Now -read the book!

Here is a link to my memoirs which, if you are a glutton for punishment, you can purchase online at
Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Statement from Alan Docherty

I am reproducing here a personal statement which is being circulated by respected UNISON activist Alan Docherty to fellow UNISON Branch Secretaries in UNISON's Northern Region.

I shall not comment further this evening but will let Alan's words speak for themselves

"First they came ..." is a popular poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group. Niemoller stated he prefers the version as:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

This is true of Unison today; The Unison Bureaucracy has now come for me. I face unspecified Rule I disciplinary charges at a hearing convened by the NEC starting on January 7th 2010.

Other victims of the witch hunt.

You will all be aware, in this region, of the Yunus Bakhsh case which resulted in him being sacked by his employer and expelled from the union. (Unfortunately because no discussion was allowed on the merits or otherwise of Yunus’ case, many of you supported the attack on him.)

You may not know that at the same time another SWP member Tony Staunton, Branch Secretary of Plymouth LG, who was to stand in an NEC election against Steve Warwick (Labour Link Chairperson) and stood a good chance of winning, was also witch hunted from the union and expelled.

This was followed by Socialist Party member, Pat Lawlor, convenor Royal Victoria Hospitals, Belfast, being expelled for sending a message of support to a ‘rival’ union on strike.

In the last few months, three branch secretaries and a branch chair, Glenn Kelly, Susan Muna, Onay Kasab and Brian Debus, in the Greater London Region, all members of the Socialist Party, were disqualified from office ranging from 3 to 5 years for criticising the Standing Orders Committee of National Conference, in a leaflet, for ruling out a third of motions from being admitted on to the conference agenda.

Perhaps you did not speak out for these people because they are members of left wing political parties.

However last month, this witch hunt took a new turn. Caroline Beadle, Joint Branch Secretary of Manchester Community Health Branch, was disqualified from office for eight years - yes eight years. Her crime was organising, in her own time, legal defence for one of her victimised members, Karen Reissmann. Apparently such an action has brought Unison into disrepute. I consider from what I know of Caroline’s case, the sanctions imposed against her constitute a direct attack on branch autonomy, Unison lay democracy, and individual civil rights. Caroline is not a member of a left wing political party.

My Case

Now it is my turn. What is my crime? Despite being given a hearing date commencing on the 7th January, I do not yet know the charges which will be sent to me within 21 days of the hearing date. I suspect these 21 days will include the Christmas holiday period.

I suspect the charges are to do with an incident precipitated by another branch secretary who complained about my conduct. At the time I was a declared candidate in the NEC elections. I spoke to this branch secretary about a motion that his branch was discussing concerning the North East Shop Stewards Network because this motion directly attacked me and another branch secretary. When was it a crime to talk to other branch secretaries in private? Is it not reasonable that I would want to investigate a public criticism against me?

I have no faith in the Union’s disciplinary procedure being fair, as shown by its recent decisions. I know that unless there is genuine objection from lay activists, my days as a Unison activist are numbered.

I believe the real reason they want me out is that I have challenged, through the democratic process, the actions of our ‘leadership’ and also that I express my socialist political opinions which often conflict with the interests of the Labour Party. This is despite the hard work I do to support Darlington LG members at work. During my recent NEC election campaign I was told by several senior Unison officials that the union would move heaven and earth to make sure I was not elected to the NEC.

Our union will prove itself to be unhealthy and undemocratic if it has to use the full might of its disciplinary machinery to silence the criticisms of lay activists.

I am not a member of any political party.

These attacks are continuing.

John McDermott, NEC, has been removed from the NEC on spurious technical grounds, despite winning his election. He now faces disciplinary action for challenging this decision.

Vicky Perrin, NEC and Assistant Branch Secretary, Calderdale L G, has spent two years under investigation for alleged bullying, and it is continuing.

There are probably several more on-going cases that I do not know about, and more to come if we don’t say ‘stop this now!’

Speak out for me; write to Dave Prentis to get this farce stopped.

Who will speak out for you when your turn comes?

In a personal capacity, Alan Docherty, Branch Secretary, Darlington LG.

30th November 2009.


Anonymous said...

what the SWP/SPEW creature Alan Docherty who stabbed the democratic NESSN leaders in the back is some sort of hero? He dares to compare himself with those were murdered fighting the Nazis? Yet he supports their vile supporters???

MrsHobba said...

I think it is appalling that you liken yourself to those who suffered inhumanely under Nazi rule throughout Europe. Whatever your alledged grievance is against UNISON this is totally unacceptable.

dave said...

"There is something about posting anonymous comments which encourages stupidity or dishonesty I think."
judging by anonymous more like incoherent!
alan is another committed trade unionist whose only crime is that he is a socialist.
my concern is that no amount of letters to dp will make the slightest difference, and another activist will be lost to our union
just when we need all the class fighters we casn get