In my professional and personal life, I hate to see and will always address what I deem unfair or unjust.
In 2008 I saw a real issue of accountability on the NEC and I ran a nationwide grassroots campaign to be the Treasurer of the Labour Party – a role that had rarely been contested.
In fact, this was the first election for the positon in 15 years.
I was part of a small group of ordinary party members with a website called Labourhome.com that decided to take on the might of the party establishment.
At the time, we had been in government for over 10 years. We had, however, been dogged by controversy surrounding donations and there had been many news reports regarding anonymous donors leading to the resignation of the General Secretary of the party.
The entire tenor of our campaign was one of re-engaging with party members in the running of the party.
The fact that this post was so rarely contested meant that it has ceased to be accountable. I was of the view that a democratic election was the first step in accountability.
I lost the election. Not because of a lack of support from ordinary members, but because of a union block vote where the incumbent party Treasurer, Jack Dromey, (the then Deputy Head of the Transport and General Workers Union) voted for himself and, to cut a long story short, that was the end of the election.
The campaign did however shine a spotlight on the NEC and slowly things began to change and more recently we have more OMOV (one member one vote) for elections and therefore greater accountability.
Backroom deals still exist
Sadly though, there are still many problems with the NEC and significantly so regarding transparency and accountability.
Too many decisions are made long before they arrive on the agenda of the NEC, too many backroom deals with often split and dysfunctional NECs occur and too many of the processes just are not transparent enough.
For me the largest issue is the democratic deficiency at the heart of the NEC, the power that allows a small group within the NEC to choose candidates for safe seats in Parliament.
Allegations of cronyism, nepotism, the complete lack of transparency and accountability strikes at the very heart of our system but this has been allowed to continue for many years and it must stop.
I have personal experience of battling with an NEC split on ideological grounds determined to follow an agenda contrary to the leadership. This is another story, this short video explains all.
It is now more than any other time that we need an NEC to hold the party accountable for its actions.
We are in a transition period not just an ideological battle. Right now we are deciding the type of path we want our country to go in. Get it wrong and we simply become a shadow of the conservatives, get it right and we can offer an answer and make it right for so many people that have been forgotten and left behind.
When members see clear transparency and accountability they feel secure.
When members feel secure they grow in confidence and become empowered and we’ve all seen what an empowered membership can achieve.
‘Vote McDonald for transparency and accountability’ may not be a Shakespearean rallying call to arms that will light fires and stir souls, but for some it will for it is upon solid transparent structures that we are able to build the overthrow of this insidious government and for the many it could be the very difference between a Labour and a Conservative government.
Mark McDonald, Stoke South CLP