The 17 February meeting of the Labour Party National Policy Forum (NPF) saw a row over electing a new chair.
Created as part of the Blairite process of blocking internal democracy, the NPF substitutes itself for the fully demonstratic policy-making conference that is needed.
Abolition of the NPF as one of the aims of the democracy review would be a welcome step.
So what was the row? Former National Executive Disputes Committee Chair, and previous member of the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance slate for the NEC, Ann Black looked like she had the votes in the room to become the chair of the NPF.
There was then outcry from MPs and others when the meeting was informed that the election of the NPF chair was a matter for the National Executive and in any case, not enough notice had been given of the election. The current chair attempted to carry on and was blocked.
Ann Black is a known quantity, not particularly left-wing but with broad support from across the spectrum of the party. Being blocked is no doubt an extension of her removal from the Disputes Committee by the new pro-Corbyn majority on the NEC.
If elected Ann Black would have rejoined the NEC Officers’ Group, and the so called “moderates” would have hit back at Momentum.
A pointless row with helpful tabloid press coverage has failed to deal with any of the political issues that may have been discussed.
One area completely ignored thoughout was Brexit, while thousands of members want Brexit to be debated openly. The NPF prior to meeting went as far as to ban specific discussion of Brexit. Reports suggest it was mentioned merely as an ongoing issue affecting other areas.
If both annual conference and the NPF are blocked from discussing a key question affecting the movement, we will be seriously hampered in trying to get Labour to oppose Brexit.
Labour Students left challenge
This year’s Labour Students national conference will see the strongest left challenge since the Corbyn surge began.
The strongly-entrenched Blairite faction has run Labour Students as its fiefdom for many years, and has fended off pro-Corbyn challengers since 2015 with bureaucratic manoeuvres, disaffiliating left-wing clubs, and bending its own rules to fight the red menace – aided, it must be said, by weaknesses on the left.
This year, Workers’ Liberty students are supporting the left slate fielded by Momentum supporters, which has an excellent chance of finally unseating the right-wing faction which is holding back the progress of the left in the student movement.
A motion to this conference from Aberdeen Labour Students calls for the implementation of One Member One Vote in Labour Students national elections. Labour Students national conference voted in favour of OMOV in 2016, but the Labour Students leadership has sat on that decision and not implemented it. We have long-standing criticisms of OMOV as a system in labour movement elections. But it is fundamental to democracy in our movement that decisions made by conference be implemented!
Hopefully a move to the left in this year’s elections at Labour Students national conference will open the doors to discussing genuinely left-wing, bold socialist policies in Labour’s student wing, instead of the managerial half-house measures that LS has supported in the past.
• More on OMOV here
Young Labour elections
From Monday 19 February to Friday 16 March, voting will be open in the Young Labour elections.
It is important that the left prevents the Labour right from making any further inroads into the Labour youth movement.
But it is also important that Young Labour is run by a left which is democratic as well as radical. We also want a left that fights for freedom of movement in international politics, at a time when borders are being strengthened.
Workers’ Liberty will support the following candidates:
Chair: Leigh Drennan
NEC rep: Lara McNeill
BAME officer: Mohammed Abraar
Women’s officer: Fatima Diriye
Disabled members’ officer: Ellen Morrison
Under 19s officer: Lauren Stocks
Ordinary Rep: Annie Maloney
International officer: Rachael Ward