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Rhea Wolfson: Why I’m standing for Labour’s NEC

RheaWolfsonFrom today, Labour Party members will receive their ballots for the National Executive Committee (NEC). You will have six votes and six people will be elected. I am proud to be standing as part of a team backed by Momentum and the Centre-Left Grass Alliance, committed to supporting the left-wing and socialist ideas that saw Jeremy win his overwhelming mandate as Leader. You can read more about what we stand for here.

If I am successful in the election I will vote on a whole range of issues during my term. These things will come up in response to ongoing events. For instance, the current NEC is being asked to rule on whether or not Jeremy should be automatically on the ballot in the case of a leadership challenge (my view is that he should). It is impossible to predict these issues but I can offer five principles which will guide all my decisions, and inform my priorities over the two years.

1) A democratic Labour Party

It is not acceptable for policy to be decided exclusively by the Leader, the Parliamentary Party, or the National Policy Forum. If elected I will fight for a bottom-up approach to policy development that emphasises grassroots members and trade unionists.

2) A representative Labour Party

We have a duty to ensure that MPs and Councillors look like the people they represent, and fight for the principles of our movement. This means providing support for potential candidates from under-represented groups, but also ensuring that elected officials are accountable to the membership. We want parliament to be filled with people who are embedded in their local communities, and who have proven themselves willing to fight for our shared principles.

3) An inclusive Labour Party

Our local parties need to be the venues for lively political discussion and vigorous community campaigns. But this will only happen if we can reform the bureaucratic procedures that put off so many members. I will ensure that local parties are given clear guidance for how best to welcome members and build inclusive environments, built from the experiences of the branches which are already doing this best.

4) A fair Labour Party

There have been many high-profile incidents and complaints in recent months. Throughout this period it has become clear that our party’s disciplinary and complaints procedures do not inspire sufficient confidence. It is vital that the we follow due process with both sides of any conflict given opportunity to put their side forward before a decision is taken. On this area, I welcome the Chakrabati Report’s recommendations.

5) A socialist Labour Party

Last summer our party changed direction. We promised an end to austerity, a new foreign policy, and a radical response to political alienation built on genuine community empowerment. I am 100% behind this vision and will fight to maintain it. I want to play my part in delivering a radical Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The Labour Party is at its best when it is unashamedly radical. I am proud to stand as part of a team which is committed to the transformation of society and the democratisation of our party.

4 Comments

  1. I am glad that Rhea has reminded us that the six candidates are standing on the platform of the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance, and comrades should refer to the platform for details of this. Each candidate is of course an individual and rightly has their own priorities, but in the current climate I would hope that a broad alliance would be maintained against a coup mentality in the PLP.

    It is worth at some point the history of the CLGA being written up. As one of those who negotiated the original agreement I am well aware that we are not in the same situation as in 1998. Then we had a Labour government, and a Blair administration which was starting to act as a private project. Now we do not have a Labour government.

    The CLGA was initially formed from negotiations between the then Labour Reform Group, and CLPD. Labour Reform ceased to exist in 2007 and it is not clear what the centre element is nowadays. But to be viable the alliance has to be as broad as possible. The future does not lie with sects whether of the left or right of the Labour Party. Whether the PLP majority understands this we will soon find out.

    Trevor Fisher

  2. jeffrey davies says:

    hmmm But to be viable the alliance has to be as broad as possible you joking the bairites are the ones causing the trouble they really need their bags packed for them unless you want another wilderness yrs jeff3

  3. if the founding documents of the CLGA were available, and the current statement seems to be in line with the original, you will see that the formation of the project in 1998 was to counter Blairism. But the idea of a broad alliance, which is the foundation of any trade union, is nowadays a foreign concept to many.

    The history of the CLGA needs to be better known. But there was never any doubt who it was set up to counter

    Trevor Fisher.,

  4. David Pavett says:

    I don’t doubt the good intentions but I wonder about the meaningfulness of the platform outlined by Rhea Wolfson.

    (1) Democracy is not synonymous with “bottom up” policy formation. Policy needs a steer. That needs to come from people who spend their time thinking about specific problems of education, transport, housing, whatever. There are some members who do this and who can propose policy directions but on the whole this doesn’t happen in party branches. The idea that such policies can just bubble up from members is not based on reality. The democracy comes from making the members well informed and inviting their contributions and finally relying on their approval. But to describe this process simply as bottom up seems to indicate that sloganised thinking has got in the way of detailed understanding. If there were such a bubbling bottom up process even vaguely waiting to be unleashed it would be difficult to see the purpose of organisations like the CLPD which consists of a relatively small number of people who propose policies to members.

    2) It goes down well in left circles to say that MPs and Councillors “should look like the people they represent” but it is ultimately contrary to democratic practice. What does to “look like” mean? Look like in what respect? If the majority of electors are white should that exclude a non-white representative (or vice versa)? If the majority are Muslim, or Christian or whatever does that mean the MP or Councillor should be the same? As soon as you begin to investigate the implications of this idea it begins to fall apart. At worst it leads to the idea of parliamentary representation for different “communities” and that has actually been seriously proposed within Labour circles.

    3) What does “reform the bureaucratic procedures that put off so many members” actually mean? This is too vague.

    4) I agree that the Chakrabarti recommendations would improve Labour’s disciplinary procedures (although her report is not without significant problems). I would like to have seen a hint of having actually considered the report on at least one point of detail.

    5) “Last summer our party changed direction. We promised an end to austerity, a new foreign policy, and a radical response to political alienation built on genuine community empowerment.” Where is the detail on any of this? Changing direction requires more than a declaration of intent. It requires analysis and policies that fill out the alternatives.

    I will vote for Rhea Wolfson because those of us on the left have been left with little alternative in the current situation. On the basis of this and other pieces she has written I am concerned about the vagueness and sloganised quality of her views. I hope this will change and that she will show that she has actually got to grips with some specific issue or issues and can write in some detail about alternative left policies.

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