Members praise Butler for support for unions fighting for school closures in response to pandemic
Labour members in Brent Central overwhelmingly passed a motion tonight praising their MP for her firm support for unions in their fight for schools to be closed to prevent COVID deaths – and condemned party leader Keir Starmer’s lack of opposition.
Seven members of the constituency party (CLP) voted against the measure, after their attempt to delete the reference to Starmer’s inadequacy failed, but they said they were supportive of the motion otherwise.
The version passed says:
Brent Central CLP congratulates Dawn Butler and others in supporting the coalition of trade unions – particularly the NEU and UNISON – and other organisations which called for learning to be shifted to remote teaching and learning, and for schools to be physically closed except to key worker children and those deemed vulnerable.
We condemn Keir Starmer’s failure to oppose the government stance of keeping all [schools] physically opened, contrary to the scientific evidence that supported closure. This led to millions of primary children attending school on 4 January 2020 before the government was compelled by the weight of scientific evidence, the unions, Labour councils, MPs and wider public pressure to close them. This one day of mixing is likely to have risked teachers, support staff, parents, grandparents and other members of the community to coronavirus.
Currently early years and nursery schools continue to be pressured by the government to stay physically open or lose funding. Brent Central CLP urges Keir Starmer and the Labour Party to now oppose this with utmost urgency, and to demand that the government does not tie funding for early years and nursery schools – Dedicated School Grant (DSG) – to the headcounts of attending students. Staff are being unnecessarily exposed to danger, and parents are already rightly keeping their children away from early years and nursery schools. These settings deserve state support, not threats of punishment.
The meeting also noted that TV presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid have provided more opposition and scrutiny of the Tories’ conduct and policies than the Labour leadership.
Starmer did more than fail to oppose. On the schools issue, he actively pushed the government to open schools without delay after the summer break with his infamous ‘no ifs no buts’ call. The latest wave of the pandemic has lead to record daily death numbers far exceeding the worst of the first wave, with the scientific consensus and the government’s own data showing that keeping schools open has been a key driver of the rate of infections.
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