Gail Cartmail risks upsetting Unite election

Gail Cartmail, Unite assistant general secretary for the public sector at Unite the union, was in a good mood tonight. Today the only female candidate in the (all together now) election to become the leader of Britain’s biggest union got a sympathetic profile by veteran reporter Andy McSmith in The Independent. Tomorrow (i.e. by the time you read this) she is appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. The Media have woken up to the fact she could become the country’s first female general secretary of a big union.

Gail said: “A huge concern of mine is that my two colleagues who are leading rivals have factions behind them, and if either gets the politically important post of Unite first general secretary with a faction behind him, there will be a further period of disunity”.

Interesting stuff. Only yesterday, I heard one Unite source condemn one of the candidates for not standing on a given platform. Cartmail turns that argument on its head. The result will boil down to what Unite members prefer.

But Cartmail clearly positions herself in the piece as the women’s candidate – and I heard her female supporters do the same thing. One complained about a stall at Unite’s policy conference here in Manchester which offered the prize of a crate of beer. What if you don’t drink beer? They didn’t seem to have thought of that.

The media attention on Cartmail raises the possibility she could attract serious votes. Despite being a senior salaried official, her blog carries rather independent views. Even if she doesn’t win, she may become an important figure after the Unite election. Which may upset other (male) officials…

Update: Writing this blogpost in the small hours of the morning having only had four hours’ sleep is the only reason I can imagine for writing that Cartmail  “could become the country’s first female general secretary”. Brenda Dean of Sogat in the 1980s was one, and currently we have Sally Hunt at the University and College Union. Thanks to Paul below for good-naturedly pointing out my mistake.


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3 Responses to “Gail Cartmail risks upsetting Unite election”

  1. Paul Mackenzie Says:

    Yes, typical of our rubbish journalists to think that Gail might become the country’ s first ever female General Secretary. Brenda Dean….d’oh! Is research forbidden to you lot these days? Lazy, lazy, lazy.

  2. Len Says:

    This article also misses another point. That being that not only is Gail “a senior salaried official” but that she is currently part of the senior management team, I.e. she is currently an AGS, assistant general secretary.

    She may be critical of the current regime, but she is also part of it. There are two other officials who are running, who can be be safely described as not being part of the current regimes, but only one has the experience, that person being Paul Reuter National Officer.


  3. Jem Casey Says:

    Let’s not forget Christine Blower acting GS of the NUT…

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