Thursday, August 06, 2015
UNISON General Secretary Election - A New Hope
I am pleased once more to find myself in agreement with the officers of UNISON's Manchester Branch - this time about who to recommend to members that we nominate in the election for UNISON General Secretary.
John Burgess, Barnet Branch Secretary, leader of strike action, successful litigation and some of the most sustained and imaginative campaigning against privatisation I have ever seen, has shown characteristic courage and determination by putting himself forward.
John's campaign will be positive, progressive and good for UNISON. We cannot know the outcome of the election - but we do know that the Corbyn campaign has rewritten the rules for labour movement elections and so John will, I am sure, fight to win - and to lead the whole Union.
When I blogged at the weekend about the UNISON General Secretary election I mentioned four declared candidates. Of those four, one -Karen Reissmann - has withdrawn in order to support John. I believe this decision was wise and demonstrated a willingness to put unity first in the search for necessary change in our Union.
A fifth candidate, Southampton Branch Secretary, Hayley Garner, has also thrown her hat into the ring, alongside incumbent Dave Prentis, national officer Heather Wakefield and perennial challenger Roger Bannister. Other candidates could emerge - since nominations will not open until September (with the result of the election being declared a week before Christmas).
Since my colleagues on the National Executive Council (NEC) did not agree (as is permitted by law and UNISON Rules) to use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) so that we could have a system of preferential voting (as in the Labour leadership election) - this election will be fought by "first past the post." Without doubt this is of benefit to the incumbent if three or more candidates appear on the eventual ballot paper.
For now, the race is on to secure nominations from branches in particular (since the 25 branch hurdle is the one most likely to be reached by challengers). All candidates - and their supporters - can help to make this election the positive, challenging experience that UNISON requires by focusing on the policies and organising activity which we need to face the unprecedented attacks of the Tory Government.
The breadth of support for John Burgess already shows that there is an appetite for change in UNISON. I believe that John is the hope we have been waiting for.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.