Promoted by David Beale, 36 Pleasant View, Withnell, Chorley PR6 8SE on behalf of Martin Powell-Davies of TUSC.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

NUT General Secretary Election Result

As expected, the votes announced today have confirmed the re-election of Christine Blower as NUT General Secretary. However, I am pleased that the strength of support for my candidature represents a real achievement for my campaign.

Turnout 13 %
After the Local Associations National Action Campaign voted to back my stand in February, I only had three months to gather the nominations required to make my challenge. That first target was achieved but, although outnumbered five-to-one in Local Association nominations, the 3:1 vote in the actual election  records a closer margin when it came to members' votes.

My support was generated by a campaign that sought to reflect the anger of classroom teachers at the conditions they face - and a frustration amongst many NUT members that the Union was failing to campaign with sufficient clarity and determination to oppose the ongoing attacks on our pay, pensions and conditions - and on education as a whole. 

Even my opponents acknowledged that my election materials were well-received in schools. Some certainly feared that the final margin of Christine's victory might be tighter still. My demands for clear campaign goals and for a clear calendar of strike action struck a chord with teachers at every meeting that I was able to address.

I always knew that Christine, as a sitting candidate, could rely on support from many teachers out of loyalty to the Union as a whole - and understandably so. She also had the backing of the main caucuses within the NUT and could take advantage of the Union giving her coverage throughout the election period. In contrast, my time and resources were limited.

I was always confident that, where teachers found time to read the election statements and debate the issues, many would decide to give me their votes. The challenge was to make sure that such a debate took place amongst teachers ground down by workload. Unfortunately, as the turnout showed, most did not return their voting papers. 

Regrettably, no hustings took place at Annual Conference or at Local Association meetings. The Teacher magazine neglected to even mention the election was taking place, making it even harder for me to publicise my challenge. 

To secure over 10,000 votes, despite all the disadvantages facing my campaign, is a real achievement. I believe that my campaign has helped make sure that the Union has responded by sharpening its campaign messages. For example , the latest leaflet to members calling for action on July 10 is sharper and more focused than some we have previously issued.

My campaign has also helped keep up the pressure for maintaining strike action on March 26 and now July 10 - action which must now be built for as strongly as possible.

Of course I regret that I will not be now using my skills and energy to drive forward the Union as a newly-elected GS but will, as ever, be working hard to build our campaigns and support and advise colleagues. 

I have to warn that there is a risk, now the GS election is over, that the doubts and uncertainties amongst some on the National Executive will become more prominent. A membership consultation planned for early next term could be used as a pretext to wind down the campaign - rather than, as I hope it will be, to build momentum for the necessary escalation of action. Therefore, the real campaign is still far from over.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who supported my campaign over the last few months. Teachers who have supported the campaign, and especially those Associations determined to build LANAC as a strong force within the Union, must take heart from the vote achieved. We have to continue to strengthen the Union,  maintain our pressure for a calendar of action and work to make sure we build a Union that gives the fighting lead needed to defend teachers and education.

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