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ROUND AND ABOUT
What a difference a day makes - or not in the case of Undy and Donellan. Last week saw the final end of any hope of finishing BARRY and the MODERATI. Any hope of a re-run of the General Secretary election died when Moderati ace PAULINE ABRAMS withdrew her legal challenge to the 50-nominations bar. This was closely followed by a similar withdrawal of the challenge to the NEC elections by Messrs Mackay & Whitton ruling out any chance of a general re-run.
Abrams' move has stunned NOSFERUNDY, who never believes anything he reads by yours truly or Barrabas. Entirely predictable - the Mods were never going to have his stooge LANNING in at any cost - Undy now has the measure of the Moderati and what they are capable of doing to get their own way.
The Mackay/Whitton challenge, made soon after last year's elections, if upheld, would have cost the Lunity Trots two NEC seats, including JANICE GODRICH'S constant companion, DANNY WILLIAMSON. The LANOLIN gambit clearly gave the Mods second thoughts. Though it meant that the NEC would have to do without the wit and wisdom of JIM MACKAY and GEORGE WHITTON for another two years, BARRY'S crew realised that was a small price to pay to keep the TROT bloc on board for the greater game. Nor did they fancy a general re-run for the NEC, which could have been a consequence of the original challenge to the election.
The Moderati want time to hammer Me First, get HUGO out of the way, and try and win over some of the Me First constituency. It's gonna be hard going but the Mods are already wooing ex-Mainstreamers in the Inland Revenue, which could tip the balance. Others say that DONNY MACINTYRE, Barry's chief enforcer, has opened up discussions with ANGELA PALMER to try and reach an "understanding" with UNITY at a Section level.
Last month the NEC agreed to proposals for senior officer elections following a report prepared as a consequential of the merger agreement. Me First and the dregs of Unity have consistently opposed any plan which would widen the band of officials subject to direct election. The Moderates, together with the assorted Trots, have consistently favoured direct elections. The proposal was carried by 22 votes (Mods plus Trots) to 21 (Me First and their stooges).
Me First fear direct elections because they want to retain the power to appoint their creatures, no matter how useless they are, to high office. This was also the view of the "SECRET LEFT " in their old union - who also knew that few if any of their placemen would ever get elected under their RED colours (proved when their grip on the old NCPS/PTC EC was broken once membership ballots were introduced).
The Moderati in CPSA have always favoured direct elections. In CPSA it guaranteed RAMSBLADDER'S position. Likewise it enabled them to wrest the National Treasurership from the old BL'84 and give it to their tame accountant, KEITH WHO, who retires this year. The Mods believe that they can win any major contest (direct elections for general secretaries were imposed, after all, by the Thatcher government, precisely to help pliant right-wing blocs succeed). What it did do in CPSA, and will certainly do in the merged union, is give all the senior officers direct mandates which they will use to justify ignoring Conference and the NEC.
The Trots, of course, would like to see every full-time official elected which goes much too far for the MODS. This would take away the immense power of patronage held by the General Secretary and his cronies, in appointing junior officers.
None of this is of any comfort to LANOLIN who would be wise to pore over the sits.vac. columns for the next few months as his days are numbered as far as the Moderati are concerned.
But what was going to be his public inauguration, SHELDON'S retirement bash, is still going ahead at the cost of £20,000 of members' money. This little wheeze, cooked up by the Undymen to provide a beano so that the world's press could met the hitherto unknown HUGE, has also backfired. Though there can be no doubt that the vultures also known as "Industrial Correspondents" will all swoop down to the Oval to drink themselves silly at the union's expense, the only star they will be interested in will be MAREK SERWOTKA. Whether the General Secretary-elect chooses to turn up is another matter.
SERWOTKA has signed his contract - what the Me Fisters on the NEC were calling the "Lanning contract" only a few months ago - but he is adamant he will not take the £70k plus salary which goes with it. True to the demands of his masters, a mysterious sect called the "Alliance for Workers' Liberty", and his election pledge, he is insisting that he only wants to draw the humble salary of an ordinary member. Whether he gets away with wearing sackcloth and ashes depends largely on the Mods. They may refuse - they don't want the habit to catch or else others may indeed question why the General Secretary gets a wage on par with a MANDELSON (though even that wasn't enough for poor old Peter). And poor young MAREK, who is indeed really poor having to live on a miserable provincial EO wage, has got real problems. Marek has been forced to apply for a union loan to cover the relocation costs for him and family coming down to London. While this is perfectly reasonable, Barry and his mates, may well argue that he's got to draw his full whack and meet his own costs, and what he does with the money afterwards (gives it to Oxfam or whatever) is up to him.
The outgoing JGS SHELDON had a bag carrier called KEN JONES (who wrote Sheldon's speeches, established policy lines etc, and was run by LANNING) and it was anticipated that he would continue to do the same for HUGO when he became GS. So far so boring, but when MARKY pissed on LANOLIN'S chips, the situation changed and JONES seemed doomed to enjoy a juicy early severance package.
Somewhat oddly, MAREK has accepted JONES as his bag carrier, so now ME1ST think it's "business as usual". This is either a cunning ploy by 1) Mark - to feed disinformation to the ME1ST cabal. 2) ME1ST - to try to keep tabs on what our CARDBOARD HERO is up to, or else it's designed to cause the PFLCPSA Revolutionary Command Council to laugh uproariously at this outré spy-vs-spy routine. (Worked for me.)
After SERWOTKA'S eloquent address to LEEDS CONFERENCE one thing is certain: if he thinks that being GS is just being Branch Sec writ large, and doing what the members really, really want, he is in for a bit of a shock. The foetal GS will spend much of his time telling members why they can't do or have something - unless his friends in the AWL are kind enough to dismantle the state and remove the anti-TU legislation forthwith.