Luke Akehurst: NEC analysis shows Momentum thriving in unwinnable seats

5th July, 2016 10:00 am

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There’s another internal election going on – for six seats on Labour’s national executive committee representing CLPs. These will be elected by one member one vote across the country in a ballot scheduled to start on 11 July. Only full members – not registered or affiliated supporters – can vote.

Nominations by CLPs took place from January to June and closed the day after the referendum.

They therefore present an interesting snapshot of activist (in the sense of members who attend CLP meetings) opinion as it was before the referendum – there appear to have been dramatic changes since – and show how far and where Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum foot-soldiers had advanced before the current leadership crisis.

The full list was published yesterday – 341 CLPs nominated at least one candidate (CLPs can nominate up to six candidates) and 291 CLPs did not nominate at all.

The number of nominations by validly-nominated candidate, with which political endorsement they have received and change from their total in the previous contest (or that of the equivalent candidate from their political grouping) is shown below:

Ann Black  –  Left  –  301 (up 81 since 2014)
Christine Shawcroft  –  Left  –  189 (up 76)
Peter Willsman  –  Left  –  164 (up 49)
Ellie Reeves  –  Moderate  –  149 (up 33)
Claudia Webbe  –  Left  –  145 (up 49 compared to Kate Osamor)
Darren Williams  –  Left  –  144 (up 68)
Bex Bailey  –  Moderate  –  132 (up 83 compared to Florence Nosegbe)
Rhea Wolfson  –  Left  –  130 (down 1 compared to Ken Livingstone)
Johanna Baxter  –  Moderate  –  123 (down 39)
Luke Akehurst  –  Moderate  – 107 (up 13)
Parmjit Dhanda  –  Moderate  –  105 (up 21 compared to Kevin Peel)
Eddie Izzard  –  Independent  –  91
Peter Wheeler  –  Moderate  –  87 (down 5)
John Gallagher  –  Independent  –  25
Amanat Gul  –  Independent  –  4

So the pattern seems to be the left candidates advancing due to better organisation and persuading more previously unengaged CLPs to participate, rather than by taking nominations that had previously gone to “moderates”, as most of these candidates have also done better than in 2014, though less dramatically so than the left.

Candidates’ personal record and appeal (political, geographical, diversity, experience) can obviously trump voting by slate in many cases and means there are wide variations in the number of nominations achieved by candidates running as a team.

Relatively few CLPs nominate an entire slate of six candidates from one side or the other:

169 CLPs nominated a majority of candidates from the left slate.

114 CLPs nominated a majority of candidates from the moderate slate.

58 CLPs did not nominate a clear majority from either slate (i.e. equal numbers of candidates from both sides or a mix where independents held the balance).

The geography of this is interesting.

London 28 Moderate majority, 20 Left majority, 8 Split (17 did not nominate).

South East 20 Left majority, 16 Moderate majority, 13 Split (35 did not nominate).
South West 19 Left majority, 7 Moderate majority, 5 Split (24 did not nominate).

East 21 Left majority, 6 Split, 3 Moderate majority (29 did not nominate).
East Midlands 12 Left majority, 9 Moderate majority, 4 Split (21 did not nominate).

West Midlands 18 Left majority, 8 Moderate majority, 5 Split (28 did not nominate).

North West 21 Left majority, 17 Moderate majority, 5 Split (28 did not nominate).

Yorkshire & Humber 15 Left majority, 10 Moderate majority, 4 Split (25 did not nominate).

North 11 Left majority, 5 Moderate majority, 0 Split (18 did not nominate).

Wales 9 Left majority, 4 Moderate majority, 4 Split (23 did not nominate).

Scotland 10 Moderate majority, 6 Left majority, 6 Split (51 did not nominate).

So despite the nationwide total for the left, the moderates are ahead in London (Labour’s largest region by membership) and Scotland, and in close contention in several other regions notably the North West and South East (Labour’s next two largest regions by membership).

London’s role seems to have flipped from being the left’s strongest in the 1980s to its weakest now.

The left appear to have secured particularly large numbers of CLP nominations – nearly a quarter of their national total – from two largely rural regions with limited Labour electoral strength, the East and South West.

Levels of participation by region ranged from 76 per cent of London CLPs nominating to only 30 per cent of Scottish CLPs (which are organised on Holyrood boundaries).

There is a big difference between the winnability for Labour of the constituencies backing the different slates.

Of those CLPs backing a majority from the moderate slate, 45 per cent are currently Labour held, 31 per cent are seats Labour held in the period 1997-2015 but has now lost, and 24 per cent are seats Labour has never recently won. In contrast, of those CLPs backing a majority from the left slate, 39 per cent are currently Labour held, 19 per cent are seats Labour held in the period 1997-2015 and 42 per cent are seats Labour has never recently won.

Momentum seems to be particularly strong in regions and constituencies that are unwinnable for Labour, perhaps because the local parties do not feel compelled to take electoral pressures into account in the way more electorally competitive areas do, or because it was easier to wrest control of CLPs that were often small and inactive before 2015, without the large cadre of councillors and regular campaigners who have a stake in keeping Labour electable in more winnable areas.

It is concerning that our national One Member One Vote ballots (without reserved regional seats or weighting) mean that the voices of regions that are rich in working class Labour votes, but poor in middle class membership sign-ups, may be drowned out by areas where the reverse is the case, with consequent impact on policy priorities, tone of national message, and the faces representing the party nationally.

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