Labour’s conference has just waved through a raft of reforms which look set to tip the balance of power on the party’s National Executive Committee away from Jeremy Corbyn and towards the moderates. The wording of the changes which caused the trouble is pretty banal: that the leader of the Scottish and Welsh Labour parties will be able to pick someone to sit on the NEC. But while this might sound like a piecemeal change, make no mistake: this is a blow to Corbyn. The change means that Kezia Dugdale or Carwyn Jones can now either take up their seats, or pick someone else to sit on the NEC (Dugdale has said she’ll take up the seat herself). This goes against what Corbyn supporters proposed, which was for members to get the chance to choose.
Much of the controversy around this happened last week. But there was still some anger on the issue this morning at conference. Corbyn supporters in the audience heckled the decision to vote on the reforms as a package, rather than do so individually. This meant, as we’ve found out this afternoon, that the changes were almost certain to get the green light.
Paddy Lillis, who was chairing the meeting earlier, had to tell delegates to ‘behave themselves’. Afterwards, on the World at One, Momentum founder Jon Lannsman even went so far as to say the vote was ‘rigged’. Here’s what he said:
‘The way the vote was conducted was disgraceful. and instead we’ve now got people being appointed by leaders who haven’t been there before. Not even Jeremy is allowed to appoint people’
By the time the changes were actually confirmed, the reaction from delegates was muted rather than angry.