Scottish schools faced extended Covid-19 disruption…

The Scottish Government has suggested that pupils could face part-time schooling for up to a year and the cancellation of a second set of exams, the Times reports.

EIS, the main Scottish teaching union, has been fighting very hard against proposals to properly re-open schools. The SNP’s proposals for ‘blended learning’, which will see some pupils spend as little as one day per week in class, have been attacked by commentators as setting “up a generation of children to fail”.

(Labour blogger Ian Smart has done a good two-part blog on how the teaching establishment has comprehensively outmanoeuvred the SNP.)

…as DUP MP says teachers are looking for reasons to keep schools shut

Meanwhile Sammy Wilson, the Democratic Unionist MP for East Antrim, has claimed that teaching unions are trying to find excuses for their members not to do their jobs as the battle over re-opening schools rages across the country.

According to the News Letter, he said that: “They want to avoid doing the job which they’re paid to do, which is to teach the children. They’ve engaged in what I can only describe as political manoeuvrings to try and avoid doing their job, and in doing so they have disparaged all of those teachers who worked very hard during the lockdown.”

Wilson, himself a former teacher, made the comments after the Ulster Teachers’ Union attacked Peter Weir MLA, the DUP education minister in the Stormont cabinet.

Downing Street rejects First Minister’s claim of radio silence

The Government has hit back at the claim by Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, that it did not communicate with him in weeks during the current Covid-19 crisis.

At a recent press conference the First Minister claimed not to have spoken with Boris Johnson since the end of May. But Downing Street has pointed out that Michael Gove was in regular contact with Drakeford throughout the period in question.

This week, the Welsh Government has come under increasing pressure to ease its own lockdown policies, which have fallen out of step with those in England. There are concerns that it could damage the Welsh economy if locals cross into England to shop.

In other sad news, Mohammed Asghar, a Conservative member of the Welsh Parliament, passed away this week at the age of 74.

Known as ‘Oscar’, he was first returned as a representative of Plaid Cymru at the 2007 election before joining the Conservatives in 2008, claiming that he felt ‘out of tune’ with the nationalists on account of his unionism and royalism. He was the first-ever AM from a minority background, and the first to cross the floor.

Johnson mistakes Lib Dem for a Nationalist

A couple of weeks ago, I asked if the Prime Minister’s latest series of appointments to the Scottish Office showed that he was taking the threat of the SNP more seriously.

If so, it appears he might be being excessively vigilant – at yesterday’s PMQs he alleged that Alistair Carmichael was trying to bring about an independent Scotland.

In fact Carmichael is not only the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland and the longest-serving unionist Member of Parliament currently representing a Scottish seat, but served as Scottish Secretary under the Coalition.

This misstep might be entertaining, but there is real danger in conflating the SNP with Scotland. Johnson would do well to try and memorise at least the list of non-Nationalist Scottish MPs ahead of next week’s bout. It isn’t terribly long.

SNP chiefs accused of ‘breaking own rules’ over ‘sex pest MP’

An former ‘senior Nat’ has accused the SNP of breaking its internal rules by delaying a disciplinary hearing for Derek MacKay, according to the Sun.

MacKay was Finance Secretary in the Scottish Government until he was forced to resign after it emerged that he had ‘bombarded’ a 16-year-old boy with ‘creepy messages’.

Andy Doig, an independent councillor, has written to the party’s national secretary to enquire about the delay, claiming that it is ‘unprecedented’ for there to be a four-month delay between a member being suspended and the case being investigated. Doig quit the SNP after 38 years after “denying accusations of sexism and homophobia.”