Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) sub-committees met on Tuesday – and one of the outcomes will trigger intense discussion and activity at constituency parties (CLPs) around the country.
In 2017, the calling of a snap election resulted in Labour’s NEC and administrative machine – then both still weighted in favour of the party’s right wing – announcing that CLPs with an incumbent MP would be forced to keep that MP as their general election candidate if the MP wished to stay on. In many CLPs without an incumbent MP, unsuccessful candidates from the 2015 general election were simply re-imposed.
The decision provoked outrage among the party’s left-leaning mass membership, as it forced many CLPs to campaign for unpopular right-wing candidates.
Last September, Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool approved new rules for candidate selections, lowering the bar for CLPs to trigger a selection contest to just one in three branches supporting a contest – and removing the ability of right-leaning unions to ‘stack’ branch affiliations into CLPs to protect favoured incumbents. Right-wingers were not happy.
Now an NEC source has told the SKWAWKBOX that the NEC has made a statement of intent – and of the party’s preparedness for a new general election – by authorising Labour general secretary Jennie Formby to prepare a plan to ensure that CLPs have the opportunity to call a selection process if they so wish, even if Theresa May calls a new ‘snap’, short-campaign general election.
The plan is not expected to be ready in time for next Tuesday’s full NEC meeting and the next one is not scheduled until March – but the NEC ‘officers group’ expects to meet earlier to approve Formby’s plan when it is ready.
Labour members eager to select a candidate who better represents their aims and politics will quickly be starting their own plans for a rapid trigger process and identifying good would-be candidates to contest seats with unpopular ‘centrist’ incumbents.
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