The election of three Momentum candidates – including key Corbyn ally Jon Lansman – on Monday to Labour’s national executive committee was reluctantly accepted by moderates for want of a better option. Several Labour MPs anonymously complained to the press that they would go independent should the party try to bring in trigger ballots – but the fact these quotes are anonymous shows that no-one is willing to take the fight public just yet.
The events of today, however, will give Labour centrists food for thought. With the Corbyn-wing of the party now boasting a clear majority on the committee, members were given a glimpse of what that means in terms of Labour’s future. A vote by the NEC saw Ann Black ousted as chair of the Disputes Panel and replaced with Christine Shawcroft, by 22 votes to 15, this afternoon. The panel is responsibly for deciding whether to investigate sexist, racist, homophobic and anti-semitic abuse.
This is an intriguing move given that Black was not regarded to be on the right of the party – she was a critic of Tony Blair. However, her great sin is that she is not factional. Her replacement falls firmly into the Corbyn faction – previously describing Corbyn’s Labour opponents as ‘hard-right’. But aside from internal party politics, Shawcroft’s appointment has ruffled feathers as she will now play a crucial role in managing party discipline and given that she herself was suspended from the party in 2015 (for publicly supporting disgraced Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman) the initial signs aren’t all that promising. Those so-called ‘hard-right’ opponents have been quick to criticise her appointment and the contempt of the ‘Momentum-left’.