At a historic meeting of 185 NEU union activists last Saturday the NEU Left became a national membership organisation.
It was the culmination of two years of discussion since the idea of creating a new left current within the largest educators' union was launched in a fringe meeting at an NEU annual conference.
It represents a coming together of different currents within the union. These include the Broadly Speaking group and the Socialist Teachers Alliance, but also a much wider layer of newer, and younger, activists.
The NEU has grown significantly during the pandemic as members have organised on the ground. The union has recruited more than 50,000 members and increased the number of reps from around 8,000 to over 12,000 now.
Many of these newer reps and activists are open to becoming part of a democratic left current within the union. This has been demonstrated by NEU Left meetings during the pandemic both nationally and regionally.
But there has been resistance to moving to become a member-based organisation. Some objection has come from those at the head of some of the old left groupings in the union. But there has also been hesitation from newer activists who do not want a new left current to become as focussed on elections and union positions as those old groups have been.
Saturday’s meeting heard an amendment to further delay becoming a membership organisation. It was supported by the leaders of the existing left groupings but was heavily defeated by 75 percent to 20 percent with 5 percent abstaining.
A new steering group was agreed which will now prepare for an annual general meeting in the autumn term at which detailed democratic structures will be discussed and agreed,.
A key step now though is to build the NEU Left in every area and make it the natural home for the best activists across the union.