Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Dear Tristram

I'm sorry to harp on about this. I'd rather post something about the books I'm reading or the music to which I'm listening - but Tristram Hunt's betrayal of his colleagues and political friends is really bugging me. Here's the letter I sent him and Ed Miliband. I encourage you to do the same. Their email addresses are ed.miliband.mp@parliament.uk and tristramhunt@parliament.uk

Dear Ed and Tristram,
I am a Labour Party member and a university lecturer, after four degrees (BA, MA, PhD and PGCE), ten years of extra debt and many years of hourly-paid casual work. At 38, I have only been employed full-time and with pension rights for 6 years. In that time, my pension has been cut, my pension contributions increased and my retirement date extended far into the future. My salary has not increased in real terms since I secured this job, though my workload, class sizes and management expectations all have.   
I look at my students and see bright, eager people, many of whom would like to become the next generation of intellectual leaders and educators like you once were Tristram. But every year, weighed down by £50,000 of debt, they’re forced to take ‘socially useless’ jobs in for example banking rather than follow their hearts and give back to society. While the senior management of many universities demand corporate levels of pay ‘to attract talent’, academic pay is declining and it’s hard to attract a new generation when conditions are declining.  
This is why I was so utterly disappointed to see a Shadow Minister for Education crossing a picket line to deliver a course - ironically - on Marx. I am not naive enough to expect a Labour politician to support an industrial dispute any more, but I would have thought that Tristram would have had the good manners to simply reschedule the session or use another entrance. Given the caution and sophistication of your political activity, I can only conclude that publicly crossing a picket line of one’s colleagues is a deliberate political act designed to deliver some kind of message to the political right.  
Despite being an expert on Marxist theory, Mr Hunt has clearly failed to learn the Labour virtues of solidarity and empathy. I would like to stress to you how disappointed I am by yesterday’s action. Even though I’m on the Board of Governors of my university, I was on the UCU picket line and worked hard to explain to my students that withdrawing our labour is both deeply unpleasant and our only remaining option in the pay dispute. How can I talk to them about the joys of social democratic unity in an individualistic neoliberal society when my own party’s leaders are so willing to betray their former colleagues and political allies? 
I’m not asking either of you to support our strike (though I wish you could), but I would like you to contemplate whether crossing a picket line is what you got into Labour politics for.
Plashing Vole
PS: Here's the automated email reply from Tristram:
However, as I am sure you will understand, my immediate priorities will be my parliamentary duties as Shadow Secretary of State for Education and to my constituents in Stoke-on-Trent Central.
Yes, it really looked like it as he strolled across a picket line to deliver a class in London.

1 comment:

Alan said...

You couldn't make this up!

He has actually tried tojustify this scabbing, in response to a UCU activist, by saying that he's a member of other, unnamed unions, not the UCU. (Duh???? Any scabs in the tube strike say they were in the UCU, not the RMT??? Does the twat understand the idea of being in a union?) Consequently, not crossing the line would be unofficial secondary action. (Not unless he was breaking a contract of employment.) And "we" (who?) are trying to encourage NUT members to scab.

That, I suppose, is what you get when you let in an absurd public-school toff called Tristram as a "Labour" MP.