Not the first time it’s happened, either
Right-wing group Labour First‘s secretary Luke Akehurst is a long-time critic of the left, whose organisation puts up a slate of candidates – usually in conjunction with fellow right-wing pressure group Progress – for all the Labour Party’s key internal elections.
The Labour First slate benefited – and the health of the movement suffered – earlier this year from the failure of Momentum and CLPD to agree a united left slate of candidates for the National Executive Committee (NEC) by-elections, with the then-Lansman-dominated Momentum pushing one candidate close to Lansman in spite of the far greater popularity of left-wing Wirral councillor Jo Bird. The dire Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan slipped through as the left vote divided – and quickly helped force through measures to disenfranchise the left majority among the party’s membership.
But with new elections looming for all nine member-representative positions on the NEC, the Oxford-based Luke Akehurst has put himself foward as part of the new right-wing slate and is currently seeking nominations from constituency Labour parties (CLPs) for his candidacy.
It hasn’t gone too well.
First the neighbouring CLP of Oxford West and Abingdon nominated the full, left-wing “Future we Need/Grassroots Voice” slate – and now the same slate in Akehurst’s own Oxford East local party has won a clean sweep.
Fortunately for Mr Akehurst, the rule requiring candidates to be nominated by their home CLP is no longer in force.
It’s not the first time he has suffered similar rejection by members who know him. In 2017, Oxford East said a resounding ‘no!’ to Labour First’s recommendations for the key National Constitutional Committee and Conference Arrangements Committee elections.
The results are an embarrassment to the Labour right – but much more importantly, they are an illustration of what can still be achieved if the left unites behind a set of good candidates. With the deck stacked against the left after the change to Labour’s voting rules in NEC elections, it’s essential that it gets behind the candidates shown above.
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