Going Nuts in Brighton
Recently, was a delegate to the NUT (National Union of Teachers) conference in Brighton. Here is my Conference Diary:
Tangled in traffic firstly, with multitudes swarming into this sun-speckled place with its rambling Georgian deshabille,as a delegate at the National Teachers’ Union.
With my grin tucked away and all cynicism packed to go…are these my people? I doubt it. But perhaps no one is. Are. No two. Or three. Or many. How much time is wasted looking for one’s Karass! (Vonnegut: Karass = one’s true soulmates, whereas Granfalloon = those who think they are true soulmates, just because they come from the same town, or school, or profession) Close to my Karass = karateka, but not quite. I realised this on Wednesday evening when at a wonderful Indian in Tooting, there was Jackie and Ken, Julie and Lou, Owen – all of whom I have trained with for nearly 20 years. All black belts. We have punched together, kicked and knife- hand blocked each other – travelled across the country to courses together, trained with great masters..we have stayed together, graded together, laid together (well they have)…yet over a dinner in which they got raucous drunk and had the same discussion or rant they always have – I felt totally A.N Other. The only time anyone asked me anything felt exactly the same as I felt in Mumbai when everyone was rattling away in Hindi, turning to me every fifteen minutes or so and asking in intensely accented English and in the most patronising tone, “So how are you liking India? Good yes? ” before turning away again.
I may be wrong about this but I think I have interesting things to say. And I want to hear people who have interesting things to say. Experiences. Opinions. Two way.
So the quiet before it all. I have parked (a mission! My car perilously squeezed into the smallest space in the world. It will be injured unless the next-door parker can levitate – perhaps I will re-park) booked into the delightfully traditional Victorian Mercure sea front hotel and having a veggie rahmen …
At 3pm I meet with the inscrutable Stefan, our area chappie. Bouffant long hair flicked elegantly back from a babyish usually expressionless face, except for a rictus grin. Frequently in leather motorbike pants which delightfully accent his escaping belly, Stefan is tall and leans so far left one leg should really be shorter than the other. The hair is just Wrong on a bloke, especially such a blokish bloke. He is rather keen on getting me and everyone else signed up to the Socialist Workers’ Party, and I enjoy stringing him along, playing hard to get. Not going to happen.
He brought a pet SWP professor to a post-meeting meeting recently, to which I was rather nervously invited. After what I thought was a comprehensive and credible analysis of the Problem – which no left-leaner could disagree with, after much enquiry they presented their solution. Everybody out! Strike strike strike! Revolution now!
Bollocks guys, too late.
The Workers have long ago been bought. With sixty inch tvs, with latest cars, with debts debts and debts, utterly bound, bought, sold, bagged. Finally beaten. The battle, herren Marx und Engels, is over. Narcissists and psychopaths rule the world. The environment is totally fucked. The corporations sit like Jabba the Hut on top of the corpses of once democratic institutions. The Trump factor proves me right.
What is the solution?
No idea. And the SWP has no idea either.
Well there are some members of my Karass here. In fact I have never been in a huge public space with so many people who agree with me on so much. It’s frightening in a way, intimidating. Being small fish in big pond which appears not to be full of sharks is a unique experience. Friendly fish! None of whom seems to want to eat me whole.
Yeh it’s all pretty nuts! Finishes tomorrow and I am shattered. I have never found so many people I agree with politically and in so many other ways. Lots if trans guys and girls too – was so impressed by one trans guy in particular who is so well adjusted – came out at work (primary school) and was totally supported by staff and kids. Brilliant. So unlike Olivia’s experience, or even Ben’s.
I discover how far left I am. There is definitely a spectrum! I guess I am fifteen inches leftward on a twenty inch scale from zero. Which means, short of outright revolution but thoroughly hacked off by capitalist greed and their takeover of government – and education! There will be a massive rebellion (not quite revolution) on the idiotic capitalist plans they have for privatisation via forced academisation. Hell, it’s technical.
So I have met, laughed with, enjoyed such lovely people here. The price to pay was sitting for hour after hour listening to mindgrindingly boring speech after speech, each within the scope of horribly complicated Rules of Order. Followed by votes almost all of which were unanimously carried. Well, we’re all between 10 and 20 inches left of centre so not much to disagree on. Maybe Newsnight was right, nutty lefties wanting (the horror!) fairness and justice and proper education for our kids, despite the dictatorial decrees of a government with an agenda devoted to turning everything into a cutthroat business based on numerical targets which have no relation to the fact that humans are involved. Dedicated to creating kids who will be cannon fodder, compliant workers and above all, consumers pathetically keen to add to the profits of the Eton alumni and Americans who run the world; unaware of the effects on their health – obesity and diabetes – and even more critically, the destruction of the environment that is the inevitable result of the unbridled greed of the masters of the universe, the 1%.
The Conference ended with an excellent debate on Brexit – supported by the SWP and extreme left, a motion supporting withdrawal from the EU. Wankers! If we pull out President Boris (DC will go) will immediately sign up to TTIP, crush Unions, remove legislation protecting the environment and human rights, make buddies of every fascist dictator… Wankers! They say the EU is “the bosses union” – unlike, of course, the Tory party eh? And the Social Chapter and Human Rights court and and and….
My confidence in my colleagues was heartily restored as the motion was defeated on the basis that the NUT has no right to enter the debate and tell members what to vote. Not wankers.
Home now. So very tired. Will probably go to Calais next week…