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The Corbynite teachers' union leader and lover of communist Cuba who says the first word she learned was 'strike'

The Corbynite teachers' union leader and lover of communist Cuba who says the first word she learned was 'strike'
A clue as to the political philosophy of Dr Mary Bousted, the teachers’ union leader trying to sabotage next month’s return to school, can be found in her passion for communist Cuba.
The hard-Left joint general secretary of the National Education Union has authorised spending thousands of pounds of union money to send members on fact-finding trips to the one-party state.
The trips have understandably upset some members because of Cuba’s disregard for human rights. A motion from teachers in Lewisham at last year’s NEU annual conference demanded an end to their fees being spent on such jaunts.
The motion said: ‘Cuba is a police state with no free elections, free speech or free trade unions... The trade union movement is controlled by the state, and the leaders of the single union CTC are appointed by the state and the Communist Party. The right to strike is not legally recognized, and in practice it is denied…
Ms Bousted is shown on the picket lines outside Richmond College, London, in June 2011

Ms Bousted is shown on the picket lines outside Richmond College, London, in June 2011
There was no embarrassing defeat of the motion because it wasn’t called for debate – in October another NEU delegation is going back for a week-long visit.
It’s no surprise, therefore, to find that Bousted backed the last Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – a man who hailed the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro on his death in 2016 as ‘heroic’.
A former president of the TUC, she became one of the most powerful female trade unionists when, in 2017, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers – which she had led for more than a decade – merged with the National Union of Teachers. The combined 450,000 membership makes it the biggest education union in Europe.
Last year, under her joint leadership, the new union demanded the repeal of all legislation designed to curb the past excesses of the trade unions. It passed a motion arguing that flying pickets should be allowed to demonstrate outside school gates and that the closed shop should return, with teachers who refused to join unions dismissed.
‘The Conservative laws have made solidarity strikes illegal and prevent unions taking political strike action,’ stated the motion. ‘These laws prevent us striking to defend the NHS… [and] the anti-union laws prevent effective picketing.’
Bousted also backed the thousands of schoolchildren who skipped lessons several times last year to join the disruptive Extinction Rebellion environmental protests.
‘We stand in full solidarity with all students striking or protesting against climate change… [we] oppose any reprisals against students taking action to fight climate change, such as detentions, exclusions. The rights to strike and protest are fundamental democratic rights for students and workers alike,’ she said.
She has previously clashed with Michael Gove, who was education secretary in David Cameron's coalition government, over his wish to restore traditional subjects

She has previously clashed with Michael Gove, who was education secretary in David Cameron's coalition government, over his wish to restore traditional subjects
When it comes to industrial action, Bousted has form. In 2011 she led the ATL union, which was founded in 1978, into its first national strike as part of coordinated action by unions against the coalition government’s plans to change public sector pensions.
‘We expect to be taken seriously and to have the political and industrial clout to make sure our voice is heard,’ she cried.
It’s hard not to hear her voice. During pension and pay negotiations, successive education secretaries held regular meetings with the bosses of the education unions. Perhaps thinking herself the smartest of them, Bousted seemingly did most of the talking whilst regularly picking fights with the minister.
Mary Bousted, head of the National Education Union, sent members to Cuba
Mary Bousted, head of the National Education Union, sent members to Cuba
‘What I think I am doing is just telling it how it is,’ she once said, revelling in her confrontational approach. ‘People think I am strident because they don’t like what I’m saying.’
There was at least one stand-up row with Michael Gove, who was education secretary in David Cameron’s coalition government. They clashed over Gove’s wish to restore traditional subjects in the classrooms.
An English teacher before she moved into teacher-training, Bousted said she objected to focusing too much on traditional subjects which require pupils to learn material by heart.
‘It’s outdated, and fails to equip children for life in the modern world,’ she said.
‘If a powerful knowledge curriculum means recreating the best that has been thought by dead, white men – then I’m not very interested in it.’ Bousted wanted less Shakespeare and more works from Caribbean, Indian and Chinese writers. Asked about her rocky relationship with Gove, she said: ‘There was a lot of shouting and finger-pointing.’
No fan of Tory education secretaries, she never had any time for Tony Blair’s government either – and opposed his drive towards academy schools. One senior Whitehall insider said that she picked fights for the sake of it. ‘Mary Bousted regards the Conservatives as her professional, political, and philosophical foe.
‘The latest posturing over the lockdown is entirely typical of her tactics.’
The insider added: ‘It’s all about the union, to hell with the teachers who want to get back in to the classroom – let alone the children. Bousted is typical of the breed of trade unionist who is a middle-class leftist.
‘For her, it was school, university, and teacher training, and two decades running a union.’ Bousted, 60, the second youngest of eight children, was brought up in Bolton in the 1960s. Her father was the headmaster of a local primary school; her mother, a die-hard Labour supporter, was also a teacher. She jokes that the word ‘strike’ was one of the first she learned as a child – after climbing onto her father’s knee she used to scan the headlines as he read The Manchester Guardian, his daily newspaper.
Given Mary Bousted’s determination to confront the Government, it is a word she will only too willingly put into action to try to get her way.

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