Apparently some members are strongly of the opinion that the incumbent has a significant advantage over the other candidate and despite some enthusiastic support for the challenger, not enough is known about them. There would appear to be quite a head of steam building in some quarters to demand an extension to the selection process in order to ensure proper scrutiny takes place for what will be a 5 year term of office.
This interesting development not only serves to highlight that some members are not at all happy with a shoe-horn-in of the incumbent for another term, but that a change of leadership and fresh ideas is required. They are also dissatisfied with the whole process. On Facebook there has recently been some lively discussion regarding the perennial complaint of a lack of information from Napo HQ and some fairly lame responses that tend to highlight an unwillingness or inability of the union to acknowledge the world of social media and effective direct communication in an online world:-
"An advert went out on our website and press, your NEC rep should have reported back to branch members that it was happening as it was discussed at length at last NEC. Ian has been mentioning it regularly since last AGM when he announced he would be re-standing. Branches have been informed this week, get in touch with you local branch officers to find out how they are dealing with it as each branch is different."What's clear from the Facebook exchanges is that post-TR and the split, many branches are barely functioning effectively with officer posts unfilled, inquorate meetings and even suspended according to one contributor! It surely serves to highlight the gulf between what's actually happening on the ground and the theory as espoused by HQ.
Of course there was a time when all members got a regular emailed newsletter from the Joint Chairs, but this seems to have been dispensed with in favour of the General Secretary's blog. I suspect many members would expect regular direct communication from those charged with the direction of the union, as well as the General Secretary. But this only serves to highlight the dysfunctionality of accountability within the union that has been discussed here on many occasions.
It is the NEC that both employs and holds the General Secretary to account and thus has a vital role in the selection process. Over the years many union members have been astonished to learn how often this group has been inquorate, a situation that not only disables effective oversight and direction of the union and General Secretary, but effectively disenfranchises the membership, particularly those members who's NEC rep fails to turn up for any reason.
More than ever, it's clearly of vital importance that individual members make sure that their Branch NEC rep will not only be turning up on June 5th, but that they are absolutely clear as to the mandated wishes of the Branch regarding the General Secretary election process and indeed whether either candidate meets the selection criteria. As employers, this group has the power and authority to decide as it sees fit and appropriate, taking full account of members wishes and what is felt to be in the best interest of the union.
Such is the nature of any group that holds power over the direction of an organisation, there are bound to be factions, groupings, cliques and vested interests at play and so it's vital that ordinary members make their views known over the coming weeks, both at Branch meetings and by personally seeking out their NEC reps prior to the June 5th meeting. Failure to do so could mean the very future of the union is put in further jeopardy.