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In support of Naomi Pohl for MU GS, by Rab Noakes


Back in 2010, as an Executive Committee (EC) member, I attended a couple of Performers’ Alliance Parliamentary Group (PAPG) meetings in Westminster. Following one of them, I joined the Musicians’ Union team in a pub on Whitehall for a drink and a chat. I was introduced to Naomi, a recent arrival to the staff at the time, and we talked for a while. I was immediately drawn to her. She was clearly an upbeat, cheery yet focussed person. She asked good questions, gently, and as we parted the phrase ‘She’s one to watch’ was ringing in my ears. And so it turned out.


Across the following decade it was good to watch Naomi progress within the MU. Before long she was making presentations to the EC in her position in Recording and Broadcasting. At these times she was always well-prepared, articulate and approachable. She possessed an impressive confidence in just the right measure. It was no surprise there were further promotions. In time she was Deputy GS, part of the Secretariat, at the heart of EC meetings, and of course the workings of our Union.


As Naomi has indicated in her campaign statements, she wants change but not at any cost. She will preserve and protect the existing good things about our Union. Many of these are long-standing, introduced under a number of really good General Secretaries over the years. Many of them are more recent, introduced under the impressively innovative tenure of our most recent GS, Horace Trubridge. Many of the recent initiatives have been introduced with input from Naomi herself. Alongside that, she clearly has ideas of her own regarding the future of the Union. Naomi is a 21st century person and has considered views and actions around all the issues facing us now. In that sense she can lead us well, into the future.


I’ve also watched her be part of a number of forums where she’s always represented the MU, and herself, with smart aplomb. She can hold her own anywhere, always with a great presence and benevolent attitude. She understands how to network, in a transactional, genuinely friendly, way.


I don’t want to make too much of the gender issue but there’s no doubt that women have an increasingly vital presence in the MU. Over the years I watched the makeup of the EC reach a proportionate, in membership terms, number of women for the first time. I then watched that proportion increase until, at one point, there were ten women to nine men around the table. It’ll simply be entirely appropriate, as we move further into the EDI-conscious 21st century, for the Union’s GS to be a woman. The Trade Union movement is undoubtedly benefitting from more women in senior positions. Think Frances O’Grady at the TUC, Roz Foyer at the STUC and Sharon Graham at Unite, to name a few.


Please take your time to gather information on all of the candidates, before making a decision. The most important point is to take part and Use Your Vote. Having said that, I am, and I‘m sure after reading the above you are too, in no doubt as to where my cross will be placed.


Rab Noakes


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