By Rachel Garnham
After two and a half years as a CLP representative on Labour’s National Executive Committee, it is a huge relief to think about taking a step back from the endless meetings, panels, emails, anger and disappointments that characterise life trying to represent grassroots members on the NEC. Nevertheless, there have been achievements too. Even now when the left is in a minority, it is still possible to propose, and get agreed, positive change on behalf of members.
It has been a whirlwind of selections, elections, procedures and rule changes, for better and for worse. The Democracy Review brought huge improvements, for example to Annual Conference and fledgling equality structures; but we now have a fight to avoid a Forde inquiry whitewash, the horrors of NEC expulsions and a new voting system for the nine CLP places introduced without consultation or regard for annual conference and factionally designed to reduce grassroots representation.
So, what should we look for in a CLP representative?
- Someone who will fight for Labour as a democratic socialist Party with trade unions at its core, relentlessly focussed on fighting the Tories to reduce inequalities, for the many not the few, for public ownership, for an internationalist foreign policy based on peace and human rights, and for an anti-racist Party that genuinely represents the full diversity of the working class in the communities it seeks to serve. In the aftermath of the current crisis, our policy programme set out in 2017 and 2019, with tackling climate change at its heart, is the only viable way of winning for Labour and transforming our economy.
- Someone who is genuinely in touch with members and embedded in their CLP and community – who values our membership and activists, for example, understanding that it takes more than a couple of days and proper procedures to organise a democratic, inclusive meeting and that it matters that we do draw on all the talents and experience of our fantastic membership.
- Someone with an eye for detail, who knows their way round a rulebook, and will spot the pitfalls and sleights of hand in proposed procedures and changes; who can craft and win support for amendments that will improve how our Party works in the best interests of those we seek to serve.
- Someone who will fight for a just and fair disciplinary process, that deals quickly and transparently with genuine rule breaches but does not abuse the process for factional gain or make false assumptions based on limited evidence. And someone who has empathy and will fight for members being falsely accused or left suspended for years, and understands the impact it has on their lives.
- Someone who will prioritise a democratic Party, respecting members’ right to take decisions, for example through Open Selections and the sovereignty of a policy-making annual conference, and will build inclusive, vibrant, democratic self-organised equality structures.
This is why I am proud to be supporting the re-election of Yasmine Dar and Ann Henderson, who have worked tirelessly in all these areas in the past two years, genuinely representing and valuing our brilliant and diverse grassroots members, advancing and defending Party democracy, and fighting for democratic socialist policies in Britain and across the globe. They, supported by the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance, alongside Laura Pidcock, Nadia Jama, Gemma Bolton and Mish Rahman, will be much needed as a “Grassroots Voice” for members on the NEC. Please make sure your CLP nominates them.