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Encouraging Result for Martin Powell-Davies
SOCIALIST PARTY member Martin Powell-Davies received 6,482 first-preference votes in the National Union of Teachers’ general secretary election. This was 12.5% of the vote on a turnout of just under 22%. Right-wing candidate Steve Sinnott won the election.
Although Martin was knocked out on the first round of transferable voting his result is a marvellous one for a candidate standing for the first time. Martin, unlike the other candidates, had no national position in the union and had very limited resources to campaign with.
Martin’s result indicates some positive signs for the development of the Left in the union. Over half of Martin’s transfers went to another Left candidate Ian Murch who came second with 22,134 votes after transfers. The combined Left vote of nearly 45% is up from 36% when Christine Blower challenged the incumbent general secretary Doug McAvoy five years ago.
Martin mobilised many teachers who would not otherwise have been inspired to vote in the election and his clear call for a number two transfer vote for Ian Murch paid off in winning thousands of extra votes for Ian Murch. When Ian Murch stood last year for the national treasurer’s position he gained 17,000 votes.
Martin’s decision to stand in the election has been justified by the increase in the Left’s vote and the fact that all the candidates moved to the Left – in words at least –during the course of the campaign.
NUT activists will have concerns that the more hardline right-wing candidate – Steve Sinnott – won the election. However, the terms of debate inside the union have been shifted to the Left by Martin’s standing. Sinnott won partly because he was not outgoing general secretary Doug McAvoy’s chosen successor and tried to portray himself as the unity candidate and being above factions in the union.
Yet, Sinnott is likely to face a short honeymoon and will be under increasing pressure on issues like workload and pensions.
McAvoy’s chosen successor, John Bangs, did very poorly in the election.
Martin received 13 nominations and got roughly 500 votes per nomination. Ian Murch got 43 nominations and received an average of 350 votes per nomination – a reflection of the degree of enthusiasm generated by the respective campaigns.
There will be a wide-ranging debate likely to take place amongst the Left organizations in the NUT after this election. One of the issues they will need to address is how to build a more vibrant, effective Left to inspire many of the 78% of NUT who didn’t vote to turn out in this election and vote for a candidate that will genuinely advance the interests of the majority of NUT members.
There will be a fuller article in next week’s the socialist.
Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
John Bangs 10,109 11,190
Ian Murch 15,360 18,643 22,134 (45%)
Martin Powell-Davies 6,482
Steve Sinnott 20,359 21,533 27,287 (55%)
Turnout: 52,310 first-preference votes - 21.7% (900 votes were not transferred on the first transfer and over 2,000 votes were not transferred in the final transfer).
In The Socialist 26 June 2004:
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