I am a UCU member and I'm appalled by the witch-hunting tone of her article. Thanks for bringing it to our attention though, I now know who to cast my ballot for.
"I'm appalled by the witch-hunting tone of her article."That's rather like a contemporary of Joseph McCarthy's, being appalled by the fall from grace of the anti-Communist Senator, calling, journalist Edward R. Murrow's tone on exposing the former's many iniquities as "witch-hunting", bristling with sanctimonious indigantion. The Bizarro moral world of British academia.
Phil, I re-read FiG's piece on UCU and failed to find a "witch-hunting" tone, apart perhaps from a single instance of the word "extremist" to refer to the SWP. The so-called UCU Left does not represent the genuine left in the UCU: it is dominated by the SWP and organised around an "anti-imperialist" agenda which has nothing to do with either genuine anti-imperialism or the cause of labour solidarity. Those of us who argue against the UCU's posturing around Middle East issues are accused of wanting to de-politicise the union. In fact, the UCU Left is not genuinely internationalist. While forcing the union to spend hours debating the futile and reactionary gesture politics of boycotting Israeli scholars, they have been silent on issues of academic freedom in countries where academics get slung in prison for voicing dissent. They have been silent on campaigns to bring free education to the parts of the world ravaged by neo-liberalism and parts of the world where girls and women are systematically excluded from schools and colleges. In short, their pose as internationalists would better be described as vicarious social patriotism or as alliance with far right forces in the Middle East. Those of us who see the Trot hacks who seek to hijack the union through the UCU Left are accused of witch-hunting and conservatism. In fact, while the UCU Left includes people who are hard-working branch activists, their agenda of empty, flamboyant gesture politics is threatening to derail the next round of industrial struggle on pay and conditions. Finally, the support of UCU Left academics for reactionary politics in the student body (e.g. the invitation from the staff/student Goldsmiths Respect to Paul Eisen, a well-known Holocaust denier, to speak at the College) makes for a poisonous atmosphere on campuses, where Jewish students are victims of witch-hunting and portrayed as Zionist apartheid child-murderers. It is time the rank and file to halt UCU's sectarian drift, before we lose our credibility altogether.
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