Momentum, the centre-left and community organising – six things we learned from NEC elections


The results were not a surprise but the scale of the win for Labour’s left in elections to the national executive committee (NEC) prompted intense discussion among party members. After the Momentum-backed slate achieved a clean sweep of the three new slots, but pro-EU activist Eddie Izzard climbed to fourth place, LabourList looks at what the results mean for the party.

  1. Jeremy Corbyn has tightened his grip on Labour. The victory for the left-wing candidates – all three activists on the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance slate, backed by Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy won a place on the NEC – was overwhelming. It showed the majority of the membership remains supportive of Corbyn’s politics and they were cheered by a general election result which saw a third consecutive defeat alongside some remarkable gains around the country. But…
  2. Jon Lansman is not the most popular activist in Labour – at least not quite. The founding chair of Momentum notched up second place in the poll, just over 3,000 votes behind Yasmine Dar. The veteran Bennite activist was thought unlikely to top the ballot, however, based on the progress of nominations by constituency parties over the autumn. He remains, however, one of the most influential party members and will be delighted at achieving his lifetime ambition of securing a place on Labour’s ruling body.
  3. The gap between the factions appears to be widening, as Buzzfeed journalist Jim Waterson pointed out on Twitter. In the summer 2016 poll for the NEC the gap between the lowest-ranked left-wing activist to be elected was 11.4 per cent. This time around, however, the gap between Rachel Garnham, the final person to be elected, and closest rival Eddie Izzard was more than 23,000 votes, some 37.2 per cent. It will prompt dismay among those who backed the centre-left candidates and fear they are destined for a left-wing successor to Jeremy Corbyn. But…
  4. The campaign tactics deployed by Progress and Labour First are evolving. The three centre-left candidates avoided describing themselves as a “slate” and each came from varying political traditions. In Izzard, former NEC rep Johanna Baxter and Sikhs for Labour vice-chair Gurinder Singh Josan they picked a Labour celebrity and EU campaigner, an experienced activist from Scottish Labour and an official who, although not previously prominent, was able to speak up for under-represented groups across the country. All three were articulate and credible advocates for a more diverse Labour Party.
  5. Community organising will now get going. Until this point in Corbyn’s leadership, it had seemed unclear what these oft-cited community projects would bring. The Guardian interview given by Lansman yesterday, however, in which he cited Momentum-backed “food clubs”, coming just days after Labour announced a new community campaign unit with an aim of “empowering people”, indicated what is on its way. Corbyn’s dream is of a Labour Party as a social movement and that moved one step closer to reality this week.
  6. Stand by for more rule changes. No, they never seem to go away. The ink is barely dry on the election of three new NEC reps but more internal reforms will follow. Attempts to alter the way MPs are confirmed – or not – as candidates seem certain to be floated with some on Labour’s left considering a push for mandatory re-selection. Separate to all of this, it’s worth remembering that the first phase of submissions for the democracy review led by Katy Clark – previously Corbyn’s political secretary – has now concluded.
Everything Labour.
Every weekday morning.

By clicking ‘subscribe’ you confirm you have read and agree to our privacy policy

More from LabourList