12/03/2010 - Ban on BNP teachers ruled out

Ministers have ruled out banning members of the British National Party (BNP) from the teaching profession, after an independent inquiry into racism in schools decided such a move would be a "disproportionate response". The report stated that "there is insufficient evidence of risk to justify such a profound step, and furthermore there is no clear consensus on where 'to draw the line' beyond that, in terms fo the wider school workforce or the public sector as a whole".


Solidarity gave both oral and written evidence to the enquiry. Our evidence (gathered from hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests) made it clear that a ban was neither necessary or proportionate. There was no pressing social need for such a move and it would conflict with the right to freedom of association guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. Solidarity further pointed out that not only would this ban face challenge but that the existing bans in the Police and Prison service remained to be tested legally. A number of cases are the subject of Employment  Tribunal actions which have yet to be determined.


Other Unions also opposed the proposed ban. The ATL stated:- "It is ATL's present policy position that teachers should be judged on their behaviours, not their beliefs."


Pat Harrington of Solidarity commented:


"First let me welcome the statement from our Brothers and Sisters in the ATL who have rightly identified that behaviour not belief or affiliation is the key issue. Even the NUT have recently adopted a more measured tone." 


"The investigation was very thorough and the conclusions are generally well-reasoned and backed by firm evidence. Contrary to what some predicted the investigation was genuinely independent and fair. The position of those like Chris Keates who make shrill calls for totalitarian measures without any real basis looks increasingly isolated. This is good news for Teachers who are entitled to expect the same rights as any other citizen and a good day for democracy in our country."