Candidates plugged into a union machine can organise nominations – but this clearly doesn’t equate to rank and file support
Unison’s last general secretary election, which took place last year, carries at least one important message for the equivalent contest now taking place in Unite – that if the ‘machine left’ gets between the grassroots and its preferred candidate, the results are likely to be disastrous.
Happily, today’s Unison national executive election results go some way toward improving the situation in that normally right-dominated union – but Unison’s race also carries another vital message.
In the Unison contest Christine McAnea, backed by Labour First and other right-wing groups, managed 212 nominations. Roger McKenzie, who was supported by much of the left establishment, scored 113 branches to the 102 supporting grassroots candidate Paul Holmes, with Hugo Pierre bringing up the rear on 31.
But when members voted, Holmes received 45,220 votes – more than three times the 14,450 who backed McKenzie.
Holmes, the grassroots left fighter, was the nearest equivalent in that contest to Howard Beckett in the Unite race – and ran a campaign generating far more enthusiasm and energy than any of his rivals. Had others got out of the way – as Skwawkbox and others warned they needed to – the usually right-run Unison would have been alongside Unite as a force for positive change in the Labour party as well as the workplace, giving the country a far healthier political landscape for the benefit of their members.
Today’s results in the Unison NEC elections show that the appetite for clear left leadership among union members is only growing, however much the machine and its ‘blue-tick’ supporters say to the contrary.
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