Posts Tagged ‘Johanna Baxter’

Johanna Baxter is changing how the NEC engages with members – but there’s more to be done

06/06/2012, 06:41:57 PM

by Jim Knight

Let’s be honest, two years ago how many of us could name more than about three members of the Labour Party’s most important body?  Since the reforms that limited MPs from standing, the National Executive Committee has become somewhat anonymous.  CLPs nominated according to adherence to the Grassroots Alliance or Progress slates and votes followed the same trend – our CLP representatives became a mixture of the two wings of the party, candidates hand-picked by the unelected leaders of these well resources groups.

But what if you wanted something between the devil and the deep blue sea?

Then Johanna Baxter stood as an independent candidate promising to put members first – a slogan now adopted by others.  Everyone told her that she would lose because she wasn’t part of a slate.  That didn’t put her off – Johanna has been an activist for 16 years, growing up in a Scottish CLP, a London CLP Secretary for 9 years and a national officer for a trade union.  At that point she had also never met anyone on the NEC.  She fundamentally felt that members simply weren’t being listened to at the heart of our party and wanted to do something about it.

And lose she did, but only by 172 votes in an election that had 10,000 spoilt ballots. For the first time an independent candidate running up against the money-rich machine politics of the slates almost made it – that was nothing short of extraordinary.  A few weeks later Johanna then got on to the NEC, as the ‘highest placed loser’, when Oona King was elevated to the Lords.

Since then she has not only lived up to her promise to put members first but, in doing so, is fundamentally changing the way the NEC works.


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How not to find out the NEC results, by Kirstin Hay

02/10/2010, 02:30:21 PM

I arrived in Manchester ready to head down to the Labour leadership announcement with Johanna Baxter, one of the candidates for the national executive committee (NEC). There was trepidation in the air throughout the whole conference zone, everyone waiting anxiously to find out who would be the next person to lead our party. We had all known for months exactly when and how this announcement would take place. Unfortunately, this was not quite the case with the NEC results.

We turned up to conference without knowing which day they would announce the results (not that we hadn’t tried hard to find out). While we enjoyed finding out that Ed Miliband was going to lead our party, and attending the Ed Balls campaign party (Johanna and I had both been very involved in his campaign), the rest of the evening consisted of trying to gather information from national policy forum candidates and party officials (including asking the current chair of the NEC) about what the process was for announcing the results. None of which let Johanna know when her votes would be published. (more…)

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Kirstin Hay says that Johanna Baxter would make the NEC more accountable

11/08/2010, 02:23:34 PM

I joined the Labour party just after the general election, because I felt that I had taken a Labour government for granted, and now felt I had to fight to get one back.  I didn’t even know then that the national executive committee (NEC) existed, let alone who my representative on it was.  Odd perhaps for someone so new to politics but, given the number of internal elections taking place right now, I felt it my duty to find out how my new party operated before casting my votes.

I soon discovered that the NEC is important. It is the governing body that oversees the overall direction of the party and our policy-making process.  The six representatives in the CLP section are elected bi-annually by one member one vote and this year we have our chance to decide who will represent us.

Call me old fashioned, but I would quite like to know who is standing for election to this vital part of the party machinery.  The party seems to think that I need three months to decide on the leadership election, yet only three weeks to make a considered decision about who represents me on the NEC (the party will only confirm who is on the ballot when they send out the ballot packs in September).  Is this transparency, consistency or accountability in action?  I don’t think so. (more…)

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