John Bangs

4th June 2004 at 01:00
The genial figure of John Bangs has largely been the public face of the NUT, as the union's head of education has done more TV interviews, standing in for the general secretary, than any other officer.

This is due in part to the patronage of Doug McAvoy, who is backing him as his preferred successor. Effectively a continuity candidate, Mr Bangs has used his campaign to praise the status quo.

But will his adherence to the ancien regime and its present position, just north of Siberia in the Government's book, advance his cause?

"Why should I distance myself from policies of success?" is his retort.

"NUT membership is now at a 20-year high."

The 54-year-old lacks the support of any of the union's main political factions, which could work against him when it comes to getting his vote out.

However, his higher profile in the media may make him more familar to the "ordinary" NUT member and counteract the activist vote which has been glad-handed by Steve Sinnott and Ian Murch.

Like Mr Sinnott, Mr Bangs started out on the far left and was a member of the Socialist Alliance, a left-wing NUT faction, until 1990 when he joined the union as a paid official. In 1987 he was among a group of London activists suspended from the NUT for a short time for taking unofficial industrial action.

Today he is seen as a moderate and argues his independence from the main factions would help to unite the union.

He was brought up in Brighton and educated at Knoll secondary modern in Hove before studying fine art at Reading university and doing a postgraduate certificate in education at Goldsmiths college, London. He taught art and design at Bow boys' school and then Templar special school, both in east London between 1972 and 1989. He was president of the NUT's inner London association in 1984 and a teacher member of the Inner London Education Authority between 1986 and 89.

He was appointed NUT special education needs principal officer in 1990 and took up his present post in 1993.

He is married with two grown-up children and remains a keen artist. William Hill has made him favourite at 56 while Ladbrokes is offering 64.

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