How good new selection rules are is clear in how much Labour First hates them

Advocates of ‘open selection’ continue to make noise about the decision of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to put forward an ‘affirmative ballot’ process for the selection of Labour’s parliamentary candidates.

Open Selection, at least in the form that has recently been promoted by Momentum, is essentially a ‘no bar’ ‘primary’ system that happens before every general election, regardless whether members are happy with their MP. ‘Affirmative ballot’ (AB) requires members who want change to win an OMOV (one member one vote) contest in just one in three of the branches in their CLP (constituency Labour party) to force a selection process to take place.

Such has been the push in the last month or so for the ‘free for all’ version of open selection that many members have become convinced that it’s the only democratic option, when in fact Affirmative Ballot’s ‘low bar, not no bar’ approach is just as democratic but requires members to show enough want change to win a third of branches, before they need to show they can win ‘50% + 1’ in an OMOV vote across all local members to install the candidate they prefer.

Those against AB have claimed that the bar is too high – though this raises the question of how a 50% threshold can be exceeded if members can’t get past a 33% threshold. Others have recognised the arithmetic of the situation.

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But the reality of the new system and how wide it opens the door for the replacement of poor MPs can be clearly seen in the reaction of right-wing faction Labour First this morning in its first conference update email to its mailing list of supporters.

And they hate it.

Here’s how Labour First described the new system to their followers this morning – along with other democratic triumphs achieved by the left on the NEC:

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MPs will now face a full reselection process if either one third of local party branches or one third of local affiliated branches vote for this to happen. This isn’t democratic“, they blare, before continuing:

how can it be that if six party branches vote to support the MP, and only three to trigger them, that three beats six?  The few decide for the many? It will lead to a lot more full selection processes, which are costly, time-consuming, divisive and distracting from the real work of fighting the Tories in constituencies and in parliament. Many MPs will have to go through a full process unnecessarily

Clearly Labour First don’t expect that left-wing members will struggle to initiate selection processes – and they fear, with good reason given the huge majorities won by Jeremy Corbyn in successive leadership elections, that they’ll lose those selection votes. Even though of course they don’t go quite so far as to admit that.

The other good stuff

The ‘other really bad rule change‘ they flag is that CLPs will be able to vote to switch from delegate-based meetings to all-member meetings if just a single branch or affiliate branch asks for it. This reflects the long-standing and ongoing right-wing tactic of crowbarring affiliate ‘ghost branches’ into CLPs to try to control delegate-based meetings to their advantage.

CLPs across the country have increasingly been reporting mass affiliations by right-leaning unions and right-dominated socialist societies for exactly that purpose – and if this rule-change goes through, all that ‘work’ by the poor old right will turn out to have been wasted.

The cherry on the cake is Labour First’s ire at the planned quarantining of deputy leader Tom Watson, who will be prevented from damaging the party and undoing the efforts of the grassroots if the party is ever unfortunate enough to have him as acting leader.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

If Labour First hates it, it’s great news for democracy and the left – even for ‘lefties’ who might have preferred another option.

And hate it they definitively do.

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  1. I’m sorry comrade, but you yourself reported that Unite supported mandatory open selection on August 7, one of the posts now mirrored because of the DDOS attack. Hmm…


    You really need to quit spinning what is obviously a flip flop by you, Len McCluskey, and Unite. A trigger is in no way “equally democratic”, or now “just as democratic”. It is the reverse.

  2. Whatever ‘re-selections’ happen won’t distract these folk from fighting the tories – it’ll distract them from fighting the party leadership.

  3. “If Labour First hates it, it’s great news for democracy and the left.”

    The simple fact is that they would hate it a whole lot more if we introduced ‘open selection’, Of course Labour First are going to bleat about any rule change that they can claim reduces their influence BUT this is simply a distraction to divert attention away from what the members and the democracy review want,

    Labour First know they’ve won this (as do the members who’s wishes have been betrayed), however it It suits Labour First just fine to continue to play the role of oppressed victims.

    1. I guess now we know this blog is a McCluskey mouthpiece – except of course when he wants to flip flop, which is not reported lol

  4. The rule change might not be what was hoped for but at least it makes re-selection possible.

  5. I take it open selection would only apply in scheduled GEs, snap GEs wouldn’t allow time for open selection of all MPs surely? I think this is a good move at this volatile time as members can, in my understanding, push for re-selection under AB at any time which may well be crucial to a possible Corbyn led government in the shorter term.

    1. That is a good point. Skwawk, is that right? Is AB something any branche can call at any time? And what question may be asked then when putt to a vote?

      1. I hope Swawkbox can clarify when AB can or cannot be used. I still cannot see how open selection could work in a snap GE and this is an important aspect as things stand, I mean wobble, with this Tory government.
        I see making re-selection of MPs generally easier as the priority at the moment and hope I am not guilty of wishful thinking!

  6. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. At a minimum we members have got to chuck out Ummuna, Berger, Hodge, Austen, Phillips and the other Blairite dinosaurs and traitors. If reformed trigger ballot does this fine, if not we are going to have to keep pushing for open selection until we get it!

  7. I fear this article is showing me a Chunky Mark original and telling me it’s a Monet.

      1. Good news for me though I have a couple of Marks but sadly no Monets.

  8. ‘Many MPs will have to go through a full process unnecessarily’

    Unnecessarily? What, you mean if they manage to survive it will have been ‘unnecessary’?

    We having a sweep on who’s the first one out on their arse under this ruling? I’ll have a punt on my local MP angela (ill)eagle.

  9. Oh, and for those what DO survive, you can bet your bottom one their hubris will expand to frank field proportions (if theirs isn’t already approaching that level of narcissistic conceitedness).

    Just hurry up and get on with the business of eradication, already.

  10. Centrist dad Skwarkbox, or should I call him Spinbox, ignores Tom Watson’s new denunciation of Open Selections. Tom Watson who was part of the Right-Fake Left coalition who voted through the new trigger.

  11. I live in a constituency with 4 wards. 2 are totally controlled by antidemocratic clique friends of MP. Hardly met in years. No AMM in CLP for years.
    One of other 2 is dicey.
    Membership is very pro Corbyn. Especially in larger most active wars.
    Trigger ballot difficult to achieve
    50% omov much easier
    This is typical of Clps we have to deselect
    I’ve done the math comrade, and it’s not good.

  12. It is obvious from your own quote, though you failed to underline it, that Labour first will hate OpenSelection even more!

  13. When will Momentum logo be incorporated in the Official Labour Party logo? Why does it matter what this organisation think unless………..?

  14. It will be more difficult to ‘chuck out’ either Phillips; Hodge or Berger, or any other female MP if they are ‘all female’ short-listed for the post of Deputy or even joint leader of the Labour Party.

  15. Seems like just the minimum change required. Until there are strict rules for CLPs and secret OMOV e-voting, progress will be very limited. So many CLPs are run by small RW cliques who keep their members out of it as much as possible.

  16. I heard somewhere that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. There will be a few earless sows running around tonight.

  17. With Labour First being a right-wing faction and all that, and the undeniable fact its ideology aligns with policy which usually ends up inflicting further suffering upon the working class and the most vulnerable in society, I shall aptly rename it ‘Labour Fist’.

  18. The problem with trigger ballots quite clearly is that they are divisive. OS would apply to all labour MPs whereas AB points the finger.

    Think of OS as being an end of term report where AB is being summoned to see the head…

    1. It’s a fallacy to think OS wouldn’t be divisive. Any change to an incumbent who wants to hang on is going to be divisive – as is any attempt by someone who wants to replace them.

      The system approved by the NEC means that will be limited to only the CLPs who actually want change in the first place – lots of stress and division avoided. OS is full of magical thinking.

      1. Other parties appear to manage OS without much acrimony or tearing themselves apart. What is it about the Labour Party that makes you think we couldn’t do the same.

  19. Skwawk, this is dishonesty. You have been dishonest. Many NEC members have been dishonest. You pretended to support open selection – maybe at some point you did – but you secretly dropped it, to stand for a clique that merely feigned support for open selection in order to gain power within the party and the NEC, and then when the opportunity finally presented itself to change things for the better, after years of pain, you sanctioned yet another betrayal. You have lost yourself. Every thinking Labour member knows it. It is about time you tried to come clean, and tell us when you changed your mind, and why. After all, we’re still going to win – it’s just a shame you turned out to be someone other than the person people believed you to be. Just like some on the NEC.

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