Labour First’s latest attempt to lever itself back onto Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) camouflages itself as a plan to give ‘better’ representation to the UK’s regions and constituent countries – a tactic the Labour right already used in 2016 to grab an undemocratic majority on the NEC after Corbyn’s second leadership election win.
A recent history lesson
The right used the votes of NEC members who had already been voted off the NEC – but who remained in place until the September 2016 annual Conference – to force through two additional, unelected members appointed by the (then anti-Corbyn) Scottish leader and her counterpart in Wales. This was presented as a triumph for members in Scotland and Wales – even though the new members were not representative of the pro-Corbyn majority.
Version 2.0 – and what hasn’t changed
The new attempt consists of combining their NEC ‘slate’ of candidates with a ‘campaign to give members across the country a voice at Labour’s top table‘ – but one of the defunct and damaging members who helped force a move that deprived Labour’s left-wing member majority of a voice is on the new slate: Johanna Baxter.
The slate also includes Luke Akehurst, who has been arranging and promoting meetings – barred to left-wing members – around the country to teach right-wing members how to control local party structures against the wishes of Labour’s left-wing member majority.
It also contains Gurinder Singh Josan, who stood unsuccessfully on the ‘independent‘ slate for the three extra NEC places approved at last year’s conference. Josan’s independence claim was undermined by his appearance shortly after the election, headlining a Labour First event. He is also a close ally of Gerard Coyne, who was backed by the right to challenge Unite’s Corbyn-supporting General Secretary, Len McCluskey.
Labour First has, interestingly, started to describe itself as ‘centre left’ – a change from the ‘mainstream left’ that the group has recently been calling itself in its email newsletters.
But Akehurst admitted late last year on Twitter, presumably before the ‘centre left’ idea had occurred to Labour First:
The power behind the slate
The ‘regional slate’ page that Labour First’s email links to does not mention Labour First by name, although a small logo and one for fellow right-wing faction Progress are shown in black and white at the bottom of the page.
Still, it’s provided a handy list of candidates that members who are behind Jeremy Corbyn should never consider even touching with a barge-pole:
- Luke Akehurst
- Lisa Banes
- Johanna Baxter (who helped push through the unelected Scottish/Welsh NEC reps in 2016)
- Jasmin Beckett (who allegedly asked supporters to start rumours of antisemitism against her opponent for the youth seat on the NEC – Facebook)
- Eda Cazimoglu
- Marianna Masters
- Heather Peto
- Gurinder Singh Josan
- Mary Wimbury
‘Giving’ to take away
Labour First and Progress appear to be aware that they are extremely unlikely to win places on the NEC through a straight campaign under their own banner. The vast majority of Labour members believe in left-wing politics and want left-wing representatives at all levels.
The right doesn’t want to give those members what they want – so, in an irony they perhaps don’t even recognise, they are running a campaign to ‘give members across the country a voice‘ – in order to try to deprive the majority of members of the voice that they want on Labour’s NEC.
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