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The authentic voice of the silent majority?

I do need to correct Cath Burningham of Milton Keynes who in her letter "Bad ballots" (TES, November 24) attacks me for attacking lay officers of the National Union of Teachers. I have never attacked lay officers in general, although I may have pointed out the deficiencies of particular individuals from time to time. After all, I am a lay officer and both as the secretary of the NUT local association with the largest proportion of members in the country, and as the longest serving member of the executive, I am well-placed to know just how hard lay officers work for their union.

The rest of her letter, claiming to know better than I do how "the majority of members" think, was adequately dealt with by the results of the ballot on increased democracy in the union. More than 80 per cent of those voting on five out of six of the questions agreed with increased use of ballots, and more than 60 per cent on the other. Her case is not so much damaged as blown out of the water.

I also need to comment on your article "Left wins NUT ballot". It is true that what Cath Burningham calls the "extreme Left", you call the "far Left" and I always refer to as the "ultra Left" won the senior vice-president position in the NUT officer elections, but two out of the three positions were won by supporters of the present leadership.

Moreover, Christine Blower won the election on a Broad Left platform. I could have written her address on the ballot myself, apart from the bit about having two daughters at school. If you read her election material you read nothing about her support for the one-day strike in the summer term which the membership overwhelmingly rejected, or of her opposition to the move to obtain a united pay claim with other teaching unions which had 98 per cent support in the recent ballot, or of her refusal to insist that only non-violent activities should take place on anti-racist demonstrations which, if balloted on, our membership would treat with contempt. She has certainly learned from the Conservative party how to win elections!

MALCOLM HORNE

Outer London executive member National Union of Teachers London

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