Blair 'the Whip' is lashed by union

6th November 1998 at 00:00
THE National Union of Teachers has launched an unprecedented attack on Tony Blair over his "unjust" criticism of teachers.

The union's newsletter, NUT News, shows the Prime Minister in an arrogant pose with the headline "Mr Instant Whip". He has earned the nickname, it says, because he thinks he can judge a school in an instant and because he whips teachers.

Mr Blair is quoted saying: "As soon as you meet the head, you have a very good idea if it is a good school or not." Also quoted is a Daily Express article in which he berates teachers for using poverty as an excuse for poor results.

The newsletter is part of a campaign highlighting anti-teacher statements made by the Government. A previous edition said: "Government ministers have persistently sought to portray schools and teachers as failing thereby justifying their policies and enhancing their public image. They will never let a speech go by without reference to failing, poor, underperforming, coasting or mediocre British schools and teachers. So, when they want to make teachers work longer hours and have shorter holidays, the teachers will be seen to deserve it."

The union was stung by remarks made in September by the Prime Minister in a speech in New York when he described teachers as a "vested interest". Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, described the Government's portrayal of teachers as "unjust". He said Mr Blair must realise that while many teachers voted for him, they are were not blind devotees to New Labour and will judge his Government on the way they are treated.

The union's toughening line against the Government comes on the eve of the publication of its Green Paper on the modernisation of the teaching profession.

Mr McAvoy has said his union will resist the introduction of performance-related pay and has set the scene for a battle between teachers and David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary.

Platform, page 13

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