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The National Education Union’s general secretary Mary Bousted accused top BBC presenter Nick Robinson of demeaning the Today Programme this morning, after questioning whether her likely successor is an “extremist”.
The heated exchange came after Mrs Bousted claimed no one in the NEU wants to disrupt exam days with strikes.
Mr Robinson asked whether the claim was true, given “there are some extremists in the NEU who’d love to cause massive disruption”.
He went on to claim that the man most likely to succeed Mary Bousted as General Secretary, Daniel Kebede, is an extremist even in the eyes of Mrs Bousted.
The outgoing general secretary shot back, accusing Nick Robinson of an “outrageous slur”.
When asked how she would describe Mr Kebede, Mrs Bousted said she would not get into personalities four days before the ballot for her successor closed.
She added that she wouldn’t describe either of her successors as extremists and accused Nick Robinson of demeaning his programme.
She said: “I wouldn’t describe either of my successors as extremists and general secretaries don’t decide policy for the union, they have an executive, they have members.
“I think this is quite outrageous actually, you’re bringing what is a really serious interview about the future of teachers, about the current state of teachers in the classroom down to personalities.
“I think that is really base, and it demeans the programme.
“I’m really sorry you’ve done that, Nick.”
Daniel Kebede has been described as a “hard-left Corbynite” who is currently rallying members to reject the government’s latest pay offer to teachers.
Mr Kebede is leading the race to replace the current NEU leadership, and has pledged to created a “united, campaigning union” that must be mobilised “in its entirety” to “take on this shambolic Government”.
A source close to several school leaders in England told the Telegraph in January: “If Daniel gets elected, it’s not hard to see how you could envisage the prospect of rolling strikes.”
He quit the Labour Party in 2020 and has voiced his support for members of the “Northern Independence Party”, a left-wing group calling for the North of England to declare independence.
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He also faced criticism after posting an NEU statement at the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying the crisis must “not lead to the expansion and consolidation of military alliances in Europe”.
Should he win, Mr Kebede will serve in the role for five years.
The polls opened on February 6 and close on March 31.
Before the ballots opened, Mr Kebede had the nominations of 101 districts, versus his main opponent’s 25.
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