Why I have decided to seek election to Labour’s NEC….
I watched yesterdays debate on Refounding Labour with a growing sense of despair. The treatment of Islington North’s motion really did set the tone, it was submitted correctly, according to due process, but the Conference Arrangements Committee still decided it would be considered after the vote had been taken on Refounding Labour. This of course rendered the motion pointless because it pertains directly to Refounding Labour.
So it was that the underlying problems with Refounding Labour did not come to a head in the main debate itself but in the debate on the Conference Arrangements Committee report; three speakers got up to criticise the procedural mechanisms for deciding upon the document and received hearty applause. The first speaker in the main debate voiced Unison’s concerns and then that was it, it was a procession of people ‘urging conference to vote yes’.
So, a ringing endorsement then? Well, not really, Islington North CLP’s motion was not the only one spiked; others were submitted calling for more time to be taken on the debate and the vote to be broken down into individual sections. You would think these un-threatening enough and indeed reasonable enough demands but the leadership obviously found them so threatening that it felt it necessary to deny their claims. This tends to suggest all is not well with Refounding Labour and a considerable amount of people are in fact disenchanted with how it has been foisted upon the Party in an entirely unacceptable manner. As if to confirm this, LabourList, has published a poll which shows 40% of respondents have negative feelings about Refounding Labour.
I am not surprised and no amount of official optimism can conceal the real problems with the document and its implementation. In some areas it tinkers – like the electoral college, which should be abolished, and makes things worse – in other’s it does make things better, or at least it should. However, the problem is not so much the contents anymore but how it has been brought into being.
Regardless of that we now have the future to think about. Watching the debate persuaded me I would like to seek nomination and election to Labour’s National Executive. I don’t want to do so out of expectation I will be elected but because I care passionately about this Party and the direction it takes and want to add something to the conversation within Labour. Democracy, better treatment for Labour members matters to me an awful lot along with putting our values at the heart of our policies. I have distinct ideas about how this Party should be shaped in the future; I want to see the end of the electoral college and its replacement with a system of one member, one equal vote. I want a big and generous offer to be made to new members to come to our conference so we welcome them to the Labour family with open arms. More CLP places need to exist on the NEC itself.
Oddly, for a left-winger, I find myself uncomfortable with the union bloc vote. The orthodoxy tells me I should defend it but deep down I know it is democratically wrong and feel we do need a democratisation of the link. Having said that, I consider myself a staunch ally of the trade unions in most other things and think we should be proud of our association with them. Politically, I dont intend to spell out an explicit agenda here (I write plenty here and elsewhere). I want to do this to start a conversation but above all to encourage other rank and file members to engage with and be involved with the running of their Party and not feel like exiles in their own political home – despite the machinations of the leadership and the bureaucracy. What can I offer you, the Labour member, as an NEC rep? Well I will always speak my mind but above all, though I may not agree with you, and will probably try and persuade you, I would always put the Labour members first and representing them before even my own views because it is their cause that is closest to my heart.