Earlier today, the New Statesman‘s George Eaton posted an article titled Who really controls the Labour Party now:
Eaton caused some consternation among pro-Corbyn Labour members – who make up the vast majority of Labour’s burgeoning membership – by suggesting that the union Unite are about to lose one of their representatives on the National Executive Committee (NEC), Labour’s ruling committee, to be replaced by a further Unison rep.
This might, as Eaton suggests, strengthen the hand of Labour’s right wing, as Unison is currently compromised by substantial penetration by Progress members. Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis, initially strongly anti-Progress and therefore (you’d think) naturally a Corbyn supporter, ignored Progress misbehaviour earlier this year to parrot criticisms of the Labour leader.
Labour’s performance in the General Election may have swung Prentis back the other way, but this is currently unknown – whereas Unite’s Len McCluskey is a staunch Corbyn supporter, so no member who’s behind the Labour leader would welcome such a change to the NEC’s make-up.
Fortunately, they don’t need to worry. A senior Labour source told the SKWAWKBOX that no such change is in the pipeline:
No, that’s not happening. They’re indulging in a bit of kite-flying but it’s just not on the cards. USDAW [the ‘shopworkers’ union headed by anti-Corbyn General Secretary John Hannett] want another seat as well, but no way.
It’s likely that Progress and other right-wingers are freaking out because of the decision of Lord Sainsbury to withdraw his huge financial support (from them and the LibDems, presumably he’s not interested in backing failing groups).
The significant possibility of an imminent second General Election will also be causing jitters among the right. Labour’s NEC imposed candidates and rubber-stamped the candidacy of existing MPs because of the short time to prepare for the 8 June election, but have promised that there will be no repeat of the anti-democratic measure.
If there is another election it will allow Labour members angry with the right-wing faction, for sabotaging what would have been a historic Labour win in the last one, to use Labour’s ‘trigger ballot‘ rules to challenge and remove Progress and other ‘hindrance’ MPs only a short time after they thought they had saved their seats and influence.
‘Flying a kite’ about NEC changes via a reasonably friendly journalist would be one means available to the right wing to try to muddy the waters while they try to prepare for the important rule-change battle expected to take place at the annual Conference in Brighton.
Fortunately, the rumour can be quashed immediately and the water unmuddied so Labour members excited by the Party’s direction and the massive standing of its leader can get on with the job of removing an incompetent Tory PM and government while preparing itself to govern without the encumbrance of throwbacks in its bureaucracy and hierarchy.
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