Thursday, 14 June 2012

UNISON HE Service Group shifts left in 2012

Congratulations to those left candidates who stood and won in the Higher Ed Service Group Exec elections, 2012, and in particular those who stood for contested seats, namely: Sandy Nicholl, Molly Cooper, and Matt Raine.

The other explicitly left candidates who were elected unopposed (Shona McCulloch, Andy Beech, Emilse Medina) on the HE SGE will be joining a larger, stronger, younger and more diverse group of rank and file activists who will surely bring a breath of fresh air to our SGE.

Commiserations to those others who fought and lost - Mark Smith in the East and Ivan Bonsell in the SE - or in some cases had their papers get lost in post on the way to UNISON's Euston Towers in 'that London' ...

Extra 'hard luck' to Ivan Bonsell who came within a handful of votes of taking up the long-held SE gen seat.

I'm genuinely excited about the fact the HE SGE now has many new faces and far fewer empty seats. I look forward to working with some 'candidates of struggle' and energetic, younger activists who really do believe we can continue to build a resistance to the vicious assault on the public sector which we face and who aren't afraid to lead a fight back. We are a new generation for a new era.

Sorry to read others are a bit down in the dumps about the overall results - I hope HE brings, as ever, a beacon of hope as the left increases our influence in our quirky part of the largest public sector union in the UK. I do share the disappointment with low number of contested elections and of course a low turnout. And despite improvements there are still too many vacancies.

Why have we bucked the trend in HE and made gains on the left in UNISON? Maybe members in our sector have spent too long being advised they should cross picket lines whilst our sister union the UCU went on strike every year, and became frustrated with a lack of national leadership over similar issues? Maybe the student radicalism of the winter of 2010 had an effect?
Maybe the right wing of the labour movement are not so well entrenched in our sector or as organised as they are elsewhere ie Local Government, with strong local parties more heavily involved? Maybe the beginnings of a genuinely united left putting differences aside meant our small (but perfectly formed) organised left in our sector is starting to blossom?
Having taken a lead in the Living Wage campaigns in London also meant we could easily have encouraged a dozen candidates amongst low paid women to stand; so Emilse winning her seat was not a problem.
Who knows what it is, but we are clearly making a difference.
And I think it is clearly a left vote. Take London, where Sandy and Molly stood on a left slate, and received remarkably similar votes, despite Sandy probably being more recognised as a well established, long standing and respected branch secretary at SOAS plus he is the incumbent. It was a consciously left vote - a political vote for a fighting leadership.

So, keep up the good work folks, and keep building from the bottom up. As Molly told me over a celebratory pint: "It's about making your politics concrete and meaningful to ordinary members."
Now you know who your SGE reps are, keep them to account! Having won an election in 2010, I know it's good to have a mandate for a change in direction.
See you in Bournemouth for #uNDC12 to celebrate and prepare for the year ahead? We have a pay freeze to break, continued attacks on our pensions to resolve, and job cuts and wide-scale privatisation proposals. With this new team, I think we're now in a much stronger position to tackle all these issues head on.

1 comment:

  1. Since publishing this assessment of the results, Kath Owen also sent me her manifesto for publication, see here: