'I THINK there is a mood of change in the country.' So said Derek Simpson, who is challenging Blair's favourite union leader, Ken Jackson, for general secretary of Amicus. Derek came to the Socialist Alliance's trade union conference to speak to members of Amicus, a union made up of the old AEEU and MSF.
Derek said, 'Wherever I have been out putting the campaign points I have been getting a good reception. We are saying things members have been thinking. It's a breath of fresh air. The key to it is getting the message to sufficient numbers of members to let them know there is an alternative. I hear about the new young band of left general secretaries being elected. I hope there is room for a mature student like myself.'
Several Amicus AEEU members spoke about campaigning for Derek in the election, which only Amicus AEEU members can vote in. Ger Hicks, Amicus AEEU convenor of Rolls-Royce Test Areas in Bristol, said, 'People should remember what it was like when the Tories got beaten in 1997. That will be the feeling among activists if Jackson loses. That means we should all of us-in MSF as well as AEEU-rack our brains to think of AEEU members who we can get to back Derek.'
Willie Black, an Amicus AEEU member in Scotland, said, 'I welcome Derek standing against Ken Jackson. I think it is important we campaign around issues that really cut with people. I'm sure Jackson will come out saying he is a friend of workers, and making speeches you wouldn't have dreamt of him making. But we have to pin his record to him. He has never led a real fight over job losses.'
To get involved in Derek Simpson's campaign phone 0114 236 1419.