gold eagle












by Judas Iscariot
- February 2001

The General Secretary Stakes is over. The objections were withdrawn. There was no steward's inquiry. And the faction bosses are pondering their next moves. At the racetrack the excitement starts at the beginning. The cheery faces going through the turnstiles - their hopes and fears compressed into the thrills of a chase or a handicap. When the meeting ends the same number drift out; some with the well-worn smile of contentment; most others poorer than when they came in but knowing that tomorrow is another day.

So too in our union…winners and losers, but who's won and who's lost?

Well, first of all Mark Serwotka has clearly won. Two months ago he was just another ex-CPSA Trot with a funny name whose only claim to fame was that he had gone the distance for over two decades without selling out - unlike former contemporaries like Mickey Duggan et al. Now Serwotka is General Secretary of the biggest civil service union in the country and every member knows who he is.

Hugh Lanning is a clear loser. Two months ago he was a fat full-time bureaucrat of little talent that no one had ever heard of who had climbed the greasy pole to great success. Now he's a nobody tainted with failure. Everybody knows who he is.

Beyond that the runes read darkly. The Moderati have come out of it smiling. They didn't want the election and they would rather have had Barry than Marek, and Marek rather than Hugo. In fact they've come second. Barry now is in the strongest position he's even been in the new union. Instead of a Lanning and the Me First/Secret Left crowd breathing on his neck he's got Serwotka who's only just been sworn in - in every sense but the literal - and Serwotka doesn't know how to exploit the situation.

Of course the Great Scot must go in two years time but that was always on the cards. In theory he could stand again. But Barry's got all that he can get out of the union - a fat, juicy pension waiting for him at 55 and the prospect of endless rounds of drinks and golf if he can get that seat in the Scottish parliament or the Commons in the future.

The Mods position is very clear. They are quite happy to go-along with Me First on nearly all policy issues. They are even prepared to talk about joint slates in the future but all providing that the General Secretaryship and all that goes with it remains the gift of the Moderati leadership.

Who the heir will be is a matter that's vexed the great brains of the Mods for many months. There's really little choice. Val Stansfield would like to be considered but Skippy knows she can't carry the troops with her. That leaves the Jockocracy.

Gordon the Gopher is too important running IT at Falconcrest to be moved and Donny McIntyre knows his limitations. McCann will have to wait another decade or so, if he's still in the union. This leaves only three possibilities - Boyle, Currie and Smith.

Smith hasn't got the experience and he knows it so it's a toss-up between Boyle and Currie. All three of them are, despite their loathsome appearance, charming men to everyone except the people they hate. Currie, perhaps more so. But Stuart has no base at all in his own branch and running the Moderati website is hardly the basis for mass appeal.

Martin Boyle on the other hand was always Barry's chief henchman in CPSA and seen by many then as the logical successor to Ramsbladder. His "health problems" are largely the invention of his enemies - who are legion - and while he is not as ambitious as some may think, the 70 grand plus bunce can sure keep him in lager and in good stead with the bookies for years to come.

Unfortunately for the Mods, none of the frontrunners are acceptable to Me First - especially Boyle. At this moment in time James Undy is planning his next moves. He's dismissed the criticism over the Lanning fiasco and the mishandling of the "mailing list" scandal. He's going to run Sarah Jones for the Presidency regardless of what the Mods say - they'll field Abrams who has half a chance in a three-horse race with a Trot (probably Leon Baugh).

But what can Nosferundy do? He's lumbered with Serwotka and he's got to find an alternative to whoever the Moderati chose. He could turn to Churchyard - who has actually won an election in the past though only through Mod backing. The grey man certainly wants to fill Barry's boots and his own, but he equally certainly doesn't want to do a Lanning and may chicken out. The Undymen have got a lot of thinking and plotting to do in the next few months.

As for the Trots the Serwotka victory was poisoned chalice. Marek is an individualist loyal only to his tiny sect - the Alliance for Workers Liberty. The SWP can't control him let alone the ex-Militant "Socialist Party" machine. But they've got to live with him, as he's the only candidate they've got and he did, after all, win.

Marek is the only one who doesn't have many problems at the moment. He's basking in a membership honeymoon and even if he did nothing at all for the next few months most members know it would be an improvement on Lanning. The issue of his salary doesn't cut much ice with the rank and file but it won't do him any harm either. His actual powers are quite limited - though this isn't generally realised at the grass roots. What he could do, and should be considering now, is using his position to report on what is actually going on in the corridors of power at Falconcrest.

Me Fist's first move after the amalgamation was to consciously cloak the doings of the NEC in mystery. Minutes were abolished and only records of decisions taken. Full-time officers were excluded from meetings - including the joint GS's - unless they specifically had some input on the agenda item. All in the name of empowering the Executive. All really to keep the control of information in the hands of an even smaller clique. Perhaps there's a role for Marek after all.