The battle for the policy direction of the Labour Party has taken an interesting – and for most members welcome – turn.
At last year’s conference in Liverpool, right-wingers – or ‘centrists’ if you prefer the mainstream media term – organised and managed to ensure a majority of CLP (constituency Labour party) delegates. This, along with a departing – and almost certainly unlawful – ‘pre-packed rule change’ move by NEC members who had been voted out by the membership, allowed the party’s right to hinder Labour by getting two unelected additional members onto the Labour NEC (National Executive Committe).
‘Fool me once’, as the saying goes. The SKWAWKBOX and other new left media, along with pro-Corbyn organisations in and out of the party, called for Corbyn-supporting members to match the right for organisation and use their superior numbers to ensure there was no repeat this year in Brighton.
Anecdotal evidence suggested that this call was heeded and that many local parties were successful – but until now, it was unclear whether that pattern was consistent across the party.
At the turn of the year, anti-Corbyn factions were proclaiming a confident expectation of ‘centrist’ dominance in Brighton. By late spring, this had been downgraded – in spite of anti-democratic tactics by some CLPs to send right-wing delegates against the wishes of most members – to ‘we’ll be competitive’.
This But now party and Momentum insiders have told the SKWAWKBOX that they believe that left delegates – out of a total number of over a thousand, a new record by a distance – outnumber the right’s by over 800 to around 250.
If they are correct – and it’s difficult to measure accurately – this represents a Herculean effort and huge success for pro-Corbyn members and activists and bodes well for the Conference, especially with the current balance of power on the NEC following the resignation of Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale.
Optimism must be tempered by the fact that sheer delegate numbers alone do not guarantee results. In the ‘card votes’ that decide rule-changes, the voting power of the CLPs sending the delegates decides the weight of each vote cast, so one delegate from a large CLP has greater weight than several from a small one. Union votes are also often decisive. However, in any vote taken by ‘show of hands’, such a difference in numbers should have a huge impact.
In any event, it is a very good sign and a change of delegate balance even vaguely resembling those described to this blog will make the 2017 event a very different experience to last year’s.
Much now depends on the willingness of the rebalanced NEC in putting forward bold changes onto the Conference agenda. On that, ‘watch this space’.
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