Remember the days when you could tell a left-wing activist from a right-wing reactionary? Or, was it ever that simple? At the Educational Institute of Scotland conference 30 years ago, it was "militants" versus the "establishment" - though sometimes it was difficult to distinguish who was who, as Iain Thorburn reported in The TES Scotland of June 14, 1974.
The annual meeting of the EIS usually provides some clash between "militants" and "establishment". The two sides are not all that well delineated: in the past the struggle has seemed to be between trade unionists and professionals, or the Glasgow delegation and the rest, or the delegates and the executive: and the "establishment" is often made up of people who think themselves militant.
This year there was a new division between crabbed age and youth, youth being represented by a strongish rank and file grouping within the meeting.
In this context "youth" need have little to do with calendar years; rank and file attracted to its lunchtime meeting probationers and headmasters and, still working within the institute, seemed to firm up some of the battle lines that have in the past appeared wavy.
A lot were from Glasgow: all seemed to be trade union minded (as opposed to professional association minded), and none seemed to trust the executive.