The Racing Card

The Bet - Who will be the new TGWU general secretary?

Tony Woodley: 2-1
Jack Dromey: 3-1
Jim Elsby: 5-1

When Norman Willis was general secretary of the TUC, every conference the hacks would report that he was on his way out. Indeed, the last time the Brothers visited Glasgow, speculation about his future continued all week. According to this year's gossip, since moving to Wales (and living above the shop during the week), John Monks has been looking to retire early. But he has been quick to deny such claims, insisting that he has 12 years still to go.

Unlike the top TUC job, the top TGWU job will soon be up for grabs, following the retirement of Bill Morris. The best-known candidate is Harriet Harman's husband, Jack Dromey. You can tell that he is serious this time, because he has shaved off his beard. I say "this time" because it will be his third attempt to win a top prize in the union movement, and he is hoping that it will be a case of third-time lucky. Dromey is a strong candidate, but support from the Blair camp will not help. Thus Tony Woodley is slight favourite. Woodley gained wide respect in the union for his handling of the car industry disputes, and is arguably more acceptable to the rank and file than Dromey. The outsider is the Scottish secretary, Jim Elsby.

Various unions will have a change of leadership soon. Sir Ken Jackson of the AEEU will be moving on to the Lords, and Danny Carrigan (once frozen out of the electricians' union for daring to stand against the right-wing candidate) is firm favourite. John "Treble Chin" Edmonds has four years to go before his retirement, but already the Londoner Paul Kenny has impressed enough to be installed as favourite for the job. As for the future of the MSF leader, Roger Lyons, no one knows how long he will last.

This article first appeared in the 18 September 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Let the poor seek a place in the sun