Labour’s ultra-left have teamed up with the popular Red Labour Facebook group to put forward their own slate in opposition to the Centre-left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) slate backed by Momentum and other left groups linked to the Labour leadership.
Jon Lansman’s decision to apply for the role of Labour Party General Secretary earlier this month opened up a rift on the party’s far-left. The decision to oppose the wishes of Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, and Len McCluskey, who all wanted as little serious opposition to their favoured candidate, Jennie Formby, as possible, alienated the Momentum chief from many on his own wing of the Party.
Now, Red Labour, a pro-Corbyn group which backed Jennie Formby’s successful candidacy, has announced it will not be supporting the traditional far-left slate, the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance, for Labour’s National Executive Committee in the election this summer.
In a joint statement with Labour Representation Committee and the Grassroots Black Left, the groups said they will be consulting on running an alternative slate of candidates.
Red Labour has been one of the strongest voices on the far-left of the Labour Party since its formation in 2011. The group has 123,000 likes on its Facebook page, giving it almost as wide a reach amongst Labour members online as Momentum, which has 192,000 page likes.
Momentum’s Jon Lansman is now thought to have control of the CLGA slate, deciding which candidates are included. In February, Momentum announced that veteran activist Ann Black will not be part of the slate for the first time in 18 years, with Christine Shawcroft and Rhea Wolfson also no longer included.
Now that Red Labour has put forward its own slate of candidate, Lansman’s supporters have launched an attack on the group’s Facebook page. Max Shanly, Momentum activist, called it “ultra-left crankery,” while Sam Wheeler, who Momentum backed in the Manchester Gorton by-election, labelled the groups “hypocrites and wreckers” for “the venom [they] inaccurately spewed at Jon Lansman” during the General Secretary campaign. Dominic Curran, formerly Associate Editor of Lansman’s blog Left Futures, attacked the decision as “self-indulgent ultra-leftism.” Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani, who initially signalled support for Lansman’s challenge for the General Secretary, and Co-Editor of Red Pepper, Michael Calderbank, also commented to show their disapproval.
The top of the Labour Party have strong links with the Labour Representation Committee, a pressure group set up in 2004 to push Labour towards the far-left. John McDonnell, the group’s President, publicly backed Jennie Formby’s candidacy in an unusual move for a Shadow Cabinet member, and is thought to be unhappy with Lansman’s actions. So too is Andrew Fisher, joint-national secretary of the LRC and Corbyn’s Head of Policy. However, neither have yet given public support to the idea of a separate NEC slate.
Grassroots Black Left (GBL) is a new grouping set up this year, co-founded by Marc Wadsworth who is suspended from Labour for allegedly using an antisemitic trope against Ruth Smeeth at the launch of the Chakrabarti report into antisemitism. The group was set up in opposition to BAME Labour, which GBL claims is undemocratic, as well as arguing that “BAME is a white term.” The group’s launch in Parliament was attended by MPs Clive Lewis, Naz Shah, and Chris Williamson. The MPs have not yet given their view on NEC slate issue.