Let’s call time on the Labour’s ‘fix-it’ culture….
I was really very disappointed to hear in one of the Facebook groups I am a member that Labour members are being told by their ward secretary which way they should vote in the NEC elections in at least one area. It is important to remember that while CLP’s and indeed other Labour bodies can nominate candidates in the first phase of the elections that now we are into the phase where each Labour member votes as an individual. This means, naturally, they make decisions on that basis, not at a ward or indeed CLP level.
What happened is that the Labour member in question was told that they should vote a certain way by the ward secretary as there had been a vote at the AGM in February. They were asked to ‘spread the word and encourage others to vote the way that had been decided. However, this was a vote that took place at the nomination stage and is of course non-binding on individual members so there was absolutely no need for the Secretary to send out this ‘reminder’ and the email can only be seen as an attempt at coercion. What causes me even more concern is that this occurred in Islington. Mark Ferguson has recently chronicled other problems occurring within the London Labour Party which basically boil down to a similar issue – the use of those who already have influence and access to gain more. It is high time we called a halt to the ‘fix-it’ culture that sadly seems to have become something of an accepted part of our Party life.
How do we do this? Well, first we need to ensure all election candidates in internal elections have the same level of access to data and contact details across the board and that they have exactly the same opportunities to contact the membership. Peter Kenyon has suggested this happen with an internal e-mail shoot for all NEC candidates, a suggestion I whole-heartedly support. Equal access to data happens as a matter of course for candidates in the standing in the selection process to represent the Labour Party in external elections so, why can’t it happen in internal elections? If it did it would also reduce our dependency on the slate system and encourage more grassroot members to stand independently and this, I believe would be a good and healthy thing for our internal Party democracy.
Ending the fix-it culture that is currently far too rife within Labour should be one of the new NEC’s top priorities; democratising the Party and making its processes more transparent is certainly one of my top priorities and even if I am not elected I will continue to bring incidents like this to light, using the medium of this blog, and continue to shine a light on the murkier corners of our Party’s practice.