I left the NUJ over the absurd Israel boycott concocted by another union clique. I support the Watts campaign. It is time members voted for a truly independent journalists’ union.
Jon Snow, ITN, London 13.10.09
C4 News anchor Jon Snow backs Watts for editor

I am glad there is so much interest in this election. Would Mark please tell us what work he has done to directly support and influence NUJ work in the last 10 years, with specific reference to pay and conditions of journalists working for multinational companies?
Lawrence Shaw, Assistant Organiser, North of England, NUJ 07.10.09.


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Comments on ‘NUJ Left’ (7)

As our article on my background makes clear, I was co-father-of-chapel at Sunday Business, where I was fired for sending two internal e-mails to managers protesting about job cuts.
  The background was that when colleagues be-came concerned about the prospect of Jeff Randall leaving as editor, and Andrew Neil, in effect, taking over, we convened a meeting and invited Jeremy Dear, then national organizer for newspapers, to speak to us about the idea of our forming a chapel. At the meeting, we did resolve to establish a chapel and to seek recognition for the union at Sunday Business.
  The chapel also resolved to elect three joint-FoCs in order to prevent a single head being targeted by management. I was one of three members who agreed to put themselves forward as joint-FoCs and who were duly elected.
  The aim of preventing the FoC being targeted failed: each of the three joint-FoCs were soon either fired or felt forced to leave. I was the last one remaining. But I protested about some specific job cuts, which were plainly damaging to the editorial quality of the newspaper, and I was fired.
  I successfully fought an employment tribunal – with NUJ backing – for unfair dismissal in a unanimous decision. Sunday Business died some while later, although, of course, it had already died long before it was formally closed.
  All very useful experience, I am sure. But it is of course totally irrelevant to the job of editing the Journalist. Fundamentally, I am about journalism rather than trade unionism. I am relying on my journalistic capabilities and experience. That is what counts.
Mark Watts, London 07.10.09.

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Archive: The ‘NUJ Left’ files



We have been flooded with messages on this topic: 2-to-1 in favour of the revelations by Mark Watts about “NUJ Left”. Here is a small selection.

I am at a loss to understand your “declarations of interest” point. In what way does my twice appearing on a programme with you require such a declaration? I have appeared on countless prog-rammes with people I write about – Andrew Marr, Andrew Neil, Jeremy Paxman, to name but three. It would be ridiculous to record that fact every time I mentioned them, whether in praise or critically.
  Similarly, what difference to my argument does my past (and long ago) politics make? Should I mention that I was a member of the communist party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) from about 1974 to 1979 every time I write about politics? Again, that would be absurd.
  I really think that you are making a mountain out of a molehill in such complaints. However, I do regret the 'mental health' remark, and apologise again for that.
Roy Greenslade, The Guardian, London 09.11.09.
Why Roy Greenslade was wrong about ‘NUJ Left’

When and how a journalist should declare interests is a matter of judgement. You showed poor judgement in your Guardian blog. You were a member of Richard Simcox’s Facebook campaign page, yet failed to declare it. You suggest that you joined “inadvertently”. This would suggest that you know Simcox pretty well.
  Your failure to declare your working relationship with me indicates a sloppy, or casual, approach to declaring interests. See my article for an example of a proper declaration.
  It is not necessary to declare political interests whenever writing about politics. However, your past political affiliation was hugely relevant to the subject in hand. You were not writing about the media policy of the Liberal Democrats: you are a past member of a far-left political group and were writing on a controversy about a far-left political group at the NUJ.
Mark Watts, London 09.11.09

From the universal declaration of human rights, article 2: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
  Article 20: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”
  ‘Nuff said.
Donnacha DeLong, NUJ NEC member, London 21.10.09

I have said nothing to contradict this. I have no problem with your being in “NUJ Left”, Donnacha, just so long as you declare it when appropriate, such as when standing in NUJ elections.
  As I said in my e-mail circular to NUJ members: “In general, I believe that no one should be under any obligation to declare her or his political allegiance. However, if you stand for office as, for example, a councillor, MP or MEP, you’re expected to declare any political allegiances. Imagine the uproar if a candidate standing as an independent in such an election were discovered to be part of some party.
  “Why should it be different for a trade union that is supposed to be democratically governed?”
Mark Watts, London 21.10.09.