The Unite GS election ballot closes today.
I am sure that by the end of this weekend’s count, the result will be in the public domain. However, I will hold back as the union’s executive meets on Wednesday 24 November and it is their prerogative, as lay members, to make the formal declaration.
In the meantime I would like to express my deep appreciation to all those who have had the faith and courage to support our campaign ‘Together to Win’.
Our first major achievement was gaining nearly 100 nominations from branches, chapels and workplaces. Some said we wouldn’t manage and without the machines available to other candidates it was hard work and I am so grateful for each and every one.
Fundraising has been all consuming. We relied entirely on collective efforts and individual donations, not a penny has been drawn from union funds. So while we can’t boast lanyards, pens, tin badges, lavish adverts, dinner and dances, pop up stands or a van with a man – not to mention a virtual forest of leaflets and avalanche of e-mails – our campaign funds are open, transparent and available for scrutiny.
I stood on the basis that I would at all times carry on with my ‘day job’. I don’t think members would forgive me as AGS for Public Services deserting my post when they are facing the fight of their lives. Doing two jobs has been tough on me, my family, friends and campaign supporters but it was the right thing to do.
The campaign was based on a few basic principles. Independent from any faction, politically progressive, faith with the building blocks of the merger – an industrial structure comprised of sectors with autonomy to set policy that is right for the sector, progressive political policies leading change from within Labour, international solidarity and an effective and adequately resourced organising strategy.
I have urged support for a style of leadership that is different from the past ‘same old, same old’ machismo and as many men as women have embraced this aspiration. Sexism has no place in a progressive and modern union, it is as offensive as racism, discrimination against disabled, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people. ‘Made in Dagenham’ showed what progressive women and men can achieve together and much remains to be done to rid the union movement of the ‘male, pale and stale’ image gleaned from the lack of diversity at leadership level.
Looking to the future, the GS Designate must press on with full integration and heal the wounds of division. In my correspondence to the Election Commissioner I have put forward suggestions for any future GS election as there is huge scope for improvement and I feel strongly that the UK’s largest union should lead by example of good practice.
It is my sincere hope that our next GS election is genuinely based on principles of openness, transparency and a level playing field.
The campaign team are all working people busy with paid or voluntary jobs. Their support has been generous, patient and unstinting. None were motivated by personal gain nor were any of them union employees. I am enormously fortunate to have such support.
Thanks to them, my family and all those who in many ways have joined in. Whatever the outcome of the ballot good women and men have come together in support of ‘Together to Win’ – a wonderful achievement.