The right of the Labour Party is seeking to block left candidate Rhea Wolfson (who replaced Ken Livingstone on the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance slate following his suspension on charges of anti-semitism) from standing for Labour’s National Executive Committee.
Party rules say that candidates must receive nominations from three different regions – no problem, Rhea has dozens of nominations – and from their own CLP. But Eastwood CLP voted not to nominate Rhea.
Former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, who led the party to disaster in Scotland in the 2015 Westminster election, turned up with the specific mission of blocking Rhea’s nomination. Instead of the normal procedure of voting for candidates for the six places, there was a majority vote specifically on Rhea; she was asked to leave the room; and Murphy successfully opposed her nomination by arguing that Momentum is anti-semitic.
The rule requiring a nomination from your own CLP is not reasonable – and the Labour right, led by Murphy, squeezed every last drop of factional chicanery out of it. Contrast left-leaning CLP Oxford East, where prominent right-wing candidate Luke Akehurst was nominated on the grounds that it was only fair to let him run. That, in fact, is the normal practice in the Labour Party.
A lot has been made of Rhea being the only Jewish candidate in the election – which is true. It’s also true that she has a good position on the issues in dispute – pro-Palestinian on a democratic, rational, internationalist basis, for two states, and serious about challenging anti-semitism. Hacks like Jim Murphy know that, but – in so far as they are not simply anti-Palestinian – they don’t care. Their interest in anti-semitism is mainly instrumental.
We should fight for Rhea to be included in the election. As part of that, CLPs should continue to nominate her.
• For more information see Facebook: Reinstate Rhea Wolfson – Let’s have a fair debate
• Change.org petition to support Rhea
• The deadline for CLPs to nominate for the NEC is 24 June.