At Labour’s National Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday 22 May Wendy Nichols, President of UNISON, was chosen to be the new vice-chair. This may seem like a rather dull mechanism within the party, but there are fears that Nichols is actively working with the right wing to undermine the leadership.
It means that the left has now lost its majority on the NEC Officer Group, where key decisions are made. These include which candidates to support and which proposed party reforms will be given priority. In the aftermath the 2017 General Election there was widespread criticism of the lack of support given to candidates in seats that could have been won.
It’s now feared that this latest manoeuvring could stifle Corbyn’s Party Democracy Review, which seeks to put the mass membership in control of the party. The exercise is being overseen by Katy Clark from Corbyn’s office and is due to report with recommendations soon.
Reports indicate that Richard Leonard, Scottish Labour Leader, may have been influential in the decision to back Nichols for this post. It’s also been suggested that Tim Roach, leader of the GMB union intervened to ensure they voted how he wanted them to.
Only time will tell how big of an impact the election of Nichols will have. One thing is certain though, it reinforces the point that the battle for the Labour Party isn’t over and the right wing and ready at a moments notice to cause mischief.