People had the perfect response to Tony Blair joining Tory calls for schools to reopen

Tony Blair on Newsnight 2020
Ed Sykes

Tony Blair has said the Conservative government is “right” to push for schools to reopen on 1 June. But he’s not exactly an authority on ‘following reliable evidence’, especially when people’s lives are concerned:

Blair, of course, argued that there was ‘evidence‘ to justify invading Iraq in 2003. And he went ahead despite massive opposition from the public – just as there is widespread opposition to reopening schools too early now, in the middle of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

As former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in 2016 after the damning Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq invasion, it was “an act of military aggression launched on a false pretext”. Numerous colleagues, he stressed, had been:

misled by a small number of leading figures [i.e. Tony Blair] who were committed to joining the United States invasion of Iraq come what may, and were none too scrupulous about how they made the case for war.

As The Canary reported previously, Corbyn insisted that those responsible “must face up to the consequences of their actions” (i.e. mass devastation in Iraq and the surrounding region, and an ensuing wave of terror around the world that we still see today). Indeed, many British voters still believe Blair “should be tried as a war criminal”.

Totally reasonable demands

The National Education Union (NEU) says schools must only reopen “when it’s safe”. Its five tests are:

  1. “Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases”.
  2. “A national plan for social distancing”.
  3. “Testing, testing, testing!”
  4. “Whole school strategy”.
  5. “Protection for the vulnerable”.

The British Medical Association has backed the NEU. Several councils across England, meanwhile, have advised schools not to open.

So why the anti-union attacks?

People who didn’t seem to care in the last decade as Conservative-led governments took a sledgehammer to children’s wellbeing are now suddenly champions of children going back to school. The corporate media, for example, has decided to attack teachers for demanding safety. And Labour right-wingers have essentially joined in. Blair fanboys like Andrew Adonis and Alan Johnson have been particularly vocal in opposing unions and backing Tory plans.

Elite schools, meanwhile, are being very quiet on plans to reopen. The private school Blair went to, for example, is not open; and seems to have made no comments on Twitter about reopening. Boris Johnson’s Eton, meanwhile, is not open either; and it also seems to have tweeted zero times about reopening.

As journalist Aaron Bastani points out, the government’s attempt to send children back to school is basically so their parents can return to work too. And it’s not the parents of kids at private schools who drive the economy; it’s the parents who send their kids to state schools.

Screw the Tory-lite brigade!

The UK has already suffered around 60,000 excess deaths during this pandemic. Some Labour politicians, meanwhile, are backing the unions to prevent the death toll spiralling even further. But they’re not the ones in charge. Because the Labour right is on the march again. And that means the vile rehabilitation of people like Blair – the man who pioneered ‘Tory-lite‘ politics and did immense damage to the labour movement. So it’s now more important than ever that we show the unions our support.

Featured image via Twitter – BBC Newsnight

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. So an attack piece on Blair (fair enough), but pretty scant reporting otherwise. The National Association of Head Teachers has said it would back the repoening of Primary Schools, and 5 former Education Secretaries, including Alan Johnson have called on schools to reopen.
      The risk is very low. If you read the minutes of the Sage meetings, meeting 18, points 6 & 7 in particular then it’s spelled out very clearly where the spread has come from. Massive failings by Public Health England and the NHS. A full independent inquiry is needed after this with no stone left unturned.

      1. Really !!!

        There is a very easy way to prove how safe it would be to reopen schools, get all the MP’s to send their kids into a Shool in a deprived area and if they are ok after 2 weeks send the real kids in.

        As for SAGE meetings and minutes ? I wouldn’t trust any of their advice or records whilst political unelected advisors like Cummings and his cronies are allowed to attend.

        Let’s open parliament and the Lords before Schools

    2. Some say we get the face we deserve and as Blair gets older in some photos he looks quite devilish. His dead can be rounded off to a million so he’s earned it.

      He may have killed fewer than Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot, but to compare him against them it puts him in their league. But the wars he started are still raging and have moved into different theatres, so although his role as PM ended his death tally continues. He has to be in history’s top twenty of mass killers, surely? (Most of them are white westerners, they did their murders in living memory, and indeed, many are still alive.)

      1. Blair’s blackshirts arrested us in the early hours and forced us to accept their newly introduced minimum wage. They would then torture us until we reluctantly agreed to their disgusting `civil partnerships’, Increased public spending on health and education followednother two election s

    3. The unions are the last outpost of left opposition, which is why they have to be destroyed. Labour now in the hands of a “Zionist sympathiser”, whatever that’s supposed to mean who will offer bribes to the voters if they will accept an unjust world order, including, of course an Israel of six and half million Jews which is the 4th or 5th greatest military power, has nuclear weapons and is backed by the richest, most fearsomely armed State the world has seen, is safe for the Right. Starmer says he accepts the right of Israel to exist. Does he accept the right of Ireland to exist? What if there’s a border poll and Ireland unites? Will he accept that? It couldn’t be more telling that Starmer lines up behind Israel because Zionism asserts that force rules. Israel is emblamatic. What has been done to the Palestinians can be done to anyone who refuses to accept the order imposed by the US. Blair, Johnson (maybe his next boring, self-regarding, wearily-written volume will be called Baby You’re A Rich Man), Adonis and co are apologists for the world order based on significant and insignificant countries, significant and insignificant people; fall into the insignificant category and you can expect the worst – hardship, humiliation, misery at least, blown to pieces in the name of “freedom” at worst. The NEU, the biggest teacher union, has a radical activist base. Its membership is less radical but trusts the leadership on most issues most of the time. Hence Blair’s siding with the Tories. If the influence of Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted can keep the schools closed, that is an intrusion too far for the Right. It might look a little too like the 60s when TU leaders were in and out of Downing St and Wilson had to order the tanks of his lawn. This is their fear: that the Covid crisis will bring the unions back centre stage. But Courtney and Bousted are of course right: their tests are reasonable. Blair is interested in the power which he used to enrich himself, as is the appalling Johnson. Parents may well side with the unions. This is a chance for the unions to show their relevance and to keep their feet in the door. It is from the unions and the unions only we can hope for the mass, concerted movement which can defeat the status quo Right.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.