AUT ISRAEL-BOYCOTT UPDATE: The boycotts have been voted down. The Guardian and the BBC have the story. I'm pleased. Too busy to comment further now, but I'll try to say more later on.
LATER: It's good that the boycott has been defeated, but this whole controversy is a symptom of a larger problem. The people who have been most active in the AUT have come disproportionately from the hard left and up to now they have been able to use the union as a mouthpiece for their own political agenda. This is no secret, and is one of the big reasons I never joined. AUT members now have a choice: they can get more involved and start making the union speak with a voice representative of the membership -- a voice that focuses on issues actually important for British academics -- or they can leave things as they have been. In the latter case, the Sue Blackwells will be back and will provide more international embarrassments and any good the union might do will be undermined before it starts. The reputation of the AUT is already in tatters from this episode, but if it turns out to be a wake-up call to the membership, it may be a mercy that it happened. Maybe then the AUT will get out of politics and concentrate on working for improvements (higher salaries, less bureaucracy, etc.) in the lot of university lecturers. If that were to happen, I might consider joining myself.
Meanwhile, I will be keeping an eye on the AUT and will let you know if I notice anything interesting.