Saturday, April 25, 2015
General Secretary fails to win fourth term...
Between work, life and the General Election I have neglected to comment on the outcome of the General Secretary Election in the Communications Workers Union, in which incumbent Billy Hayes was defeated by his Deputy, Dave Ward, and therefore failed in his attempt to win a fourth term.
I'm not a CWU member and would not claim any specific expertise with which to discern the political differences (if any) between the General Secretary and the General Secretary elect. I know that Billy Hayes has stood out as a thoughtful and committed activist in the upper echelons of our movement.
It is however - without doubt - a healthy sign that a major trade union can elect a new General Secretary and defeat an incumbent. The point of democracy (when it comes to the election of trade union officials) is to achieve accountability and this requires that incumbents should feel discomfort and uncertainty.
Of course, this situation could not possibly be repeated within UNISON for two reasons. First, the Deputy General Secretary could not stand against the General Secretary because the National Executive Council's (NEC) Staffing Committee has chosen not to fill the vacancy for Deputy General Secretary.
Secondly, as is well known, the current UNISON leadership has done such an exemplary job of encouraging both democracy and succession planning that it is highly likely that there will be a tolerant approach to more than one paid official standing for General Secretary so that members face a good choice from a competent, confident and mutually supportive field of candidates (and it is unthinkable that transparent administrative manoeuvres would be used in an attempt to eliminate any potential candidates).
UNISON can therefore look forward to an exercise in democracy on the model of the CWU.
Or maybe not.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.