If Angela challenges Corbyn, will Labour’s National Executive Committee change the rules for him?
If Angela Eagle (or another MP) does challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership, can Corbyn be a candidate in the ensuing leadership election even if he fails to get the minimum number of nominations laid down in the party rules? Does the rule stating the number of nominations required apply to the incumbent leader (Corbyn) or only to his “challengers”? If it applies to him too, will the National Executive Committee (NEC) change the rule to exempt him, as the leader, from the requirement (or to reduce the number of nominations required in order to stand)? Does Corbyn have the numbers on the NEC? What exactly do the rules say? If Corbyn does stand in a fresh leadership election, will the thousands of new, mainly young, members and £3 supporters who helped to vote him into the leadership last September turn out again to vote for him, or are enough of them sufficiently disillusioned by his performance since being elected leader for him to lose?
The answers to these questions will help to determine whether there is a future for the Labour party: whether the party will decline into fringe irrelevance under Corbyn’s continued (or renewed) leadership, or whether it will revive and again offer a credible alternative to a ruined, failed, divided and discredited Tory government which is about to make an unholy mess of the Brexit negotiations unless strongly challenged by a credible Labour opposition under a new leader? Or will the Labour party formally split, in which case which half will inherit the right to use the party’s Labour label and the party machinery?
I doubt if anyone knows the answers to many of these questions, and most of us can’t confidently answer any of them. But as an aid to assessing them, here are the relevant rules in the Labour constitution, an out-of-date list of members of the NEC, and links to two articles which provide useful information about some of them.
Labour Party Rule Book 2013
Chapter 4 Elections of national officers of the party and national committees
Clause I. General principles
Internal party elections for officer posts and the membership of national committees shall be conducted in a fair, open and transparent manner, in accordance with the constitutional rules of the party and any appropriate NEC guidelines.
Clause II. Procedural rules for elections for national officers of the party
The following procedures provide a rules framework which, unless varied by the consent of the NEC, shall be followed when conducting elections for party officers. The NEC will also issue procedural guidelines on nominations, timetable, codes of conduct for candidates and other matters relating to the conduct of these elections.
[ … ]
In the case of a vacancy for leader or deputy leader, each nomination must be supported by 12.5 per cent of the Commons members of the PLP. Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.
[Chapter 4, Clause II.B.ii] Where there is no vacancy, nominations may be sought by potential challengers each year prior to the annual session of party conference. In this case any nomination must be supported by 20 per cent of the Commons members of the PLP. Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.
Membership of the NEC (not up to date; some changes in square brackets):
Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn MP
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson MP
Treasurer Diana Holland
Opposition Front Bench Rebecca Long-Bailey MP
Opposition Front Bench [Angela Eagle MP]
Opposition Front Bench Jonathan Ashworth MP
EPLP Leader Glenis Willmott MEP
Young Labour Jasmin Beckett
Div. I – Trade Unions Keith Birch
Div. I – Trade Unions Jim Kennedy
Div. I – Trade Unions Andi Fox
Div. I – Trade Unions Paddy Lillis (Chair)
Div. I – Trade Unions Wendy Nichols
Div. I -Trade Unions Andy Kerr
Div. I – Trade Unions Martin Mayer
Div. I – Trade Unions Mary Turner
Div. I – Trade Unions Jennie Formby
Div. I – Trade Unions Cath Speight
Div. I – Trade Unions Pauline McCarthy
Div. I – Trade Unions Jamie Bramwell
Div. II – Socialist Societies James Asser
Div. II – BAME Labour Keith Vaz MP
Div. III – CLPs [Ken Livingstone]
Div. III – CLPs Johanna Baxter
Div. III – CLPs Ann Black
Div. III – CLPs Ellie Reeves (Vice Chair)
Div. III – CLPs Christine Shawcroft
Div. III – CLPs Pete Willsman
Div. IV – Labour Councillors Ann Lucas
Div. IV – Labour Councillors Alice Perry
Div. V – PLP/EPLP Margaret Beckett MP
Div. V – PLP/EPLP [Dennis Skinner MP]
Div. V – PLP/EPLP Shabana Mahmood MP
36 MPs who ‘nominated’ Jeremy Corbyn for leader, June 2015 (minimum then required: 35):
- Jeremy Corbyn (36): Diane Abbott, Rushanara Ali, Margaret Beckett, Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler, Ronnie Campbell, Sarah Champion, Jo Cox, Neil Coyle, Jon Cruddas, Clive Efford, Frank Field, Louise Haigh, Kelvin Hopkins, Rupa Huq, Imran Hussain, Huw Irranca-Davies, Sadiq Khan, David Lammy, Clive Lewis, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Gordon Marsden, John McDonnell, Michael Meacher, Grahame Morris, Chi Onwurah, Kate Osamor, Tulip Siddiq, Dennis Skinner, Andrew Smith, Cat Smith, Gareth Thomas, Emily Thornberry, Jon Trickett, Catherine West
[Some of these made it clear that they would not vote for Mr Corbyn as leader]
Independent newspaper report on attempts to persuade NEC to change rules to allow Mr Corbyn to stand for re-election without any requirement to win support of a minimum percentage of Labour MPs and MEPs (March 2016): http://ind.pn/29tsopO
Pro- and anti-Corbyn balance on the NEC: (LabourList, 4 July 2016) http://bit.ly/29bZmYY