Gary Smith wins GMB election

Submitted by AWL on 8 June, 2021 - 3:26 Author: Dale Street
Gary Smith

GMB Scottish Regional Secretary Gary Smith has been elected as the union’s new General Secretary. The election turnout was only 10.6%. But this marks an improvement on the 2019 election (8.5%), the 2015 election (4.2%), and earlier elections which were not even contested.

Smith won a fraction more than 50% of the vote. Rehana Azam (right-wing full-timer) got 28%. Giovanna Holt (Senior Organiser, and only candidate with a proven track record of challenging GMB bullying and misogyny) got 22%.

As Scottish Regional Secretary Smith has built a reputation for himself as someone prepared to take on employers in both the private sector (BiFab, British Gas, McVitie’s, etc.) and the public sector, including local authority equal pay disputes.

He has hired a raft of (former) members of the Campaign for Socialism and other left-wing grassroots campaigns, giving them homes in the GMB Scottish bureaucracy but also insisting they work hard.

But Smith also has a record of being anti-Corbyn, anti-Richard-Leonard, pro-Jackie-Baillie, pro-Anas-Sarwar, pro-fracking, anti-green-politics-in-general, and pro-big-battleships (but only if built in the UK). His victory has been welcomed by Labour right-wing operators like Luke Akehurst. He profiles as a true man of the people, with no time for middle-class intellectuals and their fads. The political education which he received as a member of the Militant Tendency in the early 1980s makes him eminently suitable for such a role.

The election took place in the shadow of the Monaghan Report, which exposed the culture of bullying, misogyny, and (even by trade union standards) thoroughly anti-democratic top-down control exercised by GMB full-timers.

Smith has promised to implement the findings of the Monaghan Report in full. Ironically, the report identified the role played by white-male Regional Secretaries as the root of evil in the GMB — but the sole candidate in the election who was a white-male Regional Secretary was its winner.

But “Step Aside, Brother” was never part of the programme of “the Marxist voice of Labour and youth”.

• More on Gary Smith's politics: Gary Smith and Eleanor Marx: why calls for union disengagement from politics are not left-wing

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