Left-wing candidate Christine Blower has been elected as Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers. She defeated the more right-wing candidate, John Bangs, by just under 5,000 votes.
Bangs was the candidate of the Broadly Speaking group (formerly the Broad Left); Christine was supported by the Campaign for a Democratic and Fighting Union (CDFU) and the Socialist Teachers’ Alliance (STA). She had previously been elected President of the Union and is secretary of the Hammersmith and Fulham division.
She was also a prominent member of the Socialist Alliance. Though heavily courted by Respect when that organisation was launched by the SWP, she declined to take part.
Christine’s victory is a huge boost for the NUT left, especially as it came only 24 hours after an Executive decision to ballot members on industrial action to defend pension rights.It should ensure that the new General Secretary Steve Sinnott is much less likely to bring the union into the Workforce Agreement and the rest of the partnership arrangements that have developed between the Government and the other school unions, arrangements which threaten the jobs and pay of teachers and will pass on much of our workload to underpaid and unwilling support staff.
There are important lessons for the left in this result too. With all of us united behind one candidate, we have the votes of a big enough constituency to win the leadership of the union. Christine’s vote, at 27,569, exceeded that of Steve Sinnott in the recent General Secretary election.
There were two candidates proclaiming to represent the left in the GS election. Ian Murch, also supported by the STA and CDFU, came second out of four candidates, but the Socialist Party insisted on standing their own candidate, Martin Powell-Davies, who came fourth. That wasted the energy of a number of branches which could have been used supporting a joint candidate.