As readers know, the party is precariously balanced. Jeremy's army of supporters make up the bulk of the membership, which helps explain the 72% approval rating the leadership currently commands. And, of course, there is the small matter of his occupation of the leader's office. Meanwhile his opponents on the right and centre command a majority in the parliamentary party, the party administration, the National Policy Forum, and in the various committees at local and regional level. Therefore every position, every seat on anything that inputs into party decision-making is a battleground.
Over this weekend there's been an awful lot of crying and crowing over goings-ons. The successful candidate, Jasmin Beckett, secured her place amid accusations of dirty tricks, and is now the subject of a code of conduct investigation. As that is ongoing, there's little to be served by offering my opinion about the allegations. However, I'm more interested in claims about vote-rigging and the pressure put on some attendees at the Young Labour conference to vote a certain way.
One Zac Harvey took to Twitter to prove that he had been "intimidated" by Unite "fixers" to vote for James Elliott, the Momentum/Unite-backed candidate for the NEC place. What despicable, outrageous anti-democratic behaviour.
Except it's nothing of the sort. Zac wasn;t an ordinary attendee free to cast a vote as he pleased in a secret ballot. He was a delegate. Now, the word delegate is oft abused in left wing circles - particularly by small organisations on the fringes of the labour movement to suggest they represent more than just themselves by so labelling all attendees - but the meaning is pretty clear. When you are a delegate, you are a representative of an organisation and have been deputised by them to vote in accordance with their wishes. They are awarded a mandate that may require them to cast ballots in a particular way. Perhaps Zac wasn't aware that being a trade union delegate required him to vote along with the rest of Unite's delegation, but officials were well within their rights to insist on scrutinising the ballots of their delegates. In much the same way it's proper that party whips insist that elected representatives follow the direction given by the leadership.
There really isn't anything to see here, though it's disappointing but not at all surprising for some to try and delegitimise the common democratic practice of trade unions.