“[At the NEC] we did not have the Forde report, & we continued to get no satisfactory answers to questions about restoring the whip to Jeremy Corbyn.”Yasmine Dar, NEC member
By Yasmine Dar, Labour NEC member
At July’s meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee it was reported that Labour’s membership continues to fall – and yet many of the decisions taken, I fear, will only make the situation worse.
We cannot underestimate the importance of our members, and the active membership base we developed under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Members are the lifeblood of our Party – keeping our local parties running, out in all weathers sharing Labour’s message and talking to voters, in touch with local communities and often involved in many volunteer activities way beyond the Party that help make our communities better places to live and helping out those who need it most.
It was our mass membership that turned out in our thousands to fight for Labour governments in 2017 and 2019. Against all the odds in 2017, our brilliant manifesto and amazing campaigning membership delivered Labour’s biggest increase in the vote since 1945.
However, I was deeply concerned that many of the papers in front of us at the NEC once again demonstrated how little the current leadership appreciate and value Labour Party members. For a start we had the well-publicised decision to exclude members purely on the basis of what left organisation they are supporting rather than whether they are actually in breach of the rules or not. Along with other left NEC members I set out my concerns in a joint statement and voted against the proscriptions.
One small positive was that we managed to make sure any future proscriptions are agreed by a full NEC, rather than empowering the sub-committee set up to look at future proscriptions. We cannot afford to be complacent as these four organisations may well be only the start.
Secondly, we looked at proposals for a new disciplinary process to address the recommendations from the EHRC. Again, I have deep concerns. It is very clear that the current process is deeply flawed. At the NEC I raised the issue of double standards in the disciplinary process – pointing out it is unbelievable to hear that Trevor Phillips is no longer suspended despite his Islamophobic comments. Yet the proposals agreed seem to entrench factionalism – rather than make the process independent as advised by the EHRC, instead it is likely that a new panel will be appointed, which rather than being elected or even appointed by the NEC, will instead be appointed by the General Secretary to apparently replace the elected, accountable National Constitutional Committee. This seems to be a recipe for losing more left members.
Finally, we did not have the Forde report, and we continued to get no satisfactory answers to questions about restoring the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. Our policy questions were as usual swept aside. We cannot hope to retain an active membership – and through that membership rebuild our electoral support – unless these issues are resolved. Publishing the Forde report well before the promised ‘autumn’ date, getting Jeremy back where he belongs in the PLP, and recommitting to and building on some of the popular policy positions of our 2017 and 2019 manifestos would go a long way to addressing members’ concerns. We literally can’t afford not to.
- Yasmin Dar is an elected member’s representative on Labour’s National Executive Committee.