Posts Tagged ‘NEC’

This is now Corbyn’s front bench. Good. He’ll be solely responsible for the failure to come

06/01/2016, 12:43:17 PM

by Atul Hatwal

This is now Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench. Hilary Benn might still be in post but he’s been politically emasculated and the sackings of Michael Dugher and McFadden along with the demotion of Maria Eagle have delivered a clear message: deviate from leadership orthodoxy and you’ll be next against the wall.

We won’t be hearing any more from Hilary Benn on Syria. Little from anyone in the shadow cabinet on Trident. Talented shadow ministers such as Kevan Jones, Jonathan Reynolds and Stephen Doughty have already walked the plank. The Corbyn line has become the Labour line.

Good.

Clarity was needed. Since Labour’s leader was elected, large numbers of moderate Labour party members have been engaged in a collective act of self-delusion: that Labour can present itself as a centrist, electable party with Corbyn at the helm.

The attempts of several members of the shadow cabinet to rein in Corbyn’s exigencies on foreign affairs, defence and the economy are laudable but futile and ultimately counter-productive.

The Syria vote was regarded by moderates within the PLP as some sort of triumph but while parliament ultimately voted the right way to take on the fascists in Isis, it was a political disaster for Labour.

Here was the main opposition party so riven that it had to opt for a free vote on the most important decision a country faces – whether or not to go to war. What does that say to the voters of Britain about Labour’s capacity to lead?

Trident has been another red line for many front-benchers but in the end it’s another pointless fight.

Moderate PLP-ers can talk about Labour’s policy being settled in favour of Trident at conference last year, but what will happen after conference this year, or next?

Within this parliament, party policy will be changed at conference to oppose Trident.

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What the Labour leadership election rules say about removing a leader

12/09/2015, 07:00:23 AM

by Trevor Fisher

The Labour party system of electing a leader for an indefinite period makes sensible recall procedures impossible. The logical reason for an open ended term was ended once the Fixed Parliament Act was passed in 2010, as the need to have a leader ready in opposition to fight an election was ended. Up to then, the government could call an election at any time so Labour had to be ready. Now the government is able to replace the Prime Minister within a five year term, Labour also gained this freedom while in opposition.

Previously the Labour party could be caught out by a snap election with no leader in place, as it was in 1935.

The fact that there is no fixed term of office, allows mechanisms for challenging and replacing the leader while in opposition, which are indeed part of the rule book. However the rules are vague and certainly do not provide a mandatory system. Instead they either allow a leader to go on for the full term – currently 4 years and 8 months once the NEC had decreed a four month campaign, which is not within the rules*. Alternatively, members of the PLP are allowed to challenge the leader and indeed apparently can do so on a yearly basis if they wish.

The rules decree the currently operative three section system of full members, registered supporter and affiliated members (mainly unions), but I have not been able to find a definition of their rights and responsibilities, but it is clear this is not One Member One Vote (OMOV) and the phrase ‘One Person One Vote’ is used.(Chapter 4, Clause 2, Section C clause viii). This is not the only ambiguity in the rules, but there is no ambiguity that the rules allow a challenge to the leader by forcing a ballot.

How the ballot would be carried out is not in the rule book as far as I can see, but the current postal-electronic ballot and complex vetting procedures, which are inefficient and not actually specified in the rules as far as I can see, could not be repeated easily. The resources involved are considerable, potentially ruinous and could not be operated especially if the challenges became annual, which appears to be currently possible and hardly desirable.

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Yes to OMOV. No to registered supporters. Ed Miliband’s party reforms are killing Labour

25/08/2015, 10:49:12 PM

by Daniel Charleston Downes

We can now forget the Ed Stone and the bacon sandwiches, we now know for sure the most damaging thing that Ed Miliband did for the Labour party. The recalibration of votes among members to one member one vote was essential and the right thing to do, but then this was extended too far into a new concept of registered supporters.

It makes sense to take the selection of leader away from just MPs. MPs have maintained their right to select who makes it to the ballot, but even then they seem to have done everything that they possibly can to misplace that power. Once the ballots are out it is correct that the PLP should have the same weight as those delivering leaflets and running campaigns.

The fact of the matter is that registering to support a party was always going to result in some mischief. As it happens it has meant that there are those in the Conservative party that have sought a vote in order to pick what they consider to be the least desirable electoral option for Labour and it has encouraged those from the far left to sway the ballot.

Both pose their own problems. Opening yourself up so that your opposition can infiltrate your leadership selection is foolish, particularly if MPs are nominating a candidate whilst denouncing them as a suicide ticket. This should never be allowed to happen and unless the NEC can guarantee that not one vote has been cast by an individual for the sole intention of disrupting the party, the vote should not go ahead. I would be amazed if they can do this with any confidence.

The second issue is that it has exacerbated and even created divisions within the party that weren’t prevalent before the election. There were a great many members that wanted a deeper anti-austerity message but many were able to assess that need against electoral pragmatism.

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Will Labour survive a drawn-out leadership contest?

13/05/2015, 10:22:55 AM

by Kevin Meagher

The inside of the Labour party is beginning to feel like a tense family funeral, just before the point when everyone starts drinking.

There’s a lot of unreconciled psychological baggage as we await the National Executive Committee’s decision about whether it will institute a short leadership process, or stretch it out to the September party conference, or, indeed, beyond.

The problem is that years’ worth of sleights, rivalries, anguish, antagonisms and things that have been left unsaid have all built up. If invited to have a drawn-out discussion about why the party lost, it is inevitable that this will lead to family members’ pulling each other’s hair out as they send Granddad’s ashes flying.

In its soul, Labour is a party of deep divisions (personal and social as well as in terms of emphasis and priority). When a colleague remarked that Herbert Morrison was “his own worst enemy” Ernest Bevin famously snarled, “not while I’m alive he ain’t.” The decade-long drama between Blair and Brown (“the TB, GBs”) was merely symptomatic of this same psychosis.

These tensions are usually capped by the affected manners and superficial pleasantries of the party’s generals. Everyone is nice to each other’s face. Get behind that carapace, however, and it’s a different story.

During a Labour leadership contest, it is not enough for candidates to put themselves forward and explain what they would do, they also need to define themselves against their opponents.

So while your candidacy may represent The Last Hope, the only possible choice of any sentient adult; your opponents are, in contrast, sell-outs, lickspittles, lightweights, too associated with the past, too untested, too naïve, too unpopular, too Blairite, or not Blairite enough, et cetera, ad infinitum.

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Labour must discipline Livingstone

19/11/2014, 10:44:03 AM

by Rob Marchant

Last week, a member of the party’s governing body, the NEC, encouraged a crowd of people to go round to the homes of public servants (£) and “peacefully” demonstrate outside.

Presumably as Unite “peacefully” demonstrated at the homes of Grangemouth oil refinery managers, during last summer’s botched industrial dispute. It is a technique latterly championed by the union, known as “leveraging” (in fact, so excited is it by its novel idea that the union now has created a merged Organising and Leverage Department, to help promote it further).

The reality: when someone’s child dare not go outside to play, or has to ask its parents who the angry crowd of people shouting outside their garden gate are, or it is an unacceptable crossing of the line between legitimate and non-legitimate targets.

It is, needless to say, intimidation, by any other name. It is bullying.

The point is not the unpleasant practice itself: the point is that a member of the party’s NEC should be openly inciting this kind of behaviour. Morally, it would be equally bad if the victims were private sector managers, who are entitled to their privacy like anyone else; but this was worse: it was politically stupid as well.

It was against, let us not forget, public servants doing their duty; the kind of people, in fact, one might traditionally expect to support the Labour Party.

We might also note that the demonstration was in support of a political independent, currently undergoing numerous separate investigations, including by the police. A politician whom this NEC member has repeatedly supported, in opposition to the ranks of his own party’s councillors, including during an election: a clear suspension offence in the party rule-book.

Or his disingenuous backing of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets’ wearily predictable cries of “Islamophobia”, having being investigated himself for improper allocation of public funds and his election still being investigated for alleged electoral fraud.

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Enough is enough. Labour should kick out Ken Livingstone

08/05/2014, 03:44:44 PM

by David Talbot

In January 2004 a controversial member of the Labour family was readmitted to the fold. Ken Livingstone, the hitherto independent Mayor of London, had submitted his application before Labour’s NEC in order to run as the official Labour candidate in the forthcoming second London-wide ballot.

Livingstone had been expelled from party membership for five years in 2000 when, having been blocked by the party’s hierarchy from running as its official candidate for Mayor, he stood as an independent. Labour’s gerrymandering of the selection procedure, coupled with its heavy-handedness in throwing out the longstanding MP, merely resulted in Livingstone beating Labour’s official candidate into a humiliating fourth place.

Upon his return to the Labour column a jubilant Livingstone described it all as an unfortunate misunderstanding and of a marriage that had temporarily broken down. It is near long-forgotten that this fiercely independent firebrand lobbied extensively for his readmission to the party. But since then Livingstone has abused this “marriage of convenience” with the Labour party to the point where many right-minded Labourites can no longer willingly tolerant his membership of their party.

He has taken all he could from the relationship, and given scant in return. The charge sheet of abuse, varying in seriousness, is so extensive and so oft-repeated it is barely worth the bandwidth to detail further; campaigning against an official Labour candidate in 2010, admitting that he never voted Labour under Tony Blair’s leadership, whilst throwing in the customary charge that he should be tried for war crimes; his tax avoidance, his penchant for the mullahs of Tehran, telling the Reuben brothers to go “back where they came from”, likening a journalist to a concentration camp guard – even after he knew he was Jewish, his distaste for the Jewish community in general, and his patronage of Shaykh Yusuf Al Qaradaw, who denies the Holocaust, promotes female genital mutilation, and urges the throwing of homosexuals from rooftops as a punishment for their sin.

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The boy Miliband done good

05/03/2014, 09:29:23 AM

by Rob Marchant

In a sense, nothing changed over the weekend: there was virtually no doubt that, once a proposal of such import was made “privately” to the NEC – and therefore instantly leaked to the whole world – that ducks were already in a neat row and nods had already been duly given. In dark, smoke-filled rooms, of course (it wouldn’t be the same without them).

But the securing of the party’s reform package – namely, the change from bulk to individual relationships with the party for union members, fair and representative leadership elections and a primary for London – was undoubtedly a great thing.

Finally – finally – Miliband has left his mark indelibly on his party. Even should he turn out next year to have been a mere one-term leader, the changes he has made will have an extremely long-lasting impact (assuming, that is, that such things cannot be undone later: either owing to an untimely 2015 leadership election, as noted here; or the use of the NEC veto clause on the London primary, as Progress’ Robert Philpot observantly pointed out last week).

There are things missing from the final report: NEC and conference votes remain unreformed. Neither, as blogger Ben Cobley noted, did the party take the opportunity to address its pathological obsession with identity politics, which has left to some nasty stitch-ups in the past, and which may yet be the undoing of the party before long (read this piece by Uncut’s Kevin Meagher if you want to understand why).

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Livingstone: still there, still up to his old tricks

18/11/2013, 10:35:00 AM

by Rob Marchant

Now, Labour Uncut has never been a fan of Gordon Brown’s decision to leave the “Golden Rule” behind and stop balancing the books over the economic cycle. He borrowed more than he should have, with the result that Britain was rather caught with its trousers around its ankles when the global financial crisis came.

But it takes a certain kind of front for a politician on his own side to call the former prime minister a coward (although marginally better, one supposes, than asking for him to be tried as war criminal).

Especially if that politician (a) still holds office at national level (albeit on Labour’s NEC and not an office elected by the general public); and (b) wouldn’t know fiscal responsibility if it jumped up and slapped him in the face with a wet kipper.

It really could only be one person, couldn’t it? Step forward, our old friend Ken Livingstone, who told the Labour Assembly Against Austerity last weekend that the raising of debt was “an act of cowardice”.

Now, let’s examine that for a second as an exercise in multiple levels of irony.

First up in the irony stakes is the issue that he was speaking at the Labour Assembly Against Austerity. Yes, the anti-austerity movement. The primary function of this body, as far as anyone can understand, is the economic equivalent of the Flat Earth Society; that of fighting of any cut of any kind.

Now, although Livingstone later implied – disingenuously – in the same speech that he is open to cuts, this goes entirely against the whole ethos of the anti-austerity movement. No-one can possibly seriously buy that argument, least of all from him.

So, the equation is pretty straightforward: if you can’t cut and you can’t raise debt, you have to raise taxes. That is the clear conclusion of this kind of policy and the modus operandi which has followed Livingstone throughout his political life.

And there’s the second irony. You can certainly say that Livingstone has always been consistent about not wanting to raise debt and securing all revenue through tax-raising, but let’s look at the facts on that.

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Union backed change to Labour rules set to wipe out party groups like Labour Women’s Network

12/08/2013, 07:29:58 AM

by Atul Hatwal

It started as an attempt by sections of the union movement to target Progress. But Uncut understands that a rule change, submitted by ASLEF and initially intended to outlaw Progress, has been drafted so broadly that it would in fact wipe out a range of Labour party groups.

These include Labour Women’s Network, all of the Labour Friends groups (such as Labour Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of India) and even TULO – the trade union and Labour party liaison organisation.

Under the terms of the amendment, all of these organisations would have to transfer half of donations received, above the first £25,000 per annum, to the central party, crippling their ability to operate. The amendment states,

“Delete rule 5.B and insert:

B. Political organisations not affiliated or associated under a national agreement with the party, but whom engage in internal activity, shall be required to:

(i) Notify the national party of all legally reportable donations received.

(ii) Transfer 50% of all donations received beyond the first £25,000 per annum to the national Labour Party.

C. Incorporated organisations that engage in internal activity shall be required to provide upon request all legal, constitutional, and financial documentation to the National Executive Committee to ensure that they meet acceptable standards of democracy, governance and transparency.  These organisations are expected to abide by the authority of the NEC in such matters.

D. The NEC shall be responsible for the interpretation, implementation, and enforcement of these rules.”

Labour party officials have confirmed that this drafting has an extremely broad application. On this basis, if the rule change were passed, thousands of pounds would be slashed from groups, as funds would be appropriated by the national party.

This would have a major impact on the operation of the Labour party.

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New Falkirk twist: Now Labour refuse to commit to pass evidence of law-breaking to the police

04/07/2013, 07:00:33 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Another day, another Falkirk West farrago. Labour has now managed to tie itself in knots over what to do with evidence of illegal activities, uncovered as a result of the party’s inquiries.

The current position is that Labour will not commit to handing over any evidence of suspected law-breaking to the police or relevant authorities.

To recap, this sorry affair was kicked off when local Unite members complained to the party about being recruited into Labour without their knowledge.

In late May, the Sunday Herald carried details of one of the letters of complaint, originally sent in March, that ultimately triggered the NEC inquiry,

“Myself and two family members have been enrolled by Unite…I or my family did not fill in or sign any forms and wish to know what information the party holds about my family… I have concerns as to the way Unite in Falkirk are recruiting party members.”

On this basis, two laws appear to have been broken – the 1998 Data Protection Act and the 2006 Fraud Act.

Just over a month ago Uncut reported that angry members in Falkirk West were considering reporting Unite to the Information Commissioner because of a breach of their data protection rights.

Under the terms of the Act, each individual must have agreed before their personal details are passed to a different organisation.

At the point where Unite members’ personal details were registered with the Labour party, without their consent being first granted, the law will have been broken.

Then, yesterday Uncut reported on the likelihood of a breach of the Fraud Act. Whoever completed the bogus applications and validated them would have contravened section 2 of the Act under the terms of “false misrepresentation”

Submitting completed forms to the Labour party, without the new members’ consent, would have constituted false misrepresentation.

Two laws, two breaches. One to do with peoples’ rights over their personal information, the other with the act of someone deliberately falsifying membership forms.

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