Thursday, 7 June 2018

General Secretary Election 13

Hi Jim,

I have found myself regularly checking in on the posts on the blog from the time I get out of the Prison and have access to the internet and there have been some interesting debates on the General Secretary election. I hope you will not have any issues with me using this forum to convey my message of thanks for the nominations that I received in order to officially be included onto the ballot paper for which members can cast their votes.

I find myself in what I would consider as an unusual position of having to use this forum to convey my gratitude as I have been informed from the start of the process that Napo election rules prevent me from accessing any member details or from using official Napo channels to promote any message to members. Similarly, as stated in a previous post, I am unable to attend any branch unless an ‘unofficial’ meeting is convened where both candidates are available to attend and at the expense of the branch. Obviously this applies to both candidates.

I was buoyed in learning today that three branches had nominated me, I have had contact from Napo HQ about attending branch meetings and had provided my availability but for reasons unknown to me no dates were able to be agreed, therefore achieving three nominations seems to me to be somewhat of a success given the circumstances. I also understand that it was close in several other branches and that some areas that made no nomination may well have supported my candidacy. 

Obviously it would have been nice to have also achieved the support of the NEC following the individual interviews and I congratulate Ian in achieving the NEC support although I understand that it was also quite a close call which again I was buoyed about having had no brief as to exactly what I was expected to present or what questions may come up when attending Napo HQ. I would therefore obviously expect that Ian would have a greater knowledge of the current issues facing members having been directly involved and in the position of GS for the last 5 years, however I want to be clear I am definitely not a defeatist and I believe that nominations alone will not necessarily reflect the desire for change amongst the wider membership that I have encountered and have been made aware of. So therefore I urge members to get involved and make sure that they use their vote in the direction that they believe will best take Napo forward, whether that be with continuity or to take a chance on change on something new with the belief that the public profile can be raised and that with renewed energy, passion and belief things can be changed for the better.

The ballot papers will now be issued with presumably the same election statement that I was required to send in before attending the first selection panel back in May. Whilst this reflects my views at the time of writing over a month ago I have read and learnt much both from this forum, from members and from reading more and more Napo publications that have obviously started to change and shape my view, but I would also welcome any branch or member to engage with me if you are interested in learning more about what I believe I can deliver in rebuilding trust, unity and success for Napo members. If you are a member (unfortunately I cannot check) then please feel free to use my contact details below and I will endeavour to respond to you as soon as I can.

Once again thank you to everyone who has offered support, encouragement and has been prepared to support my nomination throughout this process and I hope that come the 28th June I can reward your faith in me by bringing a renewed energy and ambitious programme to drive and deliver change.
Kind Regards

Mike Rolfe
Michael (Mike) Rolfe on Facebook

@micalmusrolfe on Twitter


  1. This is Tammany Hall politics: all seems designed to favour the incumbent and maintain the status quo. You would think in a union that is actually seeking more digital freedoms in ballots, would want to encourage as much information flow and participation as possible. What a crazy situation when a candidate is frustrated by structures that literally inhibit his ability to make himself more widely known and get his message across to the membership. Napo seems quite happy to send marketing material to members, but when it comes to the small matter of an election they go into Denial of Service mode.

  2. Pretty dismayed to read this and your previous blogs on the GS election, Jim. All is indeed not good in Napo, and in particular communications from HQ with members are pretty dire. But. I am reading a lot of people rightly furious that the probation service is split, our pay is pants, membership of the union is down etc; alongside cries for action, strikes, passion, blah blah. It's a bit rich to lay the blame for TR at the door of the current GS, and more than romantic to think that a change of leader will bring about swelling membership, and the workers revolution.

    This contribution from Mr Rolfe is weak in the extreme.

    From being in a position where I thought that change was necessary and a change of GS would be an exciting prospect, I am rapidly changing to a "better the devil you know" position.

    1. But blame for the abysmal ongoing fight against TR will always be at the door of the current GS who is currently failing to have any impact on probation conditions. A change of leader may not bring about swelling membership, and the workers revolution, but we cannot remain in the sorry state we have for the past 4 years.

      I agree this contribution from Mr Rolfe is weak in the extreme in comparison to his previous entries and I sense his frustration with Napo’s ‘behind the iron curtain’ politics. It’s still more than we’ve had from Ian Lawrence and the Napo Exec who have failed us and pretend this blog doesn’t exist.

      The only position is that change is necessary and a change of GS would be better prospect than the “better the devil you know" position.

  3. “All is indeed not good in Napo, and in particular communications from HQ with members are pretty dire. But. I am reading a lot of people rightly furious that the probation service is split, our pay is pants, membership of the union is down etc; alongside cries for action, strikes, passion, blah blah.” - Anon 9:11

    It is the blame for this that lies at the door of the current GS and exactly why a change of GS is needed. If the current GS remains there will be no change and it’ll be pointless being a member of Napo.

  4. I don't see anything that could be fairly described as 'weak' in Mike Rolfe's latest contribution. He is simply setting out how the present arrangements prevent him from fully explaining his position to the membership.

    I don't blame IL for TR and a declining membership, nor do I blame MR for massive cuts in the prison service and the massive staff reductions.

    An election for the top position is an opportunity to encourage the engagement of a dwindling membership. These elections have a tendency to pass under the radar as the historically poor turnout figures show – the last turnout was less than 20% (19.6). It's odd that the incumbent who normally likes to remind us of all the branch meetings he has attended up and down the country, is unable to agree to attend any branch meetings alongside MR. As Napo rules require both candidates to be present, debate, discussion and opportunities for branch members to compare candidates are lost. How can such situations that militate against member engagement, be good for the body politic of Napo. Who benefits?

    It also strikes me as incredibly unfair that MR is not able to directly email Napo members. Why not? He does not need to be provided with any personnel data: messages could be sent out on his behalf by Napo's administration. Napo proclaims commitments to openness and transparency, but these seem to be dog in a manger values as they only seem to apply to anointed messages of the current regime. You could be forgiven for forming the impression that as a union Napo is more concerned with protecting its executive from challenges than it is with being open to new ideas and methods. Keeping MR at a distance resonates with why women became suffragettes.

  5. A change of GS will give Napo a fresh start and is likely to boost the membership I will definately rejoin if MF is elected

  6. It was clear at NEC last week the frustrations from branches in being restricted from inviting the 2 GS candidates and there were confusing messages from the top. A lack of transparency from the officers all but one who looked to be breaking ranks to keep NEC informed. I can see why the candidates would be frustrated just as members have been. At least we have this blog to keep us informed.