Teaching union leader slams Nick Robinson for ‘outrageous slur’

'We’re not getting into personalities four days before an election.'

BBC Nick Robinson

The joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), Mary Bousted, has slammed the BBC’s Nick Robinson on the Today Programme for his ‘outrageous slur’ against the teaching union.

It comes after the NEU recommended that its members reject the government’s latest pay offer. The government has offered teachers a £1,000 extra cash payment this year and a 4.3% rise for most staff next year.

Many teachers in England received a pay rise of 5% in September 2022 but unions say the latest offer still amounts to a pay cut due to double-digit inflation.

Robinson said to Bousted: “You know as well as I do that there are some extremists who would love to cause massive disruption.

“Indeed, some people who say the man who is running and likely to succeed you as leader of this union is in your eyes, an extremist.”

It is thought that Robinson was referring to Daniel Kebede, who is running against deputy general secretary Niamh Sweeney in the race to lead the 450,000 member union.

However, Bousted hit back at Robinson’s claims, calling them an ‘outrageous slur’. Robinson then asked: “How would you describe it?”, to which Bousted replied: “No no no, we’re not getting into personalities four days before an election.”

The Today programme presenter continued: “Well, how would you describe your successor then, if not as an extremist?”

The outgoing general secretary explained: “I wouldn’t describe either of my successors as extremists.

“General secretaries don’t decide policy for the union. They have an executive and they have a membership.

“I do not have…” Bousted began, before interrupting herself: “I think this is quite outrageous actually.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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