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Kenny to be Knighted

22nd June 2015

Kenny to be Knighted

By Steve McKenzie

So the General Secretary of the GMB union, who has never won a ballot of the membership, Paul Kenny is to be knighted.

He will kneel before the unelected head of state Elizabeth Windsor and receive the honour not for himself of course but, as he said, for all trade unionists. He has also made clear that he would gladly swap his knighthood if the living wage was introduced.

A cynic might not believe these assertions, and some would go further and suggest that this is a reward from the establishment for services rendered. Others will claim that this is the corrupt nature of the establishment’s system and that it is nothing more than a payback for ensuring that enough union support was garnered to ensure that Ed Miliband became leader of the Labour Party.

Whatever the truth is one cannot help wondering if the words of famous Irish socialists will be ringing in Paul’s ears as he kneels in front of her majesty. “The great only appear great because we are on our knees - arise”.

It is a great shame that Sir Paul Kenny is standing down as the General Secretary of the GMB.

If he were able to stand in an open and free election where every branch had an opportunity to nominate a candidate of its choice, without fear of recrimination, it would be possible to establish if Sir Paul had a mandate for conducting himself in the manner he does.

A genuine, anti austerity, socialist candidate would be able to mount a challenge if such an election is called and it would give ordinary GMB members the choice to say whether they support the status quo and such figures holding such positions within the establishment or if they wanted change and wanted the union led in a different direction.

Keith Henderson is a lay member of the GMB and has already made it clear that he will be seeking nominations to stand in any such election.

Keith stands for the decentralisation and devolution of power in the GMB, from a national and a regional level to a branch and a workplace level. He stands for the election of officers and the movement of resources to a branch level to ensure that branches can employ their own organisers and that members get represented effectively.

He has also made it clear that if elected he would be willing to call another elections within six months to facilitate those to afraid to come forward at this moment in time.

It has been a worrying trend in the labour movement for some time that, even if they can overcome their fear, socialists and genuine unionists seem unable to secure enough nominations to stand in relevant elections. Witness Jeremy Corbyn getting on the ballot paper for the Labour leadership contest by the skin of his teeth and with the support of political opponents who have some democratic principles.

Whether this is because the nomination processes are deliberately skewed against them as a mechanism to ensure socialist ideas are not debated is open to interpretation

In the Labour Party you have to secure the support of 35 Labour MP’s to stand in the leadership election. Why the constituencies and the affiliated organisations play no role is disturbing to say the least.

In trade unions where sycophants preach that leaders are elected unopposed (whatever that means) beware there might be other kinds of constraints on the nomination process that restrict anyone but the incumbent from securing the necessary amount of nominations.

That is, if there is any election at all, bought and paid for cabals have attempted to nullify them before.

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