Tories are fuming about the Scottish Government’s school announcement


HAVING been out of power in Scotland for more than a decade, Unionist politicians aren’t accustomed to supporting Government plans.

But it seems even when those plans align with Unionist politicians’ own demands, they still can’t bring themselves to back SNP ministers.

As much became clear after Education Secretary announced preparations are under way for children to return to school full-time in August without social distancing measures, assuming virus suppression continues.

Previously, plans for pupils returning to school indicated some children might only receive one or two days of in-person teaching per week as part of a “blended” learning programme.

READ MORE: John Swinney tells MSPs schools should reopen full time in August

That strategy was condemned by Scottish Tory and Labour politicians, as well as SNP backbenchers including former health secretary Alex Neil.

Updating Holyrood today, John Swinney said the blended model remained a contingency should cases of the virus increase. He added that when plans were initially drawn up in May for pupils’ return to school the Scottish Government had not anticipated that as much progress would have been made in suppressing the virus.

So there you have it, the Scottish Government has updated its plans after receiving criticism and making better than expected progress in suppressing the virus. Sounds like good news for everyone, right?

Wrong.

It turns out some Scottish Tory MSPs are fuming that the Scottish Government has announced plans which they themselves called for.

The First Minister has explained clearly that the decision is not a result of caving into demands of the opposition, but that didn’t stop the Scottish Tories from gleefully celebrating a victory. When you lose elections as often as they do, you’ll take any chance you can to gloat.

We did it! The SNP have seen sense and u-turned to allow schools to fully re-open in August (if virus suppressed). Well done to @jamiegreeneUK for leading @ScotTories pressure to secure this win for pupils and parents. https://t.co/p40zt4VULs
— Maurice Golden MSP (@mgoldenmsp) June 23, 2020

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon rejects claims ministers made schools U-turn

Leading the Unionist backlash against a move he supports is Murdo Fraser, who seemed incandescent about Swinney’s announcement despite having criticised the blended learning proposal.

Many of those in education, including headteachers, furious that all the work they put in over past weeks in preparing blended plans is now wasted. Today’s announcement only came about because @ScotTories demanded it – when would @scotgov have told the public otherwise?
— Murdo Fraser (@murdo_fraser) June 23, 2020

He demanded to know if Scottish ministers made the decision based on expert advice or angry complaints from Tory MSPs. Have a wild guess Murdo…

4 days ago Jason Leitch said that schools couldn’t reopen for all pupils in August. Has @scotgov asked his view on today’s announcement, or is it driven purely by pressure from @ScotTories and parents? https://t.co/GkQMfQmApf
— Murdo Fraser (@murdo_fraser) June 23, 2020

Party colleague Adam Tomkins wasn’t chuffed either.

Remember: Swinney is only making this statement because he was dragged to the Parliament by Tory opposition to explain the shambles he’s been making of schools reopening.
— Adam Tomkins MSP (@ProfTomkins) June 23, 2020

Jamie Greene was also raging about finding himself on the same side as the Scottish Government.

The most depressing bit about this saga is that Ministers need to be dragged to parliament to answer basic questions about serious concerns. This was not a proactive offer to explain things to parents, this is a reactive measure through opposition pressure https://t.co/9YDs4L7Yxr
— Jamie Greene MSP (@jamiegreeneUK) June 22, 2020

A Conservative criticising someone else for being reactive, now that’s rich.

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