Post-election review

UCU elections review

The UCU General Secretary (GS) and national elections (NEC) results are in. This election has played out against the backdrop of the US election, Brexit and a huge movement to fight for equality that is gaining momentum.

Despite, the higher profile of GS elections the turnout was disappointing at 13.7%. In some categories the turnout was as low as 8%. 

This is an issue the union needs to take seriously. More and more people are taking part in campaigns, we have plenty of opportunity to engage members.

UCU left did well 

UCU Left candidates did very well. Around 43% of members voted for candidates identifying as UCU Left members and supporters, taking about 13 out of 34 seats. By comparison in 2012, the last GS election, 29 out of 30 of Sally Hunt’s preferred list won executive seats.

This was a good election year for UCU Left. We have a majority of supporters on the further education committee. We are a respected part of the union and this has been reflected in some excellent results. We have recovered from the electoral nadir of 2012 and are in a position to make a serious challenge to any and every elected position.

We have a chance to impact on the direction of the union following these results.

GS election

The GS election was won by incumbent General Secretary Sally Hunt, who was challenged by UCU left supported Jo McNeil. The race was close with Jo McNeil taking 41% of votes.

Sally Hunt won by just 2552 votes. This contrasts with the last GS election when Sally Hunt won 73% of the vote and by a margin of 6000 odd votes.

It is a credit to Jo McNeil that 2 out of every 5 members voted for her. She stood on a platform of challenging UCU to toughen up its industrial response to the employers and government. Particularly following the last FE and HE pay dispute. And to challenge UCU to reconnect with members and grassroots campaigns.

During her campaign she visited over 50 university and college branches, and all the devolved nations and regions.

In the run up to the election Sally Hunt framed much of her campaign in the language of the left. Many of the campaigns she highlighted were initiatives the UCU left started for example the successful Defend Education from the Cradle to the Grave Conference.

Jo McNeil ran an excellent campaign and her result represented a serious challenge to a 10 year long incumbent.

This election shows UCU members vote for a campaigning union, there is no mandate or appetite for a service model shown in this election. We have to involve more members in those campaigns and translate that into victories on pay.

Vice President Election

Douglas Chalmers, outgoing President of UCU in Scotland, won the Vice President seat. The UCU left candidate Carlo Morelli achieved a fantastic vote, 46% backed him. This reflects much of his work in the union for years including the Convention for Higher Education against the HE bill and university privatisation.


UCU left members and supporters won almost all equality seats. This includes Dave Muritu, Chair of the Black Members standing committee. It’s disappointing that UCU Left supported Pura Ariza lost to Ryan Prout by less that a thousand votes for the LGBT seat. More than 5000 people voted for her.

UK and regional national executive seats 

UCU Left candidates did very well in further education. Mark Dunkerly won the North East regional seat by-election. We won half of the regional and national FE seats including the election of Rhiannon Lockley, West Midlands Chair.

In Higher Education the UCU Left scored around 38% of the vote. Partly owing to STV voting this translated into winning 2 out of 10 seats.

Steve Cushion lost the Honorary treasurer post but scored a very respectable 48% of the vote.

Former UCU Left secretary and retired lecturer, Laura Miles, topped the election for Trustees.

Join us

UCU left stands for a democratic fighting union that puts the defence of education at the heart of our work.

Our UCU Left candidates will be there campaigning and organising. Please join us and get involved.

Congratulations and commiserations alike to all those who stood in elections.

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who voted for our candidates, delivered leaflets, supported us, and welcomed us to branches.

One Reply to “Post-election review”

  1. 41% is not very far away from 51%. Well done Jo McNeil perhaps next time you will win.

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