Looking ahead to this week’s elections for Labour’s National Executive Committee, one moderate MP recently set out the depressing state of the task in hand for non-Corbynites.
“Our best-case scenario keeps getting worse. Two years ago, we were hoping to defeat Ann Black. Now we’re hoping that she might squeak on.”
The anonymous MP was speaking to the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush in August for his must-read cover piece
on the inevitability of a Labour split. Two weeks later, the results are in. And they are as bad as the Labour moderates had feared.
- Black, an outspoken, independent-minded socialist and former NEC chair, has failed to squeak on to Labour’s ruling body.
- Also missing out (for a third time) was Eddie Izzard, along with the entire Progress/Labour First slate.
- The full Momentum slate was elected to the NEC.
- Also elected was Pete Willsman – aka the activist who claimed Jewish “Trump fanatics” were making up some of the allegations of antisemitism and then got kicked off the slate.
What does it all mean for the future of the Labour party? Bush has now suggested
that the results do not reveal anything that dramatic because turnout was so low and many ballots were cast before Willsman was kicked off the slate.
But writing on Twitter just before the result came out, a well-respected former Labour press officer had a slightly different perspective.
"Willsman is a longstanding member of left-Labour groups and an ardent Jeremy Corbyn supporter. But he’s not always been massively popular," stated Paul Ovenden, who left the press office last year to join M&C Saatchi.
"As a result of his rant, Momentum and many of Jeremy Corbyn’s most supportive voices withdrew their backing from Willsman’s candidacy… The most notable exception to this was Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North and herald of the furthest left reaches of the Labour Party. He doubled down on his support for Willsman," he added.
"If Peter Willsman gets on the NEC today, he will have done it after being disowned by some of the most powerful left-wing groups and voices. The Labour membership will have signalled their disagreement with Momentum and their agreement with Williamson."
And then came the kicker:
"I think it would then be fair to draw the conclusion that the Labour membership is more closely aligned to the views of Chris Williamson than to, say, John McDonnell or Emily Thornberry. And that has huge ramifications for the future of the Labour Party.
"In short: if Pete Willsman gets on the NEC (which I think is likely but not certain), I think Chris Williamson's odds of being the next Labour leader should probably be a lot shorter than, err, Chris Leslie's."
Ovenden finished off his thread
with a smiling face. It’s fair to say that some of the MPs he used to spin for were not smiling when the NEC results landed a few hours later…
THE NEC RESULTS IN FULL:
Yasmine Dar (Momentum/CLPD/CLGA slate) 88,176– elected
Claudia Webbe (Momentum/CLPD/CLGA slate) 83,797 – elected
Jon Lansman (Momentum/CLPD/CLGA slate) 83,072– elected
Rachel Garnham (Momentum/CLPD/CLGA slate) 81,702 – elected
Huda Elmi (Momentum/CLPD/CLGA slate) 80,371– elected
Darren Williams (Momentum/CLPD/CLGA slate) 79,361 – elected
Ann Henderson (Momentum/CLPD/CLGA slate) 79,176 – elected
Nav Mishra (Momentum/CLPD/CLGA slate) 75,224 – elected
Peter Willsman (CLPD/CLGA slate) 70,321 – elected
Eddie Izzard (independent) 67,819
Johanna Baxter (Progress/Labour First slate) 50,185
Gurinder Singh Josan (Progress/Labour First slate) 48,643
Ann Black (Open Labour-backed) 45,566
Jasmin Beckett (Progress/Labour First slate) 43,955
Heather Peto (Progress/Labour First slate) 43,774
Luke Akehurst (Progress/Labour First slate) 43,156
Eda Cazimoglu (Progress/Labour First slate) 40,807
Mary Wimbury (Progress/Labour First slate) 40,507
Lisa Banes (Progress/Labour First slate) 37,993
Marianna Masters (Progress/Labour First slate) 35,061
Jonathan Fletcher (independent) 15,303
Stephen Guy (independent) 14,985
Nicola Morrison (independent) 10,671
James Craigie (independent) 10,326
Gary Spedding (independent) 9,854
Stephen Stanners (independent) 8,909