‘Independent’ NEC slate feeding data straight to Progress/Labour First

The contest for three additional places on the party’s NEC (National Executive Committee) is essentially between two ‘slates’ of candidates. On the one side is the ‘grassroots’ slate supported by left-wing organisations. On the other are popular comedian Eddie Izzard, Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan in what styles itself the ‘independent’ slate.

The three extra places approved at Septembers annual conference are to represent Labour’s membership on its ruling committee. But is the ‘independent’ slate as independent as it claims to be?

Campaigning is now underway and the ‘Independent NEC reps’ website makes huge play of the supposed independence of the candidates and its significance:

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Members who remember Johanna Baxter’s part in the suspensions of ‘the Purge’ surrounding the 2016 Labour leadership contest will already be raising eyebrows – but there is a more current connection that raises questions about the claim.

The website invites visitors to register their details in order to receive information about the campaign and the candidates. The website’s homepage that contains the registration form (archived here) does not say what will be done with information submitted. However, after registration, those receiving the emails will find out where it went.

And given the claim that the ‘independent’ slate will ‘not take instruction from any faction’, recipients may be somewhat surprised by the answer:

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Not only that, but by signing up you provide Labour First and Progress – both limited companies unaffiliated with the Labour Party – with permission to send you their ‘opinions‘ about Labour and to try to get you involved in their campaigns and events.

Labour First and Progress are two organisations that tried strenuously to prevent Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader, who supported the challenge against him and are widely regarded as implacably opposed not only to his leadership, but to the vision and direction of the Labour party under him.

Labour First was even, at the beginning of this year, attempting to organise to control September’s conference in order to prevent measures Corbyn’s supporters were eventually able to welcome because Labour First failed spectacularly in that effort.

Both organisations were closely linked with manoeuvres at the 2016 conference that stacked the NEC against Corbyn and the vast majority of members who back him.

In other words, both organisations are well and truly factional.

The fact that the slate is supported by Progress and Labour First should be enough to warn any pro-Corbyn member not to touch it with a ten-foot pole, let alone consider voting for anyone on it.

The fact that it is being presented as an independent slate when in fact it is the Progress/Labour First slate, speaks volumes about why – and every member needs to be aware of it urgently.

And to make sure to cast their vote only for the grassroots left slate of Yasmine Dar, Rachel Garnham and Jon Lansman.