Infamous meeting to decide whether Corbyn needed nominations to stand as incumbent also saw right-wingers use underhand ploy to price poor out of vote as supporters
Former Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) member Jamie Bramwell got a surprise when the party finally responded to his ‘Subject Access Request’ in December, months after the statutory deadline passed.
In July 2016, as the Labour right pulled every trick to try to oust Jeremy Corbyn, Bramwell was scheduled to play in a 24-hour football match to raise funds for injured firefighters on the day an NEC meeting was arranged to decide whether Corbyn could stand in the leadership election as incumbent, as the party’s rules dictated, without needing the nominations he would need if he were not already the party’s leader.
Bramwell contacted the party’s management to inform them that he was already committed on the day that the meeting was due to take place – and emails now disclosed by law have revealed party staff’s delight that, as a left-wing NEC member, he would miss the vote. These are his own words about how events unfolded:
Two of the returned emails show staff laughing at the hope that I wouldn’t be able to make the “NEC Special Meeting” because I was raising money for the firefighters charity.
It was rumoured that Iain McNichol was going to call a special NEC on Tuesday 12th of July 2016 as there has been a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the so-called Chicken Coup. On the Friday I had called Paddy Lillis the then Chair of the NEC and later Iain McNichol to ask that the “Special Meeting” be postponed till the following week as we had an NEC meeting then and I explained that I was playing a 24 hour charity football match for injured Firefighters at England’s St George’s training camp on Tuesday 12th.
This was for the Firefighters’ charity, an that a number of NEC members had actually sponsored me for. I explained that not only myself would struggle to attend but we had two other comrades on holiday in Devon and in France and pleaded with Iain McNichol to delay till the following week.
McNichol told me that he would try to avoid the meeting being held on that day because of attendees potentially missing but couldn’t make any promises. It wasn’t until the Sunday by my recollection that it was confirmed that the meeting was going ahead on the Tuesday and of course anyone could have predicted it would have, because the [right-wing] games being played were about numbers.
Now of course I wasn’t going to miss the vote to keep Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot paper and I explained that to the rest of those who were taking part and also on Twitter and FB to all those that sponsored me.
What is clear is that Labour staff responding to emails are clearly happy/hoping that I would not be attending the meeting, another example of the Labour staff working against Jeremy Corbyn to keep him off the ballot paper just like they didn’t want him to become PM.
I attended, we voted and we won 18-15 despite all the games played, but as the meeting drew to a close, I’d asked comrades was it okay for me to leave as I had to catch the last train to Birmingham and then get to St George’s Park to play the rest of the 24 hour football match which ended at 9am the following day.
They said yes, business was done. When I was at the station I got the message that they had pulled a vote on increasing supporters’ fees from £3 to £25. I still have got the paper work and this was not on the agenda and they waited for as many to leave as possible before pulling this out.
My only regret in my time as an NEC member was that I hadn’t stayed, I knew nothing of the vote it was not part of any agenda and I had to catch the last train to Birmingham.
But because of Jeremy Corbyn and my posts on social media, I did raise the most money of all 44 players – and that’s because I had posted that I’ve got to go and support Jeremy to remain leader.
These emails and there’s more have taken me nearly 6 months to receive from the party and I’ve written to them again demanding that other emails be sent as I believe there’s more, it was me filming John McDonnell in Liverpool on the 28th of April in which I believe it’s my name that’s mentioned, and in which staff are calling us lunatics. Another story for another day as I’ve the full request in emails to the full NEC to ask Owen Smith apologise for calling Jeremy a lunatic!
Now we have people condemning Donald Trump’s disregard for US democracy. but our own party tried to subvert democratically elected NEC members from voting on important issues like the rules for a leadership election.(Emphases added)
The attempt to deter supporters by increasing fees – and setting an extremely short window for them to register – was unsuccessful, with huge numbers joining to fight off the anti-democratic attempted ‘chicken coup’:
Even so, at least another 121,000 eligible voters were denied their ballot, but the right was unable to prevent an even bigger win for Corbyn.
The other NEC members who had to return from their holidays to thwart the right-wing coup were former NEC chair Andi Fox, who was in Devon, and Martin Mayer, who had to fly back from France for the meeting, both of whom have agreed to be named.
The Forde Inquiry into the leaked report revealing sabotage and abuse by then-Labour headquarters staff has still not reported its findings, which were originally due last summer and have been delayed again from December. Many fear that the Forde’s findings will not properly reflect the events revealed in the leaked internal report, but Bramwell’s disclosure makes clear that the anti-Corbyn stance of staff was not limited to the 2017 general election campaign and staff’s disappointment at the ‘Corbyn surge’ in that ballot.
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