“There is no doubt in my mind that schools are safe”: Boris Johnson one day before closing them

Boris Johnson, Sunday:

There is no doubt in my mind that schools are safe.

Boris Johnson, Monday:

Primary schools and secondary schools, and colleges across England must move to remote provision from tomorrow.

Sources: Andrew Marr show / national TV broadcast.

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2 responses to ““There is no doubt in my mind that schools are safe”: Boris Johnson one day before closing them”

  1. Mark, it would be very helpful to have your view on whether the new lockdowns in all 4 UK countries will have an effect on the timing of the (currently 6 May) elections.

    Even the best estimates of vaccine production and rollout efficiency suggest that only the top few (highest-risk) groups in England will have been vaccinated by late Feb/early Mar, and that inoculating the whole population will take till something like early-mid May earliest. (Bearing in mind both second (booster) doses and 3 week timelag to take full protective effect.) Even this is on the potentially questionable assumption that vaccines currently available are useful against the new Covid variant, not an absolute fact at the moment.

    The current Close of Noms is 29 March. I do not see how large numbers of people can be approached on doorsteps for signatures in a Covid-secure way during Feb/March. Might we be looking at a postponement to (say) late June in E&W ?

    • Will the elections be delayed? The simple answer is, we don’t know. Given that doubt, it’s best to continue with our preparations and build-up as if they will happen, and treat any extra time as a bonus. Better that than be caught out thinking something wouldn’t happen and then not having time to prepare when it does.

      Of course, our work should always take into account coronavirus health risks, and always carefully follow the party’s advice. (It is currently being reviewed following Monday evening’s news.)

      One other thing to bear in mind is that as with previous questions about whether elections would be delayed or whether a government would call an election early, a lot of rumours circulate. They often appear to be based on credible insider information – e.g. ‘someone who spoke to a former colleague at the Electoral Commission…’ The thing to bear in mind is that the decision to delay an election can be made suddenly by the Prime Minister (in England, similar considerations for other nations). As we’ve seen with the fiasco of children going back to school in England for just one day before schools being closed, there’s no reason to think that an elections decision either way will be made carefully in good time with all the right preparations in place. Or for another example, when Gordon Brown was dallying over calling a general election in 2007 the news that Labour had started printing special election leaflets sounded like it was dead-cert insider information showing the election would go ahead… and then he didn’t call it. So what someone says the Electoral Commission is doing, or what Whitehall civil servants are preparing, can sound credible… but really isn’t much of a clue at all to what will happen.

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