Momentum's Rhea Wolfson Revives Bid To Stand For Labour's NEC

Left's new move to replace Ken Livingstone

09/06/2016 15:06 | Updated 09 June 2016
Rob Stothard via Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn supporters have stepped up their battle for control of Labour's ruling body after a young left-winger revived her bid to replace Ken Livingstone.

Rhea Wolfson, who was backed by Momentum and the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance, was effectively blocked from running for the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) last week.

But in a new move, she has announced she is moving to a new constituency Labour party in an attempt to get the required backing to stand in the elections.

Wolfson, 25, unveiled her move on Facebook just a week after 'moderates' had refused to endorse her candidacy.

"I have transferred my membership to my other address and will seek nomination from my home CLP. If successful, I will be an officially nominated candidate for Labour's National Executive Committee," she wrote.

Rhea Wolfson
Rhea Wolfson

Eastwood CLP in Scotland decided not to nominate Wolfson after party members felt that Momentum was too ‘factional’ and expressed concerns about “its role within the party”, local members told HuffPost.

Under party rules, anyone who fails to win their own local party’s nomination cannot stand for the NEC.

The move was a blow to hopes on the Left of the party of securing as many seats as possible on the ruling NEC, in a bid to underline Jeremy Corbyn’s grassroots popularity.

At the height of Labour’s anti-semitism row, the Grassroots Alliance and Momentum dropped Livingstone as their candidate after he was suspended over remarks about Hitler and Zionists.

Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Ken Livingstone

Wolfson, who is Jewish and a former president of Oxford University Jewish Society, was seen by her supporters as the perfect replacement for the former Mayor of London.

She had won support of other CLPs across the country, along with fellow leftwing slate members Ann Black, Pete Willsman, Christine Shawcroft, Claudia Webbe and Daniel Williams.

Moving home to another CLP is a move that has been used in the past by candidates - including Shawcroft - who feel they have been blocked by their local party.

On Facebook today, Wolfson explained that she had been inundated with support and declared "This campaign is not over".


It will now be upto the Labour party nationally to decide if her switch can go ahead in time for the elections at the end of this month.

The battle for NEC constituency places is part of a wider clash between Momentum and 'moderates' backed by the Labour First group.

The left currently holds four of the six CLP posts on the NEC but after the departure of Ken Livingstone its opponents hope their number could now be cut to just three or even two.

'Moderates' Luke Akehurst, former MP Parmjit Dhanda, Johanna Baxter, Ellie Reeves and Bex Bailey are all in the running. As is non-aligned comedian Eddie Izzard.

David Cheskin/PA Archive
Jim Murphy

Wolfson's supporters last week blamed former Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy for blocking her nomination at the Eastwood CLP meeting.

A year after the former Cabinet minister lost his East Renfrewshire seat in the general election, Labour’s MSP Ken Macintosh also lost his seat in the Scottish Parliament elections last month as the party slumped from first to third in Eastwood.

Some party members said that Livingstone’s remarks had had a significant impact on the Jewish vote for Labour in Eastwood – which has the largest Jewish community in Scotland.

Nick Hopkins, chair of the Eastwood party, told HuffPost UK last week: “It did come up on the doorstep with a number of people. Ken Macintosh deserves a lot of support within the Jewish community but there’s no doubt there were people who felt they couldn’t do so this time.”

But leftwingers point out that Wolfson, a GMB union branch secretary in Glasgow, has suffered a spate of online abuse for her own Jewish roots.

"This was a deliberate plan to block her. They weaponised the 'home CLP' rule for factional ends," one Momentum activist told HuffPost.

Wolfson came under fire from some Labour MPs over a blog in which she said: “My belief is that winning 2020 should not be the priority of the Labour party. This belief comes from a further belief that the Labour party is a movement above and beyond anything…”

Nominations for the NEC election close on Friday 24 June.

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