Sack the Tories! Sack Blunkett! Dump the lot!
This week the teachers have been denounced and threatened by Tory, Labour and union leaders alike. Teachers are right to respond to attacks on education with ballots for strike action. Demonstrators are right to harangue Blunkett after his disgusting promise to be more Tory than Tory in office. But we must go beyond the slogan ‘Sack the Tories’
THE LABOUR Party and the National Union of Teachers is leading a hate campaign against teachers fighting and demonstrating for their rights and for better education.
This campaign is backed by the whole of the bosses’ press, most notably the Daily Mail which promises to help the union leadership find and discipline teachers who demonstrated against Blunkett at Saturday’s NUT conference.
Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the NUT, threatened demonstrators with expulsion from the union. Blunkett claimed, “Any teacher behaving as they did would not be fit to stand in front of a class”. NUT president John Bills said, “It is open to any governing body to decide what to do with teachers who bring their schools into disrepute.” We expect nothing different from the bosses’ Labour Party and should expect nothing different from the NUT leadership which is tied tightly to Labour and traditionally warns off strike action so as not to upset them.
But, despicably, so called left organisations - Socialist Teachers Alliance and the Campaign for a Democratic and Fighting Union within the NUT - also condemned the demonstrators.
The bosses’ press attempted to blame the motions for strike action as well as the demonstration on militant ‘extremists’. But conference overwhelmingly rejected a debate on the demonstration and the call for disciplinary action. Blunkett subsequently backed down, only worried that sacking the demonstrators would “turn them into martyrs”.
The NUT and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers have passed motions for strike action over class sizes. The National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers is expected to follow suit. This hardly represents the views of just a few leftwing militants, as the press claim.
Two years ago it was Militant which was being witch-hunted by the Labour-loyal NUT, this year it is the Socialist Workers Party and the left in general. Actually, most of the schools with classes of anything up to 47 pupils are located in the shires - not the most militant areas.
But action following the conference is not guaranteed, as we know from bitter experience. The NUT leadership recommended a vote against strike action, so a positive ballot will depend on the work of rank and file militants building for a united strike against education cuts.
The SWP slogan, shouted at Blunkett, was typically disarming - “Sack the Tories” - as if Blunkett had not proved beyond all doubt this week that the Labour Party might not be the lesser of two evils for teachers, but could actually be worse than the Tories in office. Over the last two weeks, backed by Blair, he has not only condemned strike action but also threatened to sack teachers in ‘failing schools’.
Of course, from Blunkett’s rightwing point of view these failing schools have nothing to do with overworked teachers - who are often responsible for classes with over 30 pupils - lack of funding for schools or an education system and society which offers children no future.
The Labour Party has made clear that it will attack not just teachers, but all workers just as viciously as the Tories in the interest of their only concern - the bosses’ profits. In the run up to the local elections they are treating working class votes with contempt.
They know that whatever they say, the working class, and even the left will, in the absence of any alternative, vote Labour to “Sack the Tories”. Now Labour and Tory are just competing for the rightwing vote - and Labour is winning.
To build a militant working class movement which can tell not only the Tories, but Blunkett as well, where to stick their education cuts we need to build our own Party capable of fighting for what we need, not what Labour or Tory say they can afford.
The CPGB is standing in the local elections as part of that work to reforge the working class’s Communist Party.
Don’t vote for Labour or Tory attacks - vote Communist and join us in that struggle.