The Blair Peach award was given out for the first time at this year’s NUT conference. Fittingly, the award was made on the 32nd anniversary of Blair’s death, on Saturday 23 April.
Blair Peach was a socialist and anti-Nazi campaigner who was murdered by police after he took part in a protest against the National Front in 1979. He was also a teacher and an NUT activist. The Blair Peach award is given to recognise work against racism and fascism.
The award went to Jason Hill from Stoke-on-Trent, who has played a key role in a campaign against the British National Party.
Bernard Regan, who taught with Blair, presented the award. “32 years ago Blair was murdered,” he told conference. “I use that word not emotively but factually. He died as a result of a blow to the head and the only people in the vicinity were members of the Metropolitan Police Special Patrol Group.
“I hope we don’t only remember the tragic circumstances of Blair’s death but also all the positives of his life. He would’ve been supporting the union in opposing Islamophobia and racism today.”
Delegates backed a motion on Monday to oppose Islamophobia. The motion committed the NUT to supporting a joint conference with the UCU lecturers’ union on Tackling Islamophobia in Education.
An amendment passed condemned David Cameron’s recent speech on multiculturalism as “a clear escalation of Islamophobic rhetoric”. It said that Cameron was trying to use racism “to divide and weaken opposition to austerity measures”.
Another motion pointed to the disproportionate impact of funding cuts on black and minority ethnic students. It called for the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) to continue to be ringfenced, opposed any moves to privatise it.
The motion also called on the union’s executive to “encourage and support requests for ballots for industrial action in defence of EMAG teaching jobs in the event that they are threatened”.