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ROUND AND ABOUT
by Judas Iscariot - End of May 2003

In ancient times pundits cast runes or poked the entrails of dead animals in an attempt to look into the future. Nowadays we generally rely on the daily horoscope and the public opinion polls that mask their guesswork with pseudo-scientific phrases and mind-numbing statistics. Some pollsters make a good living out of an understanding of the arcane rules of probability. But you won’t need a degree in rocket science to predict the future for PCS if the Group elections are anything to go by.

Any doubts that the Moderati are heading for an almighty crash have been dispelled by the voting. The Mods were routed in DWP and fared badly elsewhere and barring Divine Intervention – which went out of fashion some time after the Flood – they are going to be routed in the national polls. Their only consolation has been the slight swing in their favour in MOD and the strong vote for LES PRIESTLEY and his IR Me First slate in the Revenue. Their only tactic is to try and minimise their losses on the NEC while concentrating on the Presidency – where they still have half a chance.

In DWP, the biggest section in the entire union, the vote was a foregone conclusion. Their list of time-servers and has-beens could barely rally the Moddies core-vote. Even getting national nominations through has been a struggle. Only five members turned up at the DWP Falkirk branch meeting in May -- out of a membership of over 800. And even then the Moderati slate only got through on the casting vote of the acting chair.

Only MoD defied the trend. There the Mods wisely decided to dump their old discredited Moderate label to re-invent themselves as “Democrats for Defence” – a ruse they may use nationally this year to try and distance themselves, at least to their own followers, from a tag indivisibly tied to the totally discredited BARRY RAMSBLADDER. It has the added satisfaction of adulterating NOSFERUNDY's "democrat" tag.

In Revenue the swing to the left was limited and the IR Me Firsters retained control with a reduced majority. Significantly, the MAD MONK bagged over 7,500 votes, which means he could mount a credible challenge to the incumbent National president, JANICE GODRICH. JANICE has recently been on a world trip of Scotland and the North, pressing the flesh of the doughty workers, but doing little to address their concerns. Calcutta surely beckons.

LES is standing as an “Independent” with Moderate support and he will pull every trick in the book to try and grab the post he has long coveted. He will try and mobilise even more of the Revenue faithful behind his banner claiming that only he can stop the drive to end IR’s section privileges, ring-fenced under the merger constitution which is now unravelling. He will appeal to his old cronies in the Undy camp for personal support – arguing that the RED TERROR must be stopped.

Crude anti-Trot smears are beneath him. He’ll leave that to his Moderati allies who will pitch the RED SCARE again to mobilise their low-caste vote in his favour. But his supporters are not above whisper campaigns of their own for their own kind to belittle Madame Pompadour and appeal to the male chauvinist pig vote amongst the high-castes. This incidentally is only worth about 250 votes but it’s not to be sneezed at.

GODRICH knows all this and she went on the campaign trail at the section conferences to build up her personal standing in Inland Revenue and the rest. While this was seen as simply a vote bagging exercise by some cynics – not all from the ranks of the SOCIALIST CAUCUS -- it did have some high spots.At the LCD Conference Mde GODRICH was given the honour of drawing the raffle. Lo and behold the first winning ticket belonged to outgoing Section President DAVE CUNNINGHAM. Amid cries of “put it back” and “draw it again” CUNNINGMAN strode forward to pick his prize, an XXL PCS Fleece, no doubt to keep him warm when he goes back to work in a couple of weeks time after spending the past two years “working from home”. He’d better return his departmental computer, printer and mobile phone as well before the LCD bailiffs are sent in.

JANICE’S other objective was to quell any discontent stirred up by Lunity’s TROT rivals in the SOCIALIST CAUCUS bloc. The CAUCUS has a long history. It was set up in the mid-70s in CPSA by a motley shower who had left or been expelled from the major TROT sects of the day. While other factions have changed their names and direction the CARCASE has kept its original name and even some of its founders, like RED BACON, over the years and into the amalgamation. Their support is almost entire lower caste and they concentrated their efforts this year at the DWP conference.

There the CARCASE couldn’t stick to kicking the Moderati for more than five minutes before putting the boot into their comrades in Lunity, who they accuse with some justification of cosying up to the crawlers and dregs of the UNITY faction to squeeze them out.

UNITY, a sad remnant of the SECRET LEFT once run by the late NICK SHITE in the old high-grade union, rarely surfaces above the parapet these days apart from the odd advert in the BORING STAR, a low-circulation daily run by the COMMISSAR PARTY. But they unwisely had a pop at CARCASE star CHRIS FRAUD, provoking the wrath of the left faction that has at least half the blessing of MARK SERWOTKA himself.

In the past the Moderati could count on the support of the yellow press to get their list out but those days like BARRY are now gone. Doubtless the magic list will miraculously circulate to all and sundry just before the balloting starts – they’ve got nothing to fear apart from another inquiry headed by Lord Whitewash. And so far the only reference to our titanic struggle has been an article by SOCIALIST WANKER guru PAUL FOOT in this week’s GUARDIAN. FOOTY clearly seems to think that his friend MARK himself is standing for re-election this year. That just about sums PCS up doesn’t it?

QUILL SHARPENING IN THE VALLEYS
by Barrabas

The fine tradition of dead Welsh sheep savaging one another is alive and well, as this little spat shows:

Dear

Whispers: May 2003 Edition

Following the publication of the May 2003 edition of Whispers, I see that my editorial article has been changed after it was submitted to the communications department at headquarters at your request.

The changes that have been made mirror those that we had an e-mail exchange about on the 2nd April, when you changed the draft I sent you and deleted the following factual statement:

“Sadly, it appears that the group (GEC) elections have been delayed due to problems with the constitution, which will mean that the group will not be in a position to resolve these matters for some time. This is even more regrettable as every branch within the group were in agreement about holding one member one vote elections for the officierial positions at the recent GEC meeting, held at the end of March.”

In response to my original draft you stated “Hve (sic) amended this as we are both saying the same thing ( boring ) for people to read .”, in response to which I made it clear that “…we weren’t saying the same thing and it was true. I think it should remain unaltered.”

I am now extremely disappointed to see that you have seen fit to ignore my view as joint editor and author of that article and invoke what, to all intents and purposes, is a personal veto over the contents of Whispers.

It saddens me to see that such an inconspicuous paragraph has become such an issue for you, that you see fit to censor my contribution. I can only deduce that you have a major issue with that paragraph and the statement that it makes - which coincidentally is the same issue that prompted the outburst and your sudden departure from the constitutional task group meeting on the 25th March.

I am not prepared to continue to work as joint editor of Whispers when you as the Group President seem to believe that you have a right of veto over content. From the outset, we have been at pains to ensure that the group officers did not influence and censor what was published, but that independence has now disappeared.

I believe that if Whispers is to become what we originally envisaged it to be, then it should never be allowed to become a vehicle for one individual to pursue their own agenda through it.

I am therefore resigning as joint editor of Whispers with immediate effect.

It is my intention to copy this letter to all branch officers and group delegates as I want to ensure that they are fully aware of my reasons for resigning.

Yours regrettably

Steven Jones


Dear

RESPONSE TO YOUR LETTER OF RESIGNATION

I was very sorry to receive your letter dated 13 May addressed to me in which you offer your resignation as Joint Editor to the Assembly PCS journal ‘Whispers’ the other Joint Editor being myself. However, I was somewhat concerned to be handed it at 12.20 on the 14th May and not given the opportunity to discuss before you instructed another member to issue it to branches and delegates at 12.38 on the 14th May by e-mail. An e-mail I should add that I was not copied into.

Unfortunately your decision to copy your letter to all delegates of the GEC (including branch secretaries of all GEC branches), within less than 20 minutes of you handing me your letter, has resulted in at least one of the Regional branches choosing to issue that letter directly to its members without an opportunity for me to reply to you. I am not certain whether you intended this outcome or not? and I am not certain if other Regional branches have done the same (I am however aware that the General branch chose not to issue the letter). But it does now mean that the very particular, and inaccurate, portrayal of my actions in respect of your editorial piece in the last issue of ‘Whispers’ has been widely published to members of our union. I’m sure you will understand that given the very serious allegation you make against me, that I have no choice in also circulating this reply to members. This response has therefore been copied to all GEC branch secretaries so they may circulate to their members on the same basis. For consistency I have also copied this reply to delegates to the GEC meeting to which you refer, and the regional officer for PCS.

Your editorial
You claim in your letter that I invoked a ‘personal veto’ and that I ‘censored’ your contribution via the statement you submitted. You state also that it was a ‘factual’ statement’ – and later reinforce this view by stating that the statement was ‘true’. It is true that the issue of one member one vote for GEC elections was discussed at several preceding GEC meetings as opposed to the present block branch nominations and voting. It is also true that a consensus was (eventually) reached that we would adopt a ‘one member one vote’ ballot for the next election, but this was, as you are well aware at the last minute just prior to a ROMS meeting in London. What I took issue with, however, was the inference in your statement that the delay to the GEC elections was solely linked to the ‘one member, one vote’ issue, and that it was ‘regrettable’ given all branches had agreed to that balloting method. As you well know the issues that forced us to consider delaying the GEC elections were not limited to the method of election – but also include several important issues relating to updating of the present GEC constitution which can be summarised as follows:

  • the compelling case put by General branch for increased representation for the overwhelming numbers of PCS members situated in the General branch:
  • the need to expand the GEC to ensure women are much better represented;
  • The need to ensure our GEC is truly representative of the membership we serve – i.e. better representation for Black and Asian members; our members with disabilities; gay and lesbian members – and in fact to ensure our ruling committee represents the diversity of the whole membership.
  • the need to properly constitute the make up and voting arrangements affecting the influential GEC officer group;
  • And, of course, the need to urgently update our constitution in line with the principle aims and values of the national union – to which at present we are operating outside.

As part of my President’s address in the April issue of ‘Whispers’ I had already prepared a statement informing members in a neutral way of the GEC decision to hold back elections. You will be fully aware of the passionate views I hold as an individual member of the GEC on the issue of reforming our constitution, yet my statement is limited to informing members of the collective decision of the GEC. Your statement however, expressed a partial and misleading view of the GEC debate and in my capacity as President of the GEC and the officer responsible for the constitution felt it would be unhelpful and unprofessional to present members with two differing ‘versions’ of the same decision. I emailed you with my comment that we were both saying the same thing and that members may find this ‘boring’. What I chose to avoid was a direct criticism of your approach to the issue which in effect reiterated the views expressed by the 3 regional branches at the series of GEC meetings where the matter had been discussed. I believed your portrayal of the debate was not fitting of the independent position you held as joint Editor of our group journal, and that I made a decision and continue to believe it to have been correct. As you correctly point out in your letter to me:-

‘Whispers…..Should never become a vehicle for one individual to pursue their own agenda’. I could not agree more!

On a matter of logistics, you state that you replied to my email reinforcing your view that your statement should remain as you had drafted on the 2nd of April. Yet, you were aware that I was on annual leave for the week 2nd until 7th April and then attending NEC meeting in London the following week. One of the tasks I have carried out since the first issue has been to finalise the typesetting of the journal before printing whilst undertaking meetings in London. I had not, therefore on the occasion you refer to received your e-mail reply for reasons already stated. On other similar occasions where we have needed to hurriedly finish articles or pieces for the newsletter you have often called me on my mobile phone to agree final drafts. Yet, on this occasion, on a matter you now feel is important enough to warrant resigning, you did not feel it necessary to confirm with me the final text of your editorial. For my part, I have very often had to pick up drafting, proof reading tasks and other ‘ Joint Editors’ duties at the final hour, in order to ensure the newsletter has reached PCS HQ by the final deadline. It is not unusual for me to do this without being able to contact you or extract contribution from you, on articles you have been tasked to complete – and I therefore did not think it at all unusual that you had not returned to me by ‘phone on this particular matter.

Editorial control
Your principle behind your resignation appears to be that as Joint Editor of Whispers, this entitles you to say whatever you wish to say in the newsletter without interference from the GEC body that appoints you. What I have always promoted is we can never be in a position of drafting in committee, and had always considered that we had operated as Joint Editors with an understanding of trust.


Your reference to the GEC constitutional task group
you chose in your letter to refer to the events of the 25 March where you refer to (my?) outburst and sudden departure from the meeting. I’m sure this will leave members with a very confused picture of the conduct of our meetings – one, which I am very happy to correct given the matter, has now been raised in such an obviously public way.

Concerns raised by General branch
You will recall that the meeting in question had been convened to examine the decision of the National Executive Committee recruitment and membership sub committee (ROMS) to refer our present GEC constitution back to the GEC for amendment in line with the National PCS rules ‘aims and values’ (see my bullet point list above for those issues we are obliged to examine). I am a member of that NEC appointed committee and as such have a responsibility to adjudicate over numerous other group and branch constitutions from all sectors in PCS. In keeping with my responsibilities to the national PCS, I am obliged to apply a consistent approach to my decisions on that committee – including, at its meeting of 26th March the consideration of the Assembly GEC constitution. It is worth reminding you that I had not asked for a review of the GEC constitution at that time – the request stemming from concerns raised directly with national union officers by the General branch chair, Cath Ward, about representation and voting issues for her branch members within the GEC.

The decision of the ROMS committee in respect of the National Assembly for Wales GEC constitution at that meeting was unanimous – with all those able to vote (including myself) agreeing that our constitution was in need of urgent reform. In light of my representations to the committee, the decision was taken to allow the GEC to propose its own amendments –rather than have the matter resolved directly by NEC intervention. Nevertheless, it became clear very quickly at our 25th March meeting that certain delegates felt it had been my responsibility at the ROMS meeting to resist the will of the national union and ‘defend’ the right of the GEC, not to bring its operation in line with those of all other groups in the PCS. When I countered this view the meeting became increasingly hostile to me personally. As a result attacks were made on my integrity by one member of the delegation. You may think I should have handled the personal attack on myself differently. You are entitled to your view - but I am constantly dismayed that similar rebuke is rarely made to those within our GEC who feel they can accuse and undermine fellow union officer with impunity. The senior National Officer who was present during this exchange also made it clear to the individual that the behaviour was I quote “unhelpful”. It was at this point I left and not as you imply in your letter an “outburst” which is to say the least misleading.

Once again your recollection of the reasons behind my actions is inaccurate and misleading. I can only apologise to our members who, because of the deliberate actions of one of the Regional branch secretaries to blindly issue your letter to a section of our membership, have now been circulated the details behind a long running series of confrontations at our GEC. Personally, I may welcome the opportunity to start widely reporting what I see are the increasingly personal attacks being made upon myself and other women members of the GEC –or is it against those who want to bring the GEC into line with modern union principles? Whether it is either of these remains to be seen – but what I can assure you is that during the term of my Presidency of the Assembly PCS, members will be given the opportunity to ballot into a fully representative GEC body that is in line with the principles of the national union to which we belong.

In the same vein, I sincerely hope that your decision to resign bears no relationship to the fact that doing so will not lead to any detriment to your current ability to continue to play an active part in the running of the GEC (the Joint Editor being an appointed position from within the GEC itself and not a separately elected post). We have, after all, disagreed frequently on the content of the Group Journal – sometimes in your favour, and other times in mine – but have always agreed that together we have produced a first class publication for the benefit of all Assembly PCS members.

In my view your statement echoed only a narrow picture– especially where yours painted a view that it was only the issue of one member one vote. When you have been well aware of the need to reform the constitution and not I quote “cherry pick “ issues if forced to deal with them and leave aside issues such as the representation of Minority groups - such as Black and Ethnic, women, disabled and Lesbian and Gay issues. I have considered why you would wish to report the GEC decisions in such a narrow view, as some do not see the need to reform at all. Your contribution therefore implied an unnecessary delay was being forced upon members, when the real picture was a much more positive one, one which allows the GEC to amend and take ownership of its decisions to reflect its membership and the diverse members we have,a positive step I would say?

If as I suspect, this is at the heart of your decision to resign, and the generally hostile atmosphere surrounding the GEC of late – then perhaps it is good that members get the chance to understand exactly what is going on.


Yours Sincerely

Bev Bambrough
GEC president & Joint editor of ’ Whispers’