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.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Panic in the Grassroots Alliance

Judging from the coverage generated in the ever unreliable Tribune, the "Centre Left Grassroots Alliance" (sic) are panicking about the Labour NEC elections having realised that the moderate wing of the party have upped their game organisationally and that without Mark Seddon they are bereft of one of their highest profile vote-winners - Walter Wolfgang is hardly a credible replacement.

So they are resorting to what they normally do which is to chuck a bit of mud around in the hope that some of it sticks. Hence this silly little article in Trib:

"LABOUR PARTY officials have been accused of directly intervening inthis year's elections for the constituency section of the National Executive Committee, throwing the process open to potential legal challenges. Last week some MPs and MEPs sympathetic to the party's leadership began contacting local members, advising them to vote for:Azhar Ali, Louise Baldock, Lorna Fitzsimons, Ellie Reeves, Bill Thomas and Peter Wheeler. The six candidates have been selected as the "leadership slate" by the party hierachy. Tribune has seen several copies of letters sent out by MPs and MEPs all of which are virtually identical. Tribune has also received the original template, which tells MPs where they should sign their name. A researcher for one of the parliamentarians who distributed the letter to local members, admitted that they had been asked to send them out by the party's regional office. The researcher understood that regional officials were acting on instructions from the party's headquarters. It is entirely against the party's rules for party officials to seek to influence internal elections. The rule was introduced after Alicia Kennedy - who has since been made assistant general secretary - was caught campaigning for an NEC candidate by email. To increase the embarrassment Ms Baldock who is a already a member of the NEC, has confirmed that no one asked her to be part of the slate and she had hoped to stand independently The leadership slate has been created to counter the Left-wing Grassroots Alliance, who currently hold four ofthe six constituency seats. Their sitting members are: Mohammed Azam, Ann Black, Christine Shawcroft and Pete Willsman. The remaining two grassroots candidates are: Gaye Johnstone secretary of Save the Labour Party and veteran peace activist Walter Wolfgang who was last year violently ejected from party conference. Russell Cartwright, assistant secretary of the Grassroots Alliance, said: "This is unwarranted interference in the democratic process. The general secretary should now take immediate action to stamp out this malpractice. A Labour Party spokesperson, said: "The NEC election is a free and fair ballot of Labour Party members. If anything has occurred which is not in the code of conduct the party will take action."

As usual, the Party's civil servants who can't answer back are smeared.

The premise behind the whole thing is ridiculous - that there is something wrong with MPs and MEPs expressing a view to the members who selected them about who to support in an internal party election. What scoundrels and rascals! Next thing they may be expressing support for the Prime Minister ... or the policies in the Party Manifesto.

As the office a certain Campaign Group MP not a million miles from the London Borough of Hackney has merrily emailed me the CV of one of the Grassroots Alliance slate - perhaps not the best use of their time given my well known open mind on such matters - it does seem there is one rule for the SCG's brave tribunes of the people - whose motives in promoting their favoured NEC candidates are of course pure and noble - and another for MPs who actually want the party to win the next election.

Anyway, I failed to vote for the full "leadership slate" as outlined in Trib as this was the first I'd ever heard of it. Does it even exist or is it a figment of an increasingly desperate and paranoid left's imagination? Will my meteoric rise through the ranks to deputy chief leafletting monitor be thwarted by Victoria Street enforcers now they know I voted for Philomena Muggins not Louise Baldock? Did Louise want my vote as she doesn't like slates? Does anyone other than Tribune's miniscule readership care?


Anonymous Andrea said...

The whole thing was in the Independent a couple of days ago
saying that the leadership doesn't want Wolfgang elected.

Anyway I think the 6 elected won't all come from the same slates. So both GA and Labour First will have candidates elected.

And I also think Wolfgang won't do very well (I would bet on him not being even among the top 3 GA candidates- I can picture Black, Showcraft and Willsman getting more votes then him)

4:59 pm, July 13, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:01 pm, July 13, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

"the moderate wing of the party have upped their game organisationally"

Actually (from what you posted some weeks ago in another NEC thread), shouldn't the number of nominations candidates received show how much organization on the ground the various candidates/wings have?

5:07 pm, July 13, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Remind me of the number of nominations.

7:12 pm, July 13, 2006

Anonymous Tim Swift said...

There is a difference between MPs and MEPs campaigning and party staff.

Our previous MP was a Campaign Group member and regularly made sure that the CLP nominated all six on the relevant slate, and urged everyone she could to vote for them. She continues to do so. She has every right to do it, even though she is wrong in her choice of candidates and politics.

If there is evidence of party staff getting involved in lobbying, it should be investigated. If, however, it is without foundation then, as you indicate, Tribune should apologise for slurring people who are not able to defend themselves.

7:20 pm, July 13, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

If I've counted them well (the first I did it, I got Wolfgang's total wrong):

Ann Black 156
Christine Shawcroft 116
Peter Willsman 109
Peter Wheeler 88
Walter Wolfgang 74
Mohammed Azam 70
Helen Jackson 69
Ellie Reeves 64
Bill Thomas 61
Gaye Johnston 59
Azhar Ali 36
Naz Sarkar 34
Philomena Muggins 32
Lorna Fitzsimons 26
Louise Baldock 15
Mehboob Khan 12

But some nominations come from CLPs in hopeless seats (where I suppose Labour has few members).
Some CLPs didn't make nominations at all, some went for slates (ex Sedgfield nominating all Labour First candidates or Islington North nominationg all GA candidates), others like your one nominated a mixed bag.

7:21 pm, July 13, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

Tim Swift, I suppose you're from Halifax and the former MP in question is Alice Mahon. I notice that this year you haven't nominated any candidates. Is Linda Riordan less active in those type of things?

7:25 pm, July 13, 2006

Anonymous Tim Swift said...

Well, therein lies a funny story ....

The CLP had a contested vote (for some reason, we were told we could only nominate one ballot) initially between Peter Wheeler, Louise Baldock and Walter Wolfgang. After PW was eliminted, WW won the final vote by I think 8 - 6. However, it would appear that the nomination was never sent in by the CLP Chair or Secretary.

Alice continues to be active in the CLP and it was she who proposed Walter Wolfgang.

11:37 pm, July 13, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

Tim, thanks for the (amusing) insight!

9:38 am, July 14, 2006

Blogger A soft socialist said...

I reckon this year it will probably be half GLA and labour 1st with no idependants elected.

1:02 am, July 15, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

any predictions about the names?

Without knowing anything, if it'll be 3 GA and 3 Labour First, I would say: Black, Shawcroft and Willsman for GA and Wheeler, Thomas and Reeves for L1

9:25 am, July 15, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've doubled the readership of that piece by sticking it on your blog.

11:48 pm, July 15, 2006

Blogger El Tom said...

luke, how can it be democratic for elected officials to advise who is to keep a check on them?

12:22 am, July 16, 2006

Blogger A soft socialist said...

Wheeler, Reeves, Ali

Black, Willsmann, Wolfgang

9:24 pm, July 16, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

so do you think Shawcroft will bo badly this time?

11:04 pm, July 16, 2006

Blogger A soft socialist said...

When looking at the GA:

Black - done an excellent job should top the poll

Wolfgang - recognisability should see him on

Willsmann will get on ahead of Christine

2:54 pm, July 17, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

Oh, thanks.
I'm a bit of a fan of Christine, probably just because in her NEC reports she usually makes me laugh when she starts ranting about Blair and/or something else (ex in one occasion she started to rant about Jean Corston's ankles!)

4:25 pm, July 17, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

has the "at least 3 women" rule been abolished?

9:12 am, July 21, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

No - there's still a quota.

11:07 am, July 21, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...


4:17 pm, July 21, 2006

Blogger Merseymike said...

When one considers the number of people who have left the Labour party its amazing just how weak the so-called 'moderates' are.

I haven't particularly changed my views but this Government is so Right-wing I feel like a raving lefty in comparison

12:46 am, August 04, 2006

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1:54 am, August 07, 2008


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