Union to consider standing candidates in election

PCS today set in train a process that could see the union standing and supporting other candidates in future parliamentary elections.

Delegates at the union’s national conference in Brighton overwhelmingly passed a motion to consult PCS members on whether to support or stand pro-public service trade union candidates in elections.

The decision to take forward the union’s Make Your Vote Campaign comes as anger mounts over MPs expenses, civil and public service cuts and dogmatic privatisation.

Following a consultation with members, the union will ballot its 300,000 membership with proposals on standing or supporting candidates in elections after the general election.

As part of its Make Your Vote Count campaign, PCS has been asking candidates in June’s European and local elections where they stand on civil and public service cuts, privatisation and pay. The union has also been campaigning against the BNP and highlighting its racist and fascist views.

Addressing conference, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “A lot of work has gone into the PCS’s Make Your Vote Count campaign, demanding that candidates make clear where they stand on the issues affecting our members.

“But what happens when all the candidates sign up to privatisation, job cuts and cutting pay?

It is a sign of how phoney some elections are that this frequently happens with candidates offering no alternative, even when public opinion and polling overwhelmingly reject policies, such as the part privatisation of Royal Mail and increasing the role of the private sector in welfare delivery.

With the scandal of MPs expenses enveloping the political system and shattering people’s faith in politicians, it is right that we should start a discussion in PCS.

We should consider if there is more we can do to intervene directly in the political process by supporting or standing candidates.

We are not talking about turning PCS into a political party and will consult widely with our members over whether there is support for this proposal.

But think of the possibilities. James Purnell, who today is reported to have avoided paying capital gains tax on the sale of a second home, is the self styled hammer of the ‘welfare cheats’ and the architect of the government’s attack on the welfare system, who also threatens to privatise the Jobcentre network.

What if a pro-public services candidate stood against him. Or what if a postal worker stood against Pat McFadden, the minister pushing the part-privatisation of the Royal Mail through the House of Commons?

Then some of those who take their seats for granted might start to think about the consequences of ignoring majority opinion.”

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