Endorsement from Dr Mark Berry, Royal Holloway, University of London
I am delighted to add my voice to those supporting Jo Grady’s candidature for General Secretary of the UCU. I have been following Jo on Twitter for quite a while now, since the most active period (so far) of our pensions dispute, when she proved an invaluable voice in explaining not only what was going on but what should be. I say ‘so far’ because, as we all know—or should—that dispute is far from over. Jo certainly knows that; I have every confidence in her determination to ensure that we all will.
‘Pensions’ is, of course, misleading in its narrowness of scope; this marked the first real moment of our fightback against neoliberalism in higher education. We began openly to discuss once again questions we should ask every day. What role can and should universities and education more generally play in shaping a more humane society? What, indeed, is education, and what is it for? (Not: how should we measure something that cannot be measured?) What are solidarity and collegiality, and how can we further them? Such questions and others are, if anything, still more important in fighting the headlong turn towards casualisation. Many of us remember very well how colleagues on temporary contracts stood eager to defend our pensions; it is high time we did more to defend those less fortunate than ourselves.
From reading what Jo Grady has had to say over the past year or so, and from reading her manifesto, I am confident she will provide the voice we need on these and other issues, from tuition fees (wherever in the world students may come from) to the accountability recently so lacking in national union affairs. Most encouraging of all, Jo reminds us that ‘a manifesto is more than the sum of its parts’, that this is as much about engaging members, in building representation and solidarity, and in our leading rather than merely reacting to policy. There is no time to lose.