Briefing, Labour Party

NEC elections – left needs steadfastness, Palestinian style

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi sets out her platform for the Labour Party NEC elections.

Let me introduce Rosa Gomez. She comes from Colombia where she was the victim of a shooting in 2010, presumed to be a political assassination attempt, because she campaigned against human rights abuses in the country . She lost her sight, her left arm and the use of the right. The attack was never properly investigated. She has just won a second term as a highly regarded Labour councillor in east London. A Corbyn supporter who has not given up the fight, despite her disabilities and shamefully shabby treatment, even from some within her own party, she is a fine example of what Palestinians call Summud – steadfastness. It’s a virtue the left in the UK needs to cultivate at this critical moment in our history.

Whatever the risks in standing on a socialist ticket for Labour’s National Executive Committee, being shot is not high on the list. Too many good comrades have succumbed to humiliating and unjust disciplinary processes over the last six years for those who remain to step back from the struggle. At a time when far right xenophobia is providing fertile ground for all forms of racism, including antisemitism, the party has responded with shallow, insincere “zero tolerance” campaigns targeting the left – a convenient weapon for internal and external foes of the Corbyn project and, not coincidentally, for suppressing free speech for Palestinians and those who support them.

The nine Labour groupings supporting the Grassroots Five candidates in the NEC elections (see box below) recognise that we desperately need strong voices on Labour’s governing body – people with a track record of standing up for the members, against unwarranted antisemitism allegations and for genuinely transformative policies. As an officer of Jewish Voice for Labour, I’ve been at the forefront of that battle since Jeremy was elected leader. I’m asking CLPs to nominate me along with the other G5 candidates so that, if elected, I can continue that struggle on the NEC. As Tony Benn said, people can be controlled in two ways – first frighten them, second demoralise them. Benn also famously said that the same battle has to be fought “over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.”

No more betrayals

The purge of socialist activists is accelerating, driving thousands of members to leave the party in despair. But Labour today is also betraying the very people it is meant to serve. Outlawing criticism of NATO, waving Union Jacks, and eliminating all trace of the most popular party leader in decades, do nothing to help people fighting to survive as the cost of living rockets. Too many have daily battles to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, their children clothed and warm. As always, those with the power are making sure that the rest of us pay the price for the failures of their system and its crises. As always, it’s the job of socialists to be part of the fightback, on the streets, in communities and workplaces, resisting deportations and evictions, defending public services, standing in solidarity with trade unionists striking to defend hard-won pensions, pay and conditions.

We are facing real threats to democracy in this country. The Tories are pushing a parade of racist, authoritarian laws through Parliament, ignoring cries of anguish from civil libertarians of all stripes. Has the Labour front bench seized the initiative, led a determined fightback in defence of rights we have long take for granted?  On the contrary, the most vigorous opposition has come from peers, even including a good number of Tories. When Priti Patel came out with her outrageous Rwanda plan, Labour’s official response focused on costs and practicalities, not the inhumanity and dubious legality of shipping desperate refugees thousands of miles away from the country where they are seeking sanctuary. This is not the way to build a movement that can truly represent the needs of people and planet.

In this situation, Labour Party members are entitled to insist that the left hold its nerve, unite despite our differences and act together in solidarity. I was among those who worked hard to build unity under the banner of Don’t Leave, Organise and Labour Left for Socialism. We were unsuccessful. This current round of NEC elections offers a chance – possibly a last chance – to demonstrate that we can succeed.

On Monday May 16th there will be an online rally called by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy in support of the Grassroots Five NEC candidates.

Registration for the rally is here.

The G5 candidates, Jess Barnard, Gemma Bolton, Yasmine Dar, Mish Rahman, and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi are supported by the following organisations:

Campaign for Labour Party Democracy
Campaign for Socialism
Jewish Voice for Labour
Kashmiris for Labour
Labour Briefing (Co-op)
Labour CND
Labour Women Leading
Northern England Labour Left
Welsh Labour Grassroots

To nominate Naomi quote membership number L0089569.

CLP nominations close on June 17. The members’ ballot takes place between July 8 and August 5.

National Constitutional Committee

The NCC deals with the most serious disciplinary cases in the Labour Party (except those that the General Secretary decides for himself and expels without due process).

The Centre Left Grassroots Alliance are supporting the following candidates for the NCC elections:

– Daniel Blaney (membership Number A885633)

– Khaled Moyeed (L01288620

– Cecile Wright (A481880).

All three are committed to members’ rights, fair treatment and natural justice. Get your CLP to nominate them by 17th June.

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