Why you should vote for me, and why it matters

By Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

I know there is huge disaffection across the party. We have lost many good socialist activists, driven out by unjust disciplinary measures or leaving of their own accord, appalled by the Starmer leadership’s abdication of responsibility for fighting Johnson’s Tories. Some are joining other organisations, setting up new ones or – in the case of some elected local councillors – coming together with others to form independent groups. There are many voices saying Labour is broken as a vehicle for social change and that this NEC election is irrelevant to the struggle.    

There is, however, clearly no appetite among current leaders of the left in the Party or the unions for creating an alternative to Labour, nor among large swathes of the membership. The Party still has tens of thousands of activists who were drawn in by the transformative agenda they hoped could be pushed forward under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. I am standing alongside the others in Grassroots 5 to speak for those socialist campaigners.

They are the people who are keeping up the fight in their branches and CLPs: supporting dedicated local councillors and linking up with trade unionists and community activists, defending hard-won pay and conditions, defying the carve-up of crumbling public services, standing up for migrants, the homeless and everyone struggling to survive as living costs spiral upwards.

They stand alongside people facing discrimination of all kinds. They are keeping alive the flame of international solidarity with the oppressed in Palestine, Yemen, Kashmir and other parts of the world blighted by aggressive colonialism. They continue to speak out against military aggression, in Ukraine and wherever it occurs, for an ethical foreign policy, for welcoming refugees regardless of their race or faith, and for policies that will preserve the planet for future generations.  

These activists need people on the NEC who will hold the leadership to account for its failures and betrayals. Jeremy himself has argued, in a video supporting my candidacy and those of the other Grassroots 5, the crucial importance of grassroots members having strong voices representing them on the party’s governing body.

I have no hesitation in committing to doing precisely that. If elected, I will do my best to maintain open communication with members, listening to their concerns and reporting back to them from the NEC. I will prioritise collaborative working with my Grassroots 5 comrades and other likeminded NEC members, in particular from the trade unions.

As I’ve argued elsewhere, in our current situation, Labour Party members are entitled to insist that we on the left hold our nerve, unite despite our differences and act together in solidarity with one another. My background as a trade union activist in the NUJ and NEU and as a decades-long anti-racist human rights campaigner, focusing on justice for Palestine, has taught me the crucial importance of unity and solidarity.

Hopefully, after nominations close on June 17th, other Labour groupings will join the nine currently supporting the Grassroots 5, recognising that we need people with a track record of standing up for the members, against unwarranted antisemitism allegations and for genuinely transformative policies. As an officer of Jewish Voice for Labour, I’ve been at the forefront of that battle since Jeremy was elected leader. I was among those who worked hard to build unity under the banner of Don’t Leave, Organise and Labour Left for Socialism. We were unsuccessful, but we must not give up trying.

Too many good comrades have succumbed to humiliating and unjust disciplinary processes over the last six years for those who remain to step back from the struggle. As Tony Benn famously said, the same battle has to be fought “over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.”

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi (L0089569) is a member of Chingford and Woodford Green CLP where she was vice-chair from 2016 to 2020. She became active in Jews for Justice for Palestinians soon after its establishment in 2002 and was one of the founding members of Jewish Voice for Labour in 2017. Her journalistic career spanned 25 years including 20 years as a correspondent and editor for Reuters. In 2000 she retrained as a primary school teacher and worked as a literacy specialist until retirement in 2016.

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