Last night Britain’s leading apologist for the government’s divisive PREVENT strategy, Will Baldet, once again showed his contempt for democracy when he mangled the truth live on Channel 4’s evening news program. Mr Baldet chose to misrepresent the truth, in order to belittle the validly of two democratic votes that had led to both education workers and students deciding to oppose the PREVENT strategy.
Mr Baldet made his unfortunate comments after Labour MP Naz Shah had drawn attention to the fact that both the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Union of Students (NUS) had criticized the PREVENT strategy. The patronizing government apologist therefore responded by saying:
“The NUT had to redo their votes, recount their votes because it was so close. The NUS did not even vote, they just passed the motion because they ran out of time.. [And] even the Labour Shadow Minister has praised Prevent as first class.”
So, let’s set a few matters straight.
First of all, in 2016 the NUT did undertake a democratic vote at their national conference, and did decide to democratically oppose the PREVENT strategy. There was however no recount because Mr Baldet is mistaken. Mr Baldet was probably thinking of a similar vote that was passed by the University and College Union (UCU) at their 2016 annual conference. In this instance there was a recount of the UCU vote, but exactly what is Mr Baldet trying to imply by making his point? Does he think that for a democratic decision to be meaningful it has to be backed by a super-majority of delegates? This is complete nonsense. A democratic vote was taken, and a motion was successfully passed in the best traditions of trade union democracy.
Mr Baldet then added that the NUS “did not even vote” when it came to opposing the PREVENT strategy. But to date, neither he (nor any of his friends in government) have presented any public evidence that backs up this strange claim. This is because he is wrong.
And finally, when Mr Baldet states that Labour’s Shadow Minister for Security has praised the PREVENT strategy as “first class”, which is more than a little misleading. This is because the Shadow Minister most definitely did not praise the entire PREVENT strategy as being first class, instead he said that “the quality of some [PREVENT] schemes in analysing fake news, and language that provokes a particular type of reaction, that I have seen, has been first-class.”