Last week, the SKWAWKBOX covered the report on Labour’s Welsh Executive Committee (WEC) by WEC member Darren Williams, in which he revealed that Welsh Labour was planning to deprive its members of the democratic influence over the selection of their parliamentary candidates that English members in key marginal seats will enjoy.
Williams is also a grassroots left CLP member of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and issues a report on each NEC meeting in the same way as he does for the WEC.
And the final paragraph of his report contains news that will be far from welcome for Labour members in Birmingham.
Birmingham Labour board had imposed a ridiculous condition on local members that they had to have joined the party before July 2015 in order to qualify for a vote in the selection of council candidates for 2018 – effectively disenfranchising huge numbers of pro-Corbyn members from influence over their councillors. This move was widely regarded as designed to protect right-wing dominance on the city’s council.
But last month, Jeremy Corbyn flexed his political muscles by overturning the decision – permitting every member who had joined before 1 January 2017 a vote. This was announced, but had to be ratified at a meeting of the NEC.
However, as Williams reports, a mix-up – or manoeuvre – by the NEC’s executive officers has pushed that qualification date half a year earlier.
The final paragraph of Williams’ report describes what happened:
The final matter of note came up when we looked at the minutes of previous meetings. The decision of the Organisation Committee two weeks before to shorten the qualification period for members in Birmingham to vote in Council selections had been interpreted differently by officers from the way it had been intended.
We were told that we had agreed a freeze-date of 1 January 2017, which meant that members would have had to join the party six months before that date to participate in the selections.
The aim had clearly been that any member who had joined on or after 1 January should have a say but the discussion just seemed to make everyone more confused and the end-result, rather unsatisfyingly, was that the officers’ interpretation still stood.
By treating the cut-off date as a ‘freeze date’ – the date from which the cut-off date is calculated as six months earlier than the ‘freeze’, the NEC’s officers – a group in which the right currently hold a majority – ignored the clear intent of the NEC’s ratification and reimposed the disenfranchisement on every member who joined after 1 July 2016.
A majority of whom would – again – be Corbyn supporters.
Bravo to Williams for his diligence in reporting on the meetings and for his frankness in describing what happened – but shame on those who contrived to disenfranchise and disempower hundreds or even thousands of Birmingham Labour members.
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