The National Education Union (NEU) Executive elections closed on 29 April. Disappointingly, Workers’ Liberty supporter and victimised rep Tracy McGuire lost the national support staff seat, after a vicious campaign by the misnamed “NEU Left”, who have been as determined to remove her from her Executive role as her employer was to sack her.
This deprives the executive of a tenacious fighter for support staff. Tracy has fought to ensure the union fully represents support staff and develops into an industrial union. That is why the “NEU Left” fought so hard to remove her. However disgusting her defeat, it is only a temporary setback for the fight for an industrial union.
Tracy stood as part of the Education Solidarity Network (ESN), the rank-and-file opposition in the union. In the district elections the ESN will have at least eight supporters on the new Executive (four re-elected, four new). Workers’ Liberty supporter Patrick Murphy topped the poll in West and South Yorkshire and his transfers helped ensure the election of another victimised rep, Louise Lewis.
There are four more ESN candidates standing in elections to be re-run due to a foul up on the ballot papers, with a real possibility of further gains. Workers’ Liberty supporter Pat Markey is amongst those in the re-runs.
The districts result is a significant strengthening of the ESN’s presence on the Executive. It is clearly the main opposition to the current leadership. This is also shown in the coming election for Deputy General Secretary (DGS), where Martin Powell-Davies has already secured sufficient nominations to contest the election against Gawain Little of the “NEU Left”. A “moderate” candidate, Niamh Sweeney, has, as yet, to secure sufficient nominations.
Tracy’s defeat, set against the gains elsewhere for the ESN, suggests that whilst the ESN is strong in many geographical areas, we have yet to develop it across the country, and we are yet able to match the electoral machine of the “NEU Left”. We must continue to build in our districts and develop grassroots militancy. We can use elections such as the upcoming DGS vote to spread our message wider and sow the seeds for future success.