Dave Prentis, the Unison union general secretary, has called an election to “renew his mandate”.
Prentis turns 62 this year and the law says that a union leader within five years of retirement can stay on until they retire.
There were initial reports he might hang on beyond 2010.
But Prentis decided to call an election for 11 June.
Last week the Unison national executive approved the decision.
Jon Rogers, a Labour left NEC member, drily noted, “Many NEC members felt immediately driven to compete for superlatives with which to describe our general secretary (and his passionate and unswerving commitment to our democracy).”
The key question in the election should be how to shift Unison so it can fight the cuts.
It should be a debate about how the union has put Labour ministers’ interests before members.
And it can be an opportunity to raise the issue of how the bureaucracy has attacked union activists.
It is also a chance to argue for united resistance to job losses and pay cuts.
The left must use the election to develop rank and file strength.
There should be one clear left candidate, and quickly – the nominations open next week.