SO NEAR and yet so far... Barry Sheerman's education select committee has long harboured a desire to get all six union leaders together in one room for a good grilling.
He's already lined up the questions he wants to ask - things like: why don't you all join together? And: why are you surprised the public hates you after your Easter conferences every year?
Last week it lookedas if the committee had achieved its ambition, with all six having at last given their agreement - including Doug McAvoy. Now, alas, the MPs have received a communication from the NUT general secretary, saying sorry, but he now has urgent business in the United States to attend to.
What on earth could be more urgent than the House of Commons education select committee?