We Must Stand Firm For What We Believe In – Gemma Bolton, #GrassrootsVoice NEC candidate

” A fair & equitable society will require us to continue and deepen radical socialist policies.”

Gemma Bolton

We live in uncertain and worrying times. We have witnessed a rise in racism and the Far Right in the last few years, from a grassroots surge in intolerance up to the very highest echelons of power. The alt-Right has become mainstream in some places, with leaders such as Bolsonaro and Trump in office. On top of this we now have the COVID-19 pandemic and the deepening environmental crisis.

And yet we need to see all these challenges as an opportunity to create a new future, rather than a time to despair. The pandemic has given us a chance to press the restart button and radically re-think how we organise society going forward.

In terms of where Labour stands, this means we must bring an end to the disaster capitalism we are currently living under, rather than return to a technocratic position of triangulating every issue in a desire to keep all sides happy. We need to be persuasive in advocating for our principles rather than reducing our commitments to the lowest common denominator.

In other words, a fair and equitable society will require us to continue and deepen the radical socialist policies Labour adopted under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in recent years.

Labour’s upcoming National Executive Committee election then is taking place at important times politically. It is also occurring at a critical juncture for the Labour Left. In the context of two major defeats in the last few months – the 2019 General Election and Rebecca Long-Bailey’s unsuccessful leadership election campaign – we need to come together and unite to defend a radical policy agenda.

I am therefore standing for Labour’s NEC in order to fight the Tories, for a more democratic Labour Party and to win a transformative Labour government with socialist policies.

We did not lose the General Election because we opposed austerity, or stood for peace and human rights across the globe, or fought the scapegoating of migrants, or campaigned for a Green New Deal to tackle the climate emergency and we need to remain clear on this.

We must therefore stand firm for what we believe in and, as such, we should be fighting any rollback of the commitments made over the last five years. We need to hold our leadership to account and state unequivocally that none of our policy commitments can be overridden without the express approval of our sovereign body, Party Conference.

Members must be at the heart of our party, engaged in decision-making and able to hold those in elected positions to account. Far too often in the Labour Party, members have been side-lined and their voices suppressed by a leadership keen to run roughshod over those it should instead be accountable to. All this began to change under Jeremy Corbyn but there is still much further to go.

This is why I will always be a vocal campaigner for member-led democracy, including open selections, elected council leaders and more transparent internal processes. The leaked report would seem to show only too clearly the Party’s failings in this regard. I have championed maintaining and improving our democratic procedures throughout my time as co-chair of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, as a member of Labour’s South East Regional Executive for the last 4 years and on the Women’s Conference Arrangements committee. I would continue to do so as an active and engaged NEC member, always accountable to our grassroots members.

I am therefore standing, as part of the CLGA/Grassroots Voice slate, with two central purposes: a) to seek a mandate for extending the transformative policy agenda developed over recent years, which can be popular with Labour members and voters, and to unite the party in support of these policies; and b) to continue the democratisation of the party initiated under Jeremy Corbyn.

We must ensure that our new leadership is aware that it does not have a mandate to reverse the direction the party has taken over the last few years. I hope you will support me and the #GrassrootsVoice slate in these endeavours.

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