Time for change.

Now that the members have spoken and the results are in it’s time to look to the future.

Clearly the Socialist Party and its caucus the Broad Left ran and funded a very slick, and clearly expensive, campaign on behalf of Padraig / Patrick but the posturing, hypothetical sloganeering, revolutionary socialist calls to action, lack of experience, lack of policy or strategy detail and tokenistic gestures were democratically and demonstrably rejected by the majority of the voting members. No doubt there will be much soul-searching on the part of the Padraig / Patrick campaign as to how things might have ended differently.

The result shows that clearly it’s time to break with the past.

One thing this election has taught us is that NIPSA members want change and they want action beyond rhetoric. They want effective representation and as much protection from the Government led attacks on their rights and livelihoods as their union can realistically afford them.

One potential stumbling block which stands to prevent that is the current almost exclusively Broad Left / Socialist Party General Council.

Does anyone really believe that a faction whose leader has been defeated in a democratic election will work with the victor?

For example, in the interests of the entire membership will Padraig / Patrick share with Alison his often referenced, though never seen, strategy to fight the cuts?

The answers to these, and other questions, remain to be seen but on  past experience it seems entirely likely given that Alison Millar has defeated Padraig / Patrick in the General Secretary election that they will not be supportive of her and, in doing so, may through their actions / inaction cause detriment to the general membership and reputation of the union.

It is a fact that since holding the majority of seats on the General Council  the Broad Left / Socialist Party have set about and have been primarily focused on achieving their aim of taking over the union and the mandate of its members to further their own political aims.

They have a control fixation. They are obsessed with achieving their objective and their actions to achieve this whilst largely ignoring the plight of and attacks on the rights of the membership until after the fact is disgraceful. Throughout the election process the Padraig / Patrick campaign supporters implemented strategies on social media which they have for years denied using in real life situations. If you questioned them you were maligned as “right-wing” if you challenged them you were hectored, bullied and marginalized.

This exposure of their behaviours via social media proved to many to be a line too far and shone a rather uncomfortable analytical light on some of the strategies employed. Perhaps the most damning act was feminists attacking Alison Millar for having the audacity to be a female participating in an election. Moving forward these types of reactionary and ultimately bullying behaviours must stop.

It should be remembered that many of the majority Broad Left / Socialist Party current General Council members are long-standing on the General Council. What have they done in that capacity, in real terms, over the past three or four years other than push their particular political dogma? Cheap slogans, media soundbites, the cult of TV & radio celebrity and no action – that’s what. They are politically led, they seek to undermine colleagues and members who do not share their political ideology, they do not consult with the members, they seek to restrict the publication or circulation of anything that does not serve them or their political ends. They are highly selective in their support of members and likewise in their disciplining and expulsions. They appear to see and use the union as a means to an end.

It must also be remembered that whilst they hold the majority of places on the General Council they are not the only faction within NIPSA who appear intent on or capable of causing difficulties for the union as a whole.

It’s time for change.

Alison Millar stood on a non aligned ticket. She was clear and vocal about the fact that she was neither influenced by nor aligned to any political party or faction. This is the way forward that the membership have democratically chosen.

Politics, of whatever hue, has the potential to cause division and sectarianism and that is a fact we have seen during the course of this election. The voting majority in the recent General Secretary election agreed with Alison that politics and political influence should certainly be valued and held but that in a truly democratic union context they should be left at the door when it comes to fighting collectively for the rights of members.

We owe it to ourselves to unify and collectively support her efforts to stave off and ameliorate as best she can the attacks on us and our colleagues and in doing so proving to them the worth and value of true trade unionism and solidarity in order that we may grow in number and strength.

Ultimately, if people are so interested in and driven by a particular brand of politics – particularly one with a stated objective of taking over unions – then perhaps they ought to consider getting into politics for real and concentrate on that instead of using a union as a platform or vehicle, because a democratic union fighting for all irrespective of colour, religion, or political leaning should not be constrained by a singular political dogma and is not the place for them.

The union is dead, long live the union.

The sad reality surrounding the General Secretary election is that neither party is offering anything new.

Setting aside the ironic project fear red herring of sectarianism which, up until it was exposed as such, formed the back bone of Padraig / Patrick’s campaign, let’s look at the facts.

Padraig / Patrick and the bulk of the current General Council have had three years to deliver anything, yes anything, that constitutes an actual fight against the cuts. What have they done? Nothing, that’s what they appear to have done.  We hear daily this mantra about some strategy that Padraig / Patrick has yet, like Padraig / Patrick’s supposed ability to operate at the highest levels of negotiation, we have seen no evidence of it.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the apparent inaction of the predominantly Broad Left / Socialist Party controlled General Council during Padraig / Patrick’s term as President was an intentional ploy in order to turn this General Secretary election into a battle of personalities whereby blame for their inaction was, and is, apportioned to others / the status quo.

Deflection is the name of the game. Deflect from the fact that nothing beyond traditional tried and tested protesting and some lobbying has been done in real terms to fight the cuts in the public sector over the last three years. Nothing.

No meaningful measurable consultation has taken place with the membership and we have a situation where a political party and its foot soldiers are running the campaign for Padraig / Patrick. Their reward? In the event that Padraig / Patrick wins their reward will be the NIPSA union and it’s mandate to use as they see fit to further their own political agenda / ideals. There is, of course, nothing wrong with socialism or holding socialist views but the issue here is the covert acquisition of a union based not least on the instruction of the Socialist Party but also on election manifesto promises and rhetoric which the maker of same refuses to debate in public (Facebook / Twitter)  and which are not available for anyone to view or consider.

If anything Alison Millar offers more of the same, whether good or bad, as far as the current status quo is concerned. But she does so without the political instruction / interference of an outside political party, with no political affiliation or influence having a bearing on her choices and decisions and, of course, a far greater degree of experience than that of Padraig / Patrick.

Again she offers nothing in the way of a visible / debatable strategy to fight the cuts but there is one very important difference. If Alison Millar wins this election the union will still belong to the members and not a political party. Of course she will be attacked, frustrated and stymied at every turn by the current General Council in an attempt by them to portray anyone not subscribing to their political ideology as being inept and incapable of leading a union. But it is within the grasp of the ordinary membership to address that at the next General Council elections now that they are aware of how we have arrived at the position that we are now in, fighting not only for the political independence but also the very survival of NIPSA as an independent fighting union fighting for it’s members and not for the political interests of an outside political party which currently manages to hold so much sway.

Whatever the outcome NIPSA as we know it is over. Whoever is the victor in this General Secretary election will have very serious challenges facing them in trying to keep the union together, truly democratic and effective. That’s assuming they still have a “union” to save.

 

EDIT: 10:00am 01-November-2015.

Some may justifiably take issue with some of the content of his post, but even Padraig / Patrick agrees that NIPSA will never be the same again.

"NIPSA will never be the same".
“NIPSA will never be the same again”.

Stand up to bullying employers.

NIPSA staff forced to strike because of the undemocratic, bureaucratic, dictatorial behaviours of their employer.

In a move that will come as a shock to no one NIPSA staff will be taking industrial action against their employers tomorrow, Friday October 30th.

“Unite representative Kevin Kelly said it was a long-standing dispute and he accused Nipsa’s governing general council of a “failure to practice a standard of industrial relations that they would expect of their officials”. BBC site.

That’s the same Broad Left General Council who are supposed to be fighting for the democratic rights of employees. The same General Council who are asking people to vote for their fellow traveller in the current General Secretary elections to “build a stronger, democratic fighting union”.

It’d be funny were it not so tragic and serious.

 

Nipsa election plea not meant to be patronising.

From The Daily Gail.

PUBLISHED 28/10/2015

I was dismayed to read the letter penned by Tina Creaney, Clare McConnell, Sarah McCrossan and Liz Skelcher (Write Back, October 26) in relation to Lynn Carvill’s letter urging Nipsa members to vote for Alison Millar in the current general secretary elections for Nipsa, the largest trade union in Northern Ireland.

What my colleagues have written is that suggesting people should vote for Alison Millar because she is a woman is a patronising thing to do – and I wholeheartedly agree.

It saddens me greatly to see four female Nipsa members attempting to portray their fellow female trade unionist as someone pushing a “patronising” and “tokenistic” message, when this is not actually the case.

I feel very strongly that what Lynn Carvill said needs to be clarified and the record needs to be set straight.

Lynn Carvill wrote to the Belfast Telegraph that this election offers the voters the opportunity to vote for Alison Millar, whom she described as “the candidate with the greatest knowledge, experience and track record”.

This was not a letter saying vote for Alison Millar because she is a woman, as some seem to have labelled it,

I agree with Lynn’s assertion that to elect a woman to the role of general secretary within the union would make history.

Nipsa was formed in 1922 as the Belfast and District Public Officers’ Association and, in the 93 years since, has not had a single female general secretary.

I would urge all Nipsa members to vote for Alison Millar, because she is the best person for the job. If her victory also means the union will have its first female general secretary after nearly 100 years of existence, then I’ll be sure to celebrate this historic event as well.

ADAM MURRAY

By email

It all seems very quiet….

..as far as the Alison Millar camp is concerned.

There hasn’t been much in the way of new campaign materials or sloganeering on their part in the past few weeks.

Of course there is also the fact that she doesn’t have the full weight and support of a political party driving her campaign in the way that Padraig / Patrick has.

Don’t mention the “s” word.

It would appear from the latest Padraig / Patrick election materials being circulated in the “West of the Bann” area that the often referred to “threat of sectarianism” has been defeated, or it never really existed and was just a rather convenient soundbite for “project fear”.

No longer any threat of sectarianisn?
No longer any threat of sectarianism?

Either way, well done Padraig / Patrick.

Setting aside the apparent need to separate and divide the challenges facing members East and West of the Bann, terminology which in itself is part of the divisive sectarian vocabulary and mindset, it would be interesting to see or hear something about this “strategy to defend jobs and services West of the Bann” and how and why it differs from his, also unseen, strategy to defend jobs and services everywhere else in Northern Ireland.

On the “West of the Bann” issue Sinn Fein seem to agree with Padraig / Patrick (or Padraig / Patrick seems to agree with Sinn Fein, whichever) as can be seen here. So, perhaps refusing to “cosy up” to politicians (of whatever political hue) isn’t such a good strategy when it comes to saving / creating jobs?

That letter on gender equality being supposedly “irrelevant when fighting for social equality”.

A letter has appeared in the Belfast Telegraph today penned by supporters of Padraig / Patrick which takes issue with a letter which appeared in the same publication last week.

I’m not a great believer in sending views / click bait to a devoutly anti-union publication but for the purposes of transparency and accuracy I’ve linked to the letter above

Let’s have a look at some of the content and analyse it.

“In response to the letter from Lynn Carville (Write Back, October 21), don’t patronise us and disguise the Nipsa general secretary election as a fight for women’s rights.

As Nipsa members and active feminists we are proud that our fellow Nipsa members this year voted women into the positions of president (Carmel Gates), vice-president (Janette Murdock), honorary treasurer (Tanya Killen), chair of the Civil Service group executive (Maria Morgan) and the vice-chair of the public officers group (Alanagh Rea). We did this not because they are women, but because we decided that they are the best fighters and, therefore, best suited for the positions.”

” …not because they are women, but because we decided that they are the best fighters and therefore, best suited for the positions”. Really? Setting aside that they are all women, and clearly your type of women, I assume it is purely coincidental that they are all members of the Broad Left faction, a caucus within the union formed to take over the union as instructed by the Socialist Party?

Come off it girls, nobody is buying what you are peddling.

“To suggest that we should vote for Alison Millar simply because she is a woman is patronizing and tokenistic.”

No one is patronizing you, your persecution complex and victim mentality have clouded your judgement.  I don’t think Lynn Carville, or anyone for that matter, suggested voting for Alison Millar “simply because she is a woman”. She has many years experience as a negotiator and campaigner for members rights. You, however, appear to be set on attacking her “simply because she’s a woman” not of your particular collective political persuasion.

People have suggested voting for her based on her breadth of proven experience. If people vote for her in sufficient numbers and she wins the General Secretary election it is a fact, based on the rather inconvenient matters of history and her gender, that she will be the first female General Secretary of NIPSA. Most genuine feminists and campaigners for equality would welcome the coming about of such a situation.

“Patrick Mulholland has dedicated his entire life to fighting for social equality for all, and that includes women’s rights.”

As indeed have many hundreds of thousands of others. Nobody denies that he does, even I remember Patrick fighting for social equality for all when he was called Padraig.

“He does this not because it is his job (it isn’t), but because he is so committed to his socialist values that not fighting would allow injustice to continue”.

Again, millions worldwide fight social injustice at every turn with every living breath without the need to be called socialists or associated with socialism. You don’t own the revolution and this may come a somewhat of a surprise to you but the continuance or otherwise of injustice is not predicated by Padraig / Patrick campaigning.

“Socialist values” do not have a monopoly on moral values. There are millions if not billions of people worldwide who know right from wrong and recognize inequality and injustice and fight them tooth and nail every day. Your constant harping on about socialism and attempts to elevate individuals to a state of reverence trivialize the very revolutionary spirit and spirit of an equal society you purport to aspire to.

“Patrick has spent the last 30-plus years campaigning for an equal and anti-sectarian society for all”.

Nobody denies that he has been a tireless and dogged campaigner on many issues, but he wasn’t alone, was he? No one standing in this election hasn’t campaigned for an equal and anti-sectarian society for all, let’s be straight about that.

“Throughout our time as active Nipsa members and feminists it is Patrick that we see at almost every equality protest and demonstration – from Reclaim The Night and International Women’s Day to Pride and equal marriage demonstrations.”

Fantastic. Good for him, again he’s not the only regular face at these protests otherwise he’d be cutting a very lonely figure at them. I see the same photographers at most of these protests too. Even if they were to stand I wouldn’t be voting for them unless they could prove they had  adequate experience to hold the post. Photo opportunism does not constitute experience.

“If we were to support women just because they are women, then logic would dictate that Labour Party members should have voted for Liz Kendall instead of Jeremy Corbyn.”

You’re using the royal “we” to introduce a strawman argument based on a flawed logic. Let’s stick with the facts. Four female signatories of this letter are saying that the fact an individual as experienced as Alison Millar combined with the fact that she is a woman is not reason enough to support her in her campaign but instead the very prospect of her making female history in the NIPSA trade union should be used to attack her legitimate participation in a democratic election. Do you see how ridiculously detached from the concept of the advancement of gender equality your preposition actually is? Your earlier supposed position of supporting people “best suited” for positions looks like window dressing when one considers the far greater degree of experience held by Alison Millar.

“We are very glad that Labour Party members did not vote according to gender, but voted for a fighter who will change British politics for the better.”

I’m sure there were many who did vote according to gender. The fact is they voted for someone who talks a good campaign on issues but is short on actual practical delivery of those issues. Sounds familiar.

“A vote for Patrick Mulholland will have the same effect in Nipsa”.

That’s exactly right, see above. Whereas a vote for his opponent will put someone with real practical experience and a proven track record in the job.

Finally.

There is of course a reason why there are no male signatories to this letter and that reason is that the Broad Left seem to think that attacks from the same gender will legitimize the criticism. It doesn’t, it merely shows that self-proclaimed “feminists” can jettison their particular brand of Clairol / l’Oreal Because I’m worth it tokenistic feminism in favour of a narrow political agenda to do the bidding of their male masters.

I notice one of the signatories uses a profile picture of a young girl, fist raised in the air, beside a slogan saying “A woman’s place is in the revolution”. It would appear that the remainder of the quote “…so long as she doesn’t challenge the status quo” is somewhere out of shot.

So much for that particular brand of “feminist” equality.

Better late than never.

It seems that the Padraig / Patrick campaign machine is in damage limitation mode and is trying to distance itself from….well, itself.

Having realized the preposterous contradiction of them promoting sectarianism (it’s not as simply defined as “orange” or “green”) by encouraging people to “Elect one of your own” whilst simultaneously campaigning against sectarianism they’ve now produced the following amended version of their campaign literature.

Somewhat embarrassing reworking of the original call to engage in sectarianism.
Reworking of the somewhat embarrassing original call to engage in sectarianism.

And here’s the original.

img_1064 - Copy - Copy

Let’s TalkTalk about hacking

It’s an unfortunate reality of the modern digital age that people will, from time to time, fall foul of individuals who seek to disrupt and subvert business and discourse. The current situation which TalkTalk finds itself in is a case in point.

Yesterday the Twitter account of General Secretary candidate Alison Millar fell victim to someone who hacked the account and deleted her tweets. Yes, that’s right, deleted her tweets.

2015-10-25_09-32-12

You’d have to wonder what type of individual or group would be interested in suppressing democratic opinion to the point that they would be desperate and disingenuous enough to hack a twitter account and risk a possible criminal conviction for doing so.

It’s regrettable that at the time of writing the silence from many of those who call for fair play and open and democratic debate, who you would think would vehemently oppose such behaviours, is deafening.

True democrats will, of course, speak out against this type of attack. It is an attack on democracy, free speech and the promotion of trade unionism.

As Socrates might have said in a modern context “When the debate is lost, hacking becomes the tool of the loser”.

Speak out and condemn these behaviours.