UPDATED 12.11.09 Further
EXCLUSIVE by Mark Watts
“NUJ Left” candidates stood successfully in the last round of elections for the ruling council of the journalists’ union without declaring their political affiliation.
An investigation has found that the SWP-inspired “NUJ Left” fielded candidates last September for each of four seats on the national executive council (NEC) of the national union of journalists (NUJ), representing London members.
Three failed to declare that they were “NUJ Left” candidates – Tom Davies, Pierre Vicary and Barry White – in their election addresses and campaign e-mail circulars.
However, the other candidate, Alan Gibson, did declare, saying: “I have taken on convenorship of the ‘NUJ Left’... I am a strong believer in candidates for union election proclaiming their political affiliations and am a long-standing member of the socialist workers party.”
The revelation undermines the charge of “Mc-Carthyism” by “NUJ Left” over the unmasking of Richard Simcox as the far-left political group’s candidate in the current election for editor of the Journalist. Simcox failed to declare this allegiance in his campaign material, including the “election address”, that was sent via the union to the electorate.
The three candidates who failed to declare in last September’s elections were elected to NEC seats, while Gibson – who did declare – lost.
Davies had also commented online in the current election in support of Simcox, and criticised the unmasking of the “NUJ Left” candidate, without de-claring his own allegiance to the political faction.
The Trotskyist group, the socialist workers party (SWP), helped to re-launch “NUJ Left” last Novem-ber as a vehicle to take control of the NUJ.
Today’s fresh revelations prompted one “NUJ Left” member, Chris Wheal, to write on an online forum: “You have named three NUJ members as having won elections because they did not openly declare their membership of the ‘NUJ Left’. I'm not sure one of those is actually a member or supporter at all. I'd double check that if I were you.”
I responded: “First, let’s get right what I actually said, which was that four ‘NUJ Left’ candidates stood in September for four NEC seats representing London members: Tom Davies, Alan Gibson, Pierre Vicary and Barry White. Three who did not declare that fact were elected, and one (Alan Gibson) who did declare was not elected.
“You will be amazed how many times I checked it, Chris. And it is a little silly to say that you are not sure that I am right about one of the three because you could have checked it out for yourself. It was very easy. All you had to do was a Google search. Try it now. You will find this leaflet, and this, and indeed, most reliably of all, this. Or did ‘NUJ Left’ falsely claim one of them as its own?
“Now, if you, as you say, are ‘one of the many misfits within this grouping’, ie ‘NUJ Left’, but did not know that one of these candidates was an ‘NUJ Left’ candidate, what chance do you think the ‘ordinary’, ie non-politicised voters had? How many of them would have done some background research on the candidates, rather than just rely on the mass of election material distributed to them?
“As you know, I have written thousands of words on the subject of ‘NUJ Left’ during this election campaign. No one, including you, has so far pointed to a single inaccuracy. Your posting was 223 words, and it contained that howler.”
Mark Watts – freelance journalist, broadcaster and FOIA Centre co-ordinator – is standing in the election on the basis that the new editor of the Journalist should be an independent journalist at heart – not a politicised activist. He is not a member of any political party or group. The Channel 4 news presenter, Jon Snow, and
an army of other eminent journalists from all corners of the media industry, and from across the UK and Ireland, have backed his election bid.
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