Centre-left of Labour triumphs in latest round of internal elections

15th March, 2016 4:21 pm

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The latest set of internal Labour elections has produced a set of victories for the party’s centre-left.

The “moderate” wing of the party achieved an almost clean sweep of the Joint Policy Committee (JPC), which oversees Labour’s National Policy Forum (NPF) and the Policy Commissions.

It comes shortly after proposals from the left of the party came to light, suggesting moving power away from the NPF, and handing it to the National Executive Committee (NEC).

The election saw nine people elected to the JPC: three from the affiliates section, two elected representatives, and four in the Constituency Labour Party/regions section.

The affiliates section, representing trade unions and socialist societies, saw three candidates elected unopposed. Unite and Unison’s general secretaries Len McCluskey and Dave Prentis both assumed positions, as did Melanie Smallman from the Labour environment group SERA.

McCluskey’s inclusion could be interesting for Labour’s upcoming debate about a nuclear deterrent: Unite has a policy of supporting Trident renewal, which brings jobs to a large number of its members. Under Prentis, meanwhile, Unison is seen as one of the most moderate of the large trade unions.

In the section for elected representatives, Emma Reynolds MP and Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock were elected by NPF members. Both supported Liz Kendall in last year’s leadership contest.

None of the four elected from the CLP sections are seen as on the party’s traditional left flank. They are: Christopher Bloore, Joanne Harding, Rory Palmer​ and Fiona Twycross.

The JPC manages the NPF and the Policy Commissions in producing a rolling programme for submission to party conference. Given Jeremy Corbyn’s desire to give greater policy-making power to annual conference, this could mean the JPC has a much more powerful role in determining Labour manifestos in future.

The success of centre left candidates suggests that there remains a strong moderate presence in the NPF, one which is still willing to exert itself – and possibly prepare for a fight to defend the power and influence of the policy forum.

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