NEC game over for me but not for my politics
After six months of intensive campaigning we finally have the results of the Labour Party NEC and NPF elections.
I have lost my seat on the NEC by almost as narrow a margin as I won in 2010 - with 17,475 votes I came 8th, but just 246 behind the winner of the final 6th place slot.
Obviously I am sad to lose as I have loved being on the NEC - it gave me the opportunity to contribute at the highest level on the issues where I have most expertise, developing party organisation and election campaigning, and to travel the country listening to and hopefully giving heart to our fantastic members.
I am proud of my record on the NEC, from how I got elected to it in the slipstream of supporting Ed Miliband as a reforming leader who stood the best chance of any of the candidates of keeping Labour united, through ensuring Refounding Labour introduced changes such as decent funding for small CLPs so they can actually resource campaigning, backing All Women Shortlists in seats where this was in dispute like Redcar and Bristol South, fighting alongside Dennis Skinner at Organisation Committee to ensure we ran a Labour candidate in every Police Commissioner election, working with Ann Black to ensure democratic council selections in Birmingham, defending Ed Balls and Ed Miliband's economic strategy when it came under attack, and voting for Iain McNicol to be a transforming new General Secretary.
I have acted at every point for members and their interests and I have done everything I could to report both in writing and in person to members so they could hold me accountable.
I've not compromised on my politics because there is no point holding political office if it is not to champion the causes you believe in.
I always knew this would be a tight election with any benefits of incumbency undermined by the drop in turnout with this not being held alongside the leadership election as in 2010. What I didn't spot was that there would be a particular drop off in London turnout because the 2010 contest also coincided with the Mayoral selection. Those who live by the sword die by the sword so it looks like I lost because of a reversion to normal regional turnout patterns removed the London-bias that caused an NEC CLP section grossly tilted towards the capital in 2010, which I benefited from.
If you are going to lose though you could not lose to a better, more decent, more deserving person to be on the NEC than Peter Wheeler.
Peter has been a friend, mentor, ally and comrade of mine in the party and our trade union for many years. I did not want to win at his expense in 2010 and he will not have wanted to win at my expense this year, but such is the messiness of life in a 6 seat election.
The net impact on the politics of the NEC is nil because the candidate with the politics closest to mine (not identical I should say in Peter's defence!) has replaced me.
If you want a detailed analysis, one of the organisers of the left slate, Jon Lansman, has provided it here: http://www.leftfutures.org/2012/06/labour-executive-elections-left-47-right-33-ind-20/#more-10125 According to Jon my vote went up from 5.2% to 6.2% of the total.
In passing I want to comment on one factor - the portrayal of recent rows over Progress as a fight between the unions and the moderates in the Party makes no sense at all.
Arguably the Labour First and Progress backed slate I ran on has better union credentials than our left opponents: Peter was the Amicus National Political Officer, Ellie is a trade union lawyer, she and I served together on the Amicus London Regional Political Committee, I've been an Amicus sponsored Parliamentary Candidate, Joanne has also been active in Unite, Ruth worked in the AEEU Research Department.
I say this not to pretend there is not a row going on but to stress that there was no one I was aware of running for the NEC from any slate or none who was not committed to trade unionism and the union link with Labour.
Jon Lansman has also analysed the National Policy Forum results: http://www.leftfutures.org/2012/06/labours-national-policy-forum-slight-shift-to-left/
Put basically there was a lot of regional churn, the net result of which was to leave the left with a net 1 extra seat out of 48 (and no change at all if you just count the CLP members not the extra seats for councillors). Moderates won 29 of the 48 seats up for grabs, and independents another 5.
As with the NEC, most of the people Jon labels as "right" have impeccable CVs as trade union activists, again undermining the unions vs moderates narrative.
So there has been no lurch to the left.
I lost - by a sliver to a friend who shares my politics - and nothing else changed.
There is no insurrection. No battle for the Party's soul.
Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have a mandate from the members to stick to the path they have set, moving on from the politics of the past but demonstrating the economic responsibility needed to convince voters we are worthy of power.
Well done to all the winners. I hope you will enjoy your time in office as much as I have. I know that whatever label you won under we all put the Party and its members first when we take decisions as office-holders. I know that from serving with people on the NEC who I disagree with on many policies but learnt were people of the greatest integrity and wise decision-makers.
I have to serve as a "lame duck" on the NEC until Annual Conference ends on 4th October. After completing my work I will go back to what I always have been - a local grassroots campaigner for Labour with a lot of strong views I am not afraid to advocate for.