NEU General Secretary Accuses BBC Presenter of Demeaning Today Programme During Heated Exchange over Likely Successor’s Alleged Extremism.
The National Education Union’s (NEU) general secretary, Mary Bousted, accused top BBC presenter Nick Robinson of demeaning the Today Programme after he questioned whether her likely successor is an “extremist”.
The exchange occurred after Bousted claimed that nobody in the NEU wants to disrupt exam days with strikes. Robinson challenged her statement, suggesting that there are “extremists” in the union who would like to cause massive disruption.
He also claimed that Daniel Kebede, the man most likely to succeed Bousted as general secretary, is an extremist even in Bousted’s eyes. Bousted denied the claim, accusing Robinson of making an “outrageous slur”.
Bousted refused to describe Kebede, stating that she would not get into personalities four days before the ballot for her successor closed.
She also accused Robinson of bringing a serious interview about the future of teachers down to personalities, which she deemed “base” and demeaning to the programme.
She emphasised that general secretaries do not decide policy for the union; that responsibility rests with the union’s executive and members.
Kebede, described as a “hard-left Corbynite”, is leading the race to replace Bousted as the NEU’s general secretary.
He has pledged to create a “united, campaigning union” that must be mobilised “in its entirety” to “take on this shambolic Government”.
However, a source close to several school leaders in England expressed concerns that Kebede’s leadership could result in rolling strikes.
Should Kebede win, he will serve as general secretary for five years. The polls opened on February 6 and will close on March 31.
Before the ballots opened, Kebede had the nominations of 101 districts, compared to his main opponent’s 25.