In the mid-70s, Stirling University had one of the first access courses, for mature students with ‘limited’ school-leaving qualifications.
I was there. So were Jack McConnell, John Reid, Mick Connarty and Richard Leonard. Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary was there too. They were all sort-of hard left back then but ended up in the Labour Party, to get a career.
Though my sentiments then were close to the hard left, I remained more a Groucho Marxist. All the hard left guys I knew were boring and humourless.
I was then a teacher and teacher educator from 1980 until getting a free transfer to a school of media, in 2004, too classroom-rusty to be of any use.
I knew lots of great people in schools but as a profession, they could be a bit moany, an embittered bunch. They were rarely, however, hard left. Indeed many were Tories though most, it seemed were kind of centrist.
Getting any of us to be active in the union was a struggle for the organisers. It was clearly a very different kind of life from teaching or curriculum development.
Those who did fancy it were sometimes ‘on the run’ from the classroom.
In some ways, enjoying being a union rep suggested that you hadn’t really enjoyed being in education.
So, to climb within it as Flanagan has, often needed little talent as you were up against little competition.
Jump forward to the 2020s and we see those not really leftist teachers being led sheepishly into confrontations with an SNP Government, on behalf of the leadership’s old pals in Scottish Labour based on embarrassingly feckless opinion gathering, to support campaigns foisted on a membership which will then reject them in a proper vote.
By that time, however, the publicity has been gained.