The results of Labour’s NEC ballot are in. This doesn’t mean much to anyone outside the party, but it’s an interesting indicator of where Labour is at, and our direction of travel.
Mostly, these aren’t spectacularly shocking results.
The left slate retain three candidates, the right slate retain two candidates (though with one different member, of which more later) and my “slate” has had 100% success rate as I only backed one candidate the independent Johanna Baxter who leapt from a close seventh last time to a comfortable fifth (there are six slots on the NEC elected by CLP members) on this occasion.
So the lesson to draw from all of this is: if you want to get ahead, get an endorsement from Emma.
Well, obviously not, but you’d be amazed at how many people are already taking this quite balanced result and spinning it into whatever suits their current narrative.
People adding up the votes cast and extrapolating the percentages to prove a triumph or resurgence of the left or the defeat of Progress are moving to a conclusion too far, too fast – to coin a phrase.
In actuality, little has changed. Johanna Baxter was in fact brought onto the NEC fairly early in the last two year term, as the ennoblement of Oona King made her ineligible for the position (as MPs, MEPs and peers have their own section). So the election has not changed the balance the NEC has been working with for nearly two years, even if some of the personnel have changed.
It’s certainly true that two candidates on the left-wing slate topped the poll. This may well be a return of left-wing ideas to the Labour Party. We shall see what this means in practice. There are certainly areas where I feel our approach could have been bolder in the past.
But of those two candidates, Ken Livingstone has name recognition that most people would kill for, and Ann Black was pioneering in her approach to member communications of the NEC (previously a very closed shop) for many years, and was chair of the NEC a few years ago.
Last time, the Progress slate ran Oona King who also has very high name recognition and came second. This time, they had no such names and the left did.
I don’t know if anyone who would be interested has the resources, but it would be fascinating to see a proper analysis of the results to see what factors went into people’s decisions to vote for which six candidates, and if there are any underlying trends there.
In sixth place, Peter Wheeler has replaced Luke Akehurst – one Progress/Labour First slate member for another. Luke can be an extreme character and one who draws more vitriol from fellow Labour Party members than almost anyone else.
Luke often doesn’t help himself, as his attitude is often more combative than comradely, and this may well be what has cost him the election. But he has worked incredibly hard over the last two years on the NEC, and while we disagree on a myriad of political topics, I continue to admire his unswerving loyalty to the party and its best interests.
As the only outgoing member of the current NEC, he is owed thanks from me and others for the work he’s done.
Johanna’s re-election to the NEC could equally be a result of greater name recognition this time around. She spent a great deal of time and effort reaching out to members over the last two years which has clearly paid off. But this is the first time for a long while that the domination of the slates has been broken electorally.
It will be very interesting to see if other independents can succeed in Johanna’s wake.