Croydon's experience could shape that in many London boroughs. It is strategically important that UNISON activists everywhere support the Croydon branch.
The Order of Lenin is due to the Lambeth comrade who ensured we could take our banner - where it stood proudly alongside the banners of Croydon UNISON, NUT and Trades Council as well as SERTUC.
It was good to see the Regional Secretary of SERTUC there as well as a leading comrade from PCS (not to mention a member of the TUC General Council - even if he was a local!). I was pleased that, by my presence as a UNISON NEC member, I was also signifying support - however there is more to do for our Union.
UNISON needs to raise our game when it comes to supporting activities across branches since we currently punch far below our weight. (It was good that branches had been encouraged to support the protest at last Thursday's Regional Council and that - perhaps in recognition of the fact that many branches had been discouraged from attending the Regional Council, leaving it inquorate - an email reminder had been sent round this morning. However, for the future we need to do more, faster and better at Regional level).
Our active members in Croydon this evening showed us all what to do as a protest organised by the UNISON branch drew support from across the movement. This sort of energy is being shown in many boroughs and needs to be encouraged.
Croydon also had a more musical approach to protest than I am used to (although anyone familiar with my singing will realise that I don't join in as my singing voice could be used as an offensive weapon against those attacking our public services...)
We need - urgently - a national and Regional strategy to support our active members in branches like Croydon who are prepared to campaign.
In the mean time we need to cross the boundaries of our boroughs and our branches in order to show solidarity.
I should also add that this evening was a great tribute to the memory of my dear friend, Malcolm Campbell (http://www.remembermalcolmcampbell.blogspot.com/) since it showed how his former branch have moved on to face new challenges following his untimely demise just eighteen months ago.
It has recently been suggested to me that we need more of a memorial to Malcolm but, on reflection I think his memorial is all around.
A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/l/lao_tzu.html)
Tonight, Malcolm, my brother, my friend, they did indeed do it themselves.
Tonight I was as proud of my brother Malcolm as I know he would have been proud of his former branch.
Tomorrow the fight goes on. And as long as it goes on and as long as we march forward into that fight, Malcolm's memory marches with us.
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