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Sunday 9 August 2020

Boris - Shove Your Moral Duty

Education. A subject where the Tories have spent the past decade talking the talk, but for some reason very rarely walking the walk. It is a subject where those in power are most reluctant to do the learning, any learning. But they are more than willing to use it as a political football, especially where the bashing of organised labour is involved.

So it is with alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and his sudden enthusiasm for schools to reopen, which is not about picking a fight with teaching unions, honestly: he’s only thinking about the children. If only he could recall how many of them he has. But he does know how many papers will take dictation from his staff.

The result has begun with the more modest “PM: Children suffer more by staying home … ‘Harm of missing school worse than virus risk’” in the Murdoch Sunday Times - more supposedly inquiring journalists prostrating themselves before management and Tory Party as so many snivelling courtiers - and gets more bellicose in the tabloids.

Hence the Sunday Brexit, still called the Express, proclaiming “As opening schools is key to getting Britain working again, the PM lays down the law… BORIS WARNS: NO EXCUSES! … And he’s even prepared to shut the pubs to keep classrooms open”. Hurrah for Bozo! But this is not just a political crusade, it is a moral one.

That is, according to the increasingly wayward Mail on Sunday, which has gone totally OTT as it thunders “EXCLUSIVE Boris takes on the teaching unions with rousing social justice call … PM: IT’S A MORAL DUTY TO REOPEN SCHOOLS”. At last, the admission that this is an excuse to put the boot in on organised labour. And it gets worse.

Let’s take this apart nice and slowly. One, the Express admits that reopening schools will lead to an increase in Covid-19 infections - otherwise, why the trade-off of closing pubs? Two, the Sunday Times is dredging up evidence-free say-so to claim that not attending school is worse than the risk of becoming infected with the Coronavirus. And Three, the “social justice” claim is clumsy - and crap. One group won’t be getting any justice.

That group is the teachers, classroom assistants, cleaners, catering workers and caretakers who will have to put themselves at risk by going to work - rather than remote schooling pupils as has been done so far during the pandemic - and sharing space with a group of people - school age children - who are more than able to spread the virus around.

Schools Week told back in April “at least 65 education staff have died with coronavirus, of which 43 were women and 22 were men, as of April 20. That includes 17 secondary school teachers, seven primary and nursery teachers, two SEND teachers, ten teaching assistants, six school lunchtime supervisors and school crossing patrols and two school secretaries”. Former Government advisor Neil Ferguson was concerned on reopening.

He pointed out “teenagers as well as adults can transmit virus”, and that reopening schools could reconnect the social network enough to amplify transmission. Also, in Israel, “Schools fully reopened on 17 May 2020. Ten days later, a major outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) occurred in a high school”. Evidence Bozo and the press ignored.

It’s not about moral duty. It’s about using teachers as cannon fodder. And union bashing.

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Anonymous said...

The gall of the immoral buffoon.

AndyC said...

"It's a MORAL duty", says the least moral PM of the most immoral govt in living memory.

Simon said...

Boris Johnson, Tories, morals. Are they taking the piss?

grim northerner said...

The vote leave party maybe making a huge strategic error by targeting teachers.
It is generally accepted that teachers have an extremely hard job with long hours, and this should be reinforced by parents actually realising how horrible kids can be when stuck at home all day. Furthurmore, the cold war rhetoric of unions being some sort of enemy within is a relic of the 70s, the very thing that corbyn was supposed to be, none of it will wash with the sane section of the electorate. and teachers themselves are not a force to be trifled with, they are all degree educated (at least) and more than a match for the likes of patel and the rest. I say bring it on.

Anonymous said...

When I hear words like 'moral duty' in the mouths of politicians, I am reminded of Charles Hamilton Sorley:

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, “They are dead.” Then add thereto,
“Yet many a better one has died before.”
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.