Reflections on the NEC results…
Firstly, I have to, once again extend my thanks to every Labour member today that gave me the best birthday present I could wish for, their trust, confidence and support in the NEC elections. It was not just the outcome that was pleasing to me but the entire experience was an amazing one to have. People who read this blog and who happen to have me on Facebook will know that for me I was thrilled every time I received an email asking me questions; to me, this is what politics and the Labour Party should be about, the collective discussion of ideas to change Britain and indeed the world and is living, breathing politics.
So, it’s been an experience I have enjoyed immensely and the result is one I am proud of. However, looking at the broader picture, I was disappointed by the low turn-out and indeed I would urge our new NEC to regard this as a serious issue. I would be interested to know from the Labour members who didn’t participate why they didn’t and what would encourage them to do so in the future. I personally cant help but feel that the problem is not just with the structure of the Party but also the slate system as a whole. I don’t think members find the totemic clash of the slates that engaging, maybe the activists do (and they are the ones who vote), but I am not sure this is true of the rest of the membership. It is true the left slate outpolled the right slate but this has been the case a number of times yet it has done little to shift the ideological direction of the Party.
This is partially because the NEC itself has little say in determining the ideological direction of the Party and in many ways I am not sure voting on the NEC should be just an ideological issue. It should be also about simply who is best to represent the Labour membership, left and right. I voted for Johanna Baxter, for example, not because I feel i’d always agree with her politics but she has done a sterling job of advocating for the membership. Secondly, there is the question of making the NEC more relevant locally and this is something that can only be achieved by making these elections regionally based and expanding the number of directly elected seats on the body. Neither of the slates seem particularly interested in these reforms because they are happy to exist locked in a hyped-up ‘mortal combat’ which is highly entertaining for them but is obviously deeply uninteresting to the Labour membership (who probably want some proper representation).
So, I hope more Labour members will follow my example next time around and stand for election. I would certainly recommend it and it would be great to see many more independents standing next time around and if they did then maybe we could start moving things forward much quicker in terms of inner-party democracy.