Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
7 February 2020updated 29 Jun 2021 3:43pm

The internal election the Labour left is really worrying about

Divisions on the Corbynite left have led some to worry that they could lose control of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee.

By Patrick Maguire

The eyes of the Labour Party are unsurprisingly fixed on the elections for Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson’s successors – but some on the left of the party are rather more animated by another internal poll. 

As of last month, there are two vacancies for constituency party representatives on Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee: Nav Mishra and Claudia Webbe, who were both elected as part of Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy’s #JC9 slate in the summer of 2018, are now MPs.

Both won handily last time. Yet some on the Labour left worry that the by-election to replace them could yet be lost. Momentum and the CLPD are already at loggerheads over the shape of the left’s slate. The latter group has objected to the absence of BAME candidates on Momentum’s slate. Pete Willsman, the CLPD’s secretary, says it will run its own. Other left candidates are standing independently. 

Thoughtful Corbynites fear that the net effect will be a split left vote that hands the two seats to the right, which is running a united slate under the auspices of Labour First. This, they fear, could be just as consequential for the left’s internal standing as losing the leadership. Why? The NEC, of course, has the power to constrain or effect a leader’s will. If it loses its NEC majority, the left largely loses its ability to meaningfully resist, whatever Keir Starmer wants to do.

That, in a nutshell, is their fear. “Even before Keir is elected and appoints new PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party] reps to the NEC, the left is handing power to the right through the CLP route,” says one trade unionist. “Without Jeremy as the glue to hold the left together, the whole thing is falling apart. The entire past five years has been built on him and now the dominoes are in motion: the NEC, the leader, the general secretary, and the staff.” Without left unity, the first of those dominoes could fall sooner than expected.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
Musidora Jorgensen: Sustainability is good for business
How to navigate the modern cyber-threat landscape
Supporting customers through the cost of living crisis