Welcoming Lyddon's review and much of its argument, this response addresses six specific criticisms of our account: that it is based overmuch on a chronological history of an individual union at the expense of a comparative study; that it is too much 'top down'; that it provides too little information on the working lives of NUPE members; that the union's peculiar status as a 'breakaway' is given insufficient attention, as is the position of women; that our approach sidelines the contribution of lay activists; and that the analysis would have strengthened by more ‘context’.
In line with John Saville's recommendation, we adopted a chronological perspective which could then serve as a 'foundation' for further analysis and revision. This also provides members and activists with a memorial of their union and their role in it. Our account draws on a wide range of evidence, including material from the 'NUPE Research Project' conducted in the mid-1970s. Of particular interest was the emerging dialectic between the union's appointed full-time officials and lay activists. We document what we term 'sponsored democracy’, its contextual conditions and the challenges to the power of full-time officers. In NUPE's case, this entailed the (then) unprecedented step of promoting women's involvement in the union’s decision-making bodies, including the provision of 'reserved' seats. Some full-time officers, both national and local, also promoted the role of union stewards, not least in the context of the government’s imposition of restrictive pay policies and pubic-expenditure cuts. Finally, in the absence of any discussion by Lyddon, we reprise NUPE’s role in leading the campaign for a statutory national minimum wage.