McAvoy condemns union left-wingers

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The Independent Online
THE leader of the National Union of Teachers yesterday accused left-wing conference delegates of having less grasp on political reality than student politicians, writes Judith Judd.

On the eve of a conference speech by David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, Doug McAvoy, the union's general secretary, told a press briefing: "Their speeches today were about socialism and market forces. They weren't old Labour, they were way to the left of old Labour." He said that the executives's victory by 7,000 votes over delegates who wanted to boycott the Government's education action zones was one of the most significant conference moments for years. It had greatly improved the union's status and relevance.

The zones, part of a Bill before Parliament, were supported by all three political parties and were here to stay. He added: "The political posturing of these delegates is best demonstrated by their belief that at this stage in a parliamentary debate on legislation you can ask a government to withdraw significant passages. "They would not be given credibility in student politics. Do they know what majority Labour has? Have they followed the debate on the Bill? Do they believe anybody can now persuade new Labour to vary the legislation. They don't represent the membership of the union."

Mr Blunkett will today announce pounds 100m for new information and communications technology for 8,000 schools.

The money will enable teachers to plan lessons and will give them access to suggestions about how to improve literacy and numeracy.