Momentum reveals slate for local party reps in NEC by-elections

Sienna Rodgers

Momentum has revealed its slate for the internal by-elections taking place that will determine two places representative of local parties on Labour’s ruling national executive committee.

The Corbynite organisation has confirmed that it will be backing Leigh Drennan and Lauren Townsend for the two posts vacated by Claudia Webbe and Navendu Mishra – who have now been elected as Labour MPs and therefore had to step down as CLP reps.

Leigh Drennan is a member of Momentum’s national coordinating group. He is also a Labour councillor in Tameside, UNISON organiser, vice-chair of Labour North West and member of North West Unite’s Labour liaison committee.

Drennan unsuccessfully stood for the post of Young Labour chair in 2018, when Miriam Mirwitch surprised members by winning against the Momentum-backed candidate. He had also been endorsed by Unite, GMB, UNISON, TSSA, CWU and ASLEF.

Lauren Townsend is a Labour and Co-operative councillor in Milton Keynes who works for left-wing trade union CWU. She is also a spokesperson for lobby group Labour for Green New Deal, which pushed for the party to commit to a 2030 decarbonisation target.

Townsend entered the labour movement as a TGI waitress who recruited members, trained as a rep and led strikes in the #FairTips campaign. She has won the nominations of 34 CLPs in the NEC by-election contest.

The Labour left’s majority on the NEC has been regarded as narrow or at least ‘soft’ for some time by members on the Corbynite wing of the party. Following the departure of Webbe and Mishra after the general election, the majority was further reduced.

In the formation of the Momentum slate, there has already been much turmoil behind the scenes according to LabourList sources. One described it as a “complete mess” as the endorsement choices were revised at least twice.

LabourList understands that there is currently no joint slate agreed between Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD). There are hopes that one can be reached before the close of nominations, though CLPD has already endorsed Mohammed Azam for the NEC’s CLP section.

As well as two CLP reps, there is also a by-election for the NEC’s BAME representative, which was previously ex-MP Keith Vaz. It is rumoured that Momentum could back Nav Mishra, now MP for Stockport, but this has not been confirmed.

Corbynsceptic group Labour First has endorsed Gurinder Singh Josan and former NEC member Johanna Baxter. The contests will take place alongside Labour’s leadership elections and see members vote from February 24th.

Update, February 7th: Amid criticism of Momentum’s picks on the basis that they would see two BAME reps replaced with two white members, CLPD has decided to back Townsend but not Drennan. They have endorsed Cecile Wright, a CLPD executive member and Momentum vice-chair.

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