Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale’s departure has put the pro-Corbyn Alex Rowley in immediate charge as acting leader of the Scottish party – and the SKWAWKBOX can reveal that this also means that he replaces Dugdale on Labour’s UK NEC (National Executive Committee) with immediate effect until a new leader is elected.
This means that Rowley is unlikely to step down in order to contest the leadership – though it is not yet clear whether he would seek to stay in post and stand in the hope of taking the position permanently.
According to senior Labour sources, Rowley’s accession gives Corbyn a window of effective control of the NEC by 18 votes to 17 – and the Labour leader’s team does not intend to waste the opportunity.
At the very least, the altered NEC mix should allow the confirmation of current deputy Chair Andy Kerr as Chair, in line with usual practice – right-wing members of the NEC were looking to break precedent by trying to leapfrog Kerr into the Chair’s seat in order to strengthen the right’s hold on the NEC executive.
Unite’s Jennie Formby would also be confirmed as deputy, giving Corbyn – and the vast majority of members – a majority representation among the officers for the first time since Corbyn became leader.
These moves will represent the absolute minimum informed Labour members will want to see. While the 18-17 majority should hold for the above, the mix is more complex with larger matters.
But if it can be held together, Ms Dugdale’s resignation could give Corbyn and his allies far greater influence over the agenda for Labour’s conference next month in Brighton – and potentially an opportunity to remake the party in line with its leadership and membership and to secure permanent access for the party’s left to any future leadership contests.
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