JACK DROMEY has been elected as deputy leader of the TGWU, one of Britain's most powerful unions. He was elected overwhelmingly, polling 62,422 votes compared with his nearest rival, Graham Stevenson who took 29,363 votes. A third candidate, Barry Camfield, took 24,145 votes. Only around 15 percent of TGWU members voted. The election campaign didn't catch anyone's imagination.
In 1995 Dromey stood against Bill Morris, who has just retired as general secretary of the union. Then, Dromey was a Blairite, challenging Morris from the right. He has tried to reinvent himself since then. In his election address this time Dromey sounded the most left wing.
He has realised that you can't win an election if you stand as a Blairite candidate these days. It is bad that Dromey has won but it is not disastrous. Although Stevenson and Camfield are more left wing than Dromey, you wouldn't have known that from their campaigns.
They fought the election within the bureaucracy of the union rather than campaigning amongst the rank and file. There was no agitation, no talk about opposing the war, nothing to really inspire people. All three candidates want to stick to the Labour Party, whether it is New Labour or some reformed Old Labour variety.
But none stand for a political alternative. And because Stevenson and Camfield both stood the left vote was split. What we really needed was a left wing candidate prepared to take his or her campaign to the rank and file. Now we need to keep building rank and file organisation in the union so we can fight for our interests, whoever is leading us.