NUT narrowly decides not to affiliate to Labour – because Blairites

Delegates at NUT17 give John McDonnell a standing ovation

Last year, Jeremy Corbyn spoke to the NUT (National Union of Teachers) annual Conference and received a rapturous ovation. Teachers know that he ‘gets it’:

What McDonnell told the Conference was no less popular:

Yet, just a short time later the Conference voted by the narrowest of margins – 50.63% to 49.37%against exploring affiliation to the Labour Party.

Unions affiliated to Labour play a major role in developing the party’s policies. The FBU (Fire Brigades Union) re-affiliated to Labour in 2015, shortly after Corbyn’s election as leader, with FBU chief Matt Wrack saying,

Firefighters recognise that the Labour party has changed for the better since the election of Jeremy Corbyn, who has given our members and supporters hope that we can shift the political debate in favour of working people.

We have a Labour Party leader and shadow chancellor who are vehemently opposed to austerity, who are ready to fight for a fair alternative that doesn’t attack the living standards, livelihoods and the hard won rights of working people.

So why would the NUT – albeit narrowly – reject exploring such a move?

The answer can be summed up in one word: Blairites.

The main reason given during the debate for not doing so was the fear that the agitating Blairite faction might succeed in regaining control of the party via its machinations at the Labour Conference in Brighton this autumn.

One NUT delegate told this blog:

The main reason for the caution was Blairites. The argument was if progress and the Blairites took over again. They had refused to speak to the NUT in the Blair days, calling us ‘dinosaurs’ and ‘enemies of promise’ because of our stance on PFI [the hugely expensive Private Finance Initiative] and academies.

Another said,

Instead of education, education, education the Blair/Adonis project brought us privatisation, fragmentation and the destruction of our state education system.

Things certainly didn’t get better as today’s broken system shows. The Tories and Lib Dems simply played out the Blair project to its natural end. The total destruction of our country’s comprehensive education system.

Far from being the enemies of promise, the teaching unions and other education professionals have been proved correct. Those first steps by Adonis and Blair was the thin edge of a wedge that opened the door to the wholesale corporate business model that has swept throughout England. Schools are now run like exam factories to the detriment of the children in our care.

That’s why most voted against affiliation to the Labour Party at conference. The fear of a Progress takeover that will damage education and the union yet again.

Inspired by Corbyn, his team and his policies – but discouraged by the laughably-called ‘moderates’. You might say it’s a microcosm of the wider current political situation.

The decision of the NUT not to affiliate is entirely understandable given these reasons – but it is weakening both the union and the Labour Party.

It’s clear that the continued plotting and briefing of the right-wing factions inside Labour is not only damaging the party electorally but is causing direct injury to strength of the party and of the people who need not just a Labour government but a strong and united Labour movement. If they had the slightest genuine interest in either, they would either shut up and get in line or leave – and in the absence of either action, Labour needs to deal with them decisively and take the decision out of their hands.

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  1. Many teachers will be disappointed that teachers got a bad deal from the Tory Lib dems govt

  2. Very close. Hopefully they will vote on it again prior to GE 2020. If the Right Wingers can be sufficiently democratically diluted then Labour will have a very good chance of gaining NUT support which is a vital thing to have to drive home the damage of Tory policy on education (Amongst everything else)

  3. Does it look to you as if the right-wing, red Tory Blairites are beginning to achieve their aim to bring down the left of the LP, and discredit Mr Corbyn? It looks dangerously like that to me.
    All I can hope for is that the people on the left, who are traditionally his supporters, stand around him as he faces another battle to keep Labour true to it’s core principles.

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