Labour’s national executive committee met on Monday, January 6th, to discuss the process for electing a new leader and deputy leader, as well as by-elections for vacant NEC places. Jennie Formby and Jeremy Corbyn gave brief reports but questions and discussions on the general election and future plans are being saved for the NEC away day at the end of January. NEC members asked that this meeting also discuss tackling antisemitism and any plans for organisational restructure.
European Parliamentary Labour Party leader Richard Corbett and party chair Ian Lavery were both celebrating birthdays at the NEC meeting. The meeting was focused, positive and short by NEC standards. The leadership elections begin on January 7th, today, with the results being announced at a special conference on April 4th.
This is the first time that the leadership elections have taken place using the new rules agreed by Labour conference in 2018. There are very important local government elections taking place in May, so it is crucial that the contest is as quick as possible and does not detract or distract from the upcoming polls.
The NEC agreed the members of the procedures committee who will oversee the process. This will include oversight of new members and new registered supporters, checking that they share Labour’s aims and values. In 2015, when the price of becoming a registered supporter was only £3, this was a big issue. This is less of an issue when the fee for registered supporters is set at £25. This was one reason the NEC agreed to keep the fee for registered supporters set at £25 this time. A number of NEC members made the case that it is better, and in some cases cheaper, to join the party.
There has been a surge in membership since the general election defeat. Labour now has over 550,000 members. Work will take place to encourage affiliate members and registered supporters to join the party as full members.
The NEC discussed the nominations process. Colleagues from Wales raised the fact that there is no formal role in the process for Welsh Assembly Members or Members of the Scottish Parliament. I raised that fact that councillors and Labour groups do not have a formal role, despite the enormous contributions made by local government. Labour groups can make supporting nominations but these are not an official part of the process.
Ballots for the forthcoming internal elections will be sent out electronically. If people do not have a valid email address, they will receive their ballot by post. This method saves money and is better for the environment than a full postal ballot.
The NEC also agreed the process for NEC by-elections for the two vacancies in the CLP section, the vacancy in the BAME section and the vacancy in the trade union section. The BAME place will be elected using an electoral college of 50% self-identifying BAME members and 50% trade unions. The CLP place will be a one-member-one-vote ballot of members, and the trade union place will be a ballot of affiliated unions.
Nominations open in the CLP and BAME sections in January, with the online ballot opening in February. The ballots close on April 2nd, with the results set to be announced shortly after.
The next NEC meeting will include a full discussion about the general election campaign. Get in touch if you have any feedback or comments about your experiences in the general election that you would like to share. (You can contact me through my blog.)