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Bad ballots

Malcolm Horne (TES, November 10) misrepresents the way the agenda of the general secretary and the declining "broad left" majority on the national executive of the National Union of Teacher's appears to the majority of members.

By wishing to use consultative ballots of the members to "extend democracy" they are in fact stifling debate and discouraging members from taking an active part in local activities of the union.

I can see a time, in the not very distant future, when there are insufficient members who are prepared to take on the responsibility of representing members at a local level. With all the political initiatives which serving teachers have had to accommodate in the past 16 years they need, more than ever, local representation on joint negotiating and advisory bodies and, increasingly, representation at school level when faced with redundancy.

By attacking the lay officers of the union, Malcolm Horne and Doug McAvoy are attacking the raison d'etre of a trade union.

The extreme Left does have a voice within the union (the extreme Right used to, but what has happened to that in the past 10 years?). The way to extend debate and democracy within the union is for the national executive and the paid officers to support and strengthen the local structure, not to undermine it.

CATH BURNINGHAM

45 Duncombe Street

Bletchley

Milton Keynes

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