THE LANDSLIDE VICTORY of grassroots candidates Seema Chandwani and Billy Hayes to Labour’s Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) demonstrates the overwhelming pressure from members to democratise the Party’s structures and support the Corbyn leadership. The incumbent candidates, MP Gloria de Piero (55,417) and Lord Michael Cashman (50,439), received fewer votes combined than Seema who topped the poll with 109,763. This was also an indication of the ability of new grassroots networks and social media platforms to generate awareness of important internal elections.
The scale of the win will have further alarmed the right wing faction around Progress and Labour First, whose chair Luke Akehurst had warned that the CAC was “the thin red line stopping Momentum” supporters from setting the conference agenda.
The newly-elected CAC delegates will not assume their roles until after the 2017 conference in Brighton, but will sit alongside trade union representatives to help shape the 2018 event.
Unlike the CAC, the National Constitutional Committee - which has responsibility for investigating disciplinary issues - is elected by delegates to conference, and the contest is rumoured to be closer. However, speakers at a ‘moderates meet-up’ event held in Parliament appeared to concede that Momentum has been more succesful in getting its supporters elected as delegates. Key now is securing control over the National Executive Committee and the national party apparatus, to prevent behind-the-scenes influence being used to override the clearly expressed democratic will of the membership.