Exclusive: left-slate impasse as one group refuses to back JVL member for NCC

labour ncc

The right-wing ‘slate’ for the important elections to fill additional positions on Labour’s NCC (National Constitutional Committee), the party’s supreme disciplinary body, was issued last week – and serves as a useful guide for which candidates to avoid.

But the left slate has not yet been published. A meeting took place on Monday night that was supposed to finalise the slate, but nothing has yet been announced.

The SKWAWKBOX can reveal that the decision-making process is at an impasse, with the stalemate centred on the presence of a member of Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) on the slate.

The CLGA (Centre-left Grassroots Alliance), the body consisting of Momentum, CLPD (Campaign for Labour Party Democracy), the LRC (Labour Representation Committee), Left Futures, JVL and others is currently deadlocked, with CLPD determined to see the JVL candidate on a balanced slate that will – if constituted as they propose – consist of three women and three men, with three BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) candidates and one Jewish candidate.

A senior Momentum figure has reportedly objected to the JVL member – one highly regarded by the Labour leadership – on the supposed grounds that ‘the Jewish community’ will not tolerate a JVL representative. This raises a number of questions, not least that there isn’t just one Jewish community – as recent events revealed by the SKWAWKBOX have underlined.

The other groups involved in the discussion are understood to back the JVL candidate.

Many Labour members will understandably object to the idea that any candidate for an internal party role should be chosen or rejected because of the potential opinion of non-members – as JVL consists of Jewish members of the Labour Party, it’s clear that there is no Labour ‘Jewish community’ united against the idea of a JVL candidate.

In place of the JVL candidate, the Momentum presence at the CLGA discussion has proposed a different Jewish candidate with strong views on Israel and Palestine but no association with JVL. But given the reaction to the Momentum executive’s decision to withdraw support from Peter Willsman, it’s highly unlikely that its membership would agree with an attempt to block a JVL member from the slate.

But the dispute extends further. Of the slate of six, as of last night there was agreement on all sides about only two candidates – one of whom is not one of the two considered ‘shoo-ins’ last weekend – and little sign of movement on the disagreements.

With only eighteen days left until nominations close, the groups need to get their collective behinds in gear – but in the longer term, the situation has put a spotlight on the broader issue of the way in which left slates are chosen. ‘Back-room’ haggling and deals may have been adequate before the days of mass membership and online ballots, but now there’s no excuse for persisting with it.

And a slate decided democratically by the members of the three organisations will be beyond dispute or jockeying for position – as well as encouraging all three to both grow and engage their membership.

For now,  a meeting is going on this evening to try to thrash out an agreement. The people in the figurative or literal ‘back room’ need to get a move on and agree their candidates for the sake of the movement. Ideally without bowing to presumed external prejudices.

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