Left Discuss NUT Leadership Bid

A VITAL meeting for the Left of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) took place in Nottingham on Saturday to decide who will be the left candidate to challenge for general secretary when Doug McAvoy retires next year.

With discontent among teachers growing, there is an excellent opportunity in the NUT to match the victories for left candidates in other trade unions. The right-wing are also spilt with two different national officials standing in the election, John Bangs and Steve Sinnott. Socialist Party Teachers believed that it was therefore even more important to have one clear candidate challenging from the Left.

Three potential candidates, all NUT branch secretaries, Ian Murch from Bradford, Alex Kenny from Tower Hamlets and Martin Powell-Davies from Lewisham were seeking the backing of the meeting.

Martin, a Socialist Party member, stressed that the left campaign had to spell out to members that the right-wing’s leadership contenders were part of the “union machine” that had failed for so long to stand up to government attacks on our pay, workload and pensions. Unfortunately, that message had not been clear in the recent National Officer elections, where the Left had been defeated.

Martin explained that we had to tap-in to classroom teachers’ discontent and show how we were offering a new way forward and would build action that would defend teachers and education. The meeting agreed the proposal that a left general secretary remain on the wages of a classroom teacher instead of living on the inflated salary of Doug McAvoy.

While Martin’s approach drew a lot of support, most votes went to Alex Kenny, convenor of the Socialist Teachers’ Alliance. Like Martin, Alex explained he would stand on a fighting platform as an ordinary teacher standing against the failed leadership. In the interests of unity, Martin announced to applause that he was withdrawing from the contest.

Unfortunately, Ian Murch has not yet agreed to take the same approach. Socialist Party Teachers hope that after further discussions a united campaign can be successfully fought to at last elect a fighting general secretary for the NUT.