UK Politics

Clean sweep for Corbyn supporters in Labour NEC election

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The NEC election results are being seen as a boost to the Labour leader

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have swept the board in elections to Labour's ruling National Executive Committee.

All six places in the section voted for by constituency parties went to members of a pro-Corbyn group, giving the Labour leader a majority on the ruling body.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn's leadership campaign said it showed "a desire for real and genuine change in our party".

Prominent Labour supporter Eddie Izzard missed out on getting a place.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Guardian, Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has said Labour is facing infiltration from "Trotsky entryists" who are "twisting young arms" in to supporting Mr Corbyn.

The NEC consists of the Labour leader, deputy leader, frontbenchers, trade union representatives, constituency party representatives, councillors and members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

It is the body that governs the Labour Party, but its relationship with the leadership has been under strain in recent months.

Media captionLabour Manchester mayoral candidate Andy Burnham warns against talk of deselections

The NEC's Procedures Committee is to appeal against a High Court ruling giving recent members a vote in its leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith - a decision which has been attacked by shadow chancellor John McDonnell and other allies of Mr Corbyn.

'Desire for change'

On Monday, six NEC seats were up for grabs for representatives from constituency Labour parties - all of which were won by members of the Grassroots Alliance, which is backed by Momentum, Mr Corbyn's network of supporters.

Ann Black, chair of the Oxford East Labour Party, topped the ballot, with 100,999 votes, amid a high turnout.

Ms Black, Christine Shawcroft, Claudia Webbe, Darren Williams, Rhea Wolfson and Peter Willsman will take up their places on the NEC in October.

Blairite group Progress and Labour First, which represents "moderate" Labour members, failed to get their candidates elected in the constituency section but Labour First got two of its candidates elected in the local government section.

Image caption Eddie Izzard said he was "disappointed" to have missed out on a place on the NEC

It is being seen as a boost for the Labour leader, who is fighting a challenge from former shadow work and pensions secretary Mr Smith for the leadership. But these NEC elections have no bearing on the leadership contest itself.

A spokesman for the Jeremy for Labour campaign said: "This result clearly shows that there is a desire for real and genuine change in our party under the continued leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, but we are not going to take anything for granted and we will be campaigning for every vote in the leadership contest."

Momentum, the Corbyn-supporting grassroots campaign group, also welcomed the results, tweeting: "Well done to the 6 left-wing candidates elected on to Labour's NEC! Thank you to everyone who voted for them."

Mandatory reselection

Eddie Izzard, who failed to get a seat on the committee despite receiving 71,000 votes, said he was "obviously disappointed" not to be elected to the NEC but added that: "I'm in this for the long haul. I will carry on being an activist!"

Media captionLabour NEC member says mandatory re-selection needs to be discussed
Media captionLabour committee representative fears some members will no longer have a voice

Ellie Reeves - sister of former Labour shadow cabinet member Rachel Reeves - lost her seat after 10 years on the NEC, coming seventh in the ballot with 72,514 votes.

She told the BBC Radio 4's World at One that having the support of Mr Corbyn and Momentum "seemed to have been a pre-requisite for getting on".

She said she was worried that "the voices of some members aren't going to get heard" now and said her defeat showed there had been a "shift in membership".

"I've always had broad support and I think the make up of our membership has changed significantly in the past few months," she told the programme.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said he and Mr Corbyn stay in contact "with the odd text"

But Rhea Wolfson, one of the six new members to be appointed to the NEC, said they were not a "homogenous group".

Asked whether Labour MPs could face mandatory reselection, she told the World at One it is "a conversation that we're going to have to have".

There was a "disconnect" between the Parliamentary party, Labour members and unions, she said, and added: "We have to have a much more healthier conversation around reselection if not mandatory reselection."

Strained relations

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham - who has just won Labour's nomination to run for Manchester mayor - said talk of mandatory reselection was "unhelpful".

"To pull the rug from under our MPs or other elected representatives I don't think is helpful at this time - it fuels a climate of distrust," he said.

Meanwhile, Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has said Labour should scrap its "one member one vote" system for electing a leader, and reinstate the electoral college system - which gave equal weight to the votes of MPs, trade unionists and party members - abolished by Mr Corbyn's predecessor as leader, Ed Miliband.

He also wants MPs - not the party leader - to choose who to sit in the shadow cabinet, saying it would help to "reshape and rebuild" the Parliamentary party.

In a further signs of the deepening rift in the party, Mr Watson revealed that he now has little contact or communication with Mr Corbyn, bar the "odd text" - mainly about "family stuff".

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