Grassroots change candidate ‘smashes it’: Unison rep
Paul Holmes, the popular grassroots-left change candidate fighting for to replace right-winger Dave Prentis as general secretary of the UK’s biggest union, has scored a huge victory today – by a distance – in the contest’s preliminary stages, by winning the nomination of Unison’s biggest region.
Holmes, who has already been backed by the south-east region, won a vote of north-west regional branch delegates – with almost five times as many votes as his nearest challengers:
Paul Holmes 79
Roger McKenzie 17
Christine McAnea 17
Hugo Pierre 2
Peter Sharma 0
Holmes, a genuine working-class union activist of decades’ experience who has promised to do the job on his current salary of £32,000 to free up funds for core union needs, clearly worries the right-dominated Unison establishment. Right-wingers on the union’s NEC this week pulled a manoeuvre to change the voting method at an NEC meeting when he looked about to win the endorsement of Unison’s ruling body. Even under the hastily-imposed ‘STV’ voting system, Holmes came within a whisker of victory and was deprived only by the decision of some supporters of softer-left candidate Roger McKenzie to support right-wing continuity candidate Christine McAnea, or abstain, in the final round.
Unison’s north-west convenor, speaking in a personal capacity, welcomed the result, while well-known union activist John Burgess, who has been helping to run Holmes’s campaign, said Holmes ‘smashed it’:
If a genuine left-winger wins the general secretary post soon to be vacated by Prentis, it will represent a huge step forward for Unison and the whole Labour movement.
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