Old dogs, but few new tricks

16th June 2000 at 01:00
THE CITY of Discovery held few surprises for this year's annual bash of the Educational Institute of Scotland. Greying, veteran lefties showed no signs of flagging in Dundee. Greying, veteran establishment figures still flogged them with enthusiasm.

Others such as Willie Hart have flown between the two wings with ease. Now convener of the union's powerful inner cabinet and one of the conference's most effective performers, he is a man with a rebellious past. But his past is his best pal. "There's no one who likes a good demo better than myself," he told delegates while simultaneously urging them to give the whole idea of marching through Glasgow on a wet Saturday a wide berth.

Hart retains enough street cred to lambas his opponents without giving too much offence. It's quite a trick, especially when you describe one opponent of the McCrone package as having a "piss-off-with-sophistication strategy", while charging another with espousing a "get-lost-without-

sophistication strategy".

Hart is the epitome of today's EIS - never mind the ideology, feel the strategy. There's nothing worse, it seems, than to be accused of lacking "an alternative strategy". This year, for once, there was something even worse : headteachers, for whom McCrone done well. The irony was not lost on Jim Whannel, the impressive Glasgow primary head and gay activist. He observed:

"You can say you're gay at this conference, but not a headteacher."

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