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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Steve Shaw BS: Blair Peach: lest we forget... (21) RE: BS: Blair Peach: lest we forget... 24 Apr 19

It was a long time ago and I was a young and somewhat hot-blooded leftie who hated "the system" and, especially, the Tories (that's never left me), and I regarded the centrists and the soft left as collaborators with the establishment. Even the Labour Party under Wilson and Callaghan, and the trade union bosses to boot. A lot of the executive members of the union were both Communist Party members and head teachers in those days, and we detested them as runners with the fox and hunters with the hounds. In fact, somewhere I still have filed away several threatening letters from the then general secretary of the NUT, Fred Jarvis, berating me for supporting unofficial action against spending cuts and the forcible redeployment of teachers for money-saving reasons. As a union rep with one of the biggest memberships in east London I got embroiled in a campaign to save the job of one teacher in a primary school, then later in a scandal involving a teacher, a member of my school union group, who had behaved extremely unprofessionally. Blair was the slightly older and more experienced union man who walked me through those horrid times. He was as uncompromisingly hard left as you could wish for but he was also a fine humanitarian who would never criticise anyone who didn't live up to his ideals, as long as they were honest brokers. He and I would slope off down Burdett Road from Mile End for a few pints after one of our interminable and fractious branch meetings and put the world to rights. We were both members of the council of Inner London Teachers' Association for several years, representing our union branch, and he and I were the two delegates who supported Teachers' Rank And File. I learned a lot from him, about how to be a good teacher who also fought for the interests, tooth and nail, of the pupils first and foremost. He was even loved by many of the head teachers in east London, who, whilst disagreeing with his politics, saw that he put the interests of the kids first and would never, ever, let ideology get in the way of that. He was funny, witty and earthy and he understood people like almost no-one else I've ever known. Then some git clobbered him one night and that was it. That was some low ebb. As I said, a long time ago but we shouldn't forget blokes like him, ordinary enough blokes who have more good in their little finger than in ten million bloody Tories any day.

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