Jon Lansman: Withdrawal.

This Site has stayed quiet amid the fuss that has been made about Jon Lansman’s bid to become general secretary of the Labour Party – for a good reason.

His candidacy, opposite Jennie Formby of Unite the Union, has been portrayed by some as a squabble among left-wing Labour supporters. Only today (March 11), I saw a debate about it on the BBC’s Sunday Politics in which it was characterised as Momentum v Unite.

I didn’t believe it – and it seems I was right.

Mr Lansman has withdrawn from the process, after other candidates came forward. Here’s his statement:

He said: “When I declared my interest in becoming Labour’s general secretary my aims were to open up the contest, instigate a debate about how the Labour Party can develop and encourage those of our 570,000 members who believe they have the skills and experience to apply.

“Over the last few days, in spite of media reports to the contrary including misogynist attacks on Jennie Formby in today’s Observer, NEC members have begun a productive, comradely debate about the future of the party. Whether the general secretary should be elected and what a transformed, member-led Labour Party could look like are big, urgent questions – and I’m heartened to see members across the country openly debating them.

“I’ve also had a number of party members get in touch to let me know they are applying for the role of general secretary. With 2 days until the deadline, I reiterate my call for Labour members, especially women, with talent and experience to consider submitting an application. Ordinary party members must be encouraged to step forward, take positions of responsibility and offer up their experience, whether as local councillors or MPs, within our governing structures or in our fantastic staff team.

“We must draw a clear line between our renewed and reinvigorated mass-membership party and previous eras of command and control – where the views of members and affiliates alike were too often ignored, party conference over-ruled and the NEC disrespected.

“With my aims fulfilled, I have decided to step back from the race to focus on my role on the NEC, working with members and affiliates to replace the old top-down model with modern, open and transpoarent, pluralist, participative democracy. We need to restore the elected NEC to its proper governance role including holding our new general secretary to account and upholding the rights of party members.

“I am looking forward to seeing a good range of applications for general secretary and whoever is chosen, I shall of course give her (or him) my full support to build a strong united party and win the next general election.”

I’m sure there will be naysayers who’ll tell us Mr Lansman’s withdrawal is for other reasons but his statement is consistent with the reasons he gave for applying for the job in the first place.

Here he is, quoted in The Guardian‘s article after he announced his intention to stand: “I am applying to open up the contest and ensure we have a wide range of candidates,” he said. “In this spirit, I’d like to encourage any one of our 570,000 members who has the talent and experience to apply.

“I would especially like to encourage more women to apply. We’ve only ever had one female general secretary, and we should have more women in Labour’s top team.

“In the future, I personally would like to see the general secretary position elected by Labour members. This way we can guarantee continuing accountability through the NEC, but also show that we are a party of democracy and pluralism.”

I would like to hope that this will signal an end to talk of rivalry between left-wing elements of the Labour Party.

Of course, there’s nothing to be done about right wingers. They’ll take any chance to smear the left.


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