The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) reacted with horror when they learned that Stephen Smith their Principal Official for “Equality and Training” has tried to defend racist chanting by Rangers fans.
When I spoke to an NASUWT press officer he had no idea that Smith is currently the public face of the Rangers Supporters Trust (RST).
In 2008, at the height of the “Famine Song” controversy Stephen Smith, speaking as a representative of the RST, said in an interview with the Sun Newspaper that the reaction to fans singing The “Famine Song” was “completely over the top.”
The following year Lord Justice Carloway ruled in the High Court of Justiciary that the “Famine song” was indeed racist and aimed at people of Irish heritage in Scotland to go home to Ireland.
In 2009 the union nominated Smith as a judge on the prestigious Anne Frank Awards.
When this journalist spoke to Gillian Wallness the charity’s CEO she was horrified to find out that the NASUWT nominated judge was defending something like the “Famine Song” in his spare time.
Mr.Smith is well known to the inhabitants of the planet Scottish Football where he is often the public face of the Rangers Supporters Trust. Only last night (14/04/2011) he was on Sky Sports News discussing with Jim White Rangers most recent bit of European bother. On that interview the Equality Officer posed the question to Jim White:
“What is racism? What is sectarian? What is offensive?”
I hope Mr.Smith was more confident of these issues when on Thursday 9 July 2009 at the Holiday Inn, Bromsgrove an internal NASUWT document states:
“Organising for equalities
Stephen Smith, Principal Official, Equality and Training, ran an interactive session looking at how to organise for equalities using the Equalities Calendar. Delegates were asked to identify a month and come up with ideas and identify the resources they would use and develop an action plan.
The feedback discussion included:
• the need to ensure the anti-violence material and events covered all sections of members;
• young members’ engagement in equality;
• younger members’ engagement with the Union;
• broadening the categories of members to ‘new to teaching’;
• anti-semitism and antifascism to include Islamophobia;
• using the Stonewall Spell it out DVD for tackling all forms of bullying. “
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT said:
“The Union has a record second to none in promoting anti-racist policies, defending members against all forms of discrimination and campaigning against racist and fascist organisations.
The NASUWT condemns unequivocally any form of racist behaviour.
The Union’s rules make clear our anti-racist stance.
The Union’s contract of employment and codes of conduct for staff are equally clear on these matters.
The NASUWT disassociates itself fully from the ‘Famine Song’ and recognises the judiciary’s view that this song is racist.
In light of these reports, the Union will be conducting a thorough investigation into the allegations that have been made.”
Sources inside the union informed me that NASUWT due process should be completed within two weeks.
A spokesperson for the NASUWT further added:
“In response to media interest, Stephen Smith would like to make it clear that he recognises and accepts the judicial findings that what is known as “The Famine Song” is illegal and racist. He neither condones nor encourages anyone to sing “The Famine Song” and would like to make it clear that he is committed fully to opposing racism in all forms.”