Storm brewing over Labour deputy leadership

Next week Labour’s national executive committee – which was hastily pulled together this week to discuss the coalition that never was – meets to decide the dates of the Labour leadership election, along with elections to the NEC and the national policy forum*. But what’s this? There are no plans yet to have a deputy leadership election – as Tribune reports this week.

Harriet Harman told BBC Newsnight on Monday: “I’m deputy leader of the Labour Party and I’ve got no plans to step aside from that role… It’s my plan to stay deputy leader.” The NEC as a whole and Labour chiefs do not believe there is a vacancy for the position, but party rules state that nomination papers for leader and deputy leader should be sent out every year.

There could be a fight. Jim Pickard at the FT reports that ex-minister Liam Byrne would like to be deputy leader “if” there’s a vacancy. Given that his close colleagues insist there isn’t, one wonders what that “if” means.

At least three members of the NEC, led by the maverick Peter Kenyon, think the party rule book means there should be at least a chance for people to nominate themselves for deputy leader by having the party send out nomination papers. Kenyon writes:

“With regard to the Deputy Leader post, no one can claim we are not in opposition. So I hope Harriet Harman, our new interim Leader will lead by example and insist that nomination papers for the post of Deputy Leader are issued with the rest in accordance with the Rule Book. This does not mean there will be a challenger and an election. But this would be a clear sign from her that accountability matters. By doing so she would be drawing a line under 13-years of evasion under New Labour.”

Most MPs seem to disagree (including outgoing parliamentary Labour party chairman Tony Lloyd); left-winger Michael Meacher agrees. Either way, we should know in just a few days.

*Which will both be conducted on a one-member-one-vote basis for the first time, following a rule change at last year’s Labour conference (as I blogged here). This admittedly anoraky change could be one nudge towards creating a Labour party that behaves in a less top-down way – at least, that’s what its proponents hope.

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One Response to “Storm brewing over Labour deputy leadership”

  1. Dr S Pin Says:

    Hi Rene,

    I see you are back to your old self, posting like a “good un”

    Keep it up, always worth a read.

    Dr S Pin

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