Tuesday, November 07, 2006

UNISON elections coming up

It is coming round to election time in UNISON and the NEC will no doubt – and rightly – be discussing how to improve member participation in our democratic process. Should I post any items about people seeking nominations (or about any contested elections) I will, as I am now, post from a computer which is not UNISON property. Regional Council elections will take place early in the New Year in all Regions and, slightly later, our NEC is up for re-election.

UNISON property and resources should not be used in connection with internal Union elections except as expressly permitted by the Rules and the electoral procedures agreed for the particular election. This also means that UNISON employees should not encourage or recommend support for any candidate whilst acting in their official capacity.

I have a mixed record in UNISON elections (to put it politely). On the one hand I have twice been elected to the National Executive Council. On the other I think I may have scored the worst ever result in a UNISON General Secretary election and – earlier this year – I narrowly lost out in an election to be Regional Convenor in our Greater London Region. As I always say when told I have a self-deprecating sense of humour, there is quite a lot to deprecate!

Obviously it is always disappointing to lose an election – but that’s democracy in action. What was more disappointing about the 2006 Regional elections was that someone took it upon themselves to circulate, anonymously, a scurrilous Email message making a series of wild allegations against myself and other leftwing candidates.

At first I found it quite funny to be accused of megalomania (when quite honestly my plans for world domination are much more of a long term thing…) However the spiteful tone of the anonymous Email was, as it was meant to be, hurtful.

Those who fling mud anonymously do so because some of it sticks whatever the truth is. I was therefore even more disappointed recently to stumble across an anonymous blog (to which I won’t link) which makes a series of childish personal attacks upon leftwing UNISON activists. The anonymous blog is clearly written by one or more sad individuals with access to a reasonable amount of inside information on the Union (particularly but not exclusively the London Region and the Health Service group).

I am writing this post to explain why I very much hope that comrades on the left in the Union don’t stoop to the same level. We should have our political discussions and debates about union policy out in the open and we should have the confidence to stand by our views in public. Personal attacks on any union activist do damage to the Union whatever their impact upon any election. You only have to visit the bulletin board at which members of another Union are free to make anonymous personal attacks to see how much damage this could do.

I suspect that those who attack the left from behind a cloak of anonymity do so both because they cannot express their views in public because of their role within the Union and because they do not really have the interests of the Union and its members at heart. It is interesting to note who else relies upon anonymity, and to wonder whose interests such people are really there to serve. (lol as we say on t’intraweb…)(but then again…)

Anonymous attacks are also an essential ingredient in political witch hunts – those unappealing episodes in which elements within our movement decide to devote their time and energy to using administrative means to resolve their political differences with critics. I hope we are not on the brink of another such episode just when we need unity to face up to the attacks on our members in health, education and local government.

So I offer my respect and solidarity to all those who are subject to anonymous personal attacks, whether or not I agree with them or intend to vote for them and offer best wishes to all those candidates in forthcoming Regional and National elections who denounce such personal attacks.

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