Jeremy Corbyn tightens grip on Labour in NEC elections

Left-wingers win election to governing body allowing for Corbynite ‘takeover of the party’

Jeremy Corbyn
(Image credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Jeremy Corbyn tightened his grip on Labour yesterday, when left-wing candidates made a clean sweep in elections to the National Executive Committee, the party’s governing body.

Long time Corbyn ally and founder of Momentum Jon Lansman was among three left-wingers elected, swinging the balance of power on the 39-seat committee firmly to the left. The comedian Eddie Izzard came fourth, just missing out.

As Labour’s supreme decision-making body, the NEC plays a key role in determining the overall direction of the party as well as helping set the rules for leadership contests. It is made up of party members, Labour MPs, trade unionists and devolved party representatives.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Corbyn has been gradually extending his influence over the NEC since he was first elected back in 2015, but the appointment of three new allies will open the door to sweeping changes aimed at securing his legacy and reshaping the party for years to come.

See more

“That worries plenty of Labour MPs” says Sky News. “They know that the long-term aim of the left is to wrest more control from Members of Parliament to members of the Labour party.”

Many in the centre and on the right of the party fear Corbyn will use his new majority to lower the number of MPs required to nominate someone for the leadership and hand more power over manifesto policy to the membership.

Perhaps most worrying, “the results open the door for the Left to deselect centrist MPs and carry out a purge of party officials who have stood in their leader’s way”, says the London Evening Standard.

As a result, says Labour donor John Mills, the left is “in control both of the parliamentary leadership and the National Executive. I am not sure where this leaves the Labour party.”

In an interview in The Independent last year, Lansman said it was his “objective” to push for changes to the ruling executive, giving members of the party a greater say over determining policy, leadership contests and candidate selection.

There is, however, “one solitary fleck of grit in the Corbyn oyster”, says Sky. Len McCluskey, a close Corbyn ally, may face removal as General Secretary of Unite, Labour's biggest donor and Britain's biggest trade union. His seat on the NEC could therefore be up for grabs, throwing the left’s slim majority into doubt once again.

“It's a reminder that just when one faction seems unassailable the political gods have a peculiar way of redressing the balance,” says Sky News political correspondent Lewis Goodall.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.