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Peter Willsman reports from Labour’s special May executive

Peter Willsman reports from Labour’s special executive
National Executive Committee 3 May 2017
This meeting was called to agree the list of Labour candidates covering every Parliamentary seat in England, Scotland, and Wales. It was a very up-beat meeting. As always, Jeremy, Glenis, and Iain were in fine form.
Leader’s Welcome
Jeremy gave a ‘big picture’ assessment of the Election Campaign so far. He paid tribute to all our members who are out campaigning and putting our message across. Jeremy also highlighted the magnificent effort being made by our staff in every party office. Indeed, only two nights ago a senior staff member came through the door at midnight to do a 10-hour stint.

The opinion polls show there is work to do, but there is room for optimism. For example, among the under-24s Labour has been ahead by an amazing 19-points for the last two weeks; among the under-40s, we are 15-points ahead amongst women, and 1-point ahead for men. 
 
Jeremy commented that already there is a tremendous response to our pledge to abolish zero-hours contracts. This applies to all age groups. Grandparents and parents do not want their young-ones exploited in a way that never existed in their day. Rather than being somewhat exceptional, this dreadful way of treating people, and especially young people, is disgracefully becoming almost the norm. The fact that the Tories (unlike us) are going to remove the Triple Lock from pensions is also having an impact among the middle-aged and above.
 
The Tory campaign is very lacklustre and their continuous robotic iteration of their contentless mantra is making them look ridiculous – Lynton Crosby is picking up his money under false pretences. [Readers need to be aware that a little of this is less Jeremy and more Peter Willsman.]
 
T. May’s fear of TV debates and, indeed, of any scrutiny is going down very badly on the doorstep, similarly is her habit at venues, which are first emptied of their usual inhabitants, and are refilled with bussed-in Tory party cheerleaders. 
 
Endorsement of our Party’s candidates for the 2017 General Election
 
Iain McNicol introduced this Paper. Candidates in Labour held seats had been chosen (after interviews) by panels from the NEC Officers. Non-Labour held seats had been chosen (without interview) by panels comprising two NEC members and the Chair of the appropriate Regional Board. In Scotland and Wales the SEC and WEC made their own arrangements.
 
Iain highlighted that we now have the highest ever proportion of women, BAME, and disabled PPCs flying the Red Flag. 
 
Iain’s introduction was followed by an in-depth discussion, centred on several issues raised by the Paper. It was noted that at our last meeting the NEC had agreed to give particular attention to increasing the numbers of BAME candidates. Considerable steps have been taken to achieve this aim. 
 
I highlighted the point, which Jeremy had made, concerning our amazing support amongst the under-24s. In my almost 50 years of campaigning, I have never known such commitment amongst young people. Below the surface it is nowhere as simple as our enemies are trying to suggest. For example, having used taxis in London for 40 years, in the last 12 months I have had a dream-like experience on two occasions – having got out of the cab at Labour Party HQ and having told them I’m visiting Jeremy, the drivers refused to accept any money. I had to pinch myself to make sure it was really happening. Finally, I congratulated Iain and the staff on the high quality of their regular Labour Briefing email. These give concrete facts and information (and no waffle). Christine took this opportunity to proudly exhibit the latest glossy edition of the Labour Briefing magazine, produced by her cooperative.
 
The disloyal behaviour of J. Woodcock during this General Election campaign was discussed at length. It was felt that something had to be done to prevent any further harm to our Party. Glenis (Chair of the NEC) undertook to hold a formal meeting with J. Woodcock and make him fully aware of the NEC’s concerns. 
 
At the last NEC it had been agreed that the case of the Rochdale ‘MP’ (i.e. the MP prior to the calling of the General Election) would be considered in depth by the NEC’s Endorsement Panel. The Party member in question had been referred to the National Constitutional Committee by the NEC on the grounds that there were serious disciplinary issues to be addressed. The Endorsement Panel reported that they had interviewed Simon Danczuk and that, after considering the case in detail, were unanimously recommending that he should not be endorsed as a Labour candidate. The Endorsement Panel’s recommendation was unanimously agreed by the full NEC. It was further agreed that the vacancy in Rochdale will be advertised immediately as a ‘retirement seat’. 
 
The full list of candidates was then endorsed.
 
It was also agreed that the totally disgusting comments by the pathetic insult to journalism, K. MacKenzie, would be considered by our officers, with a view to a formal complaint being made on behalf of the NEC.
 
Jeremy then gave the NEC a rousing send-off. Jeremy confirmed he will be writing to every candidate, stressing that this is a historic moment in our Party’s history. If every candidate is totally focussed, totally committed, and works flat-out, then anything is possible. These sentiments were enthusiastically endorsed by the NEC.
 
The NEC meeting was followed by a meeting of the Joint Policy Committee of the National Policy Forum – the JPC is working on material for the draft Manifesto for the Clause V meeting on 11th May. 
 
 
Postscript – George says it all
 
‘Where are the nose-pegs this time? Those who tolerated anything the Labour Party did under Blair, tolerate nothing under Jeremy Corbyn… They proclaimed undying loyalty when the Party stood for the creeping privatisation of the NHS, the abandonment of the biggest corruption case in British history, the collapse of Britain’s social housing programme, bans on peaceful protests, detention without trial, the kidnap of innocent people and an illegal war. Yet they proclaim disenchantment now that the Party calls for the protection of the poor, the containment of the rich and the peaceful resolution of conflict.’ George Monbiot, Guardian 26th April.

20 Comments

  1. Martin Hodhes says:

    Why no comment re CLPs that wrote to NEC expressing concerns regarding the selections. Surely this warrant being in your ‘report’

  2. Zena says:

    I don’t think the local govt elections were representative the turnout was appallingly low!
    Although the Tory election soundbite is awful, it is sticking in people’s minds (so good marketing). Labour needs a punchy, memorable one too.
    Stephen Kinnock needs to be warned of his behaviour re the leadership, he’s like a wrecking ball out to destroy perception of the party to the electorate.

    1. peter willsman says:

      Zena,spot on-we need you in CLPD.SK is a disgrace.I remember comrades, who wanted to have a public go at his dad during elections.We told them to shut up.Someone needs to tell SK to do the same.Think of a punchy soundbite and phone me-no.is on CLPD home page.I will then discuss it with JC.

      1. Bazza says:

        TAKE BACK CONTROL FROM TORY NEO-LIBERALISM!

    2. Karl Stewart says:

      Lots of people I know were not registered for the council elections, but they are registered for the general – so it will be a way higher turnout.

      Also, vast majority of people have no interest n council elections at all.

      Only about a quarter of the electorate voted – and these will be disproportionately older, Tory/Limpdem types.

      1. Steven Johnston says:

        LOL, except when Labour do well in council elections eh?

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          There’s been almost 1 million new applications/registrations to vote from younger voters since Theresa May called the election.

          But the deadline for registering for the council elections had already expired when she made the announcement.

          So large numbers of young voters were not eligible to vote in the council elections, but they will be voting on June 8th…watch out…

          1. Steven Johnston says:

            Labour would need every one of them, plus a million more and hope that the Conservative vote does not increase from 2015, then we’d probably end up with a hung parliament.

  3. Syzygy says:

    I know of a number of currently ‘unwinnable’ constituencies where there is great anger and internal division being caused by the imposition of a candidate. For the most part, a suitable local candidate has been rejected .. and those caused most grief are those CLPs whose membership overwhelmingly comprise Corbyn supporters, but they find themselves lumbered with a stranger who is clearly a member of Progress.

    To many this feels like another instance of the NEC contempt for the membership. In my own CLP, the candidate is going on holiday for 2 weeks and they had to be bullied into coming over to meet the membership at all. The decisions made by the NEC members and regional chair seem to be unnecessarily autocratic and unreasonable.

    Needless to say, I believe that the membership is grossly under-represented on the NEC and that this is the sort of contempt for the grassroots that results from its current constitution.

    1. Zena says:

      Totally agree!

    2. C MacMackin says:

      This is what I was afraid of when it was announced how candidates would be chosen. It is absurd that Labour does not have a process in place to select candidates in the event of a snap election.

      On the bright side, I can report that the new candidate who was selected for Oxford East (replacing a retiring Labour MP) is fairly decent. She’s currently an MEP where she has worked on combating tax evasion and has campaigned and voted against CETA. When I’ve heard her speak she comes across as at least somewhat left-wing.

      1. Syzygy says:

        The worst bit is that there is now an internal row between those who want to boycott the new PPC and those who are concerned by what the oppositions’ leaflets will say in future local elections if Labour doesn’t stand a candidate.

        This all feeds into the theory (and experience) that there are those on the NEC who would like nothing more than to pee off the Corbyn-supporters and get them to leave the LP. There certainly seems little reason why we and other CLPs couldn’t have chosen our own candidates … (time is hardly of the essence when our PPC is taking his 2 week holiday in the middle of the campaign period).

        As I said above, it must be a priority to increase members’ representation on the NEC .. (then get to work on the compliance unit, nomination rules etc).
        Why isn’t the leadership going above the heads of the NEC, and going directly to the membership?

    3. Rod says:

      Same in my constituency. We’ve had mass resignations and are lumbered with a numpty candidate who has shown no interest in the constituency since 2015 and even admits to not being the best person for the job. Yet we had three excellent local candidates who applied.

  4. Pablo says:

    And still Wallasey CLP remain suspended and have now been shackled to Angela Eagle as our MP elect!
    Many CLP members campaigned for Steve Rotherham and we had a high % turnout too.
    I will not believe the Labour Party is truly democratic until the likes of Blair, Mandelson and Woodcock are suspended – no different to many other members – remember the leadership election rigging the NEC supported!
    As a side note too – have you heard what these Blairites are calling themselves now – Social Democrats and not Democratic Socialists! Trying to distance themselves from the Socialist tag – then again maybe that’s what they are!!

    1. Syzygy says:

      I’m sure that Glenis having a chat will make… b all difference given that she almost certainly agrees with Woodcock et al.

    2. Steven Johnston says:

      Pablo, you don’t even know what socialism means.

      1. Pablo says:

        Enlighten me then Steven!

        1. Steven Johnston says:

          Read Socialism: Utopian and Scientific by Engels.
          You can find it online at the Marxists internet archive.
          I can’t top what he wrote!

          1. Pablo says:

            I don’t need a book to teach me what I should believe in! I know what is right and what is wrong and what is fair and what is not!

  5. Bazza says:

    Read a very good recent piece from a socialist who was arguing that we are being deliberately demoralised by the media and perhaps the elite fear our mass membership.
    Only 3 of us were out on a Sunday afternoon canvassing in a quite posh area of our Tory ward in a marginal constituency and one member left after only 6 houses claiming various reasons and I happened to overhear this member (as I was next door) and she didn’t really defend any criticism of Jeremy if it came up.
    Whilst us remaining 2 (both Pro-Corbyn) engaged with electors and in perhaps not our best of areas we gave out 4 Labour posters in a few streets.
    And as I write this George Michael came on radio, “Got to have faith.”
    Oh by the way a chilling piece in today’s Sunday Obsérver on the Leave Campaign’s claimed use of Cambridge Analytica and its claimed links to a right wing US billionaire and right wing ideologues like Trump’s Bannerman plus a mysterious Canadian IT company Aggregate IQ who they claimed use phychological profiling on Facebook to target citizens using “emotional triggers” apparently techniques drawn from the military.
    Labour needs to be asking Theresa May if the Tories are using such companies and techniques on UK citizens in this election plus if they are is it also being declared in their election expense?
    Labour needs to find out what they may be doing on social media and do it ourselves but as a lovely human being recently said (who works with vulnerable patients) “most people want to do good” and we must appeal to people’s better natures.
    KEEP HOPE ALIVE!
    U 2 COULD B STARS!!!!!
    Solidarity!

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