Wednesday 20 June 2007

Splitting the left?

In this article, Robin Pye takes up the issue of "splitting the left" under a single transferable vote system:-

There have been some objections from some on the left in the NUT to the nomination of Martin Powell-Davies for Vice-President.

The main objection seems to be that, by allowing his name to be put forward, Martin is splitting the left vote.

People raising these objections have short memories.

Two years ago, there were two STA candidates for the Vice-Presidency, Baljeet Ghale and Jane Nellist, as well as Sue Kortlandt as a CDFU candidate. Bill Greenshields also received some support from left leaning associations. In the election, Baljeet and Bill were, of course, elected.

Fours years ago, in the same elections, there were two recognisably left candidates, Baljeet and Roger King. Neither got elected.

2004 VP Results

First Preference Votes:

BILLS 15305 GHALE 7864 KING 5481 MOORHOUSE 9963

After transfers, Hilary BILLS and Judy MOORHOUSE were elected.

2006 VP Results

First Preference Votes:



After transfers, Baljeet GHALE and Bill GREENSHIELDS were elected.

So having more than two recognisably left candidates in these elections seemed to help get left candidates elected rather than prove to be an obstacle.

The main issue dividing the Union at the last conference in Harrogate was, of course, the question of whether the Union should include performance management and workload among the issues over which it ballots its members for national strike action.

There are only two candidates in this election that voted for this policy. One is Martin Powell-Davies who argued for this approach at conference, and the other is Roger King. The other candidates, including Gill Godswen of the CDFU voted against this course of action.

Given that this is the case, it seems perverse to argue that there is some over-riding imperative to achieve unity that means that those of us who supported the call for national action over performance management and workload should support a candidate for the Vice-Presidency who did not. Particularly as past experiences in these elections suggests that fielding two socialist candidates alongside a candidate from CDFU actually helps to get one of the socialists elected.

The postal workers are looking to join the PCS in taking on the government over pay, jobs and privatisation. The Brown government is not riding high in the polls and looks vulnerable. The NUT needs to be decisive in taking its place alongside other public sector unions and should be building support for national action on workload and
performance management, as well as pay, to build the broadest possible support for action.

As part of that campaign, socialists should be arguing for the election of candidates who support that aim. Nominating candidates who do not support that aim will merely strengthen those pessimistic elements in our Union's leadership who are in danger of undermining the Union's ability to take action alongside other public sector workers.

Robin Pye

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