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25 February 2016

Eddie Izzard to run for Labour’s NEC

The comedian and actor will seek a place on the party's ruling executive.

By Stephen Bush

Eddie Izzard, the comedian and actor, has announced that he will run as a candidate in Labour’s coming elections to the party’s ruling national executive committee.

Izzard, one of Britain’s most beloved comedians, has been a member of the party for 20 years, was heavily involved in the party’s general election campaigns in 2010 and 2015, and has given his time to numerous fundraisers and other events to support the party, but has never held a formal role in the party before.

The entry of Izzard into the race will come as a blow to the Grassroots Alliance, the left slate backed by Momentum, the continuation of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign.

Until Izzard announced, confident of winning five out of the six places on the NEC that are selected by ordinary Labour members. Johanna Baxter, who is not affliated with any slate and has been elected twice to the NEC as an independent, is believed to be unassailable on the NEC, to the extent that the centre-left slate backed by Labour First and Progress, has only fielded five candidates this year. Ken Livingstone, who is running on the left’s slate, is also believed to be a shoo-in.

NEC elections are low turnout and tend to hinge on name recognition, making Izzard tough to beat. The actor, who endorsed Andy Burnham in the leadership election, describes himself as a “radical moderate. I do radical things with a  moderate message”.

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Prospects for the right are bleak, with one MP despairingly describing the Labour First/Progress slate as “a bunch of nobodies”.