NEC Elections – for a united left slate

Labour is entering yet another round of elections, this time for nine members to represent the constituency parties on the powerful 38-member National Executive Committee.

The increasingly right-wing party leadership will be hoping to consolidate their grip on the NEC by depriving the socialist left of a number of seats in the CLP section, in recent years a stronghold of those who supported Corbyn’s leadership. Disunity on the left could help them do so: in this Spring’s by-elections both seats were lost to the right because there were multiple left slates. Following the loss of the leadership it is crucial that socialists in the party do not let this happen again. So, it is critically important that all left Labour organisations work together to arrive at a single unified slate.

The imposition of a new voting system – Single Transferable Voting (STV) rather than First Past the Post – combined with the requirement to submit candidates’ names in a short timeframe while physical meetings are impossible due to coronavirus, presents the left with special challenges. Nominations have to be in by midday this Friday July 10. CLP nominations open the following day, and there will be a campaign period extending till mid-October when ballots are issued, with a closing date of 12 November. Right-wing factions are already prepared.

Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Representation Committee and Red Labour, are working together with the other nine organisations represented in the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) to arrive at a list of candidates that every party member can be assured will stand firm in defence of the policy gains of the Corbyn period: for a democratic party equally accessible to all members regardless of their background; for open selection for all post holders; and for natural justice, transparency and fairness in internal processes.

We and other CLGA member organisations are currently reviewing prospective nominees for the nine CLP places on the NEC, with the proviso that it may be better, strategically, to nominate a smaller slate of 6 in order to maximise the vote for left candidates.

The two largest and best-established left groups – Momentum and Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) – bear a large part of the responsibility for ensuring that this time there is no factional wrangling of the kind that has undermined left unity over the last two years. Other groups involved need to play their part in generating the purposeful and flexible spirit necessary to select a set of able and principled candidates that all will support.

Working together, Jewish Voice for Labour, the Labour Representation Committee and Red Labour have become influential actors in this important, complex and fast-moving situation. We will do our best to keep members informed, and to campaign actively for the success of the unity slate of left candidates.

Comments (21)

  • Steve McKenzie says:

    The attitude to the Labour Left Alliance will be critical

  • paul leach says:

    I hope Jo Bird will be on the slate.
    Good luck! Looking forward for your positive stewardship.

  • Steve Griffiths says:

    I applaud this, much appreciated.

  • Ellie Palmer says:

    Thank you JVL! I was cheered by the Momentum result. The Express has prematurely gloated that Momentum had given up.

  • Ieuan Einion says:

    It is incumbent upon the left to agree a unified slate. However that unity must be based on a Bennite programme including a platform of minimum demands:- the reintroduction of clause 4 as the main objective of the Labour Party, a commitment to respect those electors who chose in 2016 to leave the EU, a commitment to scrapping Trident and leaving NATO, a commitment to socialist feminism, a commitment to strengthening and deepening the bonds with the trade union movement and recruiting new sections of the workforce thereto and a commitment to ridding the party of US, Israeli and other infiltrators, whose goal is to deflect our movement from its main purpose of working class emancipation.

  • Doug says:

    Why would we not go for all 9 and are you equallyinvolved in helping left wing candidates win elections for Unite and GMB unions
    There are NEC seats at stake

  • Nik says:

    So these 9 major organisations – all offshoots of ‘pretending it doesn’t exist Socialist Action’ have hhow many members?

  • David Hawkins says:

    Under STV a “unified slate of candidates” is much less important because STV makes it highly unlikely that either right or left will sweep the board board. That’s why Starmer supported STV. So please can people stop pretending that the electoral system hasn’t changed ? JVL URGENTLY needs to publish an article explaining STV and suggesting how we need to tactically prepare for the new electoral system. One thing we certainly need to think about is the priority we want to give to each candidate. In my view Jo Bird deserves to be top of our list.
    As someone who supports PR I think someone needs to ask Starmer why he thinks PR is a good idea for NEC elections but not General Elections.

  • CVA says:

    Why no go for all 9? It is more difficult to achieve I agree but let us not forget that the right only need to win 2 positions to control the NEC. The more that we force the right wing to play on the defence, the more candidates that we can get through.
    It doesn’t matter if we get 4 or 6 candidates through, still the right will dominate the NEC. Hence, we need to go for 9, organise with military precision and force the right to make mistakes.
    Let’s no forget that in 2016, 62% of the membership voted for Corbyn. Therefore, the vote is there, we only have to organise with military precision to get it out.
    I believe it is possible to run primaries since CLP’s nominations close on the 27th September and the vote opens on the 19th October. It will help generate publicity for the resulting slate as they would be hustings and members of left groups would be able to vote using OMOV.
    Thus, increasing the participation of rank and file members will increase the level of participation for the slate in the final vote.
    The left needs all 9 positions to retake control of the NEC, so their is plenty to win by running primaries and selecting a slate or 9 and little for the left to lose.

  • Tamara says:

    I think the new voting system will work for Starmer better as far too many Left members have left and are still leaving, before the elections.

  • Gerald Tasker says:

    The Left winning the majority on the NEC is crucial and will effectively stop Starmers lurch to the right prior to the Comming Left leadership challenge.
    The huge majority of members support the left and our unity will win back the party, starting with the NEC.

  • David Hawkins says:

    CVA you clearly haven’t informed yourself about how STV works. STV is a proportional system so that even if the left achieve 60 percent of the vote, the 40 percent who voted for right wing candidates will see their views reflected so in that case there would be approximately a 40:60 split between right and left wing candidates elected. In order to sweep the board the left would need to get 100 percent of the vote. This is why Starmer proposed it. It prevents the left ever again getting every constituency candidate onto the NEC. So what is essential is that the first five or six candidates on our list are rock solid and reliable supporters of the left and opponents of the Witch hunt. In my view Jo Bird deserves to be top of our list.

  • Richard Crawford says:

    Agree with CVA and Doug. Should have 9 names on the agreed Left slate. The way STV works means that the votes for any of our 9 who don’t get enough votes to stay in the race will be transferred to another candidate on our list (as long as voters realise how the voting works and act accordingly). It could be suicide to opt for less than 9 on our slate. Look what happened to Sinn Fein in the recent Republic of Ireland elections – they did not have enough candidates to capitalise fully on the large public vote they received, so ended up with fewer seats than Fianna Fail despite achieving a significantly bigger public vote (24.5% v. 22.2%) John Drennan listed eleven constituencies where it might have won another seat had it run an extra candidate.

  • Paul France says:

    Go for all nine!

  • alice says:

    Thank you. History shows us that the Right will always triumph when the Left and Centre Left fight amongst themselves over relatively minor differences. That is why we have Boris the Liar in power in the UK, and have lost our place in an EU that still has reasonably strong socialist movement influence in most countries. Our last manifesto was very popular across the country, and we need to focus on saving the NHS, state education and what remains of the welfare state, rather than fighting each other…

  • John Bowley says:

    Thank you again, JVL, for your continuing good work. It is much appreciated.

  • Doug says:

    If that is the case the legal challenge needs to go ahead against the change in the voting system
    Unite and GMB have 4 seats on NEC I believe, so those elections are just as critical

  • Alan Frost says:

    The right cannot be allowed to destroy the party and all hope of upholding socialist values. Show the left slate can’t be bought and continue to fight corruption overlooked by the parties abusers.

  • CVA says:

    David I know how it works, and the right doesn’t command 40% of the vote. More likely about 25%. Share 25% among 6 candidates and is 4.18% per candidate.
    The left around 50% shared among 9 candidates is 5.5% each. We just need to organise with military precision. Of course the right will drop candidates and would be forced to go only for 4 candidates and up the percentage to 6.25% each.
    However, if the left manages to mobilise 60% each of 9 candidates would have a share of 6.66% each. Hence, the RW risk no electing a single candidate.
    In this situation mistakes could happen, it is unlikely but we can get with a lot of work 9 candidates through, or at least more than 6. As in order to ensure that they get 2 candidates that is what they need they would need to drop four candidates on their slate.

  • David Hawkins says:

    CVA your reasoning bears no relationship to my knowledge of STV. STV stands for SINGLE transferable vote. You only get one transferable vote not 9 votes. The order on the list is absolutely crucial if we can manage to get Jo Bird at the top of the list she would be guaranteed to be elected because her number of votes would comfortably exceed the quota (her excess votes would then be redistributed to candidate number 2 on our slate). I reproduce the wiki text.
    Under STV, each elector (voter) gets a single vote in an election electing multiple winners. Each elector marks their ballot for the most preferred candidate and also marks back-up preferences. The vote goes to the voter’s first preference if possible, but if their first preference is eliminated, instead of being thrown away, the vote is transferred to a back-up preference, with the vote being assigned to the voter’s second, third, or lower choice or being apportioned fractionally to different candidates.

    The counting process works thus: votes are totalled, and a quota (the minimum number of votes required to win a seat) is derived. If the elector’s first-ranked candidate achieves the quota, the candidate is declared elected; and, in some STV systems, any surplus vote is transferred to other candidates in proportion to the next back-up preference marked on the ballots. If more candidates than seats remain, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, with the votes in their favour being transferred to other candidates as determined by the voters’ next back-up preference. These elections and eliminations, and vote transfers if applicable, continue until enough candidates exceed quota to fill all the seats or until there are only as many remaining candidates as there are unfilled seats, at which point the remaining candidates are declared elected.

  • Greg Douglas says:

    I understand the reasoning about the Socialist slate being only six candidates,but it is important to organise our voting strategy and therefore it is essential to understand the STV system. In this system to win election a candidate must win a ‘quota’ of votes. This quota is obtained by dividing the total number of votes cast by the number of vacancies plus one. In this case, as there are nine vacancies the divisor is 10. So if the total votes cast is say,320,000 the quota would be 32,000. If a candidate wins this number of first preferences then they are elected. After the initial count, the lowest placed candidate is eliminated and their 2nd and other preference votes are cast for the remaining candiates. Again a candidate now achieving the quota is also elected and the process continues until all nine places are filled. Also winning candidates have their 2nd and other preferences weighted and added to other remaining candidates. Therefore it can be seen that if Socialist voters have ONE hugely popular candidate they must NOT ALL cast their first preferences for that candidate as other candidates on the slate require 1st preferences to have a chance of being elected. So we need to develop a strategy whereby groups of us concentrate on supporting particular candidates on the slate so that the votes are more evenly distributed; perhaps we should allot certain candiates to our voters according to the voter’s surname alphabetically?
    Also, with only six on our slate,we also shouldn’t cast 7th,8th and 9th preferences, just number our choices from one to six,otherwise these other preferences would go to candidates not on our slate.

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