Vitriolic and divisive in defeat.

The Socialist Party have released the following statement on the rejection of their candidate in the recent NIPSA General Secretary election. An abject lesson on how to sell a defeat as a victory and yet more divisive rhetoric. Nothing new here.

Socialist Party’s Patrick Mulholland gains 44% – Broad Left emerges stronger throughout NIPSA

Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast

The last six weeks has seen one of the most high profile trade union elections in Northern Ireland for decades. The election was for general secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA), the largest union in in Northern Ireland, with members from across the civil and public services and the voluntary sector. Socialist Party member, Patrick Mulholland, stood as the Broad Left candidate in the election, against the candidate of the NIPSA establishment, Alison Millar.

Patrick’s campaign distributed tens of thousands of leaflets to hundreds of workplaces. It waged a high profile campaign which provoked discussion among people outside of NIPSA, about what type of trade union movement we need. Patrick’s campaign focused on the policies and programme necessary to make a difference to NIPSA members.

He committed to only taking a worker’s wage if elected and ensuring the trade union movement develops a real strategy to fight cuts. As general secretary he would have implemented decisions of NIPSA conference including advocating a democratic socialist alternative to austerity.

Patrick had the opportunity to speak at hustings and meetings across the country to put forward ideas that could transform the trade union movement and the fight against austerity

Alison Millar’s campaign had the support of the majority officials in NIPSA and the resources that comes with it. It did not stop a tirade of vile religious sectarian abuse being waged at Patrick and his supporters, which should be condemned by all in the trade union movement.

Build a movement against cuts

The victory of the Millar campaign is no doubt welcomed by the main political parties in Northern Ireland. For example, Jim McVeigh, the leader of Sinn Fein on Belfast City Council, and Nelson McCausland, former Democratic Unionist Party minister at in the devolved local government ‘power-sharing’ Assembly, both warned of the danger of the left in NIPSA winning the general secretary position. Their parties dominate the ruling Assembly Executive, which will decide on making huge cuts that will drastically affect NIPSA members, their families and the wider communities.

Patrick gained an impressive 44% of the vote, with 4,958 votes. The NIPSA Broad Left, many of who are members of the Socialist Party, still has a majority on the general council in NIPSA, holds the union’s elected president position and will be stronger in every area of the union in the turbulent years to come.

Socialists should now use this strength to build a movement against cuts, oppose attempts to link with sectarian parties and build a left-wing alternative in Northern Ireland.

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Gracious and respectful in victory.

This is the message posted by Alison Millar on the occasion of her having been elected General Secretary of NIPSA.

“It is a privilege to be elected as the new Nipsa General Secretary and I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who worked on my campaign and every single member who took part in the election.

Whether you voted for me or not what is critical is the future of Nipsa and the trade union movement.

It is vital we move forward together and united to ensure we remain the strong independent trade union we have always been. Whilst there must be room for debate about the future direction of Nipsa, there can be no room for division.

Our opponents do not exist within the ranks of Nipsa. We have a common enemy that we must unite against and that is the enemy of austerity and those who would dismantle and destroy our public services.

We must place real member issues at the heart of everything we do and we must work together to build and strengthen Nipsa.

Thanks again to all those who worked tirelessly on my behalf to elect a General Secretary for All. I intend living up to that pledge”.

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If Carlsberg did irony. One for the slow learners out there.

Courtesy of the Collins English Dictionary here’s a handy “cut out and keep” ready reckoner for those members of factions within NIPSA who like to harp on and wax lyrical about their own anti-sectarian credentials and how they are going to “fight sectarianism”.

Is it starting to make sense yet?
Is it starting to make sense yet?

Do you see the problem? Yes, that’s right, by definition you’re the problem.

Makes uncomfortable reading, doesn’t it?

This.is.sectarianism.

Sore losers anyone?

It seems barely had the results been announced that the victim mentality recriminations began.

Rather than try to analyse where they might have improved on their performance in the General Secretary election or how best they might now, for the sake of all of the members, set about building bridges and forging alliances seeking to work together with those they have attacked and sought to demean, their political sectarianism and mud-slinging has begun.

Gone is their “building an inclusive union” aspiration that was parroted during the campaign. They are not, nor were they ever, interested in the membership and the struggles they face. They are interested in themselves, power, control and how they might progress their political agenda.

Even in defeat they have to politicize everything.

Sectarianism at it's best.
Sectarianism at it’s best.
More political sectarianism
More political sectarianism

According to the above Padraig / Patrick campaign posts, Alison Millar and anyone, yes that’s right anyone, who voted for Alison Millar is by default “Rightwing”.

Well done. They’ve reverted to form and have once again exposed their narrow parochial political sectarianism for all to see. It seems  earlier expressed concerns were well founded.

They are about division, that is all.

So much for all their rhetoric and pretence about democracy and anti sectarianism. The mask has slipped, again. When they said “Elect one of your own” they meant it in a way only they could.

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.