A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

NEC Report - 24 November 2020

 Yesterday was my first NEC meeting after an eight-year gap.

I wanted to give you a quick report back so that you can be confident all of us elected on the Labour to Win ticket are doing the job of representing you that you would expect.

I think I ought to have anticipated a fraught start to the meeting when outgoing Chair Andi Fox congratulated a list of newly elected list of members and perhaps accidentally, perhaps on purpose, left out my name, and then had to be reminded to grudgingly add it.

Within minutes we were into an explosive row about who should be NEC Chair. This matters, it isn’t just about effective chairing of often contentious meetings, the Chair can rule out agenda items and only be overturned on this by a two thirds majority (which supporters of the leadership don’t have, we only have a simple majority), and the Chair and Vice-Chair sit on the extremely powerful NEC Officers group, which makes urgent decisions between NEC meetings. A hostile Chair using their role negatively could really damage Keir Starmer’s ability to lead Labour effectively.

The Hard Left argued that the outgoing NEC Vice-Chair Ian Murray (from the Fire Brigades Union, not the Scottish MP of the same name) was next in line to be chair.

We argued that the principle of seniority should be restored, which had been Labour’s custom and practice for four decades until broken by the Hard Left in 2017. This meant that we nominated Margaret Beckett for Chair as the longest-serving NEC member. She first joined the NEC in 1980, whereas Ian Murray has only been on the NEC about three years.

At this point Howard Beckett from Unite and Laura Pidcock attacked Keir and the General Secretary for “factionalism” and led a virtual walkout (it was a Zoom meeting) of 13 Hard Left NEC members.

In my first intervention I condemned this extraordinary behaviour. The disrespectful and personalised attacks on Keir and David Evans and the childish petulance of the walkout really shocked me, as when I had previously served on the NEC from 2010-2012 it had been a very comradely and collegiate body. Apparently this rude and aggressive behaviour only started in April when Keir became leader. The people who walked out failed their own supporters by leaving them voiceless in the rest of the meeting. This isn’t the serious approach to internal governance that a potential party of government needs to demonstrate, particularly when under scrutiny from the EHRC.

The rest of the eight-hour meeting was quorate, friendly, constructive, and brilliantly chaired by Margaret Beckett, who we went on to elect nem con once the kerfuffle from their stunt had died down. Alice Perry was also elected nem con as Vice-Chair. Congratulations to them both. They will bring much needed calm and experienced leadership to the NEC. Margaret is an iconic figure as Labour’s first woman Deputy Leader, Acting Leader and Foreign Secretary, who brings huge gravitas to the role of Chair.

During the formal part of the meeting we agreed a new NEC Code of Conduct (clearly behaviour of members needs to improve); a process for dealing with CLP motions sent to us; an important review of Safeguarding for children and vulnerable adults who participate in the Labour Party; and gave the go ahead for an online Labour Women’s Conference from 25-27 June 2021, which will elect the National Labour Party Women’s Committee. 

In the afternoon we had our “Away Day” where staff presented to us and we brainstormed ideas around three themes; Elections 2021, Engaging our Membership under Covid, and Effective Governance. We learned that Labour now has 540,000 members, a historically very high total.

We heard reports from both Keir and Angela Rayner. Keir answered questions on the forthcoming Brexit deal vote, devolution, public sector pay, Islamophobia (the party is drawing up an action plan to tackle it), local government funding, and shop workers. 

After an unnecessarily and wholly inappropriately disrupted start this felt like a good beginning for the new NEC with its new pro-leadership working majority. I’m honoured that your votes have allowed me to serve on the NEC and help with the big task of repairing the party. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Labour NEC Elections - state of the race

According to the CLP nominations so far, I'm currently 10th in the race for the 9 CLP reps on the NEC, which is an exciting place to be!

The deadline for CLPs to nominate NEC candidates is fast approaching on the 27th September.

There are over 200 CLPs with nomination meetings scheduled in the next two weeks.

How is the battle for nominations going so far?

The headline figures are that Momentum are ahead, but not by an insurmountable margin given there are hundreds of CLPs still to nominate. Labour to Win candidates already have more nominations than in 2018, with two weeks to go, and Momentum have lost many of the CLPs they won then. Here are the numbers from Friday, when 120 CLPs in total had nominated:

Laura Pidcock                      Momentum                    83 CLPs
Ann Black                            Open Labour                  81
Yasmine Dar                         Momentum                   68
Gemma Bolton                     Momentum                    67
Mish Rahman                       Momentum                     65
Johanna Baxter                  Labour to Win                     61
Nadia Jama                           Momentum                            60
Gurinder Singh Josan      Labour to Win                     59
Ann Henderson                    Momentum                            56
Luke Akehurst                    Labour to Win                     45
Theresa Griffin                    Tribune                                 38
Jermain Jackman                 Open Labour                        36
Michael Payne                    Labour to Win                     35
Terry Paul                            Labour to Win                     31
Shama Tatler                       Labour to Win                     30
Paula Sherriff                      Tribune                                 25
Crispin Flintoff                      Independent                         16
Roger Silverman                  Labour Left Alliance            14
Vince Maple                          Independent                         12
Liz McInnes                          Tribune                                  11
Cameron Mitchell                 Independent                         11
Alex Beverley                       Independent                         11

Another 12 candidates also have the required 5 nominations to get on the ballot.

Things to bear in mind:

·         The final ballot is by Single Transferable Vote so it will award seats roughly proportionately between the factions – the days of one grouping taking all nine seats are gone.
·         Any increase in our representation from the 2 of 9 seats we already hold strengthens the mainstream majority on the NEC as a whole.
·         Over 100,000 new members who joined the party to vote for Keir, Lisa or Jess didn’t get a vote in the February NEC by-elections that saw Gurinder and Johanna narrowly win. They can now vote. And the Hard Left keep complaining that many of their supporters have quit the party …
·         With every week of nominations, our position has got stronger compared to Momentum’s.
·         Over 80% of the CLPs nominating Labour to Win candidates are gains we didn't win in 2018.
·         We are doing best in CLPs with All Member Meetings where the new members can vote, and Momentum are mainly holding on where there is a delegate GC system – AGM cancellations due to the General Election and COVID mean some GC delegates were elected at the height of Corbynism in 2018.
·         We are doing best in the CLPs with the largest membership that will have the most voting members in the final ballot while many of Momentum’s nominations come from small CLPs.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Unite Executive Council Elections 2020

If you are a Unite union member you will get a ballot for the Executive Council elections if there are contested elections in your region and/or industrial sector.

They must be returned by 12 noon on Thursday 18th June 2020.

Members who have not received a ballot paper by Monday 8th June 2020 should contact the ballot enquiry service on 0800 783 3856 (0818 333 155 from the Republic of Ireland or Gibraltar).

Details of candidates are here: https://secure.cesvotes.com/V3-0-0/unitenominates2020/en/home?bbp=6942&x=-1

I have seen the following list of suggestions circulated for who members should vote for if they want the union to change direction:

Noel Gibson
Marie Casey

North East Yorkshire and Humberside Region
Gary Andrews

Grieg McArthur
Helen McFarlane

South East Region
Dominic Rothwell

Kerry Owens

West Midlands Region
Stuart Hedley

Engineering, Manufacturing and Steel
Gary Buchan

Food, Drink and Agriculture
Neelam Verma
Matt Gould

Finance and Legal
Jacob Goddard
Fiona Tatem

Steve Thompson
Tracey Osment

Local Authorities
Lisa Colquhoun
Kevin Woods

Passenger Transport
Nigel Atkinson
Simon Rosenthal

Road Transport Commercial, Warehousing and Logistics
Mick Casey
Paul Shedd

Service Industries
Howard Percival

Unite Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians
Jamie Bramwell
Stuart Grice

National Black and Asian Ethnic Minority Members’ Constituency
Raffiq Moussa

Friday, March 06, 2015

Council by-elections

Here are the recent council by-elections. Labour's vote increased in all 5:

5 March

Kenton Ward, LB Brent. Con hold. Con 1097 (51.6%, +0.3), Lab 839 (39.4%, +7), Green 121 (5.7%, -4.3), LD 79 (3.3%, -3). Swing of 3.4% from Con to Lab since 2014.

St Pancras & Somers Town Ward, LB Camden. Lab hold. Lab 1481 (72.8%, +4.7), Con 243 (12%, +2), Green 213 (10.5%, -4.8), LD 96 (4.7%, -1.9). Swing of 1.4% from Con to Lab since 2014.

Selhurst Ward, LB Croydon. Lab hold. Lab 1517 (71.5%, +19.4), Con  246 (11.6%, -2), Green 148 (7%, -1.5), UKIP 147 (6.9%, -5.6), LD 65 (3.1%, -2.9). Swing of 10.7% from Con to Lab since 2014.

Bocking Division, Essex CC. Con gain from UKIP. Con 1071 (34.3%, +2.1), Lab 974 (31.2%, +1.3), UKIP 855 (27.4%, -5.3), Green 165 (5.3%, +2.2), Ind 58 (1.9%, +1.9). Swing of 0.4% from Lab to Con since 2013.

19 Feb

Hengoed Ward, Carmarthenshire UA. Lab hold. Lab 335 (33.2%, +7), PC 313 (31%, +6.6), UKIP 152 (15%, +15), People First 80 (7.9%, -18.2), Ind 76 (7.5%, +7.5), Con 54 (5.3%, +5.3). Swing of 0.2% from PC to Con since 2012.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Council by-elections

There have been just four council by-elections in the last fortnight. Yesterday included an important Labour gain from UKIP in Harlow which is a key parliamentary seat in Essex.

12 February

Bar Hill Division, Cambridgeshire CC.  Con hold. Con 787 (46%, +0.6), UKIP 251 (14.7%, -7.4), LD 238 (13.9%, +5.4), Lab 235 (13.7%, +0.1), Green 200 (11.7%, +2.3). Swing of 4% from UKIP to Con since 2013.

Mark Hall Ward, Harlow BC. Lab gain from UKIP. Lab 586 (42.6%, +8.2), UKIP 353 (25.7%, -12.2), Con 334 (24.3%, +4.5), Green 55 (4%, +4), LD 47 (3.4%, -4.4). Swing of 10.2% from UKIP to Lab since 2014.

Oswestry East Division, Shropshire UA. Con hold. Con 629 (47.5%, +17), Lab 247 (18.6%, -10.2), Green 231 (17.4%, +17.4), LD 218 (16.5%, +16.5). Swing of 13.6% from Lab to Con since 2013.

5 February

Brimington Division, Derbyshire CC. Lab hold. Lab 1293 (62%, -6.7), UKIP 380 (18.2%, +18.2), Ind 157 (7.5%, +7.5), LD 135 (6.5%, -2.8), Con 120 (5.8%, -5.4). Swing of 12.5% from Lab to UKIP since 2013.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Council by-elections

There was one council by-election on Wednesday and two in the same ward on Thursday:

Purley-on-Thames Ward, West Berkshire UA. Con hold. Con 936 (68.1%, +1), Lab 172 (12.5%, -8.7), UKIP 163 (11.9%, +11.9), LD 104 (7.6%, -4.1). Swing of 4.9% from Lab to Con since 2011. This ward is in the parliamentary key seat of Reading West.

Marshalswick South Ward, St Albans DC. 2 Con holds. Con 667 & 647 (30.8%, -8.1), LD 495 & 488 (22.9%, +3.6), Green 450 & 166 (20.8%, +10.6), Lab 406 & 312 (18.7%, -4), UKIP 148 & 147 (6.8%, -2.4). Swing of 5.9% from Con to LD since 2014. This is in one of a handful of parliamentary seats the LDs think they might have a chance of gaining against the tide. The big gap between the two Green candidates is because they were listed on the ballot as “first choice” and “second choice”. This is the first by-election evidence of the Green polling surge.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Council by-elections

Just three council by-elections so far this year, with the SNP and UKIP doing well:

8 January

Bolsover North West Ward, Bolsover DC. Lab hold. Lab 174 (45%, -22), UKIP 153 (39.5%, +39.5), Con 60 (15.5%, -17.6). Swing of 30.8% from Lab to UKIP since 2011.

22 January

East Kirkcaldy Ward, Fife UA. SNP hold. First preference votes: SNP 1460 (47.3%, +10.9), Lab 1088 (35.3%, -14.7), Con 223 (7.2%, +1.2), Green 126 (4.1%, +4.1), UKIP 117 (3.8%, +3.8), LD 40 (1.3%, -1.5), Ind 19 (0.6%, +0.6), Ind 12 (0.4%, +0.4). Swing of 12.8% from Lab to SNP since 2012.

Crowborough West Ward, Wealden DC. Con hold. Con 465 (58.7%, -14.1), UKIP 327 (41.3%, +41.3). Swing of 27.7% from Con to UKIP since 2011.

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