Thursday, 22 November 2007

Thanks for your support

Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign. Unfortunately, this time around, I did not succeed. Martin Reed from the NUT Executive and primary headteacher Gill Goodswen were elected as Vice-Presidents.

Results for first preferences were: Goodswen 6792, Reed 5603, Harrop 4084, King 3973, MPD 2427, Roberts 2167. Martin and Gill also won overall after transfers were worked through from this low turnout.

My vote certainly compared well in proportion to the number of nominations received. However, the main groups within the Union are, as was likely to be the case, able to turn a larger vote out overall than myself.

But those groups are organising a union which is unable to get more than 10% of members to vote. There is clearly a big gap between many teachers' frustrations and their thinking that the Union, and its elections, can change things for them.

It's worth putting this news in the context of the other news of the day - that the Union has decided to cancel the Special NUT Executive for tomorrow (as the Government has delayed and still not pronounced on teachers' pay) so that it is now highly unlikely that there will be a ballot before Xmas - indeed, some on the Executive are already saying that we shouldn't ballot at all. Of course, teachers voting in this VP election weren't to know who was serious about wanting to build national action, and who was not.

The pay campaign is unfortunately at risk of being demobilised by the Executive majority's strategy of waiting for the STRB report, rather than going for an earlier timetable - and alongside other unions when we had the opportunity to.

Others in the Union (including Gill Goodswen unfortunately) also voted down our suggestion at 2007 NUT Conference that we linked the ballot on pay to one on workload - which would have strengthened support for national action.

Of course, the NUT Executive member who did most to criticise the chosen course of action, Linda Taaffe, is now being deliberately blocked from standing again in Outer London by other "Lefts" who are organising to prevent her winning any nominations. This risks the loss of a determined socialist and campaigner from the Executive and quite possibly a further swing towards the Right overall on the NUT Executive.

Despite the low turnout, I know from the feedback that I received that many teachers who did engage with the election, and who were looking for change, related to the program we put forward. The need for a fighting leadership of the Union remains as strong as ever. Those of us who want to see the Union turn the tide for teachers will continue to fight for that program and campaign for it in staffrooms and NUT meetings.

But it is also clear that, to argue for such a way forward, organisation is needed. That is why I want to discuss with others about setting up a clear grouping of teachers who do agree that it is 'Time for Change' in our pay, workload, schools, and Union. It would seek to organise teachers who are not attracted to the existing groups organsing the Union, and who support the kind of program that I stood on in this election.

I would want such a group to build a fighting Union alongside others in the Left within the NUT, while making our differences clear when necessary. Unfortunately, I fear that this will increasingly be the case, just as it has been over both pay and workload just this year already. Above all, we would seek to attract new teachers into activity around the issues that matter most to staff in schools.

I will certainly hope to keep this blog running as a way of informing teachers who are interested in developing such a campaign.

Martin.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, one of these groupings would be the grouping which Martin was happy to be a member of until June this year, when it decided not to support him as candidate for the VP election - at a meeting where he voted to support Gill Goodswen as a candidate. Surely the election of one the left candidates as VP is a positive step.
None of the groupings are blocking Linda as a candidate for the Executive. A space had been left for her to get a nomination, which she has failed to do, even in her own association.

Martin said...

Our anonymous commentator is of course right that I was a member of one of these groupings, the Socialist Teachers Alliance, for many years. However, a point has been reached where I can only honestly conclude that a different approach is needed, as I have made clear.

It is unfortunate that the response to those honest differences from some quarters has indeed been to seek to block good campaigners like Linda from standing in the Executive elections. Opposing Linda where her name is put forward, as has been done, of course has that effect. But simply not putting her name forward for nomination at all, as has also been done, also has the same effect !

Derek McMillan said...

I think it was well worth while to take on this election to raise the issues of importance to members of the union. I think most people at the weekend Socialism 2007 rally shared Mark Serwotka's frustration with the failure of public sector workers to stand together. The power of such an alliance was shown in the campaign over pensions. Anyone who voted for Martin was voting for such an alliance. The struggle carries on.