If you were running for local government, you wouldn’t fill your campaign leaflet with your views on international relations when your job would be to represent residents on the council.
For this reason, it’s surprising that NEC candidates will give their views on ALL subjects except the state of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) that they would be representing.
And the problem with this is that CLPs and members need as much help as they can get.
This is particularly prominent in Scotland and former ‘Red Wall’ seats that Labour has lost in recent years.
If there is anything that NEC CLP Representatives should be doing it is speaking up on behalf of CLPs and demanding they are given more resources and more funding.
The fact that CLPs are given only £2.50 per year, per member from their members’ annual subscription of over £50 is a disgrace.
So surely this NEC election will be a perfect opportunity to elect NEC Representatives who will demand concrete improvements to the conditions of the people they represent?
Frustratingly, that does not seem to be happening.
We hear about the kind of world NEC candidates would like to live in (and this is usually just as we’d expect from Socialists), but there is hardly anything about what needs to be done to support CLPs and revive the grassroots.
What about policies?
One thing needs to be made clear: NEC CLP Representatives elected this year will have absolutely no say over the next party manifesto. They will only be on the NEC for two years and the next election is likely to take place in four years (unless, of course, the Tories will throw away a big majority for the sake of NEC candidates).
If the NEC election is not about actual policy making but a vote off between factions that is an indulgence we can’t afford at the moment. We need candidates to speak about more than their socialist credentials. The party is dying on the ground and this really isn’t the time for on that.
That’s really why I’ve decided to stand for the NEC. Because I believe the central issues are being ignored or played down by other candidates.
A major reason why the party is in such bad shape is that the NEC has not imposed itself on the bloated party bureaucracy and has failed to address the steady decline of local resources.
This could be because it is not easy to keep on top of the job as an NEC member as the role is unpaid and there is a massive amount of paperwork to work through. If you’ve written to NEC members and not received a reply, this is why.
The NEC needs to look at how it can improve the way it works so that it is able to govern the party effectively. There is certainly a case for either paying NEC members or giving them staff to support them.
While NEC members are struggling to keep up with their email correspondence, we’ve heard alarming reports about NEC members not receiving information about party accounts, or membership information. And we also saw from 2016 that Jeremy Corbyn was nearly excluded from standing as Labour leader because the General Secretary wouldn’t allow his legal representative to speak to the NEC.
The fact that party officials are acting without accountability is having a detrimental impact on the party.
People are leaving Labour because they believe their voices are not heard and they have been the victim of cronyism, bullying and exclusion.
Whoever gets on the NEC must urgently and vigorously take on the lack of accountability and transparency in the party. Along with the lack of funding for the grassroots, these issues must not be allowed to fester.
If this NEC election campaign fails to address the party’s financial structure and the lack of good governance, I believe it will be too late. If the bureaucratic cogs have not been turned by 2022, the party will not be ready for 2024 and we will face certain defeat.
On Wednesday 12th August, you can join me and other NEC candidates from across the party in a live discussion on Zoom on how Labour can be improved. Join in by registering here.
Crispin Flintoff, Henley CLP