Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/631/9909

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 June 2010

Unison general secretary election: Prentis vote falls despite Con-Dem attacks

Roger Bannister received 42,651 (19.74%) votes, photo Paul Mattsson

Roger Bannister received 42,651 (19.74%) votes, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

As reported in last week's Socialist, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis was re-elected to his position in the recent ballot, but with fewer votes than when he last stood in 2005.

A Unison member

The drop in votes for Dave Prentis was in the region of 21%, disproportionate to the fall in the turn-out in the election, from 16% to 14.6%, and is despite the fact that the election took place after the general election, when the threat of the Con-Dem attacks on public sector workers might have been expected to rally Unison members behind the union and its leadership.

Prentis feared a drop in his vote, which would indicate that he was 'on the wane', particularly after presiding over a period of below-inflation pay settlements, higher pension contributions and pay cuts for thousands of local government members through the Single Status Agreement. So an unprecedented campaign was mounted for him, relying on a machine of supporters mainly in the union's full time bureaucracy, but including some right wing activists.

His reliance on this machine was demonstrated by the fact that his election address was written in the third person, "Dave has shown real leadership..." as opposed to "I have shown real leadership..." Unison members and activists complained about the barrage of 'official' literature emanating from Unison head office, which seemed to be doing little more than getting his name and picture around the union.

Seizing the opportunity presented by the formation of the Con-Dem coalition Prentis toured regions speaking against cuts and grabbing media sound bites. Many activists also complained at a pressure from the union bureaucracy seeking to deter them from nominating opposition candidates in the election.

Once again the misnamed Unison United Left (UL) split the left vote in the face of the right wing, and whilst Paul Holmes got a higher vote than Jon Rogers had in 2005, it is again made clear that their programme is incapable of attracting support from a majority of left-looking Unison members.

Prior to the election, the United Left called for Socialist Party member Roger Bannister to stand down on the basis that Paul Holmes had more branch nominations than him, but Roger pointed out that this had happened when Jon Rogers stood in 2005, and when Socialist Workers Party member Yunus Bakhsh stood in 1995.

On each occasion Roger's vote was significantly higher than either of theirs. This situation reflects the inability of the United Left to distinguish adequately between the consciousness of a narrow activist layer and that of the members as a whole, since the nomination process is dominated by activists, whereas the election itself is open to the general membership. On this basis Paul Holmes' lower vote was predicted by Roger in advance of the election.

A key difference between the United Left programme and Roger's was that the UL fails to make a clear call for disaffiliation from the Labour Party. Paul Holmes' election address merely called for the matter to be determined by a ballot of the entire membership, which lacks clarity compared to the disaffiliation call. What Paul Holmes omitted to mention was that if such a ballot were held, he would be campaigning to maintain the link with Labour!

In last year's National Executive Council elections the UL lost seats, whilst Socialist Party members gained seats. If the UL fail to learn the lessons of this election, they will run the risk of losing more seats to the right wing in next year's elections.

Sadly the signs are that they are still ignoring the reality of their poor election results. A silence descended on them when the votes were published, and an email letter from Roger Bannister seeking to provoke discussion on the subject was initially ignored by the UL, before being circulated at Roger's insistence.

Forced to offer some kind of explanation, UL members scraped the bottom of the barrel, pointing to the increase in Paul Holmes' vote over Jon Rogers', and then coming out with the astounding explanation that Roger's vote was bigger as a result of Tory and Liberal supporters voting for him because of his anti-Labour Party stance!

The truth is much more simple: after years of attacks by the New Labour government, thousands of Unison members see no reason why millions of pounds of their money should be given to Labour, a fact reflected in the continuing decline of members paying into the Affiliated as opposed to the General political fund.

2005 2010
Dave Prentis 184,769 (75.6%) 145,351 (67.26%)
Roger Bannister 41,406 (16.9%) 42,651 (19.74%)
Jon Rogers 18,306 (7.5%)
Paul Holmes 28,114 (13.01%)

This election has taken place on the eve of titanic struggles against the attacks of the Con-Dem government. Such movements will lead to a radicalisation of the membership, that will eventually undermine the vote that Dave Prentis got for his 'more of the same' policies. On that basis the programme of militant trade unionism and socialist policies advocated by Roger, that already has a base within the union, will attract even broader support, opening the way to a transformation of Unison into a fighting, left-led union.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 30 June 2010:

Only one choice... Fight back!


War and occupation

Western strategy on Afghanistan in tatters


Socialist Party editorial

From stimulus to austerity at dizzying speed


No Job Cuts

Academies: Fight the Tories' offensive on state education

Opposing the slash and burn budget

Spending cuts increase deaths

'Get on your bike'

Fast news


Socialist Party workplace news

Unison general secretary election: Prentis vote falls despite Con-Dem attacks

Tube workers ballot for action

Thousands of jobcentre workers threatened with dole

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party youth and students

United for Education day of action 21 June

Students say no to rip-off graduation ceremony

No to cuts in EMA!


National Shop Stewards Network

National Shop Stewards Network conference: An urgent call for united working class action


International socialist news and analysis

France, Italy: Workers struggle against savage austerity cuts

Australia: Gillard replaces Rudd but Labour's right wing policies remain


Socialist Party review

Trotsky admirer copies his idol


Global Warming

Challenging the global warming sceptics


 

Home   |   The Socialist 30 June 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Unison:

triangleRight lose control in national executive council election

triangleUnison & PCS conferences Socialist Party fringe meeting

triangleCadent Gas plans 200 job losses

triangleUnison: Elect reps who will back strike action

triangleNHS: Scottish vote shows unions must fight for 15%

Election:

triangleLeft candidate needed for Unite general secretary election

triangleUnite general secretary campaign: Left candidates speak to the Socialist

triangleWhere now for the Scottish independence movement?

trianglePCS elections - incumbents win, but solid vote for Broad Left Network

Socialist:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Eleanor Marx and new unionism

triangleBrighton Socialist Party: Disability, neurodivergency, and the left

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: The fight for a decent future for young people

Labour:

triangleReaders' Opinion

triangleUnite general secretary campaign: Statement from Sharon Graham

Dave Prentis:

triangleWhy the Socialist Party is backing Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary

Roger Bannister:

triangleSocialist Party members campaigning for TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) election candidates in Liverpool, 24.4.21

Socialist Workers Party:

triangleTommy Robinson BBC demo: socialist fightback needed to undermine far right

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

11/6/21

Unison

Right lose control in national executive council election

9/6/21

PCS

Fight for a socialist leadership in PCS, build a fighting, democratic union!

9/6/21

Housing

"Rights are won not given" - London refugee wins housing debt campaign

9/6/21

Workers

Workplace news in brief

9/6/21

Brexit

Post-Brexit trade deals: Workers' mobilisation needed to stop corporate extortion

9/6/21

Environment

G7 green hypocrisy

9/6/21

Socialism

New book - coming soon: The Struggle for World Socialism

9/6/21

Newham

Hundreds march to scrap Silvertown Tunnel project

9/6/21

London

Shame on Clarion - another exploitative landlord

9/6/21

NHS

We're building for 3 July NHS protests

9/6/21

US

Goodlord striker speaks out: How we unionised and fought the bosses

9/6/21

Wales

Revolt against 'social partnership' at Wales Trades Union Congress 2021

9/6/21

Strike

Douwe Egberts workers strike against pay cuts of up to 12,000 a year

9/6/21

London

London workers prepare to fight Khan's transport cuts

2/6/21

Socialist

Raising Fighting Fund in Southern region

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999