Move to democratise leadership elections aims to work around controversial rule blocking it
Earlier this year, Labour left organisation CLPD published a motion for this autumn’s party conference asking the NEC to re-table a change to Labour’s leadership nomination rules for 2020. Last year, many members were outraged when a recommendation of Labour’s ‘democracy review’ to make it harder for MPs to block left candidates in future leadership elections was changed at the last minute to allow MPs to retain an effective veto over candidates.
In 2015, Jeremy Corbyn only made the list of candidates at the last moment after a handful of right-wing MPs ‘lent’ him their nomination – a ‘mistake’ that will surely never be repeated.
Now, however, a new motion to remove the MPs’ power to deprive members of a left candidate in future leadership contests has been published – and structured in a way to work around legacy rules that would prevent it being discussed at this year’s conference.
Titled ‘Nomination rights for the many, not the few’, the motion asks the NEC to table a rule change that members would not be able to table directly because of the ‘3-year rule’ on member rule-changes. It reads:
Conference motion – Nomination rights for the many, not the few
• the current Labour leadership and deputy leadership election rules are not democratic.
• that when there is a vacancy, the rules require a candidate to receive a minimum of 10 per cent of Labour MPs’ and MEPs’ nominations for a place on the ballot paper.
• that when there is no vacancy, the rules require a candidate who wishes to launch a challenge to receive a minimum of 20 per cent of Labour MPs’ and MEPs’ nominations for a place on the ballot paper.
• the current rules give MPs and MEPs (who make up roughly 0.10% of the membership) a veto as to who can stand and the power of potentially blocking the preferred candidate(s) of Labour’s Members, Affiliated Supporters and Registered Supporters.
• that such a nominations process is oligarchical in nature and gives unjustifiable, undemocratic power to privileged few.
• that such a nominations process denies the many who make up our party and wider movement a role in deciding its future.
• the National Executive Committee to bring forward to 2019 Conference, before the close of business, rule changes transferring the rights of nomination for the leadership and deputy leadership from MPs’ and MEPs’ to Constituency Labour Parties and affiliated organisations.
As well as removing MPs’ power of veto, the rule change would also make it far easier to put forward a challenger to the hugely unpopular deputy leader Tom Watson. Watson has clung barnacle-like to his position in spite of widespread member demands to submit himself to a new election contest because of his media campaigns to damage the party.
Motion author Max Shanly told the SKWAWKBOX:
For a party that claims democratic socialism as its creed, the Labour Party isn’t very democratic. The current nominations process for candidates standing for the leadership or deputy leadership are oligarchical in nature and bestows disproportionate and undemocratic power in the hands of less than 0.1% of Labour’s half a million members.
The current rules give MPs and MEPs a veto as to who can stand and the power to potentially block the preferred candidate(s) of Labour’s Members, Affiliated Supporters and Registered Supporters. It’s time that that changed. It’s time for nomination rights for the many, not the few.
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