17 August 2020 | UK NEWS
The Leader of the Opposition has come out in support of the Conservative Government’s decision to send children back to the classrooms, in spite of union pressure to the contrary.
Sir Keir Starmer has published a piece in the Daily Mail in which he called the lack of education due to coronavirus a “tragedy” and said he expects children back in school “no ifs, no buts, no equivocation” in September.
The position taken by Starmer comes amidst union pressure to keep kids out of schools. Dr Mary Bousted, the head of the National Education Union (NEU), said during a Zoom meeting recently: “The Government’s making threatening noises about that. But in the end, they won’t be able to carry out their threats.”
This is just the latest instalment of Starmer’s ongoing war with the unions. A few weeks ago, Len McCluskey, the leader of Labour’s largest union financial backer, Unite, threatened to withdraw funding from the Labour Party following the party’s decision to deliver pay-outs to former party staffers who had fallen victim to anti-Semitism.
Starmer wrote in the article: “I don’t just want all children back at school next month, I expect them back at school. No ifs, no buts, no equivocation. Let me be equally clear: it is the Prime Minister’s responsibility to guarantee children get the education they need and the benefit of being back with their teachers and classmates.
The Government must learn from the mistakes over the past months and ensure that the next academic year is not disrupted to the detriment of children and families.”
Starmer’s position is also in strong contrast to that of Labour peer Lord Hendy, who has been accused of advising union leaders on the legal mechanisms they could use to attempt to avoid a forced return to work for their members in recent months. This includes schools, which are currently due to open again in two weeks’ time.
Sources have told Wolves anecdotally that a majority of teaching staff themselves are in fact both willing and able to return to work.