Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents gained control of Labour’s National Executive Committee after one of the nastiest subversions of democracy we’ve seen – in a summer of such betrayals.
At the party’s conference a little over a week ago, NEC chair Paddy Lillis refused to hear calls for a “pre-packed” set of 15 party reforms to be discussed and voted through individually, meaning a resolution to add Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour representatives who would be nominated – not elected – to the NEC was passed undemocratically.
This means Kezia Dugdale, who opposes Mr Corbyn, immediately put herself on the committee and, at her first meeting, used the new position to ensure that a Corbyn opponent was voted in as chair. And Carwyn Jones, who also opposes Mr Corbyn, nominated a colleague who, no doubt, has similar views.
As a result, Mr Corbyn lost the narrow majority he had gained after elections earlier in the summer, when all six members of the Corbyn-supporting Centre Left Grassroots Alliance were voted onto the committee by the party’s members (who also support Mr Corbyn by a large majority).
But Jon Ashworth’s appointment as Shadow Health Secretary changes matters yet again.
News sources including The Independent reported yesterday (October 7): “Crucially, Mr Corbyn has replaced Mr Ashworth as the Shadow Cabinet representative on Labour’s National Executive Committee with Kate Osamor. She is expected to bolster Mr Corbyn’s support on the body, which makes decisions about how Labour is run internally.
“Mr Ashworth’s replacement with Ms Osamor – an ally of Mr Corbyn – could, however, restore the leadership’s majority, meaning internal decisions go his way in future.”
So the anti-Corbyn majority on Labour’s main decision-making body lasted just 10 days.
And it is still entirely possible that a fightback by This Writer’s own Labour branch, demanding that the rule change at conference be revoked, will mean the removal of the anti-Corbyn representatives from Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour very soon.
This is another humiliation for the so-called Labour ‘moderates’ who oppose the party’s leader. They won’t learn from it, though.
Jon Ashworth, one of the few remaining moderates in the shadow cabinet, has been promoted by Jeremy Corbyn to shadow health secretary, Labour sources say.
The elevation of Mr Ashworth, who was shadow minister for the cabinet office, to a key post will be seen as an olive branch to the moderates after criticism that earlier appointments strengthened Mr Corbyn’s allies on the left.
There was said to be unhappiness among Labour MPs at the promotion of his long-time ally Diane Abbott to shadow home secretary and the sacking of chief whip Rosie Winterton, seen as a key link with the backbenches.
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