Education workers in the NEU union have voted to oppose a motion which stood against Russian and Western imperialism in Ukraine. The debate, on an emergency motion, ended with no policy passed all.
But there were plenty of signs that many NEU members want to oppose Russia’s invasion, and that they are also against Nato escalation.
There was no disagreement that the events unfolding in Ukraine are disastrous, with the most damaging effects on the most vulnerable people.
The emergency motion supported a ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops. It also argued that “the deployment of British and Nato forces in Ukraine would be a dangerous escalation”.
It added, “This war must not lead to the expansion of military alliances in Europe which can only threaten future stability and hasted the likelihood of further conflicts.”
Speakers said that the route to peace does not lie with US president Joe Biden and Boris Johnson but with ordinary people.
This was countered by an amendment that argued to delete the points about Nato. Its proposers argued to replace the points on expansion of military alliances with, “The government and people of Ukraine have the right to defend themselves.”
But this amendment, effectively backing Nato’s war drive, did not pass. Emma Rose from the NEU executive committee told the conference, “The answer to bombing is never more bombs, the answer to war is never more war.”
Fran a primary teacher from London argued, “It’s right we talk about Nato—the biggest military alliance in the world. Further expansion of Nato will not lead to peace—Finland and Sweden who have been neutral for 50 years or more are now looking to join Nato. Is this a step forward for peace?
“What will Russia do if Nato continues to expand, form an alliance with China?”
But then a vote on the main motion without the amendment resulted in about two-thirds of delegates voting against.
This left anti-war delegates disappointed. But it means the arguments have to be maintained and explained to wider numbers of people.
A Stop the War fringe meeting entitled No To War In Ukraine—Why We Say No To Nato Expansion, saw 200 people attend.
NEU president Daniel Kebede told the meeting, “We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. The strengthening of Western military alliances does not lead to peace.”
Jess Edwards from the NEU executive agreed, adding, “To those who argue for weapons to pour into Ukraine, we say those weapons aren’t neutral, it won’t stop there, it will fuel Nato expansion. She added, “It means nuclear powers competing with each other.”
Speaking to Socialist Worker, teacher Alan said, “First and foremost we stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and refugees. But sending more and more arms is a dangerous game.
“Nato wants to increase its influence to the east and south, it will result in more of the events we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Russia will respond to that with more war and alliances with China and North Korea.”
In all the trade unions, activists have to continue to press the anti-war case—against the Russian invasion, against Nato and for a battle against imperialism.
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