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It has been reported today that Simon Smith, a maths teacher in Solihull has been suspended from work because he is a BNP candidate in the June European elections. It is tempting to support the idea of removing right-wing teachers from the profession. However, I think it is a dangerous development. How would we respond if they started suspending teachers who were members of the Socialist Worker Party? Is there a danger of reproducing the McCarthyism of the 1950s? This mirrors to a certain extent the debate we had about Jean-Marie Le Pen.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=665

Smith is a member of the NASUWT. It will be interesting to see how the union reacts to this decision. They are on record of being strongly opposed to the policies of the BNP. Should they be willing to defend his right to express political opinions? It reminds me of the time I was NUT rep and I had to defend a fellow member from being sacked from his post. He was charged with being incompetent (he was). I must say I had mixed emotions about defending him (he was a personal friend of long-standing). I definitely did my duty as a union representative but I failed dismally in my responsibilities as an educator.

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The decision might indeed have some very serious implications. Any judgement on the suitability of a teacher must take into consideration whether the political beliefs inform and colour the teaching. In the case of the BNP these beliefs would almost certainly be contrary to the ethos and the aims both of the school as well as DFES and LEA regulations. I doubt these criteria would affect radical left wing teachers in the same way.

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I doubt these criteria would affect radical left wing teachers in the same way.

Maybe there be a similar problem if a teacher was a revolutionary Marxist bent on violently overthrowing capitalist society??

I find this a very interesting and challenging case. I think my view on it would centre on whether there was any evidence of professional misconduct to support the suspension. It is not illegal to be a member of the BNP it is just revolting.

I believe the school in question is a catholic school which is perhaps why they have been able to take this action against someone who "doesn't support the ethos of the school"

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I am interested that liberal democrats are more interested in defending the rights of the BNPP than in defending the rights of children not to be taught by racists. Presumably you draw the line at having paedophiles teaching .... or is the jury still out on that one?

When children from Ethnic minorities face violence and abuse from the BNP on a daily basis. When the police seem remarkably uninterested in pursuing the BNP, I think the rights of racists are not at the top of my agenda.

In the case of an allegedly incompetent teacher, the job of the NUT rep is to see that the member is treated fairly. I am assuming that an NASUWT rep would take the same attitude towards a BNP teacher. Perhaps bearing in mind the fact that the BNP propose to abolish trade unions. ("People whose freedom must be curbed are pressure groups, the media and trade unions.")

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To quote Martin Niemöller (1946)

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemöller was of course a fascist when the Nazis began rounding up communist and socialist teachers. Is the message of this poem acceptable if the first line read:

First they came for the fascists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a fascist.

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I am interested that liberal democrats are more interested in defending the rights of the BNPP than in defending the rights of children not to be taught by racists.  Presumably you draw the line at having paedophiles teaching .... or is the jury still out on that one?

:D This liberal democrat would even go out of his way to defend the individual rights of revolutionary Marxists in such a situation largely because individual rights are important in a democracy even when those democratic principles are not necessarily shared by the person concerned.

A teacher in a mainstream non denominational school cannot be suspended for a political affiliation. They can be suspended for misconduct. Inciting racial hatred would certainly constitute misconduct but would have to be proved. I am surprised that Derek as an active union member apparently takes the rights of teachers so lightly.

The comment about paedophiles is rather silly.

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Guest Adrian Dingle
How would we respond if they started suspending teachers who were members of the Socialist Worker Party?

One may have to respond by grasping hold of the nearest object that was bolted to the earth, to prevent from being sucked into the nearest school front entrance, by the vacuum created by the vast numbers of teachers being forced to leave by the rear exit! :D

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Having a BNP member teaching Jewish children, who they do not regard as part of the human race; teaching black children who they wish to deport for being black, teaching disabled children who they do not believe have a right to live.....that is not dissimilar to having a paedophile in charge of a nursery class.

You might as well put Goebbles in charge of the library. If schools do not take a stand against the BNP who will?

I am particularly concerned that you seem to be lagging behind The Daily Mirror (yes it surprised me too) who had an editorial praising the NUT for its policy against the BNP.

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I am particularly concerned that you seem to be lagging behind The Daily Mirror (yes it surprised me too) who had an editorial praising the NUT for its policy against the BNP.

Whilst it is not specified to whom Derek's last post is directed I am assuming it is me :D

It is of course extremely easy to talk in emotive cliches about these matters. Less so to make coherent judgements.

I am sure no one here is suggesting that Nazi teachers are a good idea. However an adherence to "due process" is deeply important in the protection of all our rights. If we are to abandon "due process" just because we don't like the stated politics of the person concerned then it won't be very long until none of us have any rights.

As I outlined earlier non denominational mainstream schools quite rightly cannot suspend a teacher for a political affiliation - professional misconduct has to be proven.

In the circumstances Derek appears to be promoting it is conceivable that a member of a hard left organisation could be suspended from a teaching post for denying the right of shopkeepers and capitalists to exist, or for a rejection of societies democratic ideals - this I would also oppose on similar grounds to those outlined earlier.

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No. What bothers me is the way Andy is prioritising the rights of the BNP over the rights of pupils and indeed other teachers from ethnic minorities. I also mentioned the fact that fascism involves the persecution of disabled people and (as has been pointed out to me) I failed to mention the victimisation of gay people as well.

If they attempt to sack me on the grounds of my political beliefs we will fight the case on its merits. If you cannot differentiate between my beliefs and fascism then you are in good company - the company of the late Josef Stalin who equated Trotskyism with fascism :D

Have a nice day ;)

Derek McMillan

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If you cannot differentiate between my beliefs and fascism then you are in good company - the company of the late Josef Stalin who equated Trotskyism with fascism 

And if you cannot see that human rights are something everyone has or no one has, then the situation is worse than I thought :D

The rights of pupils and minorities are protected by legality and process in the same way as are the rights of teachers (regardless of political affiliation).

It would seem that the BNP character in question is accused inciting racial hatred on his personal web site. I would hope that this is to be investigated thoroughly during the period of suspension. If it is true then I believe he deserves to be sacked. What he is entitled to first however to is a fair investigation.

The web site in question has been taken off line though parts of it can still be viewed via web archive HERE. On a cursory glance it is pretty predictably vile BNP material.

I am not of course suggesting that the politics of Militant Tendency, ( of which I believe you are a member), and fascism are the same, despite the fact they both suggest a totalitarian preference. The differences are far more interesting than the essential similarities.

I am indeed having a nice day - thanks for the thought ;)

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It would seem that the BNP character in question is accused inciting racial hatred on his personal web site

And you sound surprised!

Of course I am not surprised that a member of the BNP has been accused of inciting racial hatred. I am however quite surprised by your unwilingness to engage in debate beyound the trotting out, (no pun intended), of worn out and trite party cliches.

When "they come for you" Derek rest assured I will be there to defend your rights . :rolleyes:

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For information

National days of action against the BNP on Sunday 2nd May and Sunday 6th June

Unite Against Fascism are calling for everyone who wants to stop the fascists to come together and join in with mass leafleting on these days. Be creative - think of any stunts that can gain publicity in local press. We want the fascists to know that up and down the country local communities are organising against them and they will not make an electoral breakthrough on June 10th!

So organise now in your workplaces, union branches, schools and colleges, community groups churches, temples and mosques to involve as many people as possible. Use the >model motion and the unite against fascism join forms to build and raise the funds needed to stop the BNP!

General 'Unite Against Fascism' >leaflets are available, and the mass election leaflet is also now available.

Their website is http://www.uaf.org.uk

If we could move the discussion away from my authoritarianism I would be delighted. My late father was a Stalinist and two of my sons are anarchists so I have been insulted by experts :rolleyes:

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If we could move the discussion away from my authoritarianism I would be delighted.

Your word is my cooperation :rolleyes:

However a debate on the nature of Trotskyism and a debate on totalitarianism would be interesting additions to this forum in other threads.

In this thread I hope we can agree that:

1. Individual human rights are important regardless of an individuals political affiliation.

2. British fascism is repugnant.

3. Free speech and open discussion are the best ways of countering the influence of 2.

I believe the case of the Solihull teacher was featured on Question Time last night - did anyone catch it??

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