Thursday, November 05, 2015
The antidote to weariness
I hope it's ok to be weary sometimes, after a quarter century in the union branch office (with -perhaps deservedly - all too little time off for good behaviour).
I'm weary of (some) youthful Labour Councillors who don't understand that politics is a game of two sides and that we (the workers and community) must always try to stand against them (the ruling class and Government).
This Saturday hundreds of local people will march north from Brixton. This won't be the occasion on which we head straight for Westminster to seize state power - this time we're simply heading for South Lambeth Library to highlight opposition to the local Council's proposals for cuts in the library service.
Labour Councillors who can see how the world around them is changing and developing are on our side in tackling the tricky question of how a Council facing such savage cuts can (as Southwark has) protect libraries. I am weary of the young and ambitious politicians who believe that resisting opposition to austerity will develop their political career rather more than resisting austerity (also they're plain wrong).
Mind you, I am weary of ambitious people generally - little good can come from them.
So I am weary of those who want to be UNISON General Secretary because they believe it to be their birthright or their destiny.
I am weary of Dave Prentis, who failed his own supporters by comprehensively refusing to contemplate realistic succession planning and has reaped the whirlwind of a catastrophic decline in branch nominations (such that, even were he to win he would be a lame duck General Secretary).
I am weary of Heather Wakefield, who failed to stand five years ago when she might have represented a real alternative and now runs a campaign fuelled with bile and a one dimensional politics of gender (such that, were she improbably to win - as the candidate supported by zero members of the Executive - she would be a dead duck General Secretary).
And I am so weary of my dear friend and comrade, Roger Bannister, for whom I have voted to be General Secretary of both NALGO and UNISON in the past. I won't even speculate about what type of zombie duck Roger would be were he our General Secretary, since he knows as I do that this will not happen. As the supposed political justification for the splendid isolation of the Socialist Party (of England and Wales, formerly the Militant Tendency) disintegrates before our eyes, it is plain for all to see that his candidacy is a triumph of ego over good sense (and it isn't even his ego!)
In my weariness it is invigorating to know two things.
First, on Saturday, the people of Lambeth fighting to save our libraries will be joined by a contingent from Tory Barnet, led by Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary John Burgess. I hope that Labour Councillors in Lambeth will reflect on whether they wish to take sides with Barnet Council (who close libraries and/or take away their staff) or with those who fight Tories.
Secondly, I am encouraged beyond belief at the opportunity to vote for a candidate in the UNISON General Secretary election who is entirely without any sense of entitlement - John Burgess (the very same!) John does not stand because he thinks the job his as of right (whether by virtue of career, experience, gender or politics). He simply offers us the chance to vote for one of our own, a local government worker who knows what hard campaigning is - and isn't afraid of it.
So I'm weary - but not so weary as to give up when I have hope that we can resist both the most stupid cuts supported by Councillors still living in 2014 and the awful (non)inevitability of Groundhog Day in the UNISON General Secretary election.
Jeremy Corbyn won against the odds.
I'm backing John Burgess.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.