A mystery organisation, Grassroots Labour, has sprung up on the self-styled Left Futures website masquerading as the NEC (National Executive Committee) Slate. This should NOT be confused with the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) slate that for the last 14 years has offered up candidates for the NEC. I declare an interest, as the preferred candidate of Save the Labour Party (STLP) for re-election to the NEC following an all-member ballot on the CLGA slate.
The GL was cobbled together overnight by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD). It was created following STLP chair Peter Kenyon's (my) refusal to break an agreement at the last CLGA meeting. That was that the CLGA, in the absence of consensus on six names for the constituency section, agreed that eight names should be circulated to CLPs and a final slate of six would be agreed if possible after the 30 July nomination closing date, and before the issue of ballot papers to members, now not expected until early September.
The CLPD 'offer' was that I should go on the GL slate along with fellow males Ken Livingstone and Pete Willsman, together with Ann Black, Christine Shawcroft and Sofi Taylor. The CLPD envoy proposed dropping Sam Tarry. That seemed to me to be a breach of faith with Compass and Compass Youth in particular who were keen to get involved in Labour Party governance. Moreover, Sam had been elected national chair of Young Labour the year before and would have reduced the average age of the CLGA slate by nearly half a generation at a stroke. Instead, I suggested the CLPD should choose between Ken and Pete, knowing that idea, to put it politely, would be refused out of hand.
Anyone exploring the inability of the centre-left to respond to New Labour need look no further than the CLGA. I have been a member of the NEC for nearly two years. There has never been a caucus or systematic attempt to seek alliances with other sections of the Party represented on the Labour Party's so-called ruling National Executive Committee. There is no agreed agenda. There is a CLGA statement about policy. But the NEC to date is still locked in post-Blairite stasis and doesn't do policy.
Anyone keen to know more is welcome to ask and I will do my best to answer. In the meantime, Save the Labour Party's committee met this afternoon and had a mercifully brief report back and discussion on the slate issue before deciding to stand by the CLGA agreement and circulate all eight names in its next members' and CLP/BLP newsletters. It will review the nominations for each candidate if available on 31 July. In the meantime, STLP agreed that there was work to be done preparing for the next NEC on 20 July, Rule changes for Conference 2010 and demands of the Leadership contenders.
As for Left Futures, it boasts: “The best that’s Left in Labour. Good writing. Sharp criticism. Open debate. Campaigning. Red or green, aligned or not, Left Futures seeks to refresh and activate your politics."
Let's hope its unexplained promotion of CLPD-retro was a momentary lapse from its mission. BTW - hot tip for whomever designed the gizmo (copied above) do you want everyone to miss the real excitement by arriving in Manchester on Sunday 26th? The Labour Party Conference 2010 starts on Saturday 25th September, when agenda issues with the Conference Arrangements Committee have to be addressed, and for added interest this year – the results of the Leadership election will be announced the same day.