First, thank you for taking part in the NEC election, and I’m honoured to have been re-elected with more than 100,000 votes.
Congratulations also to Christine Shawcroft, Claudia Webbe, Darren Williams, Rhea Wolfson and Peter Willsman, and to Alice Perry and Nick Forbes, elected in the local government section, and appreciation to other candidates for their contribution. Full results are at the end. It is pleasing that for the first time ever, Scotland and Wales now have elected representatives in the constituency section.
What such a mandate means is open to interpretation. I know that some members voted according to whether I was supported by particular groupings or disowned by others, but also that many appreciate my personal record of accountability through 18 years on the national policy forum and 16 years on the NEC. I hope to continue to represent the widest possible membership through the polarised times ahead.
Voting information is going out now, by email and post, to members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters. The web page http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/leadership/info has a list of frequently-asked questions, and information on how to request ballot papers if these do not arrive soon.
As I’ve said consistently, I deeply regret the current leadership contest at a time when all our attention should be focused on the Tories. However it is now in progress, and as a member of the procedures committee, responsible for overseeing the election, I cannot endorse or campaign for any candidate. I can, however, urge everyone to vote, and then to accept the decision of party members and supporters as we cannot afford, financially or politically, to go through this every year.
The Rules of the Game
Since I last wrote in July I’ve had many messages about aspects of the election. The NEC meetings on 12th July 2016 and 19th July 2016 are covered in my reports at http://www.annblack.co.uk/nec-update-15-july-2016, http://www.annblack.co.uk/nec-meeting-19-july-2016. These correct much of the misreporting in the media and online, and explain my reasons for voting as I did, so new readers should start here. Since then most attention has focused on legal actions, and on the role of the procedures committee.
Below is a summary of developments.
On 12th July the NEC made a number of decisions regarding the election process. Two of these were challenged in court.
The first was that Jeremy Corbyn did not need nominations from 20% of MPs to be on the ballot.
The second was that only members who joined by 12th January 2016 were entitled to a vote.
On 19th July the NEC agreed not to reopen these decisions. Personally I voted to allow Jeremy Corbyn onto the ballot without fresh nominations, but lost an attempt to move the cutoff date from 12th January 2016 to 24th June 2016. Nevertheless I accepted the majority view, and do not consider it appropriate publicly to criticise decisions by the NEC of which I am a member.
The procedures committee was elected by the full NEC at the 12th July meeting, and has taken a consistent approach in upholding all decisions made by the full NEC. The party won both cases, the first in the initial hearing, the second on appeal. Had the first judgment gone against us the procedures committee would have appealed that also. Concerns about wasting members’ money on legal fees were therefore misplaced, though I believe that the financial considerations were secondary to the principles involved.
The outcome means that the NEC, not judges, has the authority to run the party’s affairs, and that principle should stand regardless of whether its members dislike a particular result. Though the procedures committee has delegated powers, there might have been a case for referring back to the full NEC had it reversed an NEC vote. I cannot see why this was necessary to continue defending an NEC position.
I also want to stress that all decisions by the procedures committee, and indeed the NEC, have been made throughout by its members, not by the general secretary. Throughout this process Iain McNicol and the party staff have respected NEC decisions and done their best to implement them. f there is criticism, it should be directed towards the 33 elected and appointed members.
On the question of new members’ rights: most people join the party because they support its aims and values, they want to meet like-minded people, to discuss policy, to support and to campaign for Labour representatives at every level of government. When choosing council and parliamentary candidates there is a six-month qualifying period to avoid large numbers being signed up just before a selection meeting solely to vote for an individual, with no other interest in party activity.
As I reported previously, most existing members told me that this should also apply to the leadership contest, and they overwhelmingly opposed giving registered supporters a vote for £3. And all those who joined because they were inspired by Jeremy Corbyn's campaign last year, and by his subsequent election, are of course able to vote.
But this debate would have been better conducted last October, and illustrates general concerns regarding party organisation which I have raised over the years.
First, the time to review whether changes to the process are needed is immediately after the previous election, not in the middle of the next one.
Second, rule changes are too often added piecemeal, without checking that the resultant whole covers all possible scenarios.
Third, the contents of the website should be regularly checked and updated.
If these simple practices had been followed we would have had clarity on whether an incumbent leader was automatically on the ballot and on what new members could expect, and much grief would have been avoided.
The procedures committee has also been trying to arrange more candidate debates, difficult because of perceptions of bias within the MSM (mainstream media). As last year, NEC panels are checking applications from, and complaints about, members and supporters. Jeremy Corbyn’s zero tolerance of all forms of racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, Islamophobic, misogynistic and obscene abuse, endorsed by Shami Chakrabarti, provides welcome guidance.
NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - DIVISION III (CONSTITUENCY LABOUR PARTIES) Result (6 to elect)
BLACK, Ann 100,999 Elected
SHAWCROFT, Christine 97,510 Elected
WEBBE, Claudia 92,377 Elected
WILLIAMS, Darren 87,003 Elected
WOLFSON, Rhea 85,687 Elected
WILLSMAN, Peter 81,863 Elected
REEVES, Ellie 72,514
IZZARD, Eddie 70,993
BAILEY, Bex 67,205
BAXTER, Johanna 60,367
DHANDA, Parmjit 53,838
AKEHURST, Luke 48,632
WHEELER, Peter 44,062
GALLAGHER, John 22,678
GUL, Amanat 14,693
NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - DIVISION IV (LOCAL GOVERNMENT) Result (2 to elect)
PERRY, Alice 2,991 Elected
FORBES, Nick 2,510 Elected
BOTHAM, Andy 480
BROWN, Matthew 377
BOLTON, David 332
DAVIES, Warren 261