Friday, September 18, 2015
How (not) to choose a General Secretary candidate
Heather Wakefield has been keen to draw to the attention of UNISON branches the letter linked to above in the Guardian, in which a number of female academics support her bid to be elected to replace Dave Prentis as General Secretary of UNISON.
This is a one-dimensional argument, that UNISON, with a large majority of women members, should elect a woman to be General Secretary.
With the greatest respect to the authors of the letter, most of whom, are - I assume - members of UCU, and mindful of my own gender, I must, respectfully disagree with the implicit contention that gender must be the overriding consideration in the General Secretary election.
There's no point replacing a male General Secretary whom many of us feel has given inadequate leadership in the fight against the Tories with a female candidate in respect of whom there is no evidence that she would be any better.
Heather missed the boat five years ago when, having stuck her head briefly above the parapet, she ducked back down before the polls opened. In the past five years Heather has not only failed to differentiate herself from the incumbent General Secretary but has been in the front rank for some of the most dismal outcomes to major industrial disputes in our history.
UNISON staff kept a final salary pension scheme - but not the membership. Whilst Dave Prentis led the retreat from united action to defend pensions after the single day of action in 2011, Heather Wakefield was an integral part of the leadership which led us away from unity.
Similarly, whilst it was Dave Prentis who, having smashed the now notorious ice sculpture could not lead a united fight to do similar (or any) damage to the Government's pay freeze, Heather Wakefield was the Head of Local Government going in to the catastrophically mismanaged 2014 pay dispute.
As a rank and file UNISON member dissatisfied with significant aspects of our direction and leadership over the past five years, I am looking for a candidate offering positive change to our majority female membership (and to the male minority of which I am part).
The admiration of academics notwithstanding, Heather Wakefield is not that candidate in 2015.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.