Momentum And The NEC Victory

As I noted in early December, the decision to have three extra NEC places  up for grabs meant that  in the absence of a regional element there is no doubt Momentum would clean up. However while the result was forseeable and Momentum maintained its 2016 supremacy, a closer analysis shows that it may have peaked — and if the broad opposition can ever get its act together the future can reverse the flow. But first things first.

The December  nominations showed three patterns – 3 Momentum, 3 independent (but backed by Labour First) and 3 local candidates who had no chance as having no national organisation. In the table below I put the vote and  the constituency nominations against each candidate.

In December it was clear  that the three candidates supported by Momentum and the CLGA (Centre Left Grassroots Alliance) easily outnumbered the other 6 candidates in constituency nominations. The figures for vote are in the 2nd column. NB even if all the Donovan votes transferred, Izzard would have been c10,000 short.

Nominations Votes
Yasmine Dar 205 66,388 Elected
Rachel Garnham 187 62,982 Elected
Jon Lansman 181 65,163 Elected
Non Momentum
Johanna Baxter 87 27,234
Eddie Izzard 71 39,508
Gurdiner Singh Josan 55 25,224
Nick Donovan 8 11,944
Nicola Morrison 7 7,551
Sarah Taylor 11 7,011

The NEC Elections 2016

The comparison with 2016 is illuminating with italics for candidates standing again in 2017. In 2016 the full 6 places went to candidates backed by the CLGA, Momentum and CLPD with no success for Progress or Labour First.

Ann Black 100,999 Elected
Christine Shawcroft 97,510 Elected
Claudia Webbe 92,377 Elected
Darren Williams 87,003 Elected
Rhea Wolfson 85,687 Elected
Pete Willsman 81,863 Elected
Ellie Reeves 72,514
Eddie Izard 70,993
Bex Bailey 67,205
Joanne Baxter 60,367
. Parmjit Dhanda 53,838
Luke Akehurst 48,632
. Peter Wheeler 44,062
John Gallagher 22,678
Amanat Gul 14,693

The 2017 election mirrors the 2016 result and confirms Momentum’s success in the 2016 elections, but the turnout is down although we do not yet have the turnout figures for 2017*, but in 2016 boosted by the leadership elections the figures are:

Number of eligible voters 373,443
Total number of votes cast 182,020
Invalid 2,533
Valid Votes 179,504
Turnout 48.7%

* The official membership is unknown, but in his NEC report on December 10th last Pete Willsman said that “membership is set to end the year at 568,500 – up 25,000 on 2016 and the highest figure since the party kept accurate records”. Thus the 2017 turnout on a larger membership over half a million appears to have been 20% and lower in absolute terms as well. This election did not mobilise the members. Momentum’s impetus lessened after Conference.

The Constitutional Arrangements Committee Elections 2017 

This was not the case in the run up to the  2017 conference as the election to the Constitutional Arrangements Committee (CAC) results last September showed. There was support from the grassroots for Momentum candidates and continuing  lack of support for the party establishment. For this crucial committee, two Momentum candidates, Seema Chandwani (secretary of Tottenham Labour Party) and Billy Hayes (Ex Gen secretary of Communications Workers Union)  beat candidates linked to the party establishment, Gloria de Piero and Michael Cashman. De Piero is MP for Ashfield, Cashman a member of the House of Lords after being an MEP. The latter were backed by Progress and Labour First according to Labour List, while Momentum backed candidates were also backed by CLPD. There is now a pattern of CLPD/Momentum in tandem.

The results were:

Chandwani 109,763 Elected
Hayes 92,205 Elected
De Piero 55,417
Cashman 50,439

Thus in the autumn of 2017 Momentum backed candidates were scoring nearly twice the votes of the establishment candidates, and there was no soft left or centrist candidates to give a fuller picture. It is however vital to note that in this election the slate was backed by Momentum and CLPD, with no involvement of CLGA which has never in my recollection stood candidates for CAC elections. At first glance the NEC three just elected follow this pattern, but with a much lower turnout. Perhaps because this was an ad hoc election out of sequence. Or perhaps because soft left members saw little to vote for.

Parliamentary And Other Selections

The pattern of internal party elections is polarising between the strong Momentum vote and weak establishment votes with no successes for Labour First, still the only voice of the old Right,. and the Blairite Progress group. However  it is clear that not all the Momentum activities are successful as the current round of parliamentary selections indicates.

On January 17th Labour List reported that of selections to date, Momentum backed 5 of 24  candidates selected, while the Financial Times 6 of 22 selections..Notably Momentum had a high profile candidate in Watford after the NEC forced him onto the list, but members preferred the candidate from 2017. Owen Jones threw his weight behind Katie Jones who lost in an All Women’s Shortlist to Mhari Threlfall in Filton and Bradley Stoke,. The FT also reported that in Manchester only 8 of 96 candidates for the council are backed by Momentum. There are certainly hotbeds of Momentum activity like Haringey and some big cities, but on the whole at the moment there is a different picture to be taken on board.


Soft Left Strong But Disorganised

The big picture is a soft left party whose members consistently vote for hard left leadership as the old right is bankrupt and there is no soft left organisation. In the twenty years since the LCC closed down nothing apart from the false dawn of Open Labour has emerged to replace it. The internal elections reflect this pattern. However this is an unstable situation, since either the factionalism of the hard left will drive out members and they win by default, or a soft left organisation of young activists will be created. Those are the only alternatives.

Trevor Fisher

January 2018




  1. Andy Howell says:

    This is interesting analysis.

    Basically, the right slates are about 40 to 50K behind the Momentum slates. That is a big gap and to a large extent reflects years and years of organisation from CLDP.

    I disagree about the organisation of the soft left and the LCC. The LCC was an ideas forum and didn’t exist in quite the same way as Momentum/CLDP/Labour First do now. So, the soft left has never been organised in that way.

    It is true — I think — that the soft left vote with the left in elections rather than the right. But that might because experience shows that left platforms moderate over time. Think of Kinnock who was not only thought of as ‘left’ but was considered to be dangerously so by some on the right.

    At the end of the day politics is about imagination and inspiration. Organisation comes into play only after this! I just don’t see many inspirational people around. Corbyn of course is, or rather he has become something of a meme. People are voting for an image, their hopes and all kinds of things rather than on achievable politics or percentages. But there is nothing wrong with this. After all, you have to be able to dream!

  2. John Hurley says:

    I agree this is an interesting and perceptive analysis. It also accords with what I have said before that, in the country, Momentum is more of a movement that embraces hard and soft left activists than a hard left faction, wherever its leadership stands. In part it is a generational switch, and one that seems to me to be more manifest in the way they communicate than a more fundamental shift in values.

    As the agreement between CLDP and Labour Reform showed in setting up the CLGA the centre left / soft left / old left / and ideological left could make common cause. That is very much what happened in my constituency and in neighbouring Stroud (where David Drew won back his seat) where all shades of centre and left could unite around a popular manifesto.

    And I think it is that manifesto which appealed broadly to the socialist and liberal left which tore the Lib Dems apart and has polarised politics with Tories and Labour both piling up recored votes. Still not yet a progressive majority, but the dream remains.

    • Andy Howell says:

      The big difference in those days was that the hard left needed us then and I suspect they don’t know. I’m told they have already warned Ann that they will take her out of the NEC at first opportunity.

      The lead characters were different then as well. The main thrust of the left’s interest in GRA came from the Livingstone section of the left. The negotiations leant heavily on Redmond O’Neil (who went with Ken to the GLA and who sadly is no longer with us) and Anni Marjoram who also went with Ken to be his women’s officer.

      Of the current character, I don’t remember McDonnell being involved at all although on a number of occasions I went to speak to the Parliamentary Campaign Group and I guess he must have been there.

      Diane Abbot was always supportive and friendly.

      This kind of reflects the Livingstone/McDonnell split which still exists until today.

      Back then CLDP were terrified of dealing with the press. They were fascinated that we engaged with the press quite openly. Ken, of course, never had any qualms about dealing with the press!

      • John Hurley says:

        Yes I joined you on one occasion to meet the Campaign Group. Corbyn sat in total silence. True the further left needed us then and less so now. On the other hand purging the most popular NEC member from the Grassroots list could be the disaster which shows that all their assurances are cant. That would be the moment to raise issues from our position. I just don’t see an alliance with a discredited right achieving anything but discrediting the soft left. However a campaign around Ann would stake out our position. But much would depend on Ann. Have you asked her?

        • Andy Howell says:

          Corbyn never spoke out at any of the meetings I went to. He always seemed like that guy at a GC who never says anything! Others talk about him lie this way as well. All part of the phenomenon I guess.

          As for Ann I shall sound her out.

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