Friday, 19 November 2010

Vote Sandy Nicholl London seat SGE by-election

For those in the London Region of UNISON’s Higher Education sector there's another by-election being held for the Service Group Executive.

I'm supporting Sandy Nichol for this seat because he's an inspiration, a well respected and experienced activist of a high profile branch (SOAS) with a good record of activism and campaign work; whose members once walked out in solidarity with Sandy when he was victimised and they saw him quickly returned to work; he has years of experience but still has fire in his belly; he is also funny and intelligent and can talk to anybody on the level; he does an excellent job as Chair of London Region Higher Education Committee too, and I hope very much to be able to join him as a co-representative of HE on the Service Group Exec for Higher Ed.

I'll never forget National Delegates Conference, 2009 when I was a delegate for the first time, and hearing Sandy speak passionately against a raid at SOAS and the deportation of some cleaners who'd been organised by his branch.

The solidarity his branch showed with those cleaners facing deportation was exemplary: they'd won a recognition agreement, as well as a Living Wage, and since then branch after branch in London has learned the lessons of their struggle and gone on to win a Living Wage.

Sandy has a large number of nominating branches - indicating his strong standing in the sector, and I've no doubt he'll do very well. But hat doesn't mean we can take this election for granted.

I urge you to not only vote for Sandy but go out and actively campaign for him too.

Monday, 15 November 2010

A new era has begun (results)

We did it! Winning this NEC by-election has vindicated the work of all the activists who went out over the last few weeks to talk to our members about fighting back and winning.

[UPDATE 17.11.2010: We increased the turnout to 11.4%, which is key to our success: we mobilised members to vote in an election they wouldn't normally notice. So, we convinced 2,012 members to vote for the fighting candidate, Max Watson, whilst Wendy Craig also got a (relatively high) 1,867 - pretty close! So, out of all the NEC by-elections, this was the highest turnout (ranging from 2% to 10%). That's partly due to so much going on in Higher Ed, and with such deep cuts to our sector (and local disputes over job cuts), members are angry enough to elect a fighting representative. It's also partly due to our very proactive campaign, which reached members that other candidates couldn't reach ... so thanks again for all the support.]

We must believe we can win this fight back against the government just as we believed we could win this election.

Last week students and education workers not only smashed the windows of Millbank Tower but also shattered any illusions that we would accept these ConDem cuts without a fight.

In the summer I had been told when I announced I'd stand that Higher Education UNISON members are a conservative lot, (with a small 'c' obviously), and that we'd never get a left candidate onto the NEC.

By winning this seat, we've also smashed that myth to bits.

We're in a new era: members of UNISON will be looking to those who are willing to lead a fight back. Those not willing or able to get involved in this resistance, those who haven't the stomach to stand up to the ConDem onslaught, should step aside and let others take their place.

A Million thanks to everyone who voted and especially those who campaigned for a 'fighting, democratic UNISON', for a candidate committed to speaking up on your behalf, and to leading a fight back against the ConDem cuts.

I promise not to do a Clegg - I'll be keeping to my pledges as I'm now mandated to do. To keep an eye on me - make sure I don't sell you all out! - you should email me; be my Facebook 'Friend'; and I'm still getting the hang of it but if you're a Twitter then 'follow' me at, for updates and reports from the NEC.

We're still waiting for the full results, which I'll post as soon as I get them. For the other NEC by-election results, check out Marsha-Jane's blog first, as they're not supposed to be on UNISON's website until 17th (whoops)!

Commiserations to all the other left candidates, and of course to Wendy Craig who I met recently in Birmingham and I wish all the best fighting the cuts up in Newcastle.