Ken Livingstone's top vote in the 2012 Labour Party National Executive Committee election highlights the importance of name recognition, as much as political leanings in determining the outcome. The tragedy is that he has little commitment to accountability to the membership as a whole. The extent to which his total has fallen back from 2010 suggests some awareness of this short-coming on his part.
I have little to celebrate other than the re-election of two of my Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance colleagues, Ann Black and Christine Shawcroft. True the Grassroots Alliance slate outpolled the Labour First/Progress. But the winners were 'names' - Ken polled 31,682, Ann Black, who came a close second to Ken, has a richly deserved reputation keeping members informed for over a decade about the proceedings of the Party's ruling body. Next was the right's Ellie Reeves with 23,417 followed by the Left's Christine Shawcroft with 22,236. Fifth was marathon CLP talker and self-proclaimed independent, Johanna Baxter - 20,146, and last but no means least was the right's Peter Wheeler with 17,721 - probably helped by high name recognition in the North West, the region with the second highest concentration of Labour Party members.
The material changes in NEC members' representation are a right-wing switch of Wheeler for Luke Akehurst, the only sitting member to lose his seat, coming eighth with 17,475; and a slight widening of regional representation as set out above.
Hopes of stimulating strategic thinking among this group remain as distant as ever. BAME representation remains nil, and regional representation concentrated in London and the South-East.
I hope Ken will do the decent thing and retire allowing the Left's Kate Osamor to take his seat, as she would having achieved a massive 17,598 votes - coming seventh in the 2012 NEC poll.
The other challenge concerns Christine Shawcroft, whom the fixers have prevented taking her rightful role as NEC deputy chair and subsequently chair based on time in office. The Labour Party is sufficiently robust to withstand a media whinge of a shift to the left is she were to chair the NEC in 2014.