Corbynistas frustrated by Labour's reluctance to rally behind teaching unions

Former supporters of Jeremy Corbyn argue that Labour is becoming "too close to Government" on the schools policy

Senior Labour backbenchers have expressed frustration at the party’s reluctance to rally behind the teaching unions as Angela Rayner refused to rule out primary schools reopening from June 1

While several teaching unions and Labour-run councils have objected outright to the Government’s timetable, Sir Keir Starmer has refused to follow suit due to growing concern that schools closures are hitting poorer students hardest. 

Instead, Labour frontbenchers are calling on ministers to provide the evidence and support necessary to convince union leaders and local authorities that the proposals are safe and workable.

They include Ms Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, who on Sunday appeared reluctant to endorse the decision by Liverpool City Council and Hartlepool to defy the Government’s plans for a phased return of primary aged pupils. 

Asked for the party’s response to the decision, Ms Rayner told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We believe the R-rate [the number people infected by a carrier of Covid-19] is higher in those areas, in those regions and therefore we want the Government to publish the science behind it and to provide the support.” 

Pressed whether that meant she supported the move, she said only that she supported their efforts in “trying to make sure that their citizens are safe.”

“I urge the Government to not make the mistakes they’ve made in the past and to publish the science and to give them the resources to make sure that we help people as much as possible to do the right thing to keep themselves safe,” she added. 

538prom精品视频在线播放Ms Rayner added that establishing an effective contact tracing system by the end of the month would also boost confidence in the plans and enable ministers to minimise the chances of outbreaks occurring in schools. 

538prom精品视频在线播放However, the hesitance to commit firmly to the unions’ position has alarmed former supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, who argue that Labour is becoming “too close to Government”. 

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph538prom精品视频在线播放, a former frontbencher said figures on the Left of the party were “disappointed” at the failure to side “strongly with the unions”.

“It’s a problem for us if the leadership feels the need to stick as closely as possible to the Government’s overarching framework,” they added.

538prom精品视频在线播放“There are quite a lot of us, including in senior positions, that feel we are too close to the Government. These are difficult judgment calls but I don’t feel that we’ve got it right.” 

On Sunday, party insiders pushed back against the claim, insisting Labour was focussed on building a consensus and wanted children to be able to return to the classroom providing ministers could show it was safe to do so.

“The priority to us is getting to the point where councils don’t feel the need to say that [they can't reopen schools],” one added.

Their comments were echoed by shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, who told The Daily Telegraph538prom精品视频在线播放 that the teaching unions had “rightly raised” concerns about the proposals. 

She added: “Returning to school is a priority for the sake of pupils’ education but there are serious problems with the proposed plan to reopen schools on June 1 and it does not yet guarantee safety.

538prom精品视频在线播放“We are urging the Government to work collaboratively with trade unions and parents’ organisations to create and reach a consensus on a series of practical safety conditions that must be met within schools before the Government confirms a date for their reopening.”

The row highlights the political dilemma facing Sir Keir, who has vowed to work constructively with the Government throughout the pandemic. 

538prom精品视频在线播放While members of the party’s hard Left believe the party should be more critical, allies of the Labour leader are concerned that an overly-hostile approach will backfire and lead to accusations that the party is politicising the crisis. 

They are also conscious that the position of the teaching unions has divided opinion within the party, with three former education secretaries - Alan Johnson, Lord Blunkett, and Charles Clarke - backing a phased reopening of primaries.

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