Greetings friends, I hope you are well and in good spirits. As you may know, there is a MU General Secretary Election slated for early 2022. Currently, four candidates have thrown their hat into the ring and all of them are committed and longstanding officials of union: Keith Ames, Stephen Brown, Naomi Pohl and Morris Stemp. They have also been invited to post their GS election addresses and info on this blog. I am hoping to organise a hustings event with the candidates nearer the time so that we can stimulate a proper debate, ask more in-depth questions and encourage more members to get involved in union democratic process. Do feel free to ask questions of the candidates and initiate debates on the blog – the more the merrier!
First up is Stephen Brown, active musician, trade union activist, community organiser and Midlands Regional Organiser for the MU.
Re: Musicians’ Union General Secretary Election 2022
Address From Stephen Brown
Over the coming months, and if you are a Musicians’ Union member, you will receive information and a ballot about the General Secretary election due in early 2022.
Consequently, the purpose of my writing to you is to introduce myself as a candidate in this election and hope that you can support me in my bid to become the next General Secretary of our great union.
Our union is at a crossroads, we face huge challenges, and so we will need to look at every aspect of how we do things in order to improve what we do and how we do it. We need to change as a union, the status quo is not an option. I am putting myself forward as the only candidate that has the plan and ideas for real change in order to transform our union for the better. It’s easy in an election like this to talk about me, what I am going to do – this would be a mistake. The reality is that the Musicians’ Union is aptly named, we are a ‘union’ and have a common purpose, this is about the “we not me” and the fantastic things we can achieve by working together.
This said, I passionately believe in our union, and improving the working lives and incomes of musicians. My track record in this is exemplary and I have the experience and tenacity to get the job done. I am a musician, an MU member, and so your issues are my issues. It is my strongly held view that the General Secretary should also be a musician – because only a musician can truly understand what makes us tick. The clue for this is in the name of our union too – the Musicians’ Union.
Talking more about the challenges we face, these are multi-faceted – from the pandemic, to Brexit, music education, arts’ funding, building sustainable careers, and the monopoly exerted by the big 3 labels and digital platforms. These issues require a vigorous response from our union and by better empowering our membership we can, and will, achieve positive results in these matters. Empowering our members will also inevitably mean changing our rule book and internal structures to ensure that we are future-fit. Not only to take an organising approach to the issues we campaign on to improve the working lives of musicians, but to ensure we become more open, transparent, inclusive, diverse, democratic, and so representative as a union of the musicians in our industry. Whilst there are many good employers and engagers out there that we have positive relationships with – we know there are those who have used covid as cover to attack our pay terms and conditions – and this has to end. That is another powerful reason why we need to change as a union and become an organising union, so we organise around the issues that matter to you.
To tell you a little bit more about me – I am a songwriting musician and my band has toured extensively. My approach to all things is to lead by example and operate a co-operative model of working, and so it is with my own band. If elected to the position of General Secretary, this cooperative philosophy is what I will bring to the job. Further, I am also a musician and trade unionist from a family of musicians and trade unionists. For over 8 years I have been the MU Midlands Regional Organiser and have more than 40 years’ experience as both a trade union activist and official in 4 different unions. I understand trade unionism, and how an effective trade union should work. In my spare time I’m a community activist and chair of a successful respected employment rights legal charity that I co-founded in Birmingham. The charity helps, represents and advises, hundreds of clients every year, securing hundreds of thousand of pounds in pay and compensation for the most vulnerable workers, many who are from BAME communities.
I hope that you have found my communication useful in setting out my bold and ambitious plans for our union. I trust that I’ve also explained why we need to change and why I’m the only candidate who will be able to drive through that required change, and why it’s only possible with your help and with your vote. And change we must, if we are to go forward and prosper as a union in these uniquely challenging times.
If you want to know more about me, my campaign, my plans for our union, and why you matter to me as a member and how I will put you front and centre of everything we do as a union if I’m elected, please visit http://www.stephenbrown4gs.uk where you’ll also find my contact details, social media links and videos.