Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Politics of Boycotting

There is good news of a sort on the British teaching union, NATFHE's, boycott of Israel. The AUT, the union that passed the boycott last year, then decisively rescinded it in a much larger vote, sent out a press release stating it does not endorse the boycott.
AUT does not endorse this policy and is strongly advising its members not to implement it.

Meanwhile, the AUT and NATFHE are set to merge later this week.

Adloyada has details on the politics of the union merger and its various leaderships.
I've always taken the view that the merger of the unions was a disaster for our universities, and especially our most respected world-class universities. That's because NATFHE's structures over the years have allowed it to be completely dominated by far left and hard left activists with ultra radical and revolutionary agendas. Quite apart from their latest move on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, they have adopted policy after policy which reflects that, from their fervent support of the Stop the War campaign to their latest fulsome praise of Chavez in Venezuela. And they favour flat rate equal funding for all post 16 colleges, so that the national budget for post 16 education would fund both colleges primarily providing artisan training and adult education and the likes of Oxford and Cambridge on an exactly identical allocation-per-student basis. This would of course put paid to our best universities as serious research institutions.

Before the merger was proposed, AUT's policies were largely uncontroversial, until last year's ultimately unsuccessful boycott initiative came along. But I noted that the hard left, in the shape of the Socialist Workers' Party, was proudly proclaiming the success of its efforts to gain control of individual university AUT branches. It may be some reflection of that that at its most recent conference, the AUT affiliated to the Stop the War campaign, passing a motion which included references to the "Afghani occupation". Presumably that means the AUT now regards Afghanistan as a country which should really be returned to the control of its former Taliban regime.


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