Selflessness, independence and availability: We don’t ask much

January 13, 2012 11:39 am

Author:

Tags:

Share this Article

As a stalwart ballot paper scribbler, I am proud to say I have never missed an election.

Postal votes? Save the stamp! I will breezily skip down to the polling station for the sheer hell of it.

Well, that’s not quite true. There is one set of elections where my record is, well, a bit south of 100%.

An even more embarrassing admission, among friends, is that my democratic enthusiasm used to be snuffed out when the ballot papers for the Labour National Executive Committee elections wafted onto my doormat.

Eschewing my entitlement used to owe more to the dispiriting nature of the contest rather than a lack of interest on my part in the internal affairs of the party.

Let’s face it: historically, no-one had a clue who they were voting for. There was next to no information sent out about the candidates and the whole thing smacked of a power carve-up where leadership proxies battled against real (and often imagined) opponents.

The whole thing felt perfunctory. As an ordinary foot soldier I was asked to elect representatives I knew next to nothing about and who promptly disappeared into thin air. Until the next time they re-emerged asking for my vote.

In recent years, I have mended my ways, aided and abetted, it has to be said, by candidates who took the trouble to actually canvass for my vote. I now participate, not reluctantly out of shame or duty, but enthusiastically because there are so many worthy candidates – from right across the party – to vote for.

Which set me to thinking: what are the qualities we need in our constituency reps on the NEC? Here are a few suggestions:

Tribal. Ideally, Labour NEC hopefuls will have the word ‘Labour’ tattooed somewhere about their person. I don’t want a ‘big-tenter’ or a wishy-washy pluralist. NEC members should be Labour’s hardcore.

Grassroots. To really know the party, you need to be active at a local level. Running a branch or constituency is absolutely essential in understanding how the party really ticks. NEC members should come from the ranks of the poor bloody infantry.

Independence. NEC members need to know their own mind. They need to exercise common sense and never be afraid to tell le grande fromages what’s going on outside the Westminster bubble. The party leadership will not always get it right. They may even thank you for telling them so. The members certainly should.

Selflessness. Serving on the NEC should not be seen as a stepping stone to greater personal glory. This is grunt work. NEC members should have oily hands from tinkering with the party’s machinery in order to make it run better.

Available. The best NEC members are those who get around the party. Only by trekking from one constituency to the next will they ever hope to understand the mood of members.

Candidates, you have my sympathies. The least we owe you is to bother voting. My stubby pencil is poised…

  • Anon

    I am so disappointed with the NEC this year. There is no one who has done a good job, and no one new is worth electing. i suppose that is the general problem with the party.

  • Redshift

    I’d actually agree to that list. The only thing I’d add is that in voting I quite like some regional balance. Currently the NEC is very London/South East heavy. I don’t like that. It will probably result in me voting differently than last time, when I purely picked candidates I agreed with most. The slate this time is out of the window. 

    The only one I’m 100% sure of at the moment is that Ann Black will get one of my 6 votes.

  • MaryM

    Agree that regional balance is essential so Peter Wheeler is my top vote

Latest

  • Comment Will the Tory MP who wants to charge patients to use the NHS debate me?

    Will the Tory MP who wants to charge patients to use the NHS debate me?

    Earlier this week, Channel 4’s “Dispatches” asked if we are addicted to our doctors. It highlighted the increasing pressure the NHS is under and some of the costs associated with those pressures. My opponent in Bristol North West – Tory MP Charlotte Leslie – said that, in respect of A&E and GP surgery appointments that are deemed unnecessary, that “…we do need a charge I think to just enable people to think a little bit about what their use of […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Free information and free broadband – business policies of the future?

    Free information and free broadband – business policies of the future?

    Us folk in business are a straightforward lot. Yes, we like big picture ideas and visions of the future – but we also need real-life, practical policies and plans. And with nine months to go until the general election the business community is hungry for greater clarity on what Labour business policy will actually be. The latest offering from Policy Network, Owning The Future, edited by Chuka Umunna, is rich in big ideas about Britain’s role in the global economy. […]

    Read more →
  • News Burnham: the SNP are misleading Scottish people on the NHS

    Burnham: the SNP are misleading Scottish people on the NHS

    On Monday, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond promised that in an independent Scotland, the NHS would be protected from cuts and privatisation. However, Andy Burnham, Shadow Secretary for Health has said that by making such pledges, Salmond is confusing the debate over independence and misleading people in Scotland: “If Salmond seriously cared about the NHS he would be explaining how he could possibly afford to fund it properly after a yes vote – with the £6 billion cuts […]

    Read more →
  • Video Stella Creasy vs Austin Mitchell on AWS and women in Parliament

    Stella Creasy vs Austin Mitchell on AWS and women in Parliament

    Last night Labour MPs Austin Mitchell and Stella Creasy went head to head on Newsnight over Mitchell’s comments on All Women Shortlists and female MPs. It was – unsurprisingly – a fiery discussion. Here it is: (h/t: Guido)

    Read more →
  • News Polling Marginals polling finds Labour vote reaching further into Tory territory

    Marginals polling finds Labour vote reaching further into Tory territory

    The latest batch of Lord Ashcroft’s polling in marginal constituencies has been published this morning. His previous marginals polls have been generally good news for Labour, showing heavy gains from both the Tories and Lib Dems, although more recently they have shown that UKIP pose a threat to to Labour’s success. With Labour having previously shown comfortable leads in most of the the marginals we hold, and many of our main target seats, Ashcroft this time concentrated on four of […]

    Read more →