Please vote: today (Tuesday 26 February) is the last “safe” day for pre-paid postage (unless you want to add a bonus stamp!) Everyone who remembers to vote in the UCU Officer and NEC elections becomes part of a better, more participative democracy!

UCU has seen a paradigm shift alongside an explosion in membership numbers over the past 18 months. Recent wins in Further and Higher Education show what we can do together when we focus on organising and building our branches, hard-hitting, evidence-based campaigns, and negotiations backed by a credible threat of mobilisation and industrial action. We have a larger, more involved, passionate membership, and I believe that to harness this energy, we need to focus our organising across the grassroots, upwards. As UCU Vice President, I will work tirelessly to facilitate this.

We have also seen the effects of disengagement, disconnection, and disillusionment. We have proven UCU want to (and can) do better than this. We, the membership, have clearly demonstrated our desire to be a genuinely member-led union, where representatives are held accountable to their members at all levels, and where Congress, sector conferences, and other decision-making meetings are accountable to branches. This was a significant factor in the pressure to form the Democracy Commission, created by Congress 2018, and why the National Dispute Committee (NDC) was formed in Higher Education. The Democracy Commission (which I co-chair) will bring key proposals to Congress in May 2019, and to its Special Democracy Congress in November.

This election is a real chance for change: to make a break with the cycles of politics which have characterised our union, and draw instead on the energy, talent and commitment of the whole membership across all its sectors to fight together for post-16 education. We can truly transform our union into a more accessible and inclusive democratic body. UCU must become a space where members hear each other and move forward together — if not always in total unity, in accountable and open democracy, and in respect for one another. Members and potential members must feel that UCU really does represent all of us. This is how we will organise in strength across our grassroots.

As the non-aligned candidate for Vice President my commitment is to all our members in Further and Higher Education, academic and academic related, casualised and permanent. Together we can harness the momentum that saw spectacular action across post-16 education in the course of the last year, momentum which can propel us to a more democratic and inclusive UCU. A union which can win.