Looking at it from a realist perspective, the likelihood is that you will have no idea who I am or what I’ve done within the Labour Party. But I see this a positive prospect. My name is Patrick Jenkins and I am standing to be one of the local party representatives on the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC). My experience has involved being a local party executive member, conference delegate, Town Councillor and campaigner on local issues such as cuts to children’s centres in Warwickshire. The main factor as to why you won’t know me is because I am not backed by either of the two ‘wings’ of the party. Instead, I have taken it upon myself to stand, in order to represent all Labour members regardless of why they support Labour or whether they belong to a certain faction.
You may find it strange that I regard my not having the backing of powerful groups within the party as positive given that they would be able to give me certain resources. But I view this as a positive for you, for if I am elected I would not be tied to the pressure of these groups and their interests. We are a party built on solidarity and protecting the vulnerable and those are the interests I represent.
Disunited parties don’t win elections and while we did improve internal relations during the election, some members of the public still had that damaging impression. The hopeful campaign that Corbyn ran was incredibly valuable and many among the Party faithful thought that our gains on the Tories (who incidentally are now infighting like there’s no tomorrow) would begin to heal the animosity in the party. So why then are Labour First and Momentum putting all they can behind their preferred candidates? It’s about ideological control of the party. Instead, those who wish to be members of the NEC should be sitting down and discussing what the best way to beat the Tories is, so that we can finally work to resolve issues such as the housing crisis and secondly, have a proper policy debate as to what measures will best fit the country.
The hypocrisies among these two groups are clear. Momentum, who claim to represent grassroots members have put up Jon Lansman as a candidate. The man who founded their group, was selected via an interview basis, not by an election of Momentum members. Labour First on the other hand are calling for people to join the party in order to take part. Which would be an admirable call had many on the right of the party not deplored previous new members as Trotskyists at such times as the leadership election. Neither group has selected a young person, whereas I as a 20 year old can look to the experiences of one of our largest voter bases to represent them. We must look beyond these internal elections as grounds for idealistic control of the party and look to reasoned policy debate and what approach is best for taking us on to win the next election.
I believe we can be more radical than we were in our manifesto. Perhaps that was due to the rush of a snap election but the policy still needs discussing. We can be bolder on areas such as Transport. We concentrated on nationalising the railways, which in itself is a great policy but ignores the fact that most people actually drive to work. On the environment, we missed out simple measures such as putting pressure on building companies to ensure they include solar panels. On welfare, reversing the cuts to benefits is a forward step to protecting the most vulnerable in our society. This is policy debate, not ideology debate.
In this article I have spoken little of my ability to work as an NEC member, perhaps that is because I see party unity and policy debate as more important than my own campaign. Nevertheless, my experience as an active grassroots member and local Councillor combined with reasoned policy debate and a want to bypass the days of party disunity, demonstrate my ability to represent all party members on the NEC.