As the push to restart the UK economy intensifies, despite the death toll from the Coronavirus pandemic now estimated by the FT at 60,700, and closing rapidly on the 67,000 that was the civilian death toll for the whole of the Second World War, the Tories and their hangers-on in our free and fearless press have realised that many of the workers they need to entice back to their jobs have school-age children.
So it was that the Murdoch Sun has told readers “THREE cheers for David Blunkett, condemning militant union chiefs and his Labour Party on behalf of our poorest pupils. National Education Union’s refusal to countenance a return to work for teachers, and its ramping up of fear, is a disgrace. So is Labour’s support”. And there was more.
“Kids are far less badly hit by the bug [no citation] and probably far less likely to transmit it [no citation]. And millions of workers have soldiered on through this crisis, or are returning now, while minimising their risk [with many falling ill and dying]. Unions must accept that teachers should be doing the same”. Unions must accept their members are expendable.
This is backed up by a suitably judgmental front page editorial, thundering “what a crashing disappointment that the teaching unions refuse to join the common cause, instead playing petty politics … They are obviously happy to gamble with children’s futures. But the Mail firmly believes most teachers are better than that. The profession’s silent majority knows where their duty lies. We urge them to find their voice”.
The problem for the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker is that teachers’ reluctance to be corralled back to work might not be unrelated to the fact that at least 26 of them no longer have a voice to find. Because they died after becoming infected with Covid-19.has told, not only could that figure be higher, but “between 9 March and 20 April, a minimum of 65 staff working in the education sector died after contracting the virus”. Worse still, ONS figures show that “There is no evidence of differences in the proportions testing positive between the age categories 2 to 19, 20 to 49, 50 to 69 and 70 years and over”. Children are as likely to become infected as anyone else.
The only difference is that children are less likely to be killed by that infection. But, guess what, their teachers are not. Which means that when the Mail says “Let Our Teachers Be Heroes”, it actually means that it knows some of them will fall ill and die.
But it’s all in a good cause, like keeping the Tory press in obscenely overpaid and cosseted luxury, a style to which they have become accustomed. So that’s all right, then.