A “factional power grab” or giving power to the members? Labour movement reacts to sweeping party reforms

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Yesterday’s crunch national executive meeting oversaw a raft of new procedures, approving Jewish Labour Movement’s rule change on anti-Semitism, a lowering of the threshold needed to make the leadership ballot and the commissioning of a wide-reaching report into party democracy.

Three new seats are to be added onto the NEC to represent members with one further place for the trade unions.

Here’s how the labour movement reacted:

A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn said: “Jeremy welcomes the decision of the NEC to back expansion of democracy and participation in the party. Labour’s membership has nearly tripled in the last two years – and the enormous benefits of that were felt at the general election. Our members have the talent, energy and skills to win elections so that we can transform our country for the many not the few.”

“Jeremy is delighted that the NEC backed plans to tackle discrimination in the party. As the party of equality, there can be no place in Labour for prejudice. Jeremy thanks all those involved with drafting this motion, including the Jewish Labour Movement and Shami Chakrabarti.”

 

Alice Perry, Labour’s local government representative on the NEC, tweeted further news from the meeting: 

Emma Rees, Momentum’s national organiser, told The Guardian: “We welcome the review, which is a promising first step towards a 21st-century Labour party that empowers its members and is able to win elections.”

“We’re glad that all wings of the party are finally recognising their invaluable contribution, and understand that it’s both right and strategic for members to have more of a say.”

Seema Chandwani, newly elected member of the conference arrangements committee wrote on Twitter:

Matt Pound, national organiser of Labour First, appeared on Newsnight:

Jeremy Newmark, national chair, Jewish Labour Movement, said: “We are heartened that the NEC has adopted our rule change proposals and will be taking them forward to party conference next week.

“This is another step forward, however our campaign will not end until these proposals are adopted in full by conference itself – this is not a given and will require the firm support of the leadership. These constitutional amendments, if passed, will simply bring the Labour’s rules to the place that should have been expected from a political party rooted in values of equality and anti-racism.”

“The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. That means that if passed at conference the new rules will need to be firmly implemented to create a zero-tolerance environment for antisemitism and other forms of discrimination. The party will then need to take steps to rebuild its relationship with the Jewish community.”

Richard Angell, director of Progress, said: “Today Labour’s new establishment bounced the NEC in private session into a series of reforms that amount to a factional power grab and more roles for members in London and the south east. It is a missed opportunity to not give members in every corner of the country a voice by regionalising the NEC.

“In a bizarre turn of events Corbyn’s political secretary will be leading a review into party structures rather than working out how to beat the Tories and run the country. It is a warped set of priorities when a general election could take place at any point.”

The Labour party said in a statement: “Following today’s NEC meeting, Labour will conduct a democracy review to increase participation at all levels of the party so that Labour is strengthened as an outward facing, campaigning, mass party active in every community.”

“The NEC also proposed a rule changes to party conference which would lower the threshold for future elections for leader and deputy leader to nomination by 10 per cent of MPs and MEPs and increase the representation of members on the NEC by three and affiliated unions by one.

“The NEC also unanimously backed tough new rules on antisemitism, racism homophobia and all other forms of prejudice.”

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