Friday 22 February 2013

NUT Executive by-election: Victory for candidate calling for national strike action

The victory of Peter Glover from Liverpool NUT in the by-election for the vacant seat on the NUT National Executive for Cheshire and Merseyside is a clear victory for the left in the NUT and for all those who have been calling for urgent action to defeat Gove’s attacks on pay.

The Merseyside and Cheshire electoral district covers both rural and metropolitan areas and has usually elected one candidate from the ‘right’ and one from the ‘left’ for its two seats on the NUT Executive. This by-election was, therefore, a clear test of the mood of NUT members – whether to support those like Peter calling for national strike action or to back Beth Purnell (Warrington NUT), the candidate backed by the Union’s right, urging caution and for “a reasoned voice”.

The result was clear. Peter Glover, along with Greg Foster (Cheshire West and Chester NUT), both supporters of LANAC, the Local Associations National Action Campaign, got a combined first-preference vote of 67 % (Glover 724 votes, Foster 362 votes) compared to 33 % ( 539 votes ) for Beth Purnell. After the exclusion of Greg Foster under the transferable vote operating in NUT elections, Peter Glover was the clear winner.

As Peter says, “this election was like a mini-referendum on the strategy to defeat Gove. Beth Purnell’s campaign issued glossy leaflets to every school selling her as the ‘moderate sensible candidate’. Yet, without the same resources, I won with one of the largest ever left votes in the district. As one colleague explained who had decided to back me, ‘you were the candidate offering a strategy to win’. Perhaps now, those on the Executive who have been wavering in their support for action will recognise the real mood of anger in our schools and back the program of national strike action we need”.

Beth Purnell’s materials were a thinly-disguised attack on her opponents, warning that ‘the balance of influence on the Union Executive could easily swing against the best interests of the Union and its members’ and that “now is not the time to react with knee-jerk policies, nor is it the time for the NUT to act alone. We need a sensible long-term strategy, working with other teaching unions”. 

In turn, Peter also made clear what was at stake. His leaflet explained that “This by-election is vital. It is your chance to send a clear message to your Union. No more half-measures and indecision. I need your vote so I can make sure our Executive fights as hard to save our profession as we have to in the classroom”.

Peter got those votes – and the clear message has been sent right across the National Union of Teachers.

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