister Streeting has tried to rewrite history, pretending that Starmer’s Labour was not in lockstep with Johnson – or even running ahead and dragging him along.
Streeting tweeted a response, accusing the Tories of ‘dither and delay’ on the schools issue – and criticising Johnson for not ‘listening to the professionals’:
But Streeting seems to want us all to forget that when unions were demanding safety measures in schools, Starmer and his Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green didn’t ‘listen to the professionals’ – they sided with the Tories against the unions on the issue of masks – and only u-turned on the issue after the Tories did.
Streeting’s criticism of ‘dither and delay’ on ‘school safety measures, mass testing and remote learning is obscene – when Keir Starmer demanded schools return ‘no ifs, no buts‘ when it looked like Johnson might prolong the summer holidays.
And it looks like a sick joke when Starmer sent Johnson a secret letter promising support on schools – and was eager to agree with the Bullingdon boy that ‘schools are safe’ during PMQs:
The sheer perversity of Streeting’s whitewash led to accusations that he was ‘gaslighting’ the public – “a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment“:
And Streeting convenient forgets even his own recent history, when he was accused of siding with the government against London’s mayor and councils on the Tories’ unwillingness to let schools close a week early for Christmas to help stem the pandemic:
Streeting is following his boss’s line, as Starmer did not stop at ‘no ifs or buts’ – and took the same line against London’s Labour councils:
But if Streeting and Starmer are hoping that this tack will somehow play well with the die-hard Tory voters they seem to want to appeal to, yet again they are screwing up atrociously – because even among Tory supporters, a huge majority wants to see the opening of schools at least delayed:
This country is in horrific trouble having Boris Johnson in Downing Street during a national crisis. That trouble is exponentially increased by having the likes of Starmer and Streeting as the misnamed ‘opposition’, more concerned with gaslighting the public and undermining the Labour movement than actually hitting the Tories on the countless disasters and tens of thousands of needless deaths they continue to cause.
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