Why is UCU Left condemning a levy that a majority of their NEC members voted for?

[In an earlier version of this blog, I mistakenly claimed that the UCU Left statement maintains that “UCU Left members of NEC voted against” the levy. It has been drawn to my attention that this sentence refers to the cutting of strike pay, not the levy. I apologise for this mistake and for my inference based on it that the quoted statement was misleading and dishonest.]

UCU Left has issued this linked statement strongly condemning the £15 levy to replenish the strike fund. As I shall demonstrate below, it turns out, however, that a majority of UCU Left members on NEC voted for the levy they now condemn.

According to the minutes, the levy was agreed by a vote of 38–8 (46 votes total). The minutes also record the presence of the following 45 members:

Sue Abbott, Mark Abel, Paul Anderson, Pura Ariza, Bruce Baker, Vicky Blake, Cecily Blyther, Philipa Browning, Lucy Burke, Carolyn Campbell, Michael Carley, Douglas Chalmers (chair), Dima Chami, Alison Chapman, Maria Chondrogianni, Robert Clunas, Jacqueline d’Arcy, Joanna de Groot, Janet Farrar, Deepa Govindarajan Driver, Vida Greaux, Brian Hamilton, Marion Hersh, Margot Hill, Chris Jones, Lesley Kane, David Limb, Maxine Looby, Steve Lui, Lesley McGorrigan, Jo McNeill, Justine Mercer, Eleni Michalopoulou, Sally Pellow, Catherine Pope, Renee Prendergast, Ryan Prout, Julia Roberts, Steve Sangwine, Mel Stouph, John Paul Sullivan, Sean Vernell, Sean Wallis, Elaine White, Amanda Williams [my bold emphasis added]

Those in bold are NEC members who have appeared on UCU Left slates. There are 18. Therefore, even if all 8 of the votes against the levy were UCU Left, 10 UCU Left members would have voted in favour.

The minutes record that “The president-elect informed the executive that she did not agree with the decisions taken by the officers presented in the paper and important to stress not a unanimous decision”. The president-elect is not UCU Left. Assuming that she was among the 8 votes opposed to the levy, at least 11 of the 18 UCU Left members of NEC must have voted in favour of the levy. [29 June update: In this blog, the president-elect — Vicky Blake — explains that she ultimately cast a vote in support of the levy proposal.]

Moreover, Michael Carley’s “recollection is that the vote on the levy did not break down on factional lines”, which suggests that there may have been more than one non-UCU Left member of NEC who cast a vote against the levy. [29 June update: According to this tweet by Jo McNeill, the UCU Left candidate for General Secretary in recent elections, all 8 votes against the levy were cast by UCU Left.]

In any event, however large that majority may have been, I have demonstrated above that a majority of UCU Left members of NEC voted in favour of the levy they are now condemning. [29 June update: Jo McNeill has recently confirmed that UCU Left members of NEC voted in favour of the levy proposal by a significant majority of 13–8.]

Why is UCU Left now condemning a levy that a majority of their NEC members voted for?

Further thoughts in this Twitter thread:

Click here and read upwards for my comments on Jo McNeill’s explanation for why UCU Left now condemns the levy that a large majority voted for in February:

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Professor, Dept. of Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method, LSE

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