Sheffield Trades Council: this isn't what democracy looks like

Submitted by Matthew on 2 March, 2011 - 12:06

Numbers at the recent Sheffield Trades Council AGM were high — 50 delegates and plenty more observers. For me it was a little lesson in democracy — a negative lesson I think.

John Campbell was the sitting President. Knowing he’s unpopular, and his position was up for election again, he turned out masses of Unison local government members. That branch has 70 potential delegate places but it’s rare if even one turns up.

A good speech was heard from Bill Greenshields from the NUT and People’s Charter. Unfortunately, John Campbell in the chair didn’t give him a chance to talk about how the TUC could be helping the local anti-cuts group.

John Campbell’s President report was basically just an election speech, as the vote between himself and Martin Mayer (standing against him) was up next. (It was the only contested position!) I went to the bar during his speech... but the only thing to note that I heard was that he said he wanted to “help younger people to become organised”. Hmm.

I, a younger member trying to get organised, asked whether there would be hustings. I was told no. I asked whether it was constitutional not to have hustings, I was told no, it was just not usual. Then they just carried on.

Although Mayer had given his Treasurer’s report by this stage, Campbell clearly had an advantage in being able to make his speech. Anyway, it was a paper ballot — which was good.

In the end Mayer won by three votes at which point he shook hands with Campbell, thanked him for all his hard work, and then Campbell just swiftly exited through the main door!