The elections to Labour students national committee are in disarray as it has been revealed the central structure has implemented changes that have prevented the majority of Scots voting while simultaneously stopping any Northern candidates from standing.
This is the first year elections to the committee will be elected by One Member one vote (OMOV) , a voting system that when implemented normally sees more left-wing candidates gain success.
The problem has arisen from the affiliation of clubs. Labour students have only 1 affiliated club in the North of England, Durham, while members from only 2 out of 7 clubs in Scotland have been granted the vote.
Statement on the Labour Students elections pic.twitter.com/Rb10OUmvXF
— Scottish Labour Students (@ScotsLabStudent) February 12, 2019
Clubs have not been able to affiliate due to a number of issues. Most members blame Labour Students for this problem but Labour Students deny this and say data protection is a factor.
Scottish Labour, in an open letter to Labour students’ executive, asked for the elections to be halted and time permitted to allow this problem to be rectified.
Paul Sweeney, MP for Glasgow East has also spoken out against the lack of democratic process in the elections tweeting:
This is a worrying failure of democratic engagement by @LabourStudents, which will undermine the credibility of their election process. I hope the executive understand the concerns of Glasgow members, like those across the UK, and act to restore the franchise for these elections. https://t.co/x95VLSC7VW
— Paul Sweeney MP (@PaulJSweeney) February 12, 2019
In a statement Labour Students said:
No club has been barred from affiliating, no member at an affiliated club barred from voting, and no member barred from being a candidate or delegate, provided the requirements, emailed to chairs and/or members, were met.
This has been disputed by many members as more than half of all Labour clubs in the UK have been denied affiliation by some criteria.
The problem of affiliated clubs has stopped the majority of Scottish students voting but it has also stopped Northern candidates standing due to the rules on candidates getting on the ballot.
There's only one affiliated club in the northern region, as you've blocked every other club affiliation. They'll be no northern representation on the committee for the second year running now. @LabourStudents clearly doesn't care about developing labour clubs in the north. pic.twitter.com/3zLuYLerZt
— Rowan (@rowanmay_) February 12, 2019
This means for the 2nd year in a row Labour students’ national committee will have no northern representation.
Many believe Labour Students’ full-time officers have made it deliberately difficult to affiliate to disenfranchise left-wing students so that the committee, which is considered to be on the right of the party, remains in right-wing control.
Reports say that members who publicly support right-wing members within the party have had private members from the executive reminding them to verify their clubs and themselves while left-wing clubs and supporters have been ignored by the committee.
Labour Student National Committee is made up of 25 elected officers. This includes the three full-time National Officers who oversee the day-to-day running of the organisation.
These problems have all stemmed from the new affiliation system which is needlessly complex and many believed its designed to disenfranchise voters.
Labour student formerly worked on a delegate system that would elect the national committee at conference. During this time you were automatically a member of Labour students if you paid the student rate to the Labour Party. Affiliation was also much simpler with any club just needing to provide details of 10 members in their club.
However, this changed with the introduction of OMOV. A new constitution was drawn up the full-time officers and was voted on without being able to be amended. As it included the introduction of OMOV the new constitution passed.
Since June 2016, a number of excuses and delaying tactics have been used to avoid having to implement the OMOV with 2 elections taking place using the delegate system despite the supposed change to OMOV.
In 2018 Labour students, without a vote, severed its ties with the Labour Party’s membership database. Many believe this was done to stop Labour’s NEC having oversight of their elections.
Instead, Labour students established their own database and a new joining fee of £1 to Labour students, separate to the fee paid by members to the Labour Party.
These changes have not been communicated with members and certain bureaucratic barriers have been raised to stop members voting.
To register to vote a member must:
- Join Labour Students via their new system.
- Attend an institution that has a Labour Society at its Student Union (If your university doesn’t have a club, you’ve already been barred from voting despite having paid for membership.).
- Make sure your club affiliates on time(With an arbitrary deadline of 31st December set without sufficient communication). The club must have 10 members as before but with rules lifted from American electoral rules. If any details of any members were incorrect the entire request was denied with no clarification.
- Finally, to get a vote members had to individually verify their membership of the Labour club they were part of.
Members say no compromise or flexibility has been shown in the system and arbitrary rigid rules have been imposed as a method of cutting down the eligible electorate as an act of voter suppression.
Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief
You may be wondering how could executive of Labour Students be this incompetent in setting up an election? The answer is this is most likely what they wanted. In Labour’s ongoing civil war this is a last attempt of the right of the party to hold onto a section of Labour it still controls.
Like a Republican governor in a southern state, they have effectively stopped the affiliation of clubs and made the electorate much more manageable. The registration process has become so complex and unbending that undesirable votes have been stopped from being cast.
The elections must be run postponed so that a fair democratic election can take place.