Bannister doubles vote

ROGER BANNISTER, Socialist Party member and Campaign for a Fighting and Democratic UNISON (CFDU) candidate, has achieved a marvellous result in the UNISON general secretary election.

Bill Mullins reports

He almost doubled his percentage vote and won nearly a third of the votes cast (see box). This is a significant advance for the left in the union since the last election in 1995. The result is a complete vindication of the CFDU decision to stand.

His vote combines with Malkiat Bilku’s to show 44% opposed to the current union leadership. Their nearly 100,000 votes is a sign of things to come when a broader movement of opposition grows to the trade union leadership’s support for New Labour.

There is clearly massive discontent with the current leadership. Their lacklustre campaign attempted to defend their links with and support for the New Labour government, which has continued and intensified all the old Tory policies of cuts and privatisation. It inspired no one, shown by the low turnout.

The leadership panicked in the last weeks of the campaign and told the press the vote would be close, or even that Roger could win on a low turnout. They wanted to whip up a red scare campaign. But

It is only the opposition of the left, organised around the CFDU and the Socialist Party which has enabled the beginnings of a fight back against Labour’s pro-big business policies in the public sector.

The right wing have attempted to witch-hunt the left, but Roger’s vote marks a real step forward in building the CFDU.

November 1995

Bickerstaffe (establishment candidate) 151,893 47.7%

Hunter (extreme right-winger) 93,402 29.3%

Bannister 58,052 18.2%

Bashkh (SWP) 15,139 4.8%

Combined left vote: 73,191 23%
Turnout 23%

February 2000

Prentis (establishment candidate) 125,584 55.9%

Bannister 71,021 31.65%

Bilku (Hillingdon hospital striker) 27,785 12.3%

Combined left vote 98,806 43.95%
Turnout 16.5%