As a former shadow education minister, you would expect Angela Rayner to be keeping a close eye on the scientific advice about when schools should begin to reopen. The government currently plans to reopen schools for some pupils on 1 June – a decision which has provoked the ire of several teaching unions, who say it is not yet safe for staff members or children.
Which perhaps explains why this morning the deputy leader of the Labour party went on the attack, and tweeted out an article by the Times Educational Supplement, pointing out that:
“‘SAGE concludes June 1st “too soon” to open schools. Teacher unions have been absolutely correct in asking for safety measures to be in place before re-opening. Daily attacks from right wing newspapers who attack teachers and their unions, should take note’
If true, it would certainly be damning for the government if its own Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) had concluded that it was ‘too soon’ for schools to reopen. Unfortunately though, it appears that not only did Rayner fail to read the article she cited, but does not appear to know what SAGE actually is.
If she had bothered to find out, Rayner would presumably have realised that the article referred to the non-official ‘independent SAGE’ set up by the former chief scientific adviser Sir David King to specifically challenge the government – and which is filled with activists and members of the communist party. The government’s official (and agenda free) scientific advice on schools reopening will be published later today.
Is it too much to ask though for Labour’s deputy leader to know what one of the most important groups advising the government is?
PS Rayner frequently rallies against the scourge of 'fake news' online, and calls for politicians of different political stripes to avoid misleading the public. Mr S presumes then that she will be keen to correct the record as soon as possible, rather than just deleting the offending tweet and pretending it didn't happen...