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Labour’s General Secretary is on the way out

Today’s Labour Party national executive (NEC) agreed to recruit a new General Secretary immediately after May’s local elections who is expected to be in place before the summer. Ray Collins, the current post-holder, will depart by the September conference following a brief  hand-over. The move was announced by Ed Miliband but, in reality, his departure was the result of the anger of the major trade unions and a number of NEC members at Ray’s attempt to insert rules which reduced union representation into the party rule book, without the authority of conference and without even bothering to report it to the executive.

Two members of the executive, Andy Kerr of the Communication Workers and former party chair Ann Black, had put down a motion for the executive which instructed the officers of the party to start this selection process, as was in the end announced by the leader. Ray Collins was furious and had tried, unsuccessfully, to argue with the party officers that the motion should not be allowed to be taken. He even wrote, after the officers’ meeting  in an attempt to have the motion withdrawn, to Andy Kerr and Ann Black alleging, falsely, that the NEC Officers “felt that it would not be appropriate to consider this matter  in the form of a motion to the NEC“. However, the Leader’s intervention meant that moving the motion was unnecessary.

The national executive did go on to decide that the” rules” wrongfully inserted by Ray Collins would not be applied to the election due to take place this year. Although criticism was muted at the meeting and Ray Collins will, in timeless Labour tradition, be thanked at conference for his “tireless work for the party”, his departure will be welcomed by all those who wish to see a start to the clean up of the party’s structure which we, somewhat prematurely, predicted last November.

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