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Unison NEC elections bring gains for Socialist Party
ON THE eve of Unison's annual conference (the public sector trade union with 1.3 million members) the Socialist Party doubled the size of its group on Unison's national executive council (NEC) from three to six members in the recent elections.
The Socialist Party stood in eight seats and won six, including Glenn Kelly who is facing a political witch-hunt by the right wing Unison leadership (see 'Defend the Four' on www.stopthewitchhunt.org.uk).
This is a clear repudiation by Unison members of the witch-hunt against the four.
The Socialist Party fought these elections as part of "Reclaim the Union", an alliance with the United Left group, and other lefts. However the Socialist Party gains were not reflected across the rest of the alliance, which saw a loss of seven positions, and a gain of three.
One of the main reason for this is that the Socialist Party members made clear calls to disaffiliate from the Labour Party, an issue that was fudged by the alliance as a whole in order to placate Labour Party members within it, and particularly under the influence of the Socialist Workers Party, who still refuse to call for a break with Labour.
Some of the losses for the left surprised many. Karen Reissmann (Health) lost her seat having recently been elected to the NEC in a byelection that coincided with her campaign against victimisation by her ex-employer.
One left loss actually follows an election victory in the case of John McDermott in Yorkshire and Humberside. John defeated a right-wing candidate but was surprised to learn that the union's returning officer had been informed by Unison's bureaucracy that he had withdrawn from the election! This is now likely to lead to a legal challenge.
A number of senior right-wingers lost their positions including: Annette Mansell-Green, (West Midlands), a TUC general purposes committee member and chair of the disciplinary panel currently overseeing the Defend the Four hearings, and Norma Stephenson (Northern), a former Unison president who recently objected because left NEC members had written to the general secretary expressing concern following reports of BNP influence in her region!
The left must now seriously examine why they failed to make gains on a general basis in these elections. As the recession deepens, and a general election approaches with the possibility of left challenges to Labour, Unison members facing job losses and pay cuts are in a weaker position with a leadership reluctant to fight and wedded to the Labour Party.
Socialist Party members on the NEC will set to the task of promoting the interests of ordinary rank and file members, challenging the culture of timidity, challenging the massively expensive and useless Labour Link, and fighting the right wing's vicious witch-hunt of the left.
A Unison member
Socialist Party members Roger Bannister, (North West), Glenn Kelly (Local Government) and Jean Thorpe, (East Midlands), will be joined by April Ashley, (Black Members), Vicky Perrin, (Yorkshire and Humberside), and Hannah Walter, (Northern).
Glenn, currently subject to a political witch-hunt in the union, increased both his vote and his majority in the election. Roger increased his majority receiving more than twice the votes of his opponent, achieving the highest votes of any candidate in the regional seats. Jean was elected unopposed last time, but this year topped the poll in the region's 'female seats' section.
Our newcomers also had strong showings, with all three of them topping their respective polls.
Unfortunately, despite good votes, two other Party members, Roger Davey, (Health) and Hugo Pierre, (Black Members), were not successful.
In The Socialist 10 June 2009:
Socialist Party election campaign analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party publication
International socialist news and analysis
Youth fight for jobs