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Arguments for socialism :: Democracy
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Many Labour Party constituencies finally got the go-ahead to start the process of selecting their parliamentary candidate in September. One of them was Enfield North, where there has been a vacancy since February following the departure of arch Blairite Joan Ryan.
Enfield North members waited for seven months to start the process, bitterly complaining that the time could have been used to campaign around a new, socialist candidate.
The process finally began in September, but alas only briefly. In that short time local ward nominations were carried out with results that showed support for local socialist candidates.
But after only a few weeks Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) stopped all similar processes nationally, stating the lack of time before an imminent general election and an urgency to speed up the procedure.
Members were dismayed by the arrogance and obvious lack of respect for their time and efforts. They rightly asked what took the NEC so long to give the green light in the first place. When the NEC came up with a timetable for Enfield North that is supposed to end the process with the final hustings on the same date as the original timetable, members' outrage rose.
The outrage reached its highest level when the NEC produced a longlist of candidates. The longlist is secret, and the panel that produced it is also secret. Yet the members know that none of the popular local left candidates are on it, because none of them have been notified.
The whole affair is painfully reminiscent of the Blairite era with bureaucratic top down imposition of candidates. With the election of Corbyn, a new way of politics was promised, which attracted hundreds of thousands of new people to the party. But has the promise really been delivered? Many of the members in Enfield North, and nationally, are questioning that.
The truth is that Labour is two parties in one, with a left leadership and the majority of the membership on one side, and the Blairite right-wing representatives of capitalism on the other. From the moment Corbyn was elected leader, the Socialist Party argued the impossibility of unity with the Blairites, and the need for decisive action against them.
However, there now seems to be a rift developing within the left itself, between a section of the left bureaucracy that dominates the NEC and the grassroots membership.
A group that calls itself Enfield Labour Socialists has now published a damning statement demanding that the NEC process be stopped and the local selection committee - which was overwhelmingly left wing - be reinstated. It states that they will not accept another parachuted careerist candidate and that the NEC runs the risk of Labour losing Enfield North.
On Monday 21 October Enfield North Constituency Labour Party passed two emergency motions, demanding the reinstatement of the local selection committee and expressing no confidence in the NEC process. Both motions passed with an overwhelming majority.
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Article dated 23 October 2019
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
Lessons from history
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