The rancour that has been produced by the upcoming nominations for the expanded National Constitutional Committee has reopened the row between the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) and Momentum.
The Centre Left Grassroots Alliance, which included both organisations in its negotiations, was unable to reach an agreed slate. Depending on who you believe, CLPD then released the details of their preferred slate, as agreed or without agreement.
There is now an ongoing back and forth as to why Momentum were unable to agree to the slate which now has the backing of the Labour Representation Committee, Grassroots Black Left, Labour CND, Red Labour, the Labour Briefing Co-op and Jewish Voice for Labour. (UPDATE: A joint list has now been agreed https://twitter.com/PeoplesMomentum/status/1052454229024169990).
One of the concerns that has been floated is the inclusion of Stephen Marks in the CLPD slate, a member of JVL. Given one of the primary roles of the NCC will be dealing with complaints of antisemitism, having a representative of a body who exists to argue that there is little or no issue with antisemitism in the Labour Party is a cause for concern.
The fundamental issue here is not one of the personalities that are on the slate, for most Labour members they will have no idea or maybe some idea of one or two of the candidates, the issues should be what their attitude is to due process and the role of the NCC in dealing with complaints.
The current system is inadequate with many members accused of wrongdoing waiting unacceptably long to find out the charges, or see the evidence against them, have a presumption of innocence, the ability to question evidence and then the right to appeal.
Workers’ Liberty have had a number of supporters summarily excluded from membership supposedly for falling foul of the Labour Party rule book, Clause 2.4.1(B) which does not allow membership of organisations that are not official bodies of the Labour Party. If that were applied consistently, a membership of the National Trust or non-affiliated trade unions, should see you expelled, but the reality is that this is being used almost solely against supporters of left wing organisations like Workers’ Liberty or Socialist Appeal. We want the NCC to apply the rules consistently and to allow supporters of Workers’ Liberty to be readmitted into the party.
With the current impasse in negotiations and a range of candidates standing, Solidarity has no particular horse to back in this contest. We are concerned about the fundamental lack of democracy within the labour left. With the increasingly shut down and moribund nature of many Momentum groups and the single issue obsession with antisemitism that throttles groups, like the LRC, there is an urgent need for reinvigorated structures in Momentum which now claims almost 50,000 members.
We need a united labour left that is fit for purpose.