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Dear Newsnight - socialist teacher demands right of reply
After BBC TV's Newsnight programme carried an attack on the National Union of Teachers, Martin Powell-Davies, a member of the NUT National Executive national executive member and Socialist Party activist, wrote a letter warning Newsnight that "your feature on the 'Left in the NUT' angered NUT members from right across its broad spectrum of political views.
"The feature chose to give most airtime to NUT's ex-general secretary Fred Jarvis and John Blake. John's comment that the NUT was 'extreme' for extending our campaign to include workload was just one indication of how far removed he must be from the everyday pressures facing classroom teachers struggling to cope with working 60 hours and more every week.
"While you gave Kevin Courtney a limited time to try and defend the union as a whole, I had no opportunity to respond to attacks made on my character.
"An edited interview from questions thrown at me as I walked into the conference hardly provides a real opportunity to answer Fred and John, nor to speak up for all those teachers who support their union's campaign to defend teachers and education against this government's divisive and damaging attacks.
"Far from being 'elected unopposed' as Fred Jarvis implied, I have just been democratically elected to the NUT's National Executive in elections contested in March. If the programme's aim was to persuade teachers not to vote for me in the NUT general secretary election in June, its crude attacks may have had an opposite effect.
"The unacceptable attacks on children's education, cuts to pay and pensions, and rising levels of workload, mean that teachers rightly back their union's call for action - and why many are also supporting my proposal that we need to put in place a more decisive action strategy. I ask for an opportunity for a right of reply on Newsnight"
Martin's blog also said: "I stand by the points that Newsnight broadcast in its feature. Firstly, to defeat the attacks on teachers and education, 'you can't just have occasional one-day protest strikes, you need to step up to a calendar of action'.
I told Newsnight there would be public backing for such action, that 'everybody [who] knows that their pay is being cut, that their jobs are under threat [will] respect those who are actually going to stand up for themselves'.
For real evidence, instead of sensationalist journalism, see the quotes in Newcastle's Evening Chronicle. Top comment is "Good for those teachers, now all public service workers should do the same."
Others include: "They're striking because the government is trying to destroy the education system" Clearly some hard-left plot has taken over the North-east!
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