Over 40 delegates to last weekend’s conference of lecturers’ union Natfhe came to an enthusiastic Respect question and answer reception with Shaun Doherty, George Galloway’s election agent.
We decided to hold an informal gathering rather than a dusty meeting —and it worked a treat. Delegates could mingle and chat and then Shaun gave a brief outline about Respect, which was followed by questions and discussion.
Many of those present were from areas where the left is not particularly strong, either in the union or the community. They said it was a breath of fresh air to see Respect’s success and they took inspiration to try to replicate it in their colleges and towns.
The discussion focused on the importance of Respect sinking roots in unions. Many delegates were already Respect members and six more joined after the reception.
Most were branch secretaries who recognised that we need a political arm to the industrial and campaigning battles we are involved in.
The whole conference was shaped by anger that Tony Blair, after such a drubbing in the polls, has responded by taking an “unremittingly New Labour” direction.
The appointment of arch-Blairite Andrew Adonis as education minister particularly got people’s backs up.
The conference also passed a very strong policy calling for strike action in defence of pension rights, an issue Respect is also taking up.
Join at the Respect website www.respectcoalition.org