From London daily The Morning Star:
Pawns in their game
(Friday 08 September 2006)
IF teachers’ unions were to walk out and leave school students untaught for an afternoon, their names would be mud in the right-wing media.
And new Labour ministers would not be far behind, berating the teachers for their selfish irresponsibility.
But neither media nor ministers seem able to find their tongues over the scandal of Tony Blair using the Quintin Kynaston specialist technology college in the London borough of Camden as a prop for what remains of his political career.
The school was emptied of most of its pupils – ostensibly for induction of students and staff training – but was then made available for Mr Blair to deliver his spiel to cameras, framed by the adoring faces of teachers and a small number of pupils.
As an example of new Labour photo opportunities, it was a classic or it would have been but for the determination of school students to show just what they thought of the visiting war criminal who was encamped in their school.
Far from the students behaving in “an unruly, rude and disrespectful manner,” as Blair fan and head teacher Jo Shuter claimed, their behaviour put hers to shame.
Pots and kettles came to mind when she complained that political “rabble-rousers” had orchestrated the pupils’ protests, making them “fodder for a political campaign.”
Obviously, it cannot be the head teacher who enlightens Quintin Kynaston’s student body on the role of irony as a literary technique, since, if anyone was using her school and its pupils “as pawns for their own political ends,” it was the PM, aided and abetted by the fawning Ms Shuter.
If Ms Shuter remains, as she says, a big supporter of someone who she feels is a “man of integrity and honesty,” that is her right, bizarre though it may seem to most people in Britain.
But for her to take this admiration to the extent of denying young people their right to expound their own more mainstream point of view, by snatching posters from their hands and threatening them with disciplinary action, was overbearing and undemocratic.
Her priority ought to be providing an education for pupils not photo opportunities for her political hero.
See also here.
Anti Blair demonstrations in Lebanon: here.