The battle in PCS Left Unity for the nomination of the Assistant General Secretary (AGS) position has brought out even more clearly the differences between Janice Godrich, the president of the union, and Chris Baugh, the incumbent.
While Janice has striven for a united left leadership, Chris Baugh’s supporters, including the Socialist Party, have attempted to paint the union leadership as a “bureaucracy”.
This began as a whispering campaign but has now become centre stage. One of Baugh’s leading supporters, Marion Lloyd, insists that “the issues are clear”, before going on to state that “a vote for Chris Baugh is a vote for lay power. Anything else is a vote for the bureaucracy.”
But where is the evidence for this so-called bureaucratism? Not a single example has ever been given.
The idea that Janice Godrich is the embodiment of “bureaucracy” is laughable. Janice has always fought hard for lay democracy in the union. The record of PCS internal democracy outweighs all others. Significantly, Janice is also standing on the promise that, if elected, she will only take home a workers’ wage - hardly a pointer to bureaucracy or careerism!
In fact, it is Chris Baugh who refuses to make such a commitment, simply promising to make “donations”. Given the fact that the AGS wage is £94,000, this is not a secondary question.
The Socialist Party (SP), which Chris Baugh is part of, has turned a blind eye to this, despite formally supporting the idea of a workers’ wage for all officials.
The SP also peddles a sectarian view of the Labour Party. This is shown by their mealy-mouthed support for a Corbyn-led Labour government and their continued strategy of standing candidates against Labour. This clashes with PCS’s agreed conference policy: to fight for a Corbyn-led government, which would benefit PCS members.
Janice’s campaign has certainly won a lot of support. In the initial round of Left Unity meetings, she, together with Fran Heathcote standing for national president and Martin Cavanagh, Zita Holbourne and Kevin McHugh for vice presidents, have done exceedingly well.
They have secured the vast majority of nominations. This includes every group in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and several areas with significant numbers of Left Unity members, such as Merseyside and the North East.
With the majority of LU members who voted in the nomination process supporting Janice and other Socialist View candidates, they have built a winning platform for the second voting round of meetings in November.
They are also urging Left Unity members to vote for Lorna Merry for the LU National Chair, to assist in consolidating the position of the left.
The allegation of “bureaucracy” is a desperate ploy to dirty the water. But it will not fool anyone. However, we should make sure PCS Left Unity members turn out in record numbers in the November meetings to support Janice and the Socialist View slate and to secure a fighting member-led union.