If you want rid of McNicol, you need to read this

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Iain McNicol, General Secretary of the Labour party, has been putting on quite a performance of late and not in a good way.

If you’re one of the many tens of thousands of Labour members, supporters or affiliate members who were deprived of a vote in the leadership election and/or you were suspended or even expelled from the party as part of the latest purge, or if you simply care about having a democratic Labour party that gets behind its leader to fight the reckless and damaging Tories, McNicol’s name will be mud – or several rungs below that.

If you’re a member of Wallasey CLP (Constituency Labour Party), currently still suspended indefinitely after false allegations of abuse and under further investigation for daring to challenge them, or of Brighton and Hove District Labour Party, suspended and then broken up after equally false smears, his name will be more akin to something that might be mistaken for mud, but you’d be very unhappy if you stepped in it.

CLPs such as Garston and Halewood in Liverpool and Brecon and Radnorshire in Wales have already voted emphatically for motions of no-confidence in him, but further action is needed.


If you want him removed from his position for the indisputable disrepute he’s brought on Labour and the damage he has done to it and to the millions of people who need it to obstruct and eventually bring down this malevolent government, you face a significant hurdle:

His tenure depends on the 33 individuals who make up Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee).

That committee, essentially Labour’s ruling body, can remove McNicol. Nobody else has the power to do it – and that committee is currently finely balanced between pro- and anti-Corbyn (and therefore, largely, anti- and pro-McNicol) members.

It is, currently, so finely balanced only because the democratically-removed former members ‘rigged the deck‘ just before their time on the NEC ended at the end of the last annual conference – by crowbarring in 2 additional, unelected members: one each appointed by the anti-Corbyn leaders of Scottish and Welsh Labour. Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish leader, immediately appointed herself and immediately started voting against Corbyn.

In order to achieve said deck-rigging at Labour’s conference, the NEC broke its own rules – and in doing so, according to a legal opinion provided by a highly-qualified barrister, rendered the existence of the Scottish-/Welsh-appointed places on the NEC completely unlawful.

That unlawful, rigged NEC is, as things stand, one that would be highly unlikely to vote against Mr McNicol’s continued presence in the role he is considered by hundreds of thousands of Labour members to have abused.

Anyone who wishes to see McNicol booted out of a position they believe he has no business occupying therefore needs to set their sights on an even tougher – but not impossible – target: change the NEC.

The key is in the fact that the NEC is currently unlawfully-composed. This could be the subject of a legal challenge but this is likely to be slow and expensive.

An alternative route is to make the position of the two unlawful members untenable by passing a resolution at all – or a large majority – of the UK’s 600-odd constituency parties.

Below is a model motion denouncing the unlawfully-constituted NEC. If you want McNicol gone, submit this to your CLP executive (or branch if your CLP operates a branch structure) for a vote at your next monthly meeting. Links to supporting information are provided throughout this article and if you want further background and even a series of other motions, you can find them here.

Model motion


Video footage from the Labour Party’s own YouTube channel provided at an internet address bit.ly/2fjvUsa shows events surrounding a vote to ‘reference back’ the Conference Arrangements Committee report. The report being voted upon described and entered into record the alleged authorisation by Conference for a package of rule-changes to be the subject of a single vote on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.

One of these proposed constitutional amendments had the effect of adding 2 unelected representatives to the National Executive Committee, one each appointed by the leaders of the Scottish and Welsh parties.

‘Reference back’ means that the report is not approved until fully discussed by Conference and voted on.

At 31:25 – 34:00 in the video several delegates from the floor can be heard calling for a card vote. Chapter 3 Clause 3 Rule 3 of Labour’s 2016 rulebook requires that “Voting at Party conference on resolutions, reports, amendments, proposals and references back shall be by show of hands or, when the conditions laid down by the CAC require it, by card.”.

The CAC report specified that “votes at Conference are taken as a show of hands unless a card vote is requested by delegates or by the decision of the Chair” [emphasis added]. The failure to hold a card vote after it was requested was therefore a breach of the Labour party constitution.

This video evidence therefore demonstrates conclusively that conference Chair Paddy Lillis violated Labour party voting rules and the labour party constitution during voting on the report in question. The video also shows that Mr Lillis violated this rule despite attention being drawn to the fact by dozens of people on the conference floor and representations by both NEC member Christine Shawcroft and the mover of the reference back motion, TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes.

As legal precedent during the recent challenge by disenfranchised members shows that the rules of the Party have legal force, any such violation also constitutes violation of the law and renders it and what follows from it unlawful and invalid. 

The video evidence is therefore clear that the platform Labour party and NEC chair perpetrated a breach both of the Party’s democratic constitution and of the law in an illegitimate and unlawful process.

The motion

This CLP/BLP therefore moves that the addition of two new, unelected members to the NEC was unlawful and that those members therefore have no legitimacy or voting rights on the Committee.

If this motion is passed at a BLP (Branch Labour Party) then the BLP resolves that the BLP secretary shall pass this motion to the CLP secretary at the earliest opportunity to be moved there and mandates any delegates to the CLP to move, second and vote for the motion at that time.

If passed at CLP, then the CLP resolves that the motion shall be passed to the CLP representatives on the NEC and to the 33 member NEC for motion there.

Moreover, as the conflict of interest of the additional members appointed by the leaders of the party in Wales and Scotland is self-evident, they shall not be permitted to vote on the matter.

Please act on this immediately and don’t take no for an answer from your branch/CLP exec – then whip all your right-minded fellow members to attend to make sure it goes through.

And share widely so others know to do the same. Your party and your country need it.

If you decide to put this motion forward to your BLP/CLP, drop a note to skwawkbox@outlook.com. I’ll be keeping a note of which constituencies have it going forward so we can keep readers updated.

The SKWAWKBOX is offered free of charge, but please support its work if you can by clicking here or using the ‘donate’ button at the top of this page.


  1. As a Labour Party member I feel gutted about the whole corrupt show. As a Labour Party member I, and I’m sure many members feel the same way, feel inclined to throw in my membership. The ‘Labour Right’ is hell bent on destroying Corbyn’s leadership at any cost. Jeremy Corbyn HAS to get tougher and demonstrate stronger leadership as people will become disillusioned and drift away.

    I personally cannot see a way out as even in the organisation of Momentum there is massive disagreement within the movement, e.g Jackie Walker’s suspension.

    I would really like to see a strong leadership who means business. Labour Right won’t stop and will walk all over-the-counter rest of us!

    Janet Beale

  2. Just a quick correction: Brecon and Radnorshire CLP members were not allowed to vote on Mr McNicol, on the spurious grounds that – as an employee – he could not argue in his own defence.

  3. As an employee he should carry out the wishes of the members not his own agenda. If he wants to do that then he should join the Tories.

  4. From the point of view of parties in Scotland and Wales the motion needs to be amended to state that this does NOT imply opposition to the addition of delegates from Wales and Scotland that are ELECTED by the membership in those countries.

    As it stands it creates difficulties for Welsh and Scottish members wishing to support the motion.

    Anne Tanner Cardiff West CLP

    1. By all means amend as best fits your CLP’s requirements – if anyone proposed that amendment in my CLP, I’d accept it immediately.

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