What the NEC election results mean

20th June, 2012 1:00 pm

Labour’s NEC results have been announced today – expect the mainstream media and the right to read plenty into them. Much of it will be stuff that isn’t borne out by the facts – so here’s my take on what the results mean.

1) As you were. 5 of the 6 NEC members were re-elected, and the only change is that Luke Akehurst* is replaced by Peter Wheeler – another Progress/Labour First candidate. So the political balance of the NEC remains the same – CLPD 3 Progress/LF 2 Independent 1. There’s no “lurch” from party members – it’s steady as you go – the organisational/political balance remains the same.

2. The overstated demise of Ken. In part Ken Livingstone topping the ballot is due to his name recognition which far exceeds most of the shadow cabinet, nevermind fellow NEC candidates. Yet at the same time it also suggests that his unpopularity amongst Labour activists may have been overstated – certainly there’s a significant chunk of the party that is still hugely loyal to him.

3. You don’t need to be on a slate, but incumbency helps. Johanna Baxter was re-elected to the NEC as an independent, breaking the hold that slates have long held over the NEC. Last time she came 7th but joined the NEC after Oona King became a Baroness. This time she was elected first time – a huge achievement. However other independent candidates fared less well and there is clearly still a slate advantage. Johanna was successful because she’s an incumbent and was able to run for re-election on her record. Incumbency also helped 5 of the existing 6 members get re-elected, and the “new” member Peter Wheeler is an ex-NEC member himself. All had a record to stand on.

4. A disengaged electorate. Turnout was always likely to be lower than last time (which coincided with the leadership election). By my back of an envelope calculations turnout will have been between 25 and 30% (and we’ll be pressing the party to release an official turnout figure). Not great, although not as low as I feared. Considering the power the NEC has – especially in opposition – that’s a disappointingly low. In a party largely shorn of democracy, NEC elections are a chance to have a say. For whatever reason, not enough members knew enough or cared enough to vote. Further engagement with members from the NEC is obviously needed (some members are already better at this than others).

* – On a personal note – I’m sad to see Luke Akehurst is no longer on the NEC. We don’t always agree but he has a huge passion for the party and members – and has made a genuine attempt to engage through forums like this one. 

  • john P Reid

    oona king actually came 2nd last time (like Ken both on the Back of standing for our choice for mayor), And Johanna Baxter was 7th and came in when Oona went to the lords,
     I recall some who nearly won last time Like Sam Tarry and Alex Hilton who was going to stand but didn’t in the end, Haven’t tried this time, which was a shame as they cross the left /right border.

    • Chilbaldi

      I don’t know if Sam Tarry crosses over the border from the left to the right of the party, but agree it is a shame that neither stood.

  • AlanGiles

    Interesting that two of the more right wing writers for LL – namely Mr Akehurst and Mr Richards, have both lost elections this week (Richards Police Commissioner for Brighton, Akehurst NEC).

    Just an observation which I make without further comment.

    • http://twitter.com/_DaveTalbot David Talbot

      Oh come now Alan, don’t be coy. 

      Tell us what you really think the election results for Messrs Richards and Akehurst display.

      Interesting that one of the more left wing members – namely Mr Livingstone – has lost the London election (twice) but topped the result for the NEC. Aren’t people fickle?

      • AlanGiles

        I said I wouldn’t make further comment, David and I won’t

  • http://twitter.com/JeevanJones Jeevan Jones

    OK, OK, you really need to break this down more. You’re assuming far too much in-depth knowledge by readers, which probably contributes to putting off casual Labour party members – the ones who don’t constantly fixate about party events. You know, the 70% who didn’t vote in these recent internal elections.

    Let’s start with abbreviations. I’ve noticed this in a lot of recent posts, but no-one seems to be spelling out what the NEC or the NPF are. Even the words “national executive committee” and “national policy forum” would be a nice start, as well as actually clarifying the differences between the two and what both bodies actually do.

    In addition to this, your mention of political balance baffles me. Before this post, I hadn’t realised that the candidates were representing different philosophies. The voting leaflet, which is practically the single piece of information that Labour party members would have about the candidates, was notably unclear about this. And coming back to abbreviations, what is CLPD? From the sentence, I’m guessing a more leftish group (of three people) on the national executive committee, but again, it’s completely opaque to more casual Labour readers.

    This isn’t a personal criticism of the author or of the site. It’s of this assumed knowledge that simply makes it difficult for Labour members (not even mentioning the public, for pity’s sake) who aren’t “in the know” about these sorts of issues.

    It also wouldn’t surprise me if it’s part of why turnout was as low as it was, with general information about the process and the candidates notably sparse or opaque, discouraging participation from the very people we want involved – right?

    • http://twitter.com/ElliotBidgood Elliot Bidgood

      I second this. In my case, I’m a very active member in many respects and a regular reader/commenter on LL, but even I often find my knowledge of the specifics of internal party democracy is a bit lacking, I sometimes have to look up people/acronyms in order to follow and with the exception of the high-recognition names, I tend to vote relatively blindly when the internal elections roll around. Like Jeevan said, putting myself in the shoes of a more casual member or member of the public, I wouldn’t know where to start.

  • Mike Homfray

    I know a fair few who voted largely Ga but also for Peter Wheeler as the only personikely to win based in the north of England

  • Daniel Speight

    I will give Luke Akehurst his due. He doesn’t post and run on LL like so many MPs. He is willing to argue his corner even if many don’t agree with it.

  • Newham Sue

    I agree that the booklet sent out didn’t do enough to differentiate the candidates (one reason Ken would have towered over others – we all know exactly what he’s about). Also, if anyone was still to vote by that point, do feel the hysterical tone of Luke’s attacks on the GMB motion (and anyone of a left persuasion) may have put folk off. Defending Progress policy/structure is one thing, but claiming the Labour Party is about to be swept by some new red peril is just immature poppycock

  • aracataca

    Been moddied off again. Suspect the malign influence of that great democrat AG. However, I will try again. Nice to see Ellie Reeves back.She always keeps in touch with members. The elections show there is no desire for radical internal change in the party. Suits me.


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