Short memories

15th June 2001 at 01:00
LAST weekend's Educational Institute of Scotland conference was among the doucest on record, even if the left triumphed in its call for a boycott of unit internal assessment in Higher Still (page four). History shows that stirring speeches fizzle out into negotiated agreements some months later. Unions are in business to strike deals, not strike, and the EIS has a remarkable record in achieving what it wants through talking.

It would be wise, however, not to push Jack McConnell too far. The Education Minister has delivered on pay and conditions but has now been smacked in the mouth in spite ofbeing instrumental in amending assessment procedures. He did not take it kindly, labelling delegates "unprofessional".

If the union had been a political party, it would have been shouting from the rooftops of Perth City Hall how it had outgunned its opponents and won a pay package that is the envy of Britain and beyond. It was largely left to teacher union bosses from England and Ireland to praise Scottish colleagues and their deal - delegates certainly did not. As ever, EIS representatives are a curmudgeonly lot, ready to spy the next conspiracy in the heart of a major victory.

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