The Left

Defend Robin Sivapalan

A campaign has been launched to defend Robin Sivapalan

A London classroom assistant suspended for organising an anti-Blair protest at his school. Please sign the following statement of support for Robin.

On 7 September, Tony Blair and Education Secretary Alan Johnson visited Quintin Kynaston school in north London to announce the first wave of 28 “trust schools” run by business, charitable and religious organisations – of which QK will be one of two in London. They were met by a demonstration, supported by Unison and NUT locally and School Students Against the War, and composed mainly of students from the school, expressing opposition to government policy on trust schools, privatisation and the wars in Iraq and Lebanon.

The initiator of this demonstration, QK classroom assistant Robin Sivapalan, has now been suspended from his job for “insubordination” and “breaching confidentiality” by informing people of Blair’s visit.

The attempt to victimise Robin is an attack on freedom of speech and the right to protest. We are not prepared to see public service trade unionists silenced when they dare to express opposition to government policy.

The petition is here.

I had previously argued that the suspension of lecturer Frank Ellis, Inigo Wilson, and BNP activist Arthur Readfearn was essentially a matter of employment law, rather than freedom of expression.

However, I ultimately concluded:

On balance, I feel I should defend Inigo Wilson: if only because, as a blogger, I have a particular obligation to campaign for unfettered public discourse. That was the view I took in the case of John Band, and perhaps should have been the side on which I ought to have fallen in the cases of Ellis and Redfearn.

Accordingly, I find myself in the company of John McDonnell, MP and Harry’s Place regular John Game – not to mention “Lenin” and George Galloway – in supporting the call to defend Robin Sivapalan.