A stitch (up) in time....

It seems there can be no election without shenanigans, and the case of the election of General Secretary of the GMB is no exception. This story collects and comments on 4 public sites to tell the story of the candidate that never was and the fate of his branch (X58) that sought to support him.

  1. The GMB have election regulations to govern the conduct of elections. These are authorised by the Rule Book and the Central Executive Council are empowered to make bye laws that define the threshold of support required before a candidate's name can be placed on the ballot paper. The bye laws may also regulate candidate communication to members. There are strict rules on campaigning, which I assume are publicly designed to stop the right wing media influencing the result, & to keep the cost of campaigning reasonable but privately they enhance the power of the full time and elected officers with large & multi-branch membership portfolios or mandates.
  2. Here is the web page on which the GMB hosts its rule book, written in Comic Sans font. No really! The published rules on the page below are I assume dated as at 1 July 2015 and are as amended by Congress 2015. These rules also prohibit "disclosure of business" without permission.
  3. In February, Keith Henderson, then & now an ordinary member of the X58 branch, and ex-fulltimer announced he was seeking the 30 nominations. This statement was echoed on the Labour Representation Committee blog/web site, linked to immediately below. The LRC site is not well optimised for storify's scrapers, but the link is to the blog article.
  4. The LRC site repeated Keith's manifesto in March.
  5. His branch met for the purpose of making a nomination and voted to nominate him; I, not so bravely, abstained, I should have voted against because I didn't want him to be GS and unlike later in the year, I didn't think that broadening the debate was a good enough reason to support Keith; I also felt the likelihood of him getting the 30 nominations was exceedingly low.
  6. Keith's name did not make the ballot paper.
  7. Anyway the result was announced, possibly in Candid, the Union's magazine, but in this case, on Left Futures,
  8. Before the election result was announced, in fact before the release of ballot papers, the X58 Branch President and Secretary were suspended pending an investigation into a breach of rules. Probably the best version of the story available is on the web site of the Unite Grass Roots Left, see below.
  9. In this article, they discuss the appallingly low turnout, (under 5%) caused in part by prohibition on campaigning; the only campaign literature received was the classic 200 or was it 300 word personal statement delivered with the ballot paper, and it would seem the interviews published by the Morning Star which now I have found it (see below) isn't exactly informative, although I wish I had read it, since in the end I abstained partly through carelessness, and partly because I couldn't tell the difference between the two candidates who made it to the ballot paper. I considered spoiling my ballot paper to complain about the lack of campaigning and transparency but the truth is I mislaid the ballot paper for too long.
  10. The article looks at Keith's history of activism in the Union and his dismissal as a full time officer, it reports on his manifesto. It mentions in passing the suspension of the X58 branches officers and Keith Henderson's decision to appeal to the Certification Officer, together with the grounds for this appeal. The article has a copy of Steve Forrest, the X58 Branch President's notice of the result of the investigation and his three year suspension from holding office. They cover the nature of the offence, that of notifying their 3600 members that a vote on nomination for the GS would take place at the next meeting and that one, i.e. Keith Henderson of the Branch members was seeking nomination. Steve and Maria are appealing.
  11. The articles are published by the Grass Roots Left, a faction in Unite, probably consisting of people I rarely work with, but it would seem this sort of material is best made available by people not subject to the GMB disciplinary code.
  12. Here's the Morning Star article,
  13. And because the Grass Roots Left are heavily influenced by Trots, they have published a piece defending Henderson in going to the Certification Office; he is criticised by some it would seem for using the courts against the worker's movement...
  14. I like the quote from Marx, “We excuse the lectures on democracy and democratic organs contained in your letter on the grounds of novelty.” I am not sure of its relevance.
  15. However, much of the outside attention is focused on the election, its result and Keith Henderson's exclusion. It should be noted that Gary Smith, the National Secretary for the Energy sector also declared an interest and failed to make the ballot paper. The other issue of importance to me is the treatment Henderson's branch officials.
  16. I have had strong words with the principal officers of the X58 branch about adequate notice for business at meetings. (I am in favour of it.) One of the issues in dispute is whether the X58 branch were given time to hold a nominating meeting and what notice should be given. The regional officers now backed by the regional council/committee claim that the newsletter constituted illegal canvassing. The officers claim it was the minimum necessary information to publish the agenda to members.
  17. I am of the view that this approach is an over-reach, probably in breach of the principles of natural justice and I hope that Keith, Steve, Maria, all the other members of X58 branch and all the members of the GMB get something closer to the Union we deserve as a result of this.
  18. It seems that X58 is an Intel code and so this is what comes up when you search for images using X58 as the search argument. I suggest you use Tineye to discover the copyright status of the picture.
  19. Another legal statement, since I am linking to the articles, I am not "publishing" nor "making available", nor "making business known".
  20. What is mine, is available under CC0 terms.