Tag Archives: general secretary

Labour after Formby’s election

In light of the new incoming regime at party HQ, Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists reports on left-wing objections to Jon Lansman’s slate

Jennie Formby is now the new general secretary of the Labour Party. With the help of most of the mainstream media, the right tried to smear her on every level imaginable: personally, as the “mother of Len McCluskey’s lovechild”, and professionally, by painting her as a mindless union bureaucrat who, it was claimed, was ‘demoted’ from political director of the Unite union to regional secretary.1)www.unitetheunion.org/news/unite-statement-on-the-smear-attack-on-jennie-formby-by-laas

Most pathetic was, of course, the attempt to present her as some kind of anti-Semite. In the last two and a half years, this smear has been employed over and over again. Editors have become so ‘oversensitised’ to the subject that they will jump with joy when they get the next tip-off, no matter how stupid. A case in point is the 250-page dodgy dossier of vile rightwinger David Collier (aka GnasherJew), in which he “exposed” the fact that Jeremy Corbyn was once a member of a Facebook group in which some people wrote shite. Big deal. Still, almost every single newspaper found this newsworthy and quoted Collier uncritically.

Similarly they lapped up the charge by the mysterious campaign, Labour Against Anti-Semitism (LAAS), which accuses Formby of “making anti-Semitic comments regarding the suitability of Baroness Royall to conduct an NEC inquiry into alleged anti-Semitism among Labour students at Oxford University”.

More recently we saw the attempt to charge her with having been personally responsible for hiring Vicky Kirby, who did indeed make some rather problematic comments on Twitter a few years back. Kirby was suspended from the Labour Party, but has been reinstated since. Unless we support Berufsverbote for people who have made stupid comments online, this is clearly not much to go on. And in fact, as Unite has explained, Kirby was appointed by a panel.

In the last couple of days, LAAS has also charged Formby with not having

adequately explained her relationship to the ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ group, made up of divisive suspended or expelled members such as Jackie Walker, who have supported her application for the role of general secretary. We seek assurances from Ms Formby that she has no relationship with this body or any of its members, as we believe this may prejudice her ability to uphold and implement the rules relating to racial discrimination that are embedded in the Labour Party rulebook.

Well, we can put the mind of the anonymous witch-finders to rest: to our knowledge, Jennie Formby has no relationship at all with anybody from Labour Against the Witchhunt. In fact, had LAAS checked their facts, they would have been able to ascertain that LAW’s support for Formby was openly “critical”:

We are concerned about her record on Labour’s NEC, where it appears she has, as recently as last week, failed to oppose the witch-hunting of Jeremy Corbyn supporters by rightwingers who have weaponised false claims of anti-Semitism despite Formby herself being the target of such smears. Nobody in the Labour Party can truly be a socialist if they support the purge and that includes the future general secretary.

That does not really read as if Formby was a fully paid-up member of LAW now, does it?

Some of the rightwing unions on the NEC even went as far as giving “tacit backing” to Momentum owner Jon Lansman over Jennie Formby, clearly judging correctly that he is to her right. After Lansman ally Christine Shawcroft’s ill-judged call to break the union link, that support evaporated quickly and Lansman had to withdraw his candidacy to avoid being crushingly outvoted on the NEC.

Last, but not least, we saw the coordinated resignation (or “exodus”, as The Independent puts its slightly hysterically) of six Blairite Labour staffers, two days before Formby’s expected appointment. Taking their cue from the right in the Parliamentary Labour Party, they clearly tried to do as much damage as possible by going to the press about their joint departure.

Good riddance to them. They include two female employees who directly worked for Iain McNicol; ‘head of policy’ Simon Jackson and, most interestingly, John Stolliday, ‘director of legal and governance’, whose name has popped up in the documents obtained by many of those suspended and expelled from the Labour Party.

Clearly, these Blairite apparatchiks jumped before they could be pushed (or their short-term contracts ran out). Only The Guardian seems naive enough to write that Iain McNicol “stood down unexpectedly”.2)The Guardian March 21 Clearly, McNicol and his willing minions had been living on borrowed time ever since Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader. Once the balance on the NEC shifted in favour of the left, they knew their time was up.

Hotting up

This coordinated attempt to damage Corbyn also serves as a reminder that the civil war in the Labour Party is far from over. The faux outrage over Corbyn’s demand for some form of proof before throwing himself head on into a new kind of cold war with Russia is a case in point. The entire bourgeois media has been joined by the usual assortment of rightwing Labour backbenchers, but also a few frontbenchers like Keir Starmer, who is clearly biding his time before he further twists the knife – he has got quite a good job now under Corbyn, after all.

The leftwing mass membership has, after three long years, finally produced a leftwing NEC, which in turn was able to elect a leftwing general secretary (who will hopefully soon rid HQ of the witch-hunters too). But the right has not yet given up. The Parliamentary Labour Party, the regions and the mass of councillors are still dominated by the right.

NEC regionsLabour First and Progress have just announced the launch of a new campaign by “Labour’s centre-left” (ie, Labour’s right) to increase the number of NEC delegates. Apparently, the “nine centre-left grassroots candidates standing for the NEC” (ie, the nine rightwingers standing against the nine being put forward by Momentum and/or the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance and which include Luke Akehurst3)https://www.necregions.co.uk/about) want “each region, Scotland and Wales to get a members’ place on the national executive committee and the number of places for Labour councillors (currently two) would double.”

Interesting, isn’t it, that rightwingers now think they have to use the language of the left to get anywhere in the party. The ‘model motion’ is full of Momentum-style blurb about “giving the members a voice”. In reality though, they would achieve the opposite – a bit like the proposals advanced by Momentum.4)http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/momentums-loose-cannon/

An additional eleven NEC members would be elected from ‘the regions’, plus two more councillors. Those delegates should be elected by “one member, one vote”. But, because “a national ballot is expensive, prohibitive and extremely difficult without a grouping backing you”, the campaign wants to see those delegates elected by regional conferences. And – you guessed it – those are, of course, still run and dominated by the right. A rather obvious attempt to shift the political balance on the NEC back in favour of the right. This is clearly not about giving “the members a voice” (who in their majority are now to the left of Corbyn). Of course, the proposal has no chance of being implemented by the NEC, but will undoubtedly pop up in branch and CLP meetings across the country.

It is also of concern that the party’s national constitutional committee (NCC) is still firmly in the hands of the Blairites. This deals with any disciplinary cases that the NEC feels merit further investigation – and, in many cases, such a referral leads to expulsion. The few token leftwingers on this committee have proved to be far from useful – or leftwing, for that matter. Momentum’s national vice-chair, Emina Ibrahim, for example, was supposed to be the alibi leftie on the three-person NCC panel at Tony Greenstein’s expulsion hearing – and, despite the obvious democratic shortcomings, lack of natural justice and due process in the accusations against him, she voted in favour of him being expelled. For being rude.

We understand that there are currently about 20 cases before the NCC, with many having lingered there for many months – some for years. The vast majority of them were clearly referred there by an NEC with a very different political balance. We support LAW’s demand to refer all of them back to the now left-majority NEC.

Of course, we are aware that the cases of Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and many others might not automatically be dropped by the NEC (especially as the last meeting decided to refer three further cases). But clearly there has been such a lack of natural justice and due process in all these cases that a new examination of the ‘evidence’ is long overdue. We also hope that, with the election for general secretary out of the way, Unite delegates on the NEC will feel emboldened to speak up against the ongoing witch-hunt of left activists. Maybe Len McCluskey will now even affiliate Unite to Jewish Voice for Labour – a promise he made with much fanfare at last year’s Labour conference.

Start again?

New spikes in the Labour civil war are usually accompanied by chatter about the right wanting to break away. We know that ‘moderate’ Labour MPs have been meeting with Liberal Democrats and Tories to discuss how to stop Brexit. During these cross-party meetings, the idea of a new, pro-European party was mooted some time ago. The ‘Russian agent’ crisis has apparently accelerated this process, so that now we even know the name of the dreamed-up new organisation: Start Again.

According to The Times’ Rachel Sylvester, “for Labour MPs who feel increasingly as if their party has been stolen from them, last week was a tipping point … The equivocation over Russia followed revelations of [Corbyn’s] membership in an anti-Semitic Facebook group” is the last straw for many, apparently. “Labour has mutated into something completely different, and it is increasingly clear that moderates need to recreate the party they once joined. Chatter has focused on the idea of a new pro-European alliance, but this is so much more than Brexit.” Yes, it is. It’s nonsense.

But the right will not do us the favour of breaking away. Unfortunately. No other than ex-Wunderkind Tony Blair has been pulling his hair out over how to do it, and has admitted that it cannot work, thanks mainly to the undemocratic British voting system. With elections based on proportional representation, it would be much easier to build a new party and be represented in parliament. But the failure of the Gang of Four’s Social Democratic Party continues to serve as a stark reminder to Blair and co.

It is much more likely that the right will continue to stay in the party and fight: with leaks to the media, underhand briefings, backstabbing motions, witch-hunts against leftwingers and, one day, if Jeremy Corbyn – or somebody like him – really does become prime minster, perhaps even in cooperation with the full force of the British state.

Alternative

But the left is in no less disarray, unfortunately. Apart from relatively successful single-issue campaigns like Labour Against the Witchhunt, the left’s conduct in the Labour Party has been characterised by political confusion, a serious lack of democracy and a political method that has more in common with Stalinism than socialism.

We have previously written at length about Momentum’s farcical and worryingly quick descent into the Jon Lansman show. The man runs the organisation with an iron fist that would make certain historical figures gasp with admiration. No wonder the rest of the organised left is increasingly fed up with his methods. Unfortunately, this does not always lead to outcomes or methods that are necessarily preferable.

Take the quarrel over the selection of leftwing candidates for the NEC (full elections take place this summer). Previously, some sections of the Labour left got together under the umbrella of the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance to settle on a list of candidates. In the past this has included Ann Black, who is clearly more in the ‘centre’ than on the ‘left’. For some reason, NEC veteran Pete Willsman seems to like her, despite the despicable role she has played in disenfranchising thousands of Corbyn supporters in the party. He ignored a decision by the executive of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (of which he is secretary) and insists that she continue to be featured on the CLGA slate.

But his long-standing CLPD comrade, Jon Lansman, disagreed. And quite right too. But, rather than having a transparent debate on the organised Labour left about who the best representatives of the membership on the NEC might be and how to make them accountable (we have a few ideas on those questions), Lansman went in the other direction and simply declared which nine candidates Momentum would support. The list is identical to the draft CLGA list – but with a replacement for Ann Black. 5)http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/witch-hunts-when-chickens-come-home

Clearly, Lansman’s method stinks to high heaven. We welcome the fact that there is opposition. But we fear that the statement issued by the Labour Representation Committee, Red Labour and Grassroots Black Left (see below) will do little to lead to political clarity or greater democracy.

For a start, the meeting was organised on a very selective basis, as the CLGA’s gatherings have been in the past. As for stating that the “CLGA is supposed to operate on the basis of consensus”, that seems to us rather unlikely and, most importantly, not desirable. Such “consensus” (or, more precisely, compromise) has led to centrists like Ann Black having been run on a leftwing ticket. Clearly, the methods of the CLGA need to be criticised too.

Red Labour is, of course, merely “a network” or a “forum” that sometimes produces humorous pro-Corbyn memes on Facebook. It is not an organisation you can join. It might have 120,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook (rather than ‘participants’), but it has no political coherence, no programme, no strategy. Yes, it has played a useful role in shoring up support for Corbyn in the run-up to various elections. But should the people running such a loose network really be involved in making decisions about NEC elections?

Resolutions calling for increasing the number of “oppressed and disadvantaged comrades” on the Labour Party NEC miss the point. What about their politics? Why does the statement not contain any mention of the basic political principles that we would want our NEC representatives to uphold? At least a commitment that they stand for a democratic republic, abolishing the House of Lords, replacing the standing army with a popular militia, getting rid of capitalism and achieving the rule of the working class and socialism.

We understand that a representative from Jewish Voice for Labour was also at the meeting and agreed to the statement, but that the rest of the JVL executive has since changed its mind. The JVL now supports Lansman’s slate instead. There is also opposition in the LRC. Yes, its executive voted in favour of endorsing the statement, but a sizable minority of  LRC executive members opposed the move.

We would agree with those comrades. It is one thing to criticise Jon Lansman for his undemocratic methods. He deserves it and we have done plenty of it. But to seriously consider standing candidates against a slate endorsed by Momentum, is – how to put this nicely? – not tactically advisable at the moment. We understand the LRC executive will make a final decision on May 6 – we would urge them to vote against. It runs the risk of letting in rightwingers like Eddie Izzard, which, considering that the NEC does not have a rock-solid left majority, could well have dire consequences for the left’s fight to transform the party.


LRC, Red Labour and Grassroots Black Left statement

  1. The CLGA (Centre Left Grassroots Alliance) is supposed to operate on basis of consensus, but the slate has been drawn up without consultation with all its constituent bodies. The slate has to all intents and purposes been presented as a fait accompli.
  2. The GBL has been unilaterally refused membership of the CLGA on the basis of opposition from one person representing Momentum.
  3. Red Labour was invited to join the CLGA, but has been informed that this will not be permitted until its 2018 slate is finalised.

We resolve to start an online consultation process, hosted by Red Labour, to determine whether grassroots candidates want to stand and whether it is the expressed wish of rank-and-file members that such candidates be supported.

In the interest of tackling the underrepresentation of oppressed and disadvantaged comrades,
we would positively welcome applications from black, African, Caribbean, Asian and other people of colour and women.

LRC, Red Labour and GBL will update about how comrades can apply to be an NEC member.

Sent to Jeremy Corbyn, whose progressive politics we support, and Jon Lansman.

Jon Lansman v Jennie Formby: What’s going on?

Unexpected fault lines have opened up on the soft Labour left over who will be the next general secretary, reports Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists

With less than a week to go before nominations close on March 13, there are two candidates standing for the position of Labour’s general secretary. Their politics appears so similar that the contest between them seems, at best, ludicrous and, at worst, irresponsible. Should a ‘moderate’ candidate choose to exploit the current division, and should both pro-Corbyn candidates continue to insist on standing, that moderate might indeed ‘slip in’ through the middle when it comes to the crucial vote on Labour’s national executive committee on March 20. We presume that will not happen and that either Momentum owner Jon Lansman or Unite’s Jennie Formby will withdraw. But then, we never presumed that there would be two pro-Corbyn candidates standing in the first place!

The issue might already be decided by the next meeting of the NEC officers group on March 14. It is tasked with putting together a short list for the full NEC and has a pro-Corbyn majority. Of the current eight members, at least five are pro-Corbyn and two are members of Unite (though Jennie Formby, the current NEC vice-chair, will probably have to excuse herself).

One thing is for sure. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader is continuing to have a disruptive effect, not just on the establishment, but on the Labour left too. In a sense, this is very much to be welcomed. The left seemed to have been dying a slow, painful death – it needed a ‘cultural revolution’. For a start, wouldn’t it be nice if we had actual transparency and democracy in our movement? Why on earth are there no proper reports, for example, from all NEC members? They should be obliged to report back to those they represent as to what was discussed and how they voted. Pete Willsman and Ann Black have been the only ones to routinely write such reports (for general circulation) – with their own omissions and partisan views, of course.

But in recent days NEC members Christine Shawcroft and Darren Williams have come out with short Facebook posts and brief hints, which indicate not just deep divisions between the representatives of the left-led unions and the nine elected by Constituency Labour Party members, but also the tensions between the nine, though they were elected on same the ‘centre-left slate’. We will come to that below.

Here is what we know.

For days, Jennie Formby seemed a virtual shoo-in. She has the support not just of her union, Unite. But pretty much every single group on the Labour left has come out for her, including quite a few Momentum branches. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has tweeted his support. Jeremy Corbyn is keeping schtum in public: he wants to appear above the fray and, of course, he values the support of both Momentum and Unite’s Len McCluskey.

So why then are there two left candidates? There are various theories and possible scenarios, some of which are, of course, interlinked. Clearly, we are in the middle of a very messy process.

Theory 1: Lansman has gone mad

This is perhaps the most common theory one comes across when discussing the issue on the left. According to this – and I must admit to having some sympathy for it – Jon Lansman’s ego has simply got the better of him. So successful has he been running Momentum as his own private fiefdom that he now thinks he has earned the right to aim for bigger things. After all, wasn’t it his tens of thousands of foot soldiers who nearly managed to get Jeremy Corbyn into No10?

Being directly responsible for over 200 staff; the party’s campaign and media strategies; all its organisational, constitutional and policy committees; the organisation of party conference; the preparation of party literature, etc – it sounds right up Jon Lansman’s street, doesn’t it? And who cares if that puts Corbyn in a very awkward position when it comes to Unite leader Len McCluskey? The time has come for Lansmanism to blossom!

We can certainly believe that Lansman’s ego is bigger than your average politician’s. But just like theories that try to pin the outbreak of World War II on Adolf Hitler’s psychological problems, that is clearly too easy an explanation.

Theory 2: Lansman is moving to the centre

We do not believe for a moment that he is standing in some semi-sacrificial way to “open up the contest and ensure we have a wide range of candidates”. We presume that Lansman thinks that he has an actual chance of winning a majority of votes on the NEC.

Of the 38 executive members, 21 could be described as pro-Corbyn, and 17 as rightwing. According to The Skwawkbox:

all the left NEC members have committed to support Jennie Formby, with the exception of a couple who have said they’ll only vote for a leftwing woman – and one who is behind Jon Lansman. Those committed to Formby include both party and union representatives – including party representatives elected as part of slates backed by Momentum, the organisation founded by Jon Lansman.

We know, of course, that outputs by ‘alternative media’ like The Skwawkbox should be taken with a pinch of salt. They are increasingly being used by political factions and sometimes even by journalists to leak unverified rumours to the wider public, so that it can then be picked up by the mainstream press. But we reckon that the website has done its counting correctly this time: 17 votes for Formby. The single leftwing NEC member who openly supports Lansman is Christine Shawcroft. But Lansman seems to think that he can win round those two left NEC members who have not yet openly backed Formby – a possibility, clearly.

But he must also count on the entire right wing on the NEC to back him in order to achieve a majority. He has clearly been working very hard to position himself in the political ‘centre’ of the Labour Party. I am sure Lansman is not entirely unhappy with the media narrative, according to which Jennie Formby is the representative of the hard left and the union bureaucracy, openly supporting – would you believe it? – the democratic rights of the Palestinian people. Clearly, she is too radical and ‘anti-Semitic’ to head the Labour machine!

In reality there is, of course, very little actual political difference between Jennie Formby and Jon Lansman. We are seeing a split on the soft left, rather than a split between the hard and soft left (which is probably still to come). Both candidates are uncritical supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and his policies, presumably prepared to back various political climbdowns should he become prime minister.

Which makes the only visible difference all the more crucial: the question of Israel and Palestine. With the Israeli army inching closer to getting involved in Syria (to distract perhaps from the legal problems of a certain Binyamin Netanyahu1)www.independent.co.uk/news/world/ middle-east/israel-prime-minister-benjamin- netanyahu-corruption-allegations-lawyers-explain- trouble-a7524416.html) the Labour Party’s position is becoming increasingly important. Can it really become an anti-war party – perhaps even in government? Will the pacifist Corbyn stick to his guns (excuse the pun) as prime minister and forthrightly condemn Israel aggression?

That would put the pro-imperialist right in the Parliamentary Labour Party under immense pressure from the Zionist lobby. This is, after all, why the whole ‘anti-Semitism’ scandal was created in the first place. Discredit Corbyn’s anti-war and pro-Palestine stance. Force him to ‘man up’ and come out in support of US interests. And that includes unconditional support for Israel to do whatever it has to do to ‘defend itself’. (We note Prince William is the first member of his family to make an official visit to Israel, as well as Lebanon and “the occupied Palestinian territories”.)

In this context, Jon Lansman’s participation in the ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt in the Labour Party is very, very important. He has said of Ken Livingstone, “It’s time he left politics altogether”; thinks that “there should be no place for George Galloway in the Labour Party” (and called on his employers to sack him); and when Jackie Walker was suspended from Labour on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism, he quickly removed her as vice-chair of Momentum. He wants to be seen as a safe pair of hands, when it comes to Israel.

The question is, can Lansman get away with positioning himself in the political centre?

Alansmanfter all, he is Mr Momentum, which has since its inception been portrayed as a dangerous hotbed for an assortment of hyperactive hippies and Trotskyist troublemakers. He has been on the ‘far left’ of the Labour Party for decades, we are told. However, over the last 14 months, Lansman certainly has been very busy moulding Momentum into a thoroughly respectable election machine.

His coup of January 2017, which abolished all democratic structures in the organisation and imposed his constitution on the membership, has certainly gone a long way to assure the establishment of his ‘credentials’. He also subordinated Momentum to the compliance unit by barring membership  to all those who have been expelled from the Labour Party for “supporting another organisation” (rule 2.1.4.B).

No doubt Momentum’s deployment of an army of foot soldiers during the general election campaign made a real difference to Labour’s votes. Momentum nationally has been very careful to support all Labour Party candidates, not just pro-Corbyn ones (even if locally its members often choose to campaign mainly for leftwing candidates).

Politically, the organisation is even more harmless. For example, despite the fact that Jon Lansman has campaigned for mandatory reselection of parliamentary candidates for decades, he has now dropped the demand and campaigns merely for a reform of the trigger ballot. At present an MP needs to win a simple majority of nominations from local party branches and affiliated trade unions and socialist societies in order to become the candidate once more. Lansman wants to raise this threshold to 66%, but this would still disproportionally favour the sitting MP: rather than allowing for a full and democratic automatic reselection process before every election, a sitting MP would still have to be challenged.

So successful is Momentum’s transformation that now even Theresa May openly wants to emulate it. This week she has written to “young activists” to help build Momentum-style grassroots campaigners. According to The Sun, the letter states:

We are recruiting a new army of foot soldiers to take the fight to Labour. It is clear from the results of the general election that we are more likely to win seats in which our organisation is strong. And it is an unfortunate fact that Labour’s organisation was better in many seats than ours.

It is absolutely possible that the right in the Labour Party might swing behind Lansman. The Guardian writes:

Lansman’s entry into the race is thought to have the tacit backing of some other unions, which are irritated by what they regard as Unite’s increasing dominance of Labour decision-making. Key to the decision will be two other major unions, the GMB and Unison, who have so far declined to give Formby their backing.

It is not impossible that other rightwingers on the NEC – for example, those from the PLP or those representing councillors – might support him, too. Especially if that was the only way to stop Formby.

Politically, of course, Lansman’s method of chasing the political centre is very much old school and in line with the method advocated by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and its founder-leader, Vladimir Derer, since 1973 (he died in 2014). The organisation was founded on the premise that any reform in the Labour Party has to be achieved not by pressure from the membership (which, for example, Militant pursued), but by winning over – or at least neutralising – the ‘centre’, in the party and the unions. The fascinating BBC docudrama The campaign shows how the CLPD won a conference majority to vote for a version of mandatory reselection in the early 1980s: through a number of backroom deals with union leaders.

It still pursues this method though the so-called Centre Left Grassroots Alliance, which ‘recommends’ various candidates for Labour Party elections. It is based on rather mysterious, private and entirely undemocratic get-togethers of various Labour left organisations, to which only a few lucky ones are invited (this year, for example, Jewish Voice for Labour was among the invitees), while others never make the gathering. The Labour Representation Committee regularly complains when it is left out in the cold.

According to Wikipedia, the CLGA was founded in 1995 by the CLPD and Labour Reform, “a centrist democratic group”, which had supported Ann Black as member of the NEC. When “private talks with trade union representatives” failed, Liz Davies of Labour Left Briefing and Mark Seddon, editor of Tribune, were also brought in. But, convinced of the left’s unelectability, the CLGA continued to support centrist candidates and rejected any moves to present a leftwing platform or support openly left candidates.

This explains how Ann Black could remain on the ‘left ticket’ for so long, despite clearly being very much on the centre of the party. She supported the move to stop tens of thousands of pro-Corbyn members from voting in the second leadership election and, as chair of the NEC disciplinary panel, gave her backing to much of the witch-hunt against the left – for instance, by voting for the suspension of Brighton and Hove CLP. Many have questioned, quite rightly, why the CLGA continues to back her.

Theory 3: It is all about Ann Black

As we have reported, Jon Lansman and CLPD secretary Pete Willsman, who have worked together in the CLPD for decades, have fallen out over Black. Just how badly became very obvious at the CLPD’s March 3 annual general meeting. Clearly having thoroughly internalised the centre-left strategy, Pete Willsman continues to insist that Black should be included on the CLGA slate. When his own CLPD executive committee voted (by a majority of one) against her inclusion a few months back, he decided to ignore the decision and campaign for her.

On the morning of the AGM, a rumour was doing the rounds that Lansman would turn up in order to graciously announce his withdrawal from the general secretary race. If true, he clearly changed his mind. He did not even show up. But his supporters were a visible presence. After a long list of worthy but boring speakers (which pushed all normal motions submitted off the agenda), Lansman’s NEC ally, Christine Shawcroft, presented an emergency motion, which sought to remove Pete Willsman as CLPD secretary and force immediate new elections to the position (which she was apparently intending to contest).

The motion criticised as “unacceptable” the delay in putting together a slate for the NEC elections in the summer:

A draft slate was not opposed by CLPD, yet during February attempts were made to overturn it with biased and incomplete emails around the executive, and threats to take it to the AGM. All in the name of keeping someone on the slate [ie, Ann Black] who has consistently voted against us in the last two years, often in ways very damaging to the leader. Now the two-month delay means that those on the final slate are already on the back foot, struggling to make up time. This has happened because of a lack of basic democratic accountability in CLPD’s organisation.

The motion was ruled out of order (on the basis that it was “not an emergency”), but it took a vote that needed two recounts before that decision was accepted. And, of course, it served another purpose: to justify the fact that Jon Lansman single-handedly leaked a list of the nine NEC candidates supported by Momentum to the national press. Ann Black was not on it, of course.

In our view, Ann Black should certainly not be on any leftwing list. But then she should have never been on it in the first place! She had been supported by Lansman and Willsman for many years – and, no, she did not turn into a centrist overnight. She had always been one.

By kicking her off the left slate, Lansman seems to have been acting in line with the party leadership. After all, the NEC officers group (which has a clear a pro-Corbyn majority) risked media ridicule when they shut down a meeting to elect a new chair of the national policy forum, because Ann Black was sure to win it.

Pete Willsman, however, did not seem to get the message. We wonder how long the deeply divided CLPD can keep going.

Theory 4: Lansman ‘wants to break the union link’

This is where the contradictions start to mount up. It is one thing to stand against a leftwing union representative. If you present yourself as the serious, credible alternative candidate of the political centre, you might have a chance of getting the rightwing unions on the NEC behind you.

But Lansman has gone one further with his proposal to have the general secretary elected by the party membership as a whole. We very much oppose it. It sounds democratic, but really it is not. It would actually create two rival centres of power. We have seen under McNicol’s tenure how destructive the general secretary can be. Having direct elections to the post would not prevent this situation occurring again – it would though guarantee endemic conflict between Labour Party HQ, the NEC and the leaders’ office. No, the general secretary should remain directly accountable to the NEC. Once the numbers on the NEC had changed in favour of the pro-Corbyn left, McNicol’s time was up. And that is how it should be.

Lansman’s proposal is also very risky from his point of view, as it surely is bound to alienate all unions affiliated to the Labour Party. They see it as their historic right to fill a proportion of leadership positions, so why would they vote for him to become the next general secretary if he is proposing to change that? Especially as his NEC ally and fellow Momentum director, Christine Shawcroft, used an angry Facebook post to declare: “It is time to support disaffiliation of the unions from the Labour Party.”

This came as a complete surprise to us. To our knowledge, she had never put forward such a line before. And it also came as a shock to Jeremy Corbyn, whose spokesperson described that statement as “a heat-of-the-moment remark”:

There is almost no-one in the entire Labour Party who supports any kind of breaking of the link with the trade unions. Even to say it’s a minority view would be exaggerating it: it’s a completely marginal view that has no support whatever. I don’t think it even represents her view.

Shawcroft has indeed deleted the comment. Some claim that she was not totally out of tune with Jon Lansman here, even if Momentum was quick to distance itself from her statement. In his candidacy statement Lansman talks about wanting to “listen to our trade union affiliates” and “work hard to strengthen Labour’s trade union link”. But he has also gone to the media to express “dissatisfaction that the role [of general secretary] should be chosen behind closed doors by Labour’s NEC, which in practice would mean a deal struck between major trade unions for their preferred candidate”. However, to interpret this as a desire on Lansman’s part to see the unions disaffiliate is a bad case of clutching at straws.

True, the union link seems to have been a point of discussion among his allies and there is certainly room for democratic reform when it comes to the unions’ role in the Labour Party. For a start, instead of union general secretaries casting their union’s bloc vote at the Labour conference, we call for the vote to be divided on a proportional basis according to the political balance in the delegation.

But calling for the link to be broken is entirely wrong-headed. If Labour is to become the party of the whole class, then clearly it must become the umbrella organisation for all trade unions, socialist groups and pro-working class partisans. All unions should affiliate and all union members should pay the political levy.

Theory 5: Jon Lansman is the good guy

This is almost as hard to swallow as scenario 4. But bear with us.

Shawcroft’s outburst on Facebook actually came about after the March 17 meeting of the NEC’s disciplinary panel, of which she is now chair. The disciplinary panel is made up of the entire NEC – or, more precisely, of those NEC members who can be bothered to show up. It is the committee that decides if disciplinary charges have any merit – and should therefore be sent to the National Constitutional Committee for further investigation.

The NCC consists of 11 members, chosen by party conference for a two-year term. Four are elected by CLP delegates, six by the unions and one by affiliated socialist societies. Last year, the CLGA candidates, Emina Ibrahim and Anna Dyer, won overwhelmingly in the CLP section. The other two CLP positions are up for election at this year’s conference, but for now the NCC clearly remains in the hands of the right. And it is questionable how ‘left’ the CLGA candidates are. Emina Ibrahim, for example, was supposed to be the alibi leftie on the three-person NCC panel at Tony Greenstein’s expulsion hearing – and despite the obvious democratic shortcomings, lack of natural justice and due process in the accusations against him, she voted in favour of him being expelled. For being rude.

As far as we can tell, Christine Shawcroft has used her new position as chair of the disciplinary panel to argue for the dismissal of all cases brought before it – and against their referral to the NCC. Exactly right. Once your case is in front of the NCC with its current composition – if you are a leftwinger – you can kiss your membership card goodbye. Next to their access to the national press, this is probably the most potent weapon the right in the party machine still has. We support the demand that all 18 cases currently in front of the NCC should be referred back to the NEC’s disciplinary panel.

But at the March 17 meeting it seems that despite her best efforts to dismiss all the cases in front of the committee (there were a few dozen, we understand) the majority voted for three cases to be referred to the NCC, despite the evidence being “far from compelling”, as NEC member Darren Williams complains (see below).

Interestingly, Shawcroft wrote on Facebook that a certain Jon Lansman supported her; whereas Jennie Formby did the opposite:

Christine Shawcroft screenshot

I must admit to a certain scepticism when I first read this. Shawcroft did, after all, support Jon Lansman in the middle of his undemocratic coup by becoming Momentum’s director and did not speak up when he continued to ride roughshod over the members by imposing his own constitution. She also previously voted to refer Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth to the NCC. She irresponsibly split from Labour Briefing journal to set up her own Original Labour Briefing – without explaining the politics behind it.

But then she was backed up by fellow NEC member Darren Williams on Facebook. We cannot stress enough how unusual this is for both of them:

Darren William screenshot

In the discussion thread underneath, Christine Shawcroft then wrote:

unions sticking it... Christine

After being questioned if this was a systematic voting pattern of the representatives of the major unions and if Jennie Formby has indeed been part of that pattern, comrade Williams clarified: “I think there has been undue caution sometimes about speaking up for members facing questionable charges, probably due to a fear of being seen to be contributing to Labour’s supposed ‘anti-Semitism problem’.”

Ever since she threw her hat in the ring, Jennie Formby has been at the forefront of the right wing’s radar. She has been accused of “acting with anti-Semitic intent” by Labour Against Anti-Semitism – an attack which Unite has quite rightly termed a “malicious smear”. A smear which has, of course, been picked up and repeated by the entire press. She clearly feels the need to bend the stick in the other direction to have a chance of being elected. On March 3, she tweeted: Jennie Formby

But if it is true that she systematically votes to refer disciplinary cases to the NCC, that is a different matter altogether. We are told that Formby, in this instance, did not vote at all, but basically left the room repeatedly, so that she would not have to cast a vote. Apparently, all trade union representatives at that meeting (except the Transport Salaried Staff Association) voted to refer the three cases to the NCC. And, apparently, Jon Lansman voted against that.

Many members expected that, with the NEC finally having a pro-Corbyn majority, the witch-hunt would come to a swift end. But it was never going to be that easy. The civil war continues. And the fault lines are continuing to shift.

Right now Labour Party members deserve to know if Unite representatives (including Jennie Formby) do systematically vote with the right when it comes to the witch-hunt against pro-Corbyn members. If that is indeed true, it would certainly shine an entirely new light on Jennie Formby and how deserving she is of the left’s support.

Of course, in the absence of openness on such important issues, we should be careful about who is spreading news and to what purpose. After all, Len McCluskey has been very outspoken in his opposition to the ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt, so this reported behaviour by one of Unite reps is, to put it mildly, surprising.

 

What is Jon Lansman up to?

Iain McNicol gone, JLM calling the police, rumours about Ken Livingstone being reinstated … But it’s not all plain sailing for the left, warns Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists, as Jon Lansman declares he wants to run for general secretary

What a week it has been for lefties in the Labour Party.

First, there was the fallout from the establishment’s rather desperate attempt to make a spy out of Jeremy Corbyn. Not only were the claims quickly disputed by the Czech and German spy agencies – soon followed by the more serious newspapers, which had to admit that, despite their displeasure at Corbyn’s politics, it was pretty normal for politicians of all parties to meet with people employed by other states. No accusations of any substance materialised – it was nothing but hot air.

The young and ever so eager vice-chair of the Conservative Party, Ben Bradley MP, was forced to eat humble pie of rather enormous proportions after claiming that Corbyn had “sold British secrets to communist spies”. Confronted with some rather serious legal threats by Corbyn’s lawyers, he swiftly deleted his tweet and was forced to admit that he “made a seriously defamatory statement”, which “was wholly untrue and false”, and for which “I am offering my unreserved and unconditional apology to Jeremy Corbyn for the distress I have caused him”.

Worst of all – from the establishment’s point of view – is the fact that these accusations have done very little to hurt Corbyn or the Labour Party. According to a YouGov poll for The Times, only 8% of voters said that this ‘scandal’ made them “think worse” of Corbyn – and most of those are Tory voters. To 64% it made no difference; and 6% “now think better of him”. The same poll showed that Labour “extended its lead to two points”, putting it on 42%, with the Tories on 40%. Similar polls show pretty much the same picture, with Labour continuing to be ahead.1)The Times February 24

We also saw a new twist in the scandal that keeps on running: days after Jeremy Newmark stepped down as chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, the organisation stated that it had referred “certain internal financial matters” to the police. We wonder if they might just have anything to do with Newmark? But, of course, the real problem with the JLM is not financial irregularities. It is politics. The JLM is the British branch of the Zionist and racist Israeli Labor Party. As shown by the Al Jazeera programme The lobby it has played a disgraceful role, in conjunction with the Israel embassy, in the witch-hunting of socialists and pro-Corbyn activists in the Labour Party. Surely, it should not be allowed to remain a Labour affiliate.

And, of course, a certain Iain McNicol – he who once suspended a member for stating on social media, “I fucking love the Foo Fighters” – regarded Newmark’s conduct as a “private matter” and refused to open an investigation. Maybe this was the final straw for Jeremy Corbyn. Either way, we know that McNicol did not resign just to spend more time with his family or “pursue new challenges” in the labour movement. Proving perhaps that he is not quite as soft a hippie as many presumed, we understand that Corbyn paid McNicol a visit, during which he ‘convinced’ him to go, but allowed him to resign to save face. Not that McNicol has got much of a reputation left. There are rumours that he might be made a life peer in return for his overdue departure – he would certainly fit right in with that bunch of overpaid and underqualified blighters, whose main task is to ensure that elected representatives do not undermine the interests of the ruling class.

We very much agree with the statement quickly put out by Labour Against the Witchhunt, a campaign that certainly helped to heap the pressure on the now departed general secretary:

McNicol was directly in charge of the unelected and discredited compliance unit, which has purged thousands of pro-Corbyn members from the party.

We see his resignation very much as an important symbol and an integral part of our fight to radically transform the Labour Party, which is undergoing a long overdue democracy review, to which we have also contributed.

The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions overseen by McNicol – especially those based on alleged anti-Semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute. They have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change.

Two days later, we read in The Observer the excellent news that Ken Livingstone’s suspension would not be renewed and that he would become a member “with full rights” when his two year suspension runs out on April 27. 2)The Observer February 25

It looked like Christine Shawcroft, as new chair of the NEC disciplinary panel, had acted swiftly. Livingstone’s suspension, like those of Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and hundreds of others, is a total injustice. Moshé Machover (among others) has proven that Livingstone was – despite some small factual inaccuracies – in essence entirely correct to claim that the Nazis and the Zionists collaborated in the 1930s. It is historically verifiable fact 3)For which comrade Machover was swiftly expelled himself before being readmitted three weeks later.

Shit hits the fan

However, since then the proverbial shit has hit the fan, proving that the civil war in the Labour Party is very much alive and well. The usual assortment of rightwingers have let it be known they would be “outraged” if Livingstone was let back in. And unfortunately Corbyn seems to have rolled over. Within hours, the national executive committee let it be known that Livingstone’s suspension would not ‘run out’ after all, but that the NEC would launch “a new enquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism” against Livingstone. Not so new, actually. The enquiry was announced 10 months ago, but never saw the light of day.

Another recent victim of the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign is, of course, regular Weekly Worker contributor Tony Greenstein, who was expelled from the party on February 18 – for being rude on social media. Members of the compliance unit could not prove the original charge of anti-Semitism, so they settled on “bringing the party into disrepute” – a very stretchy and flexible charge.

As an aside, it has been quite worrying to see not only Momentum vice-chair Emina Ibrahim vote in favour of comrade Greenstein’s expulsion at his Brighton hearing – but also how many Corbyn supporters seem to find it impossible to defend comrade Greenstein, because they claim to have been so appalled by some of the things he has written. 4)Disappointingly, that also includes Free Speech on Israel: http://freespeechonisrael.org. uk/tony-greenstein-abusive-yes-acerbic-yes-not- antisemitic/#sthash.ngIOgkET.dpbs

However, one person’s rudeness is another person’s robust argument. We should also stress that in reality comrade Greenstein has not been expelled for being rude: he has been expelled because he is an ardent and very vocal supporter of the rights of the Palestinians, and a socialist to boot. Had he been less rude, chances are they would have got him under some other charge.

It briefly looked as if comrade Greenstein – with McNicol finally out of the way – might have been the last victim of the compliance unit. But the Livingstone episode proves that this is far from certain. In fact, the civil war, which has been simmering under the surface for some time, is far from over. The left has made some important advances in recent months, starting with the change in the balance of forces on the NEC. The right will not take any changes lying down and will undoubtedly become more and more vocal if and when a range of small, but overdue, improvements are introduced (many no doubt as part of the Corbyn review at this year’s annual conference).

We have seen uproar, for example, over the admittedly rather strange appointment of Andrew Murray as part-time advisor to help with the “party’s Brexit strategy”. He was, after all, a longstanding and leading member of the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain, which prides itself on pursuing a “national path to socialism”. In the run-up to the 2016 referendum, the CPB joined the deluded Left Leave or Lexit campaign to come out of the European Union 5)www.communist-party.org.uk/britain/eu/2258- leave-eu-new-group-formed-to-fight-for-an-exit- left.html – when Murray was still a member of the CPB. His appointment was always going to rile the right in the party, many of whom have gathered behind a pro-EU banner.

But Murray is Len McCluskey’s trusted chief-of-staff, a reliable source of strategic thinking for Corbyn and a close friend of Labour’s communication chief, Seamus Milne (they were both involved in supporting Straight Left, a publication that appeared to be Labourite, but was, in fact, the front for a Stalinite faction of the old CPGB). Murray, who has never hidden his sympathy for Joseph Stalin, is, of course, also the man who as chair of the Stop the War Coalition led it into some rather dodgy political waters. He went along with the barring of Hands Off the People of Iran as an affiliate. Hopi, as a matter of principle, insists that it is necessary to fight not only against the war threats of western imperialism, but also the theocracy in Iran. Murray has a soft spot for dodgy third world regimes which he considers to be ‘anti-imperialist’. Bizarrely, under his watch, STWC promoted pro-Tehran speakers at its conferences. They even boasted of the number of sex change operations notched up in  Iran – homosexuals are given the choice of being executed or undergoing surgery.

Next general secretary

Murray is, however, very unlikely to become – as has been rumoured – the next general secretary of the Labour Party. For its part, the Skwawkbox website is certain that the new general secretary “will be a woman”. The possible female candidates whose names have been leaked are Unite’s Anneliese Midgley, Labour’s governance and membership director Emilie Oldknow and the GMB union’s Lisa Johnson. The most likely female candidate, however, is Jennie Formby.

Formby is a vocal critic of Israel and a supporter of the rights of the Palestinians. On the NEC, she objected to the selection of Jan Royall to lead the investigation into anti-Semitism allegations against Labour students at Oxford University, because she was able to prove that Royall had been a member of Labour Friends of Israel, and had visited Israel in 2007. Formby was also a “prime mover behind a vote passed by the executive last November to bar the security firm G4S from tendering to handle security at Labour’s annual conference because the firm does business with Israel”, writes The Independent.

We have to admit that we do not know how Formby has voted on various political issues or disciplinary matters that have come before the NEC. She has not exactly been the most vocal leftwinger on that committee and we are far from certain that she would demand an end to the purge of organised socialists under rule 2.1.4.B, which bars from membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” and has exclusively been used against leftwingers.

But, for the time being at least, Unite supports Corbyn’s agenda. And, considering the disgraceful way in which the rightwing party bureaucracy has acted against him by purging hundreds, if not thousands, of his supporters on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism, Formby’s appointment would send a very powerful political signal. We can certainly hope that the beginning of her tenure would mark the end of the witch-hunt.

Lansman throws his hat in the ring

Momentum owner Jon Lansman has also indicated he might throw his hat into the ring. According to the Huffington Post, he is “being urged to run”, following “claims by the right that Formby was being ‘railroaded’ through as the favoured candidate of key allies of Jeremy Corbyn”. This smacks of fake news. Run some media stories about a Palestine supporter (read, anti-Semite) and trade unionist (read, leftwinger) being a virtual shoo-in for the post, and the centre and the right will do anything to stop her. Maybe even vote for one of Corbyn’s closest allies!

However, Steve Watson, editor of Skwawkbox, is openly supporting Formby. Funnily enough, he is doing so by using exactly the argument that Lansman employs when he is trying to convince everybody to vote for one of his slates: if Lansman does not withdraw, he would be “opening the door for any rightwing candidate who decides to apply” to slip in through the middle. In this case, however, it seems pretty certain that the successful candidate will be a leftwinger broadly in line with Corbyn’s politics.  The Guardian stated on February 28 that “a late-night conference call failed to persuade the grassroots group [read Lansman] to rally around the Unite candidate” and a day later, Lansman finally declared he would run. 6)The Guardian February 28 2018

The article also states that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell support Formby and not Lansman. That is certainly interesting. We have always presumed that Lansman acts in close cooperation with and on behalf of Jeremy Corbyn – and no doubt most of the time that is the case. However, opening up a rift with Unite is a risky strategy for Lansman. After all, Corbyn owes his position in no small measure to the direct support of Len McCluskey and his massive union machine. And Corbyn cannot afford to lose the support of the leftwing unions on the NEC.

But there is also the not insignificant matter of Momentum’s massive database. Jon Lansman literally owns the contact details of hundreds of thousands Corbyn supporters. He can urge them to support Jeremy Corbyn and the NEC – or not. And Momentum has clearly been an important tool in getting leftwingers onto the NEC, for example, and in helping mobilise supporters during elections. Corbyn will be very aware of the power that Lansman holds – and maybe he has begun to regret letting him acquire it.

The Guardian’s “senior Momentum source” claims that “Jon has proven his popularity with the membership with his recent NEC election result” and is “expected to be a popular grassroots candidate” for general secretary. But in reality Lansman likes to run things from above. He is Momentum’s Bonaparte, not its democratically elected and fully accountable servant.

When Lansman feared he would lose control of Momentum, he simply abolished all democratic and decision-making structures in the January 10 2017 coup. He wrote a new constitution that members had no possibility of amending. They could only vote ‘no’ or ‘yes’ in an online ballot.

He has made no attempt to politically educate or organise members – he regards them as spear carriers, to be called out during elections or at conferences.

Politically, Lansman is an arch-opportunist. He has given up the decades-old fight for mandatory reselection of parliamentary candidates. Instead, he is pushing the lame proposal to raise the threshold for a trigger ballot for the reselection of MPs from 50% to 66% (at present an MP needs to win a simple majority of nominations from local party branches and affiliated trade unions and socialist societies in order to become the candidate once more). This would still disproportionally favour the sitting MP: rather than allowing for a full and democratic automatic selection process before every election, a sitting MP would still have to be challenged.

He is also playing a disgraceful role in the witch-hunt. When Jackie Walker was suspended from Labour on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism, he quickly removed her as vice-chair of Momentum. After Ken Livingstone’s suspension, he wrote on Twitter: “A period of silence from Ken Livingstone is overdue, especially on anti-Semitism, racism and Zionism. It’s time he left politics altogether.”

 He agreed that Momentum too would bar from membership all those expelled from the Labour Party for their alleged “support for other organisations” under rule 2.1.4.B. A rule that has been used exclusively by the right in order to throw out socialists. In a letter to Labour Against the Witchhunt’s Tony Greenstein, Lansman has come out in support of keeping the rule in Labour’s constitution.

*  In the same letter, he also states his desire to keep the disgraced and much-hated compliance unit in place – and for it to remain an appointed body, rather than have all disciplinary matters dealt with by elected representatives, who would be subject to scrutiny by Labour Party members.

Elected?

Applications for the position of general secretary are open until March 13. On March 14, the NEC officers will be putting a shortlist before a full meeting of the NEC, which will make its decision on March 20. According to the rules, party conference elects the general secretary “on the recommendation of the NEC”. But, because there is a currently a “vacancy”, the NEC has “the full power to fill the vacancy subject to the approval of party conference”.

Both scenarios lead to the same result, of course – conference has, to our knowledge, never rejected the candidate chosen by the NEC. However, many members are now demanding that the general secretary should be elected by the full membership, in an online ballot, in a method similar to the leadership election. According to The Guardian, those who favour this now include Momentum:

Sources at Momentum … said there was dissatisfaction that the role should be chosen behind closed doors by Labour’s national executive committee (NEC), which in practice would mean a deal struck between major trade unions for their preferred candidate.

Apparently, those “senior sources” said that they “may urge the leadership to change course on the appointments protocol to allow for an election of the general secretary” and that Lansman would be the perfect candidate, because “Jeremy’s style of politics is not that of backroom deals, but of open and transparent discussion, which is exactly what Jon would represent as a candidate”.

Oh sure, Jon Lansman just hates backroom deals! We wonder if he is really serious about challenging the power of the unions in the Labour Party – rather a big undertaking. Or perhaps he is suggesting a rule change on this matter because that might increase his chances.

A petition to elect the general secretary on www.change.org, which was only started a couple of days ago, already has well over a thousand signatures and is being circulated widely online. Rather ironically, it is actively supported by the initiator of an earlier petition (signed by 8,643 people), which called for McNicol to be sacked. But if the general secretary were indeed elected directly by the members, there would be no way s/he could be “sacked” by the leadership.

No, such a method is fraught with problems. Online Omov (one member, one vote) elections only appear democratic on the outside. For example, Labour members will soon be voting for nine Constituency Labour Party representatives on the new NEC. In fact, they only have one choice: to vote in favour of the nine Momentum candidates – or risk letting in a rightwinger We say the NEC should be elected by and accountable to annual conference.

Political posts responsible to the NEC should be elected by the NEC – by those in a position to know the candidate, their abilities, their political record. With such a method of election comes accountability … and recallability. Understandably, many members resent the fact that witch-hunter general McNicol was allowed to remain in  post for so long. His departure is a reflection of the changing balance of power. Once the NEC had a clear pro-Corbyn majority, McNicol’s days were numbered. His departure has precious little to do with particular events in Sandwell CLP or the position of Ann Black, as Skwawkbox reveals in one ‘exclusive’ after another. It is down to basic arithmetic.

 

References

1 The Times February 24
2 The Observer February 25
3 For which comrade Machover was swiftly expelled himself before being readmitted three weeks later.
4 Disappointingly, that also includes Free Speech on Israel: http://freespeechonisrael.org. uk/tony-greenstein-abusive-yes-acerbic-yes-not- antisemitic/#sthash.ngIOgkET.dpbs
5 www.communist-party.org.uk/britain/eu/2258- leave-eu-new-group-formed-to-fight-for-an-exit- left.html
6 The Guardian February 28 2018