Straight talking? Honestly? That’s politics.

Straight talking? Honestly? That's politics.

When Chair of the NEC Andy Kerr (union puppet rather than puppet master) rose to shout at Labour’s National Policy Forum that they had no right to elect a new Chair of the NPF at their meeting in Leeds it was another shameful act in the lengthening list of abuse of power by those who now wield it.

This should have been a simple thing to resolve. The National Policy Forum had a vacancy for Chair since Ann Cryer had announced her intention to stand down. The NPF Officers had agreed the timetable for the election which was due to take place today, Saturday.

However, NEC Officers were gathered to an unscheduled meeting two hours before the vote was due to take place and the vote was stopped on the spurious reason that seven days notice of the ballot was required. This is an entirely made up version of the rules. Having spent some considerable time in the High Court defending Labour’s rule book against all comers, I have a reasonably clear idea how to interpret the written word of Labour’s sometimes impenetrable  and arcane rules (my offer to re-write in plain English remains on the table). Seven days notice of this election has never been required, and was not required today (although four days notice was given of this emergency item of business).

The NEC Officers’ reasoning was that “the Representatives [attending the NPF] are entitled to receive copies of relevant documents at least seven days before the Forum takes place.” However, there is nothing in the rules of the NPF which requires that a casual vacancy must be advertised seven days in advance of the meeting. Nor do any of the general rules or procedure of the Labour Party require that seven days notice is given to fill such a vacancy.

The election could and should have taken place today. Late registrations were allowed to ensure the highest possible attendance, and members of the NPF tell me it was indeed one of the highest turnouts in recent times. Candidates were in the field, the election was scheduled and sufficient notice had been given. But there was a major problem – Ann Black was likely to win. And Momentum and the Leader’s Office couldn’t allow that to happen. So it was stopped. In a traditionally robust way.

Despite the obvious desire of the majority of those in attendance to hold the election as advertised, the NPF and its officers were bullied out of it. No election was held. Not because the rules were broken. Or because the procedures hadn’t been correctly followed. But because the faction in charge of the Labour Party was probably going to lose.

I have no problem with Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum running the Labour Party. They won the votes to give them the right so to do. But when they start making up the rules to allow them to keep control, serious questions need to be asked.

And just as worrying is that a source at the behind-closed-doors event in Leeds told the Press Association: “This morning symbolised the old-school male union bullying that is determined to keep Jeremy Corbyn’s people in control no matter how bad it looks to the outside world.”

Labour MP Luciana Berger said she was “ashamed” to witness the “disgraceful treatment” of acting NPF chairwoman Katrina Murray at the event.

If Corbyn wants to hold to his slogan of ‘straight talking, honest politics’ then he needs to do some straight talking to some of his own team. Otherwise his quest for Number 10 will be derailed by internal factionalism. If not of his own making, of his own consent.


20 thoughts on “Straight talking? Honestly? That’s politics.

  1. ” old-school male union bullying”

    How dare this working class pleb contradict me, DON’T THEY KNOW WHO I AM!?!?!

  2. It’s implied from Chapter 15 Clause I 2Bii. 7 days notice needs to be given of Ordinary Meetings and the business to be transacted therein.

    ii. Formal notice of all meetings shall be sent
    out by the secretary to all those entitled to
    attend at least seven days prior to the
    meeting. Such notice shall as far as possible
    include an indication of the business to be
    transacted at the meeting.

      1. Lets not forget the NEC went to court to defend it had the power to alter the rules from time to time as occasion may arise, in order to deprive grass-root members of a vote.
        It also won on the right for Corbyn to be included on the ballot.
        The NEC have the authority to alter the rules ‘As occasion may arise’ and they see fit.
        The courts at the time in question, ruled in favour of the ‘Blairite’ controlled NEC.
        They set a precedent that’s now impossible to reverse. (Unless at conference as conference is supreme in all matters)
        The power of the NEC was later confirmed on appeal in the high court. Oh the Irony…

  3. I am fed up with stitch ups on the NPF, I have never been a fan of this body which came out of the ill conceived new labour project to disengage party members from being involved in the policy making process.
    We are currently undertaking a democracy review within our party and it seems perverse in the extreme that the NPF should elect a new chair when the wider party membership and many of our representatives have no idea that the election is taking place. This is not a left right argument merely a what is right and what is wrong debate. Too long the NPF has failed to follow the concept of transparency + accountability = democracy. Well done to all of the Labour Party reps who stood up for member democracy today at the NPF.

  4. “I have no problem with Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum running the Labour Party. They won the votes to give them the right so to do. But when they start making up the rules to allow them to keep control, serious questions need to be asked.”


    “It is understood the decision to delay the election was taken by the NEC officers group.

    The only Momentum-backed member of the NEC officers group was not present at the meeting that decided to cancel the NPF election and the majority of members on the group are trade unionists.
    A Momentum source said: “Only one out of eight members on the NEC officers group is Momentum backed, yet this still ends up being a ‘Momentum plot’.

    “This motion was carried by the trade unions – who have a clear majority on the group – but obviously that doesn’t fit the paranoid fantasies of a small minority in the party.””

    That is from the Daily Telegraph 17/02/2018, hardly a fervent pro-Momentum source.

  5. I have read somewhere that the NEC Officers Group did not actually meet today but held a conference call instead in which a majority agreed with decision to cancel election. If correct, is it within the Labour Party rulebook that decisions can be made by conference call rather than actually meeting?

    1. Conference calls (or meetings in person with conference call facilities for those unable to attend) have never been disputed as a way for NEC officers to conduct business.

  6. As someone who has extensive knowledge of the Labour Party Rule book may I say the article if factually correct. For the NPF to Elected any member as Chair you do NOT need 7 days notice. Those supporting the leadership should really learn the rules and obide by them.

    1. Stop the straw man tactic Dave. Does the NEC have the prerogative to determine the process around internal elections? Yes, as comrade Iain McNicol spent a lot of members’ money to prove in the courts.

  7. Chapter 4, Clause III D. iv.: “Elections to all Divisions of the NPF shall be conducted to guidelines set down by the NEC…” Guess we should ignore that rule, it so inconvenient to your article!

  8. Patently obvious that some people think they have the right to do what they like.becaus t he y have the Leader they want. The behaviour of the ‘Invading Chair|” at the NPF was precisely the sort of image that the public will not tolerate. Why people behave in this way is known only to them. Perhaps they live in their own little hidden world.

    The more LP mbrs see this the better. And I bet other things transpire.

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