The Tory leadership contenders are ducking out of further televised debates because they realise that that their internecine infighting is just damaging their Party.
The same can be true of squabbling within a trade union. During my more than three decades as a UNISON activist in employment, including 14 years on the National Executive Council (NEC), I was certainly involved in more than my fair share of internal union strife.
However, when I was part of a left-wing minority on the NEC, the criticisms which we made of the then UNISON leadership were always focused on policy questions and, for all that we were angered and frustrated on many occasions by the conduct of our trade union’s leadership and officials, we were almost always the first to respond to calls for action and were among the most energetic recruiters and organisers in UNISON.
Whilst we were sharply critical of what we saw at the time as the shortcomings of the UNISON bureaucracy, we did not make our criticisms in such a way as would harm the trade union itself. We were caught on the horns of a dilemma, promoting UNISON to the wider world whilst pursuing our disagreements over strategy, policy and democracy internally, because we knew that our real adversaries were the Government and the ruling class, and that our opponents within the trade union were of secondary importance.
Now that there is a left-wing majority on UNISON's NEC, some of those who were part of the Ancien Régime find themselves in the position of being the critical minority. However, perhaps because they do not see themselves as engaged in a broader class struggle, they seem to have far fewer qualms about making criticisms in ways which simply damage the trade union.
We saw this with the vitriol launched at the NEC in general and the former President in particular at national delegate conference (NDC). Whereas, when the left was in a minority, our focus was always as much upon improving the effectiveness with which the union fought for its members as it was upon internal UNISON disputes, today's critics are concerned exclusively with waging war within UNISON.
A fine example of this approach was set yesterday by a tweet from UNISON's Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Convener, who responded to UNISON MP John McDonnell (who has been associated with the left-wing leadership of the UNISON NEC) promoting some excellent work being done by Barnet UNISON to protect the interests of their members in the current heat wave by telling him to "stop interfering".
This sort of intemperate and discourteous conduct probably helps to explain why the author of that tweet is no longer a member of either the UNISON NEC or of the National Labour Link Committee. It certainly comes as no surprise from the individual in question.
Your humble blogger was on the receiving end of disgraceful treatment from the author of that tweet, when she was President of UNISON, when she circulated throughout UNISON, what was described by the Assistant Certification Officer as “an extraordinary email” intended to undermine me in response to my role in exposing wrongdoing by the former Greater London Regional Secretary.
If all that yesterday’s tweet did was confirm what we already know is about its author (including the quality of her command of the English language) then it would not be worthy of comment. However, this sort of public conduct by someone who still does hold office in our trade union does damage to UNISON.
Such is the character of those in our trade union violently opposed to the majority of our NEC that they think nothing of making their petty, spiteful and personal criticisms in ways which may bring UNISON into disrepute.
UNISON’s elected leadership continue to respond to unjustified attacks with dignity and respect for their trade union role.
As a mere blogger and honorary life member, I can call out shameful conduct when I see it. Just in case the tweet gets taken down, here it is as it can be found online this afternoon;
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Wendy Nichols Unison
your the mp for hayes and Harlington, you look after your constituents and don't come on here and tell Unison Branches how to look after there members as
have pointed out we know where to get the advice from and it's not http://you.So stop interfering.
John McDonnell MP
I’m extremely concerned about the heath risks to workers working outside in this dangerous heatwave. I urge all Unison branches & other unions to follow John Burgess’ example in Barnet Unison & agree with employers protection arrangements including postponing outside working. twitter.com/barnet_unison/…