Monday 29 February 2016

Mandates and Mendaciousness

They say politics becomes bitter and personal in inverse proportion to the seriousness of what's at stake. On this occasion though, the battle for Young Labour's seat on the NEC is a weighty matter.

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.


Anonymous said...

Is it known that Zac didn't vote for Elliott? I thought his complaint was about being pressured into showing someone his marked ballot, not that he was pressured into voting for someone he didn't want to. Some clarification on those points would be useful.

Phil said...

It's my understanding that he left the conference before the ballot was cast on account of the "pressure".

BCFG said...

There should be pressure to wrestle the party away from the careerists and centre left. A party cannot tolerate the idea of the leader and the members being so at odds with the hierarchy.

The members are duty bond by their own conscience to sweep this centre left hierarchy away, once and for all.

A purge is not always a bad thing. And the Labour party needs to be purged of its tory lite infestation.

If anything Corbyn and his supporters have been too tolerant of the vermin inside the party. In fact the reasonableness of Corbyn has been quite staggering, and I think ultimately a weakness.

Time to send in the rat catcher and put down the posion.

Blair, the great hero of decency, would never have stood for any of this!

But say after me, the centre left are the enemy.

asquith said...

Whoever most loathes "Zionism" will win, that's what my crystal ball tells me.

Anonymous said...

"Whoever most loathes "Zionism" will win, that's what my crystal ball tells me."

While this is pathetic rubbish from asquith, we could be equally pathetic and say that it makes a change from the usual of the winner being the one who most fawns over Zionism.

Lidl Janus said...

"But say after me, the centre left are the enemy."

I'm not gonna do that. But in all seriousness: what is your plan with this? If you, as alternate-universe Jeremy Corbyn, managed to get the 200+ deselections in the PLP, and cut off the 180,000 or so who didn't vote Corbyn (or, more easily, the 100,000 Cooper-Kendalls): what then?

BCFG said...

"If you, as alternate-universe Jeremy Corbyn, managed to get the 200+ deselections in the PLP, and cut off the 180,000 or so who didn't vote Corbyn (or, more easily, the 100,000 Cooper-Kendalls): what then?"

Well then you get busy and implement policies. I think that is the usual way is it not? And the policies will be the opposite of the Centre left and the Tories, i.e. in the alternative universe we implement policies that empower people and workers rather than the centre left/Tory agenda of empowering managers and keeping workers in their place.

For example, one thing New Labour did was to ensure the public sector mirrored the private sector, this in reality meant increased pay differential between managers and the 'shop floor'. Contracting out of certain functions like cleaning for the sole purpose that the working conditions of these people was made worse.

To my mind anyone who says they are centre left are saying they are a Thatcherite.

Some policies that could be implemented are:

Scrapping of Trident
Nationalisation of Banks, Transport and Utilities
Policies that favour worker control and industrial democracy
Campaign for a social Europe
Opposition to all imperialist war mongering by withdrawing all resources aimed at conquest and supremacy.
Significant increase of minimum wage
Reduction of the retirement age
Move the tax burden back to business and the wealthy
Development of an housing plan that actually looks to meet needs, rather than expand asset values.
Scrapping of all anti Trade Union laws brought about by Thatcher
Investment in public services and scrapping of internal markets
Rule to curb managerial power and tackle pay differentials
Extension of sickness benefits to all private and public sector employees
Stop subsidising low paying businesses.
Expand education curriculum to include more heterodox ideas
Stop selling off of playing fields to developers and increase available free space for people to enjoy.

We know what your plan is, more Thatcherism.