Socialist Worker

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour at the NUT teachers' union conference

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2497

Corbyns opposition to Tory plans ensured him a warm welcome from teachers union delegates

Corbyn's opposition to Tory plans ensured him a warm welcome from teachers' union delegates

There was loud applause and cheering for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as he arrived to address conference on Friday. Corbyn told delegates that he was "very proud to be a trade unionist".

He said he was "proud to lead a party that is campaigning against the trade union bill and will repeal it in 2020".

Corbyn denounced the Tories' plan to force every school in England to become an academy as "asset stripping".

"This is an ideological attack on teachers and local parental accountability," he said, and added that Labour would "fiercely oppose" it. Corbyn pointed out that breaking up local authorities would lead to chaos and make it harder to ensure every child had a school place.

He also pointed out that child poverty, the housing crisis and attacks on welfare all affect children's wellbeing and education.

Labour members and others were buoyed by Corbyn's appearance, the first time a Labour leader has ever spoken at NUT conference.

Delegate Linda Kettel told Socialist Worker, "It's amazing that he came - it makes a difference to us. I was in the Labour Party but I left. I'm going to rejoin because of Jeremy Corbyn."


Around 40 teachers joined a fringe meeting hosted by Labour Party supporters on Saturday. They debated what Labour could and should do to get a better education system. Many were aware of the problems facing the party and pressure from the right wing to win a more moderate agenda.

One party member told Socialist Worker, "I'm concerned about the parliamentary Labour Party and the leaders' office. There's no clear message coming out.

"We can't just say what we're against - at some point we have to say what we're for."

Another told the meeting that Labour "doesn't seem to have a positive education policy".

Deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney told the meeting, "The NUT is not affiliated to Labour. But Labour now gives us the chance to break the consensus and change education policy."

John Bills is constituency Labour Party secretary in Halesowen and Rowley Regis. He told Socialist Worker, "Jeremy Corbyn has got a more personal touch than other politicians - he's more human.

"We're getting behind Jeremy. The right wing is a minority in the party. The worst thing we could do is to divide again. I hope all the party will accept that he's the leader and the main thing we need to do is to defeat the Tories."

Robert is a Labour member in Oxford. He told Socialist Worker, "A lot of people in the constituencies are sympathetic to Jeremy Corbyn. A lot more people are open minded.

"It's a shame to say it, but people elected as MPs don't necessarily represent the normality of Labour voters. Our MP in East Oxford is great. He lives in the community and is from the grassroots.

"But too many Labour MPs are carpetbaggers - and part of the problem is that they are only there for their career.

"If Labour can build more grassroots support then maybe MPs would value it more. In a number of cases unions have been accused of infiltrating Labour by the right wing media.

"It's double standards - business can lobby the Conservatives. And unions are the bedrock of Labour and it's right they have a say. Too many times they have paid money to Labour but been ignored. Unions need to be more assertive."

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