Everyone and their dog is aware that a small number of the soon to be revised NEC have denied the democratic freedoms for 100,000s of party members but the NEC is itself a seat of a fair bit of shillyshallying. A notable example of the attempts to corrupt the NEC can be seen in the case of Rhea Wolfson.
Rhea Wolfson is the candidate for the NEC who replaced Ken Livingstone after he was suspended over the John Mann tirade in front of cameras debacle. Wolfson, backed by the Jewish Labour Movement and described by Emma Burnell in the New Statesmen as “a Jewish woman with a strong record of fighting antisemitism”, found the nomination from her CLP withdrawn after the personal intervention of former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy. Murphy’s argument to the CLP was that Wolfson was not fit to contest an NEC seat because she was also endorsed by Momentum. Unfortunately for Murphy and the Labour ‘right’, Wolfson was eligible to register with either of two constituencies. After reregistering with her other option, Wolfson won the full backing of her new CLP and proceeded, with her fellow five Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance candidates, to win her NEC seat.
Those on the right of the Labour party have attempted to make stock of holding the current Labour leadership responsible for historic incidents of antisemitism within Labour that precede Corbyn as leader. They have also leveled accusations of misogyny at the feet of the current leadership, so why would they seek to exclude a Jewish woman with a strong record of fighting antisemitism, who had received the endorsement of the Jewish Labour Movement? An endorsement which, during the recent Victoria Live debate, Owen Smith boasted he had received.
Are the far right of the Labour party not genuinely interested in either women’s equity or antisemitism? Are they just using both issues as ways to drum up headlines and soundbites whilst pursuing the seizure of power for power’s sake? The most recent shillyshallying would suggest that manipulation of the NEC affords those not leading the Labour party opportunities to exercise disproportionate influence over how the party functions.
It is well worth keeping a watchful eye on the influence of Labour’s far right in local government, an area given much talking room during the most recent Progress conference. In the recent NEC elections, Labour First placed two of its candidates into local government seats on the NEC and Progress have given voice to supporting the increase of influence of those associated with local government in Labour party decision making. Without access to the Labour leadership, have the far right of Labour moved their attentions to local government as a means of building a base of influence? Just what inroads have Labour’s far right made into local government and is it an area that both the LGA, Labour leadership and party members should be concerned about?