Socialist Worker

Tip right upside down

Issue No. 1807

SUPPORT FOR the left wing candidate in the AEEU-Amicus union leadership election is growing as the contest enters its last week. The ballot ends on Friday of next week. Derek Simpson is the left wing challenger to Ken Jackson. His challenge has already provoked an alarmed response from New Labour.

'A victory for Derek Simpson could tip Britain upside down,' said Labour MP Tom Watson in an internal memo to Byron Taylor, Labour's trade union liaison officer. But Simpson supporters have been receiving a warm welcome. Jimmy Warne is a member of the AEEU executive, and covers branches in the north and Yorkshire. He, along with six other executive members, have signed an open letter explaining why they are backing Simpson.

Jimmy told Socialist Worker, 'It's safe to say I haven't found any opposition to Derek Simpson when I've been talking to ordinary rank and file members. A typical example is Grunfoss, an engineering factory in Sunderland. We were outside leafleting the 300-400 members there. We handed out about 200 leaflets. People said they were already voting for Derek, and would take in a leaflet to hand on to anyone who hadn't voted yet. What's surprising is we have not found any of the opposition's forces. We've not found people on the ground leafleting for Jackson. I'm in regular contact with the Unity Gazette, a group of left campaigners in the union who have been trying to coordinate support for Simpson.

'They report the same response from the south east and south west of England, and right up to Scotland. It is people from every generation who are supporting Derek Simpson, from the young apprentices to the retired members who have been in the union for decades. I think there is a sea change in the union movement. 'Look at what's happening. There is the sham of partnership that Jackson is wedded to. Sir Ken Jackson, who is over 65, wants to keep on and on as leader. He got a knighthood from Tony Blair. All this flies in the face of what most ordinary people are thinking. Jackson is using the union machine to try to win the general secretary election. But we are campaigning from the bottom up. We will carry on talking to members, leafleting factories and ringing round people until the ballot closes. We will leave no stone unturned. If Derek wins it will shatter the idea that New Labour and its 'Third Way' is the way people want to go.'

Another AEEU member, Lawrence Duff from Cheltenham, also urged union members to vote out Jackson: 'I have read the candidates' election statement which arrived with my ballot paper. It never fails to amaze me how we manage to have people like Sir Ken Jackson in charge of the union. I say to fellow union members, 'Wake up!' This election is a chance to change our union. I'm fed up with being crapped on.'

Phone Derek's campaign on 0114 236 1419 or 07803 922 096.

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Sat 6 Jul 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1807
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