“It isn’t enough to just oppose these attacks. On the left we need to work together much more consciously, pro-actively and co-operatively to present a unified response”
Matt Willgress previews the “Let the Members Decide – For Labour Party Democracy” online event hosted by Arise Festival on Wednesday April 5th.
Responding to the news last week of the Labour NEC endorsing Keir Starmer’s move to bar Jeremy Corbyn from being able to stand to be their candidate in the next General Election, Islington North Constituency Labour Party issued the following statement:
“’Local Party members should select their candidates for every election
“The officers of Islington North CLP strongly support this statement from Keir Starmer in February 2020.
“We believe in the democratic rights of all constituency parties to choose their prospective parliamentary candidate. Therefore we reject the NEC’s undue interference in Islington North, which undermines our goal of defeating the Conservatives and working with our communities for social justice.”
Since that statement was issued, thousands of Labour Party members and affiliated union members from across the country have added their support to this petition which now includes the demand that Labour must “let Islington North’s members decide their candidate.”
While Starmer was able to railroad through his motion, he did not do so without widespread opposition, including from numerous affiliated unions who voted against the motion, including Unite, CWU, ASLEF, FBU and the TSSA. Unison abstained.
As Andrew Fisher and others have noted, “one of the longest-serving trade unionists on the NEC, who voted for Andy Burnham rather than Corbyn to be leader in 2015, reportedly told the meeting he has served under several leaders and respected them all, concluding, ‘but you Starmer I have no respect for’. Starmer was sat only a few seats away.”
This response from a senior and respected figure in the trade union movement is illustrative of the grave concerns that are growing across the trade unions and our movement as a whole at the continual attacks on democracy and members’ rights in the Labour Party under the current leadership.
These examples are too numerous to list in one blog. They include the block on letting members choose their own candidate in numerous constituencies across the country, the failure to take seriously – let alone implement – the Forde Report, the failure to fully address the policy concerns of trade unions and Party members, the attempts to gag the elected Young Labour representatives by taking away access to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, curtailing the number of motions that are discussed at Labour Party Conference, and much more besides.
We must stand up against these – and for Labour Party democracy.
But it isn’t enough to just oppose these attacks. On the left we need to work together much more consciously, pro-actively and co-operatively to present a unified response – and put forward a different vision of what a democratic party and movement could look like, and why this would help Labour win, including through the development and promotion of popular policies.
On Wednesday April 5th online at 6.30pm, join us – with speakers including Jon Trickett MP, Neil Findlay, Nabeela Mowlana of Young Labour, NEC members Jess Barnard and Mish Rahman, plus representatives of Arise, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and Momentum, for an urgent discussion on these matters and our next steps.
- “Let the Members Decide – For Labour Party Democracy” takes place online on Wednesday April 5, 6.30pm. With Jess Barnard, Labour NEC (pc); Jon Trickett MP; Neil Findlay, former MSP; Rachel Garnham, CLPD; Martin Abrams, Momentum NCG; Nabeela Mowlana, Young Labour Chair; Mish Rahman, Labour NEC (pc) and more. Register and find out more here.
- Sign the petition demanding Islington North’s members should be able to select their candidates here.
- This article was originally published by Labour Hub on April 3rd, 2023.