Yesterday the SKWAWKBOX reported that the rule allowing ‘registered supporters’ to vote in Labour leadership elections may be under threat from a ‘review’ of the Collins measures that created the registered supporter status agreed at the last meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee.
At the time of publication, it was not clear exactly what the aim and scope of the review were, but the situation has become clearer in the intervening 24 hours – and the situation is serious.
An NEC member has confirmed to the SKWAWKBOX:
A number of motions were sent by CLPs, including to remove registered and affiliated supporters, along with two different proposals on leadership nominations – the 5% one everyone knows about and one for 10% if there’s a vacancy but increasing to 40% to challenge an incumbent.
It was all very messy and really needs a lot more consultation between the NEC, the left and the leader’s office, but the removal of supporter status is definitely included in the scope of the review.
The inclusion of union affiliated supporters makes this issue of even greater concern to Labour members who support Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader has a significant advantage among full Labour members as well, but his lead was even larger among registered supporters – who paid £25 last year to register and vote – and among those who registered by affiliating via their union membership.
Last year, Tom Watson tried to abolish supporter status and to return to the old electoral college system that used to give a few hundred Labour MPs one third of the vote in leadership elections – as much as the unions and Labour members.
‘One member one vote’ among full members and MPs might not be under immediate threat, but if registered supporters and union affiliate supporters are abolished it starts to look very much like a piecemeal return to the electoral college system by the back door, which would set Labour’s internal democracy back hugely.
No changes can be made without ratification by Labour’s annual Conference, but there is now a real risk of the re-disenfranchisement of members, especially if the unions do not unite against it.
The danger is even greater if the change is ‘pre-packed’ so delegates are forced to vote on it along with a host of other, good rule-changes as happened with the damaging rule appointing two unelected, anti-Corbyn members to the NEC at the 2016 Conference in Liverpool.
The new CAC (Conference Arrangements Committee) candidates will not be in place until after this year’s Conference in Brighton, so there is a real danger of such a move being repeated – Labour’s leader, NEC members and every other person or body with influence needs to work right now to prevent it.
And the election of Seema Chandwani and Billy Hayes to the Conference Arrangements Committee is even more crucial now, to help prevent further moves to disenfranchise members and supporters next year.
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