Jon Lansman tried to scrap the post of deputy leader – currently held by Tom Watson – at the latest meeting of Labour’s ruling body tonight, LabourList can reveal.
As a representative of local parties on Labour’s national executive committee (NEC), the chair of Momentum proposed a motion to abolish the position, but failed to get it through.
LabourList understands that the NEC chair Wendy Nichols ruled the motion out of order. This ruling was then put to a vote, which saw 17 NEC members vote in favour of the motion being in order and 10 vote against.
As there was no two-thirds majority to overturn the chair’s ruling, NEC members in favour of ousting Tom Watson did not succeed in reversing the decision and Lansman’s motion was judged to be out of order.
According to a well-placed source, Lansman spoke at the meeting about Watson “undermining” Keir Starmer on the day of his speech at the TUC congress earlier this month.
Watson himself was not at the meeting. He gave apologies for his absence, which was on account of childcare commitments.
The motion is due to be discussed again at the NEC meeting on Saturday morning, which starts at 10am. It is not expected to be ruled out of order tomorrow, as it will have been submitted in advance.
Both supporters and critics of Watson say the motion is very likely to pass, as there is a majority on the NEC against the deputy leader and shadow cabinet member.
Commenting on the motion, a Momentum source told LabourList: “No one person is more important than beating Boris Johnson, ending austerity and tackling the climate emergency. We just can’t afford to go into an election with a deputy leader set on wrecking Labour’s chances.
“Labour members overwhelmingly want a deputy leadership election, but our outdated rulebook won’t let it happen. You need 20% of Labour MPs to trigger an election, and they just won’t let the members have a fair and open election.”
Earlier this week, at the Tuesday meeting of Labour’s NEC, Lansman moved a motion to declare that Labour Students was not an affiliate of the party. The motion was approved, effectively scrapping the student body.