The controversial decision by Jon Lansman to disband Momentum’s youth wing has raised questions about its support for Lara McNeill, the NEC candidate endorsed by the hard-left group.
McNeil, who is Vice Chair of Labour Students, is standing to be the Young Labour representative on the NEC. She won the backing of Momentum last year. But it has emerged that Lansman had already suspended Momentum Youth and Students at the time of McNeil’s endorsement. He subsequently disbanded it this week after alleging it had brought the organisation into disrepute, prompting a storm of protest from many of its members.
The fact that McNeill’s NEC bid was backed by Momentum at a time when it’s youth wing had no official status raises doubts over the legitimacy of the group’s endorsement. She has also been endorsed by GMB, the union she belongs to, Unite and transport union TSSA, all of which are run by middle-aged white men.
The election for the NEC youth representative is a crucial one because it has traditionally been occupied by moderate Labour members. Previous representatives included Jonathan Reynolds and Stephanie Peacock, who both went on to become Labour MPs. Controversial changes to the system used to elect the position were pushed through at the end of last year in the face of opposition from the current youth rep Jasmin Beckett.
In essence, the changes make it easier for a hard left candidate to win by removing delegates from Labour Students from the electoral college system and increasing the voting rights of young trade unionists. Voting begins on February 19th and closes on March 16th.