The new leadership of the Labour left group Momentum has faced criticism for endorsing all six candidates on the “Centre Left Grassroots Alliance” left slate for the Constituency Labour Party seats on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), despite failing to get a statement on trans rights supported by the slate as it said it would do.
The elections are for 18 of 39 seats on the NEC, and are now in the nominations stage. That closes on 27 September, and balloting will be 19 October to 12 November.
There was a genuine problem of timescale, with the new Momentum national coordinating group elected a matter of days before key decisions had to be made. And there is a case to rank all the candidates above the right in the Single Transferable Vote rankings. Laura Pidcock and Ann Henderson are weak on trans rights; but then these are not the only serious political problems with the Momentum-backed candidates.
Some candidates not sponsored by the CLGA, for instance Open Labour’s Jermain Jackman, may in fact be just as left-wing as the CLGA ones. But it is in general important that left-wing candidates win as many places as possible. The new, preferential voting system means it is possible to rank left candidates with better politics higher.
The issue is firstly that Momentum has not been straightforward about what it achieved and failed to achieve in the negotiations, or about its reasoning for backing all the candidates despite the problem of trans rights.
This is exacerbated by the lack of reports or public statements from national coordinating group members.
In the NCG election, winning slate Forward Momentum promised regular reports from all successful candidates. But, after a few initial comments, there is now silence. Though there have been several NCG meetings since the election, Momentum has published no NCG minutes since 26 April.
More fundamentally, the process should have been: political programme first, then decide candidates. The slate should have had a general policy platform, even if only a short one, which could have been debated. We need to sort through what the Labour left actually stands for.
Even now, there is nothing to stop Momentum developing such a platform and seeking support from as many NEC candidates as possible.