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Monday 4 December 2023

Jan 4, 2021: When Marxists Attacked Britain's Schoolchildren, Unopposed

The following is an excerpt from my latest book My Road to Freedom, in which I reveal how the media covered up the real causes of Britain’s Covid restrictions. The book is available from amazon.

Chapter 9

After I had finished my book on Wuhan, I spent the rest of 2022 refocusing on what happened in my own country. I began looking into the second lockdown, which I soon discovered was caused by another TUC-coordinated campaign of union unrest, with the NEU central to the campaign. I was now sure that the NEU had played a decisive role in all three lockdowns. My new findings grew into a 50,000-word essay called ‘Boris versus the NEU: The Second Lockdown Explained’. In the essay, I painstakingly recounted Johnson’s two-year long battle to keep schools open in the face of relentless opposition from the NEU. The essay, indeed the entire topic, has been almost completely ignored.

Recently I unearthed the most devastating piece of evidence yet, the holy grail: the full-length footage of the January 3 NEU zoom meeting, the meeting that precipitated the mass teaching walkout on January 4. I already knew that the NEU leadership had advised the union’s members that it would be unsafe for them to return to work, and I knew that the NEU had provided a model section 44 letter and advised the members to hand it in to their employers, but I was unprepared for the sheer zeal and persistence with which the message was delivered in the zoom call. Watching the call, I counted 16 times that the NEU leadership mentioned their advice about the schools being unsafe, and 24 times that they mentioned the section 44 letter. The impression I got from the meeting was of a communist struggle session, people being brainwashed. ‘Listen to the union’s advice. Make the right decision, based on the union’s advice’, Kevin Courtney intoned. Robin Bevan said the letter ‘needs to be sent’, and, when taking questions towards the end, he noted that the questions had been carefully chosen because he was ‘making sure that the key points of the message today are heard’. They were heard alright.

The footage makes clear that the events of January 4 were not just a token gesture by the NEU, not some sort of flailing protest with no object to it. The leadership knew exactly what they wanted to achieve, and they were determined to achieve it. Bevan said the purpose of the zoom call was ‘to explain the reasoning behind the decisions made by your National Executive’. Bousted said ‘We’ve called this meeting because we want to update you on the NEU’s position about members’ health and safety during the pandemic’. The explicit intention of the NEU leadership was to encourage school staff to defy government policy on January 4. Bevan explained:

We found ourselves in a position where the Secretary of State for Education... announced the reopening of schools to all pupils in our primary and early years settings into overcrowded classrooms with no additional protection. The view of the union is that it is time for each and every one of our members individually to say no. And to be quite honest, that is the reason why you have joined this call today. Because you know that it is in the best interests of the communities you serve, the children you teach, to say ‘we are not proceeding in the way the government has recommended’.

He reiterated: ‘Today is the day to say “no” to the proposals that the Secretary of State has put in front of us’. And again: ‘Now is the time to trust both your professional instincts and your professional ethics. It’s time to say “no”.’

The NEU leadership anticipated – and hoped – that encouraging the membership to submit section 44 letters would cause a change in government policy, that is, a reversal of the decision to reopen the schools. Bousted used the phrase ‘if the government does U-turn…’. Courtney explained that ‘Because the government isn’t coming up with sensible definitions of what is safe, your union is coming up with a sensible definition’. He noted that ‘There’s an element of this where we have to persuade the government politically about it’. He left no doubt as to the leadership’s aim:

We believe that a snowball effect could be created. There are an enormous number of people on this call... [and] watching on social media. If those people agree with us that it is unsafe for schools to be open, and then if they take the step of sending the letter, which they can find in their email, or on our website, then there will be consequences of lots of people individually doing that, and we will turn quantity into quality.

That last phrase is extremely telling, and damning. When members of a union collectively refuse to attend the workplace with the intention of changing a government policy, most people would describe the action as a ‘strike’ – especially when the intended outcome is qualitatively different from anything the members could achieve by acting alone.

And here’s the thing: if the NEU’s mass walkout on January 4 was a strike, then it was illegal, because, by law, unions must ballot their members before orchestrating a strike.

The NEU leaders were entering a legal minefield, and they knew it; they were anxiously trying to stay on the right side of the law. Bousted, slightly flustered, insisted: ‘This is emphatically not a strike… We have not held a ballot. We are not taking industrial action.’ Well, the part about the ballot was true. Courtney similarly declared ‘This isn’t strike action’. At one point, he clarified what was being proposed: ‘Right now, your union’s advice… is that schools are not currently safe. And so we’re urging you to act on that.’ He inserted into those words the following reassurance, perhaps to himself: ‘We are really confident that this would withstand all challenges.’ Clearly the NEU leadership had given some thought to the legal issues.

There were two bases on which the leadership believed that the January 4 action was not a strike. The first was the emphasis on individuals submitting section 44 letters (for instance Courtney talking about ‘lots of people individually doing that’, or Bevan saying ‘it is time for each and every one of our members individually to say no’). The idea, supposedly, was that the action on January 4 would be a bunch of individuals who just happened to be doing the same thing, whereas a strike involves collective action. The distinction was highly spurious. The whole point of the legal requirement for unions to ballot their members before striking is to ensure that a minority of radical union members acting in concert can’t take matters into their own hands and disable a workplace.

Moreover, the NEU leadership was very much open to the idea of teachers handing in section 44 letters collectively. ‘There is no reason why a school rep couldn’t gather a group of those letters together’, Courtney ventured. He even noted, manipulatively, that individuals may ‘worry’ about sending the letter, that they may experience a ‘feeling of isolation’, and that ‘there is a way of collecting them [the letters] together that will help to overcome that’. Courtney was cleverly trying to parlay the contribution of individuals into a collective act, but at the same time he was emphasising that ‘it doesn’t stray away from the fact that this is an individual right you have’. It was though he was saying: the responsibility for this action is on you as an individual, and if you’re concerned about that, we will even exploit your concern, by encouraging you to coordinate your action with others. Bousted went further, noting that group letters could be submitted, but, like Courtney, she caveated the point by insisting that individuals must make the decision to sign the letter. Bevan agreed: ‘[it’s] an individual right we’re exercising here but of course it can be done by a group of people who all individually agree’. You can see that the NEU leaders were tying themselves in knots here. I am no lawyer, but surely ‘a group of people who all individually agree’ is the same as a group agreement. And, by law, there can only be a group agreement for a union to do a walkout if there is a ballot first.

The second way in which the NEU leaders were trying to avoid the charge of illegality was even more iffy. Supposedly the action on January 4 wasn’t a strike because – in Bousted’s words – ‘You are not withdrawing your labour. You are saying that you will work differently’. She clarified the point: ‘You are not withdrawing your labour, because you are saying… that you will work from home, and you will go into school... to look after and care for and teach the children of key workers and vulnerable children.’ The idea of ‘working differently’ was farcical. Any teacher who insisted on working from home, or working in a near-empty classroom, was, in effect, withdrawing their labour. Imagine a football manager who suddenly insisted on working from home or working with only five players. The ‘labour’ that he is expected to provide involves interacting physically with a full squad of players. By refusing to do that, he withdraws his labour. Likewise, the government explicitly expected teachers to turn up to work on January 4 in full classrooms, as per the job description of a school teacher. Any school teacher who suddenly announced that they would work ‘differently’ was literally refusing to perform the labour they were being paid to do and, instead, trying to do something else, something that the government didn’t want them to do. If you pay me to mow your lawn but, halfway through, I start performing a song for you on my acoustic guitar, I have withdrawn my labour. Bousted told teachers on January 3: ‘What you’re not doing is saying that you’re not working. You are not, by sending in a section 44 letter, saying you are not working.’ Now imagine me insisting I was still ‘working’ as I strolled around serenading you in the long grass.

My firm belief is that the NEU mass walkout on January 4 was illegal, and the people who orchestrated it should be in jail. Indeed, I think the NEU’s leaders know that what they did was illegal, because they never did it again.

There were several other revelations in the zoom meeting, each of which further demonstrates that the NEU’s intention was to scale up the impact of January 4 by involving as many people as possible in the mutiny. For example, the NEU leadership reported that the main headteachers unions were onside. Courtney explained: ‘We have also spoken to NAHT and ASCL and they are giving advice to their members that is sympathetic to the stand that we’re taking, not hostile to it’. Indeed, he said, the headteachers’ unions were cascading similar advice out to their members: ‘We know, from our conversations with NAHT and ASCL, that that’s what they’re telling their headteacher members as well. They are saying that if you say to them it’s not safe, that they don’t have a legal basis for telling you that it is safe.’ Bousted further disclosed: ‘We have written to every employer and headteacher, giving this same advice and asking them to make preparations for moving to remote learning instead.’ It’s important to note what was happening here: by making these ‘preparations’, headteachers would be setting the agenda, not the government. And that wasn’t the only way in which headteachers were setting the agenda. Incredibly, Courtney disclosed in the zoom call that ‘School leaders have done the work that should’ve been done by the public health service, to operate tracking for pupils, working throughout the weekend, late into the evening’. In other words: headteachers had been beavering away like detectives, ensuring that as many pupils as possible would be barred from attending classes due to contact with a Covid case; apparently the public health service was not doing the job. 

The zoom call also revealed that the NEU was encouraging ‘support staff’ to hand in the model section 44 letter on January 4, and noting that teachers who weren’t members of a union could do the same. Finally, towards the end of the call, there was a question about whether teachers in other schools, e.g. secondary schools, could use the letter. Courtney emphasized that the union was currently focused on primary schools but he noted that the letter ‘does have more general application’; ‘you can amend that letter’, he added, by way of confirmation. These comments were ominous, because the government was planning to reopen secondary schools over the coming weeks. All the indications were that the NEU January 4 mutiny was set to grow, engulfing the entire school sector. The government threw in the towel immediately. 

Kevin Courtney’s boast – which I mentioned earlier – that ‘hardly any’ primary schools opened on January 4 came in 2023, in a gloating Twitter thread which was one long smoking gun. In the thread, he recounted that Gavin Williamson ‘wanted schools open under all circumstances’ and that ‘Johnson supported Williamson’. He noted that ‘By Monday evening, Johnson changed tune and said schools were vectors of transmission and had to close’. The NEU ‘won the change in Govt policy’, Courtney insisted. He elaborated: ‘Our mass zoom meeting on Sun 3 Jan 2021 – 40k in the meeting, 400k watching, was possibly the biggest political meeting in UK history. Our advice to use Section 44 to refuse to attend work made the difference. Hardly any schools opened; Johnson was forced to make the choice.’ He concluded: ‘We should all be proud. I’m incredibly proud of the union’s actions over those days, and my role in them. We should all be proud of the stand we collectively took.’ (So it was a ‘collective’ stand. It wasn’t just a bunch of individuals who happened to be doing the same thing.)

Courtney is well aware that the NEU’s collective stand on January 4 triggered the third lockdown, which the government brought in solely to cover up the illegal teaching strike. Courtney has elsewhere spoken of ‘the lockdown… which the PM had to be forced into on January 4’, indicating that the NEU anticipated the consequences of the mass teaching walkout. Without schools supervising the children of working parents, the economic damage was such that, in the circumstances, the government was bound to manage the situation by issuing another stay home order. Of course, that’s not to say the government was right to do so, only that Courtney knew that the government would do so. Indeed, he’s not the only socialist who has bragged about the NEU driving the third lockdown. An article published on the World Socialist Website on January 7, 2022, noted: ‘Last January, the threat by tens of thousands of workers to utilise Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act to assert their right not to work in unsafe conditions forced the Johnson government into closing schools and imposing a lockdown.’ Actually, there was more than a ‘threat’; by the morning of January 4, some 6,000 teachers are known to have submitted section 44 letters. But, yes, the action brought the entire country to its knees.

And here I am, over two years later, still frantically trying get to my fellow citizens to acknowledge what happened on January 4. As far as lockdown sceptics go, I remain the only public figure who has ever even mentioned the events of that day. Only a handful of my followers – who are regular members of the public – will openly discuss the subject with me.

It’s an extremely strange and disturbing situation. Recently I re-read George Orwell’s masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four. The book, a work of fiction, depicts life in England under a totalitarian socialist regime led by a tyrant named ‘Big Brother’. Orwell’s dystopia anticipated much that happened for real during the coronapanic debacle. In one passage, the book’s protagonist, a man called Winston Smith, who secretly yearns for freedom and truth, realises with horror that the regime could contradict its own pronouncements with complete impunity:

It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. And only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be REDUCED to twenty grammes a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it.

Winston asks: ‘Was he, then, ALONE in the possession of a memory?’

I have asked myself the same question many times in the last few years, and not just about January 4, but about all the union unrest, and the herd immunity U-turn which was driven by union unrest. The virus was mild… and then we were all in lockdown. Masks were ineffective… and then they were mandatory. The schools were safe… and then they were closed 24 hours later, and we were back in lockdown. Why have all the union-driven U-turns been ignored? Why did people swallow the government’s lies? Like Winston, I too have felt like ‘a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear’. The predicament, I readily admit, has been disgusting, loathsome. At times, I have felt tormented on an existential level. The intellectual isolation has given me a sense of solipsism, like being in a mental cage – a cruel blow for someone like me, someone who had tried to escape from philosophical hypochondria, from all that unhealthy navel gazing. I tried to reassimilate to real life, to embrace my freedom, to stop fretting about being me. It turns out I couldn’t escape – not fully. The educated elites moved heaven and earth to keep me in the orbit of their lunacy. At their behest, the free society in which I had sought refuge reared up like a gigantic mechanical alien, locked me up, enslaved me, and then buried the truth about what happened, leaving me feeling like a glassed-in freak because I still insisted on facing reality.

I take solace in Winston Smith’s words: ‘Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad’. I am not mad. And I have no intention of remaining in a minority. We need to talk about the mainstream media.

To read the rest of My Road to Freedom, and find out how much else you have been lied to about by the British media, please buy the book.

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