Give power back to the members

Submitted by Matthew on 18 May, 2016 - 12:46

Rhea Wolfson, who has replaced Ken Livingstone on the Centre-left Alliance slate for Labour’s National Executive (NEC), spoke to Solidarity.


I think the campaign is now going very well. It started off with an unexpected torrent of abuse from fascists, which was very difficult emotionally, for me and my family. But that has calmed down, and we have seen huge amounts of support from my union, which helped. But apart from that and an attempted smear of me as someone not interested in winning elections, it has gone well.

I’m coming to the game late. I don’t have as many CLP nominations as most people. CLP nominations are very important, because they can inform people on who I am. They are my priority at the moment. On the Campaign for Socialism website, you can get model motions and notes to help you get nominations for me and the left slate through your CLP.

We also need money to run the campaign! I would like to run a campaign on the basis of lots of small donations from people who support the ideas I’m standing on.

This vote is a vote for everyone in the Labour Party — so name recognition is very important. If people want to spread the word through any medium, that would be great; I am happy to travel around and speak at meetings. Fundamentally I have the issue that I don’t have 50 years’ experience in Labour and I am coming to this as a relatively new person.

I think that the priority for left-wingers on the NEC is to give power back to members within the Party — to Conference, and to their CLP. For too long, power has been taken back from members and given to the Labour bureaucracy. That’s power over policy and how the party is run.

Other priorities are about making sure that our rules are about having a party that works for us. We need a more nuanced approach to dealing with discipline in the party. I have suffered anti-semitism, but really this needs to be dealt with through discussions and education, rather than through disciplinary measures and expulsions. I am not a huge fan of the 8 Point Plan [of “] Progress”. I think it does cover some important things. But what it lacks is any way to fundamentally deal with the problem of anti-semitism in the party. It talks about extending the powers of the Compliance Unit, but not about how to deal with the issue. It talks about having caucuses. But I think that being told by non-Jewish members that I have to go to a caucus is… difficult. What it lacks is talking about how we educate at the grassroots.

Some of the anti-semitic language we see from certain groups comes from a lack of education and engagement with Jewish community. The Scottish Labour Young Socialists, a group I am co-chair of, is running education around historical anti-Semitism and how to address these issues. Socialists have to take the issue on and educate from the grassroots up.

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• Campaign for Socialism

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