On Thursday evening the NUJ Manchester branch passed the following motion:
AT A TIME WHEN THE UNION IS SEEKING TO GAIN PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR THE ‘JOURNALISM MATTERS’ CAMPAIGN AND THE ‘DAY OF ACTION’, THIS DIVISIVE AND CONTROVERSIAL ADM RESOLUTION, CALLING ON NUJ MEMBERS TO BOYCOTT ISRAELI GOODS, HAS BROUGHT THE UNION INTO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL DISREPUTE.
ALTHOUGH IT IS ALREADY BRANCH POLICY IN MANCHESTER TO OPPOSE COMPOSITE B, WE JOIN WITH OUR COLLEAGUES IN THE BBC, ITN, OBSERVER AND FOREIGN PRESS ASSOCIATION IN ARGUING THIS RESOLUTION ALSO SERIOUSLY DAMAGES BRITISH JOURNALISTS’ REPUTATION FOR IMPARTIALITY AND INDEPENDENCE.
AS JEREMY DEAR IS ON RECORD SAYING THE EXECUTIVE DID NOT SUPPORT THE MOTION AND HAS MADE IT CLEAR THAT IT IS OPEN TO MEMBERS TO RE-OPEN THE ISSUE, WE URGE THE NEC AT THEIR NEXT MEETING TO DO ALL THEY CAN TO PREVENT THE ENACTMENT OF THIS RESOLUTION.
This was passed by 12 votes to 9 after what one member described as a hard-fought battle with opponents using "every procedural trick in the book" to try to block the motion.
I think this is a sobering example of how our union normally operates. If the meeting had not attracted a bigger crowd than normal, the motion would have been lost. Policies are drafted by a handful of dedicated activists at a branch meeting - who really fancies going along at 7.30pm on a wet Thursday evening ?- and that means they often fail to reflect the views of the mass of members who never have and never will attend these meetings. So how do we change this structure to make it more democratic?