Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) ‘away day’ meeting in Glasgow last Sunday agreed that the selection of the Young Labour representative on the NEC would be democratised – switching to a new system incorporating OMOV by Young Labour members for 50% of the votes, plus 50% going to union affiliates.
Predictably, this did not meet with the approval of those with a vested interest in keeping a ‘centrist’ (or right-wing, according to your point of view) NEC representative.
A former National Union of Students VP was vocal in his outrage:
Young Labour’s current NEC rep Jasmin Beckett went further – complaining at such length that she needed to paste it into two images to get around Twitter’s 280-character limitation:
Of course Ms Beckett, who is said to have won her place by only a single vote after being accused of inciting false antisemitism smears against her left-wing opponent, has reason to be concerned about future elections under the new system. But the second of her images bears closer inspection:
This is of interest as it’s a classic example of how similar events are portrayed in a completely different light when it suits the ‘centrists’ – because almost exactly the same thing happened in order to create the system that has just been changed.
The complaining centrists make the change of system sound like a huge injustice – but only four months ago the right imposed an electoral college on Young Labour’s conference via the then right-dominated NEC.
An NEC with an anti-democratically manufactured right-wing majority.
Without consultation – and against the furious protests of Young Labour members and officers.
Some might even say it was ‘shoddy’.
At the time, the vice-Chair of Young Labour described the change to an electoral college system and the Young Labour committee’s view of it:
Young Labour National Committee members believe these arrangements represent a stifling of a democratic and welcoming culture in our youth wing, and calls on young members to campaign with us for Young Labour Conferences which are autonomously organised by representatives who are democratically accountable to our movement.
She also called Labour Students ‘a joke of an organisation’ and had a similar opinion of the process (for want of a better word) by which the NEC made the change:
At every stage, there has been a lack of accountability and transparency. The proposal made in the name of Young Labour determining allocation of delegates was put forward to the National Executive Committee without there being any discussion on Young Labour National Committee about this; in fact we weren’t even told about it.
‘Labour Students’ is in fact a small group used by the Labour right in the 1980s to fight against left-wing youth organisations in the Labour Party and is widely considered to be thoroughly Blairite. For a small – and not even known in number – group of students that are not even necessarily young to have the conference voting power of around 100,000 Young Labour members by right-wing NEC fiat is neither venerable nor democratic.
In context, the complaints of ‘outraged’ centrists about a supposedly-undemocratic change away from a system that was blatantly undemocratic start to look hollow and agenda-driven.
For Young Labour members, the change actually represents a huge step back to democracy.
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