Boris Johnson’s decision to shelve the plan to get all primary school pupils in England back into the classroom before the summer break has been welcomed by parents and teachers fearful of a premature return that could trigger off a second wave of the coronavirus plague.
Labour called on the Government to consult unions, head-teachers and parents on a new timetable for reopening. Their concern was shared by many Tory rank-and-filers whilst the teaching unions rightly pointed out that the emergency social distancing rules made it impossible for primary schools to admit all pupils before the summer holidays.
Johnson has now back-tracked. But he could have saved himself a lot of grief if he’d listened to them in the first place.
Boris is a poser who thinks that using the odd Latin phrase, half-remembered from his days at Eton, is enough to make him sound like a latter-day Cicero. He also believes that he is an intellectual giant of Churchillian stature who is going to herald a ‘golden age’ for the country under his leadership. In fact his only talent has been self-promotion and self-preservation. This he has demonstrated to good effect by bowing to public pressure since he took over the reins of power last year, not least when it comes from his own Tory grassroots.
Cummings, Johnson’s Rasputin-like ‘chief adviser’, is no political genius either. His major claim to fame is “getting Brexit right”, although you didn’t have to be an Einstein to realise that most people wanted out of the European Union in 2016. It is, after all, what we’ve been saying for years.
Cummings has been wrong on everything else. His ‘herd immunity’ strategy for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the lockdown and clearly contributed to thousands of deaths that could have been avoided if the emergency regulations had been imposed earlier. We must assume that he was the driving force behind the early return to school drive that, thankfully, has now been stopped in its tracks.
No-one can blame Johnson for changing his mind. Boris’s real problem is that he clearly has no firm opinions of his own. But putting the crackpot advice from the likes of Dominic Cummings above the considered views of the worthies of his own Conservative constituency is a risky business.
End the homeless crisis
“It is a national scandal that anyone should sleep without a roof over their head in one of the richest countries in the world and after pressure from councils, Mayors, charities and others the Government appears to have backtracked on reports that programmes to tackle homelessness policy may no longer be funded directly by central Government,” Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader, said last week.
But thousands of homeless people could return to the streets at the end of the month if the government does not provide councils with urgent funding. Some 15,000 people are housed in emergency accommodation such as hotels after local authorities moved people into safe accommodation during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Government allocated £3.2 million in March specifically to address homelessness. Crisis, the charity for homeless people, says this would have been spent by councils within days. Crisis says that contracts between local authorities in England and hotels are due to terminate at the end of June due to current Government money running out, and the charity believes the Government will need to invest hundreds of millions of pounds to keep everybody in safe accommodation for a year.
Bourgeois politicians are telling us it’s going to be “back to normal” when the pandemic is over. But that can never be an option for the working class. The Government grants and awards made to maintain the NHS and stave off social unrest during the crisis must continue when the lockdown ends.