Labour leadership elections: Stay and fight! Join the Labour Left Alliance!

The election of Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner as leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party is a serious setback for the left. Speculation is rife that Starmer will gladly accept an invitation by the government to take a position in a ‘war cabinet’ – an invitation that is designed to neutralise the opposition. Labour activists must fight such moves.

Because of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party has grown to more than 500,000 members, with many committed socialists. The composition of annual conference changed dramatically. Inspired by Corbyn’s principled politics, the left gained influence in numerous local areas – and is now part of the leadership in many CLPs. Continued affiliation of the trade unions makes Labour a true mass organisation of the working class – and the biggest democratic socialist party in Europe. Many are now talking about leaving the Labour Party. But the LLA will fight hard against that.

LLA NEC elections (round 1, for LLA members only)

As agreed at our launch conference on February 22, we are now planning on how the LLA can intervene in the next full elections for the Labour Party NEC, which will be held this summer.

The process for selecting left-wing candidates has for far too long been shrouded in mystery, while many of those who have eventually been elected as part of the left slate often turn out to be anything but left-wing. There is very little accountability and even less transparency.

The LLA wants to help change that. We therefore agreed that we will approach other Labour left organisations with the view of putting together a joint slate of candidates in a democratic and transparent manner. Please click here to read the full successful motion online (which has also been discussed in our Facebook groups for a few months now).

First though we want to ask all LLA signatories if they are interested in becoming a member of the ruling body of the Labour Party. There are nine positions for representatives from Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and one position as the BAME representative.

Please find below the candidate statement of all LLA signatories who have put themselves forward. All of the candidates have declared that they:

  • agree to campaign – as a minimum – for the political positions contained within our appeal.
  • will cooperate fully with the steering committee and the organising group of the LLA .
  • in the case that they are not selected, will not stand against the slate agreed by LLA.

CLP reps (9 positions)
Jo Bird
Esther Giles
Bryn Jones
Trish Williams
Karunakaran (Suga) Thekkeppurayil
Roger Silverman
Aram Rawf
Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal

BAME (1 position)
Mehmood Mirza
Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal
Aram Rawf

Jo Bird

Like many Labour party members, I was inspired to join the party by Jeremy Corbyn’s vision of socialism for the many.

I’m Jewish. There is no place for antisemitism or any form of racism in our party. In my lived experience, the Labour party is a welcoming home. My positive messages often go viral. For example, over 80,000 people have viewed my ‘Jews are welcome in Labour’ video.

I was dismayed to have been suspended twice from Labour, in March 2019 (over my play on the words “due process”) and then again in February 2020, while I was standing for the NEC by-elections. After a huge public outcry and nominations by 118 CLPs, I was told that my “behaviour did not amount to a breach of the party’s rules” and was reinstated as a candidate and to full membership.

As your NEC representative, I will stand up for members, democracy and transparency at every opportunity, just like I have done as secretary of Wirral Labour Group.

As your electe d NEC representative, I will support 4 key changes:

1. Fairness and natural justice in our complaints system
2. Open selection of Labour MPs just as we have for Labour councillors
3. Freedom, justice and equality for all people under military occupation
4. Members-led policy decided at a sovereign democratic conference

This is our Labour Party. We, Labour Party members, should decide who can be a member and who cannot. We should not outsource this to some outside agency that works against our interests.

Esther Giles

I rejoined the Labour Party in 2015, and since then have put my best efforts into supporting the local Party. I’m currently CLP Secretary, Branch Chair and Treasurer for the LCF, so I understand the workings of the Labour Party. I’ve recently retired from a career in NHS Finance and now work part-time in my own gardening business. I’m a Unite Community member and have previously been a member of Unison (where I was a workplace representative), Unison’s managers’ wing – MiP, and Unite.

Since rejoining the Party, I have been uplifted by comradely solidarity and at the same time dismayed by the lack of democracy, and, too often, the lack of socialism in the Party. I’ve been concerned too by the hold that neoliberal identity politics has on our Party. I’ve been suspended for allegations of anti-Semitism, and then had the suspension lifted without explanation. At the 2017 Conference I challenged Iain McNichol to justify the Party’s spending on suspending people. 

So I welcomed the rise of the LLA and joined at the earliest opportunity. I completely agree that “there is now an urgent need to build a democratic, transparent and socialist Labour Left Alliance”, and would like to do everything I can to implement the aims set out in the LLA Appeal. I would be honoured to be considered for service on the NEC.

Bryn Jones

The Corona emergency is reshaping the political landscape. Labour and the NEC will need decision-takers with experience, know-how and clear convictions. I put myself forward because of my unusual combination of political experience, intellectual expertise and socialist values:

  • with one break,  an active Party member for about 40 years
  • current Unite Community union member but experience in shop steward roles in (what are now) the Public and Commercial Services Union, and Universities and Colleges Union;
  • leading roles in community campaigns, such as football supporters groups and local environmental activism, especially on local transport ;
  • various roles in Labour’s election campaigns;
  • CLP Political Education and Policy Officer.

My academic research and writing covered political processes, economic issues and communication strategies. I have analysed and proposed the democratisation of corporate power. Together with other left academics I co-authored a 2017 book on Alternatives to Neoliberalism. The conclusions of which anticipated some of the key features of Labour’s ethos under Jeremy Corbyn. Born and bred in the West Midlands working class, I know and understand the Brexit mentality and Tory voting there and in the North.

The values and policies worked out from this practical experience and academic analysis are clear-cut:  more participatory democratic decision-making is essential, in the Party and government; but also in businesses and public bodies. We must put right Labour’s 2019 campaigning mistakes but the transformative ideas from the Corbyn project must be continued and developed. These are not obstacles to electoral success but key ingredients for it.

Trish Williams

Standing as Parliamentary candidate in Berwick-upon-Tweed in 2019 I learned first hand of the sense of betrayal, abandonment and injustice felt by so many former Labour voters.

It’s time for change, but electing a new Leader and Deputy is not enough; the Party must also refresh its organisational structures, including the NEC.

As a CLP Secretary, l have worked with colleagues and Party officials to address issues with Party systems and processes. My 32 nominations in the NEC by-election, came about because I am trusted to deliver on my promises, by colleagues who have seen my organisational skills and persistence in action.

My priorities are:

Complaints

  • Create a fit-for-purpose complaints/disciplinary process that serves ‘natural justice’;

Communications

  • Improve transparency and accountability by publishing NEC agendas, minutes, and organisational and business process information.
  • Regular dialogue between NEC reps and members.

Diversity

  • Regionally elected CLP reps,
  • Reps for LGBTQ  and members with disabilities.
  • Support for NEC members with work and caring responsibilities.

Democratisation

  • Update Constitution to facilitate remote access to meetings and online voting for internal democratic processes.
  • Devolve decision-making on selections, campaigning and local structures, to democratised and empowered Regions and CLPs
  • Introduce open selection for Parliamentary candidates.        

I seek equality of opportunity, and social and economic justice, for everyone. If elected I commit to continuing our internationalist, Socialist agenda, to fight against this cruel and incompetent Tory government, and to help transform Labour into an election winning Party.

Roger Silverman

I first joined the Labour Party 59 years ago. I remember canvassing for Labour from the age of 14. I’ve been an active member ever since, with the exception of the “New Labour” years, when along with hundreds of thousands of others I let my membership lapse. I rejoined the party in West Ham in 2015, and have been an active campaigner and GC delegate since then.

My father was practically a founder member of the Labour Party, an elected member of the National Executive Committee and a Labour MP for 33 years until his death. My mother was an LCC Labour councillor. In 1961 my father was temporarily expelled from the Parliamentary Labour Party for voting in line with Conference’s democratic resolution in favour of nuclear disarmament – an act which was branded as disloyalty to the current Party leader Gaitskell. (That was a punishable offence in those days!). Recently I too was arbitrarily suspended, without warning and without charge, and then reinstated following a telephone interrogation.

As an NEC member, I would campaign vigorously to end such abuses, restore the supremacy of party Conference, and uphold the democratic right of open selection of candidates for office. Without that, all our efforts to elect a Labour government on a socialist programme will be under threat of defection.

Labour’s defeat in the December general election was a disappointment, but despite media distortions it was not “the worst result since 1931”. Labour actually won more votes in 2019 than in 2015, 2010 or even 2005 (when Labour won). We are still the biggest political party in Europe. In these days of crisis, the Johnson government is already largely discredited. We must seize the opportunity to harness the energies of our half a million members to build a Britain for the many not the few.

Karunakaran (Suga) Thekkeppurayil

I have been a Labour Party member since 2010. I was born and brought up in a working class family in Kerala, a south Indian state where I learnt much of my socialist political ideology and its application.  And I am very proud that my parents were members of the Communist Party.  They had helped me to shape my left political values.  It has been reflected in my interaction with society wherever I have been and fought for it.  It was no different whether I was in Delhi as a cop or in London as a student or as a worker.

I fought for student’s rights; I fought for rickshaw pullers’ rights and people living in slums in Delhi and against police atrocities. I fought for waiters’ rights in London. I fought for travellers against air tickets scams. I fought against the witch-hunt within the party even before JC became the leader.

I marched with comrades against war, rights for the Palestinian people, against austerity, against the fascist Modi government

I went to the various picket lines in London and across the country such as in Swindon against Honda plant shift and stood for migrant’s rights and against deportations.

Comrades my point is I am very much left oriented and very tough on that and never going to be compromised on left political agenda.

I strongly believe that we are on the path of reclaiming our party and we need me like comrades in the NEC in order to do that.

Aram Rawf

My name is Aram Rawf. In twenty years I have gone from being an asylum seeker on the back of a lorry to being a Labour councillor.

I was born to an Iraqi Kurdish family in Iraq.

I arrived in the UK in 1999 as a child refugee. With the support of my local community I managed to resist attempts by the Home Office to send me back to Iraq.

I was granted British citizenship in 2011.

I worked as an interpreter with Migrant Helpline for many years and I have volunteered with Kent Refugee Support Group and Kent Refugee Help. I Speak Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi and English.

In 2006 I was the first refugee in the UK to join St John Ambulance.

I’m an active member in many campaigns such as for our local hospital, Stop The War and campaigns against racism with Kent Anti Racism Network.

In the 2015 General Election I was a member of Stand Up to UKIP and I helped to stop Nigel Farage becoming an MP in South Thanet.

In May 2019 I was elected as a councillor to Thanet District Council and Broadstairs Town Council becoming one of the first councillors in Kent from a refugee background.

I would like to take the opportunity of joining the NEC to use my skills and unique perspective to encourage other BAME members and be a much needed voice for social justice in the Labour Party.

Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal

A Labour party member for the last 12 years serving as

  • A Chair of Southall Broadway Branch
  • A CLP secretary of Ealing Southall
  • A proud member of Unite the Union

I am a proud socialist who fully supports Jeremy Corbyn. With strong campaigning background I have been active in every election since 2007. Since I took over as CLP secretary in 2018 I delivered to transform my CLP into fully active and functioning CLP.

My CLP is only the CLP in West London, which passed a motion against the adoption of IHRA without an amendment of freedom of free speech being protected. We passed various motions against the suspensions of comrades based on political views and vile attacks on Jeremy Corby and his leadership.

I am signatory of LLA. I will:

  • Work closely with Party leadership, NEC and CLPs to fully implement the recommendations of the Democracy Review including OPEN SELECTION
  • Make it my top priority to fight for the rights of every GRASSROOTS member to make sure a fair & transparent disciplinary process is in place
  • Not support any suspensions based on political views
  • Seek NEC members to be more accountable to local members and CLPs
  • Improve the communication and report back to the members
  • Be supporting our newly elected leader to win back the trust of communities we lost in the last election
  • Promote and fully support socialists policies to make sure grassroots members have a greater say on policies and how party is run

Face book: https://www.facebook.com/qamer.iqbal.7

Email:Qameriqbal@yahoo.com
Twitter: @chqamerlab

BAME seat only

Mehmood Mirza

I am standing for the vacant reserved BAME place on Labour’s NEC for the following reasons:

  • The allocation of this special place on the Labour Party’s NEC is an eloquent recognition of the special threats and hardships faced under capitalism by members of ethnic minorities, and a practical demonstration that their needs can be met only as a fully integrated section of the Labour Movement.
  • I will campaign passionately for clear socialist policies to challenge the brutal and divisive programme of the Johnson government, which endangers the basic human needs of the vast majority in society. This is especially true in the case of ethnic minorities, as is demonstrated by the continuing Windrush outrage. 
  • Along with the hundreds of thousands of newly inspired members of the Labour Party, I strongly support the radical policies set out under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and in Labour’s 2019 election manifesto.
  • I will campaign for the utmost resistance to the Tory government’s war on trade unions and the right to strike.
  • I will strongly support the democratic right of Labour Party members to select candidates of their choice to represent Labour at elections.
  • I will fight against racism in all its forms and campaign without fear or favour against oppression and colonialism wherever it raises its head.

Please vote for me in solidarity with these objectives.

Covid-19: Sign our urgent action plan for the Labour Party!

Read our full petition – and sign it – here.

The response of the British and European governments to the Covid-19 outbreak demonstrates the failure of neo-liberalism and the market economy. The British government’s response in particular seems to be chiefly based on social Darwinism: the ‘survival of the fittest’. Boris Johnson is clearly putting the needs of capital first. The policy of acquiring ‘herd immunity’ (although now officially abandoned) and the failure to introduce wide-ranging testing has allowed the infection to spread uncontrollably. Having been starved of vital funds by successive governments for decades, the NHS is unable to cope.

Thousands have already lost their job or are being asked to take unpaid leave. Having been driven into “self-employment” by the gig economy, millions of workers are not even eligible for statuary sick pay (a measly £94.25/week) and forced to continue working even though they might suspect they are ill. Many will lose most, if not all, of their income.

This health crisis is turning into a huge social, economic and political catastrophe before our very eyes.

Corona: Get your local LP branch/CLP to take initiative!

Laura Pidcock is pushing this in Durham. We suggest you get in touch with your local chair or secretary to help organise something similar where you live. If your local executive is hostile to the idea, you could consider getting together with other lefties, either to pressure the exec or to organise independently. Local mutual aid groups are springing up everywhere, an overview is available here.

From Laura Pidcock:

Excellent community initiative from NW Durham Labour Party. Open to anyone who may need help during this worrying period. Details for help are below 👇🏻

Here is what they said on their page:

North West Durham Constituency Labour Party Coronavirus Community Assistance!

NEC elections, summer 2020: Would you like to be considered as a candidate?

As agreed at our launch conference on February 22, we are now planning on how the LLA can intervene in the next full elections for the Labour Party NEC, which will be held this summer.

The process for selecting left-wing candidates has for far too long been shrouded in mystery, while many of those who have eventually been elected as part of the left slate often turn out to be anything but left-wing. There is very little accountability and even less transparency.

The LLA wants to help change that. We therefore agreed that we will approach other Labour left organisations with the view of putting together a joint slate of candidates in a democratic and transparent manner. Please click here to read the full successful motion online (which has also been discussed in our Facebook groups for a few months now).

Pictures from our launch conference

February 22 2020, Sheffield

Report back from our launch conference

You can download this report as a PDF file here.

171 delegates from 36 local and national affiliated Labour Left groups registered in advance to attend our launch conference in Sheffield on February 22 2020, as did a dozen observers. We had a number of apologies and travel problems due to the weather, but still, over 130 delegates and 6 observers made the journey.

We heard political openings by Jackie Walker (vice chair Labour Against the Witchhunt), organising group member Lee Rock (who reported on the recent growth of the LLA) and NEC candidate Jo Bird (whose excellent speech was introduced by her ‘Just Jews’ video, in which she talks about her first suspension from the Labour Party). Here is a video of the speech Jo Bird gave at conference.

Jo Bird spoke about her candidacy for the NEC

Labour leadership and NEC elections 2020

The Labour Left Alliance recently conducted a poll to democratically select the candidates we will be endorsing in the NEC elections. Before the poll we sent four questions to each candidate and you can find the responses of the candidates here.

The results of the poll gave the following preferred candidates in order of preference:

CLP Rep (2 seats to be filled)

  1. Jo Bird
  2. Graham Durham
  3. Lauren Townsend

BAME Rep (1 seat to be filled)

  1. Mehmood Mirza
  2. Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal

Victory for Jo Bird and the left!

Vote Jo Bird for the NEC!

Jo Bird’s reinstatement to Labour Party membership is fantastic news and shows that the left can exercise real pressure on Labour Party HQ:

  • Hundreds of Jo’s supporters, including many LLA signatories, sent letters to general secretary Jennie Formby, urging her to overturn this very unjust and incredibly unfair suspension, just as Jo was leading in the NEC nominations. Clearly, the complaint against her and Mo Azam was politically motivated and should never have led to suspensions in the middle of an election campaign. The LLA statement is available here.
  • Up and down the country, socialists refused to accept her suspension and followed the LLA’s recommendation to keep on nominating her in their CLPs. She now has 115 CLP nominations (and would have had many more if her campaign had not been disrupted).

Jo Bird and Mo Azam must be immediately reinstated!

Please see below for a model motion and further below for some sample letters comrades could use as a basis for protest letters to Jennie Formby

Statement of the LLA organising group:

Verified sources report that respected socialist and Palestine solidarity activist Jo Bird has been suspended. The LLA calls for the immediate rescinding of the suspensions of NEC candidates Jo Bird and Mohammed Azam.

Suspension (before investigation) of the leading candidates in the very midst of an election process, is a blunt and extreme measure that the Party should explain and account to all members for immediately. Failure to do so would give credence to member’s complaints that party processes are being abused for partisan advantage. Such complaints are borne up by attacks, such as these two arbitrary suspensions, against left-wing members that are allowed to go unchallenged from the Labour party’s governing body; the NEC.