Rebecca Long-Bailey has launched a bold ‘democratising’ pledge which could give her Labour leadership campaign a big boost.
“I support open selections”
In a Daily Mirror interview, Long-Bailey – the most left-wing candidate in the leadership race – said she was “proud to stand on the policy platform that we’ve had” but that she’d take Labour “in completely different directions”. And one of those directions would be a “democratic revolution” in both the country and her party.
Speaking to a “packed” room of hundreds of diverse supporters last night, she said Labour needed to “rip up the rulebook” and “empower” members in its heartlands by introducing open selections – which many groups on the UK left have championed in recent years. These would see each Constituency Labour Party vote on who should run as a candidate, regardless of whether the sitting MP intended to stand again.
“I support open selections,” she said. “And that’s because many MPs and members feel the compromise that we’ve reached so far produces a culture where members have to negatively campaign against a sitting MP.”
“It doesn’t offer the opportunity for new candidates who want to come through to emerge without a stigma in being part of that negative campaigning.”
A “democratic revolution”
Long-Bailey insisted that her role as leader would be to “democratise” the party and “examine new ways to empower our members”.
“That means having a frank conversation about open selections with our movement, about where we go next, ripping up the outdated rulebook that has held back our members for too long and throwing open the door to a new generation of MPs and candidates.”
“I’m clear that our members should have the power to support their MPs, the power to choose candidates with positivity and the opportunity to become one.
“If our party is to reconnect with those sick of the political establishment, then we’ve got to stop acting like them and empower our members in all of our heartlands,” she said to applause and cheers from supporters.
She added: “Being an MP or any elected representative is a privilege that must be earned and I want to open the discussion now on how our candidates should be selected, how we nurture and bring through talent in our movement, whilst recognising and valuing the experience of the MPs that we have.”
“So, we need a democratic revolution both in the country and in our party, and our party has to lead by shining example. Because if we can’t democratise our own party, we won’t be trusted to democratise our workplaces, our economy and the country.”
“A major step for any leadership front runner”
Long-Bailey’s announcement went down very well among supporters:
Rebecca Long Bailey backs open selection – a professional, democratic approach already used by the SNP.
Not even Jeremy Corbyn made the case for it. This is a major step for any leadership front runner https://t.co/svhqWqCY8B
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) January 21, 2020
Open selection is basically a primary system, like in the US. It means that MPs would no longer have an automatic right to contest the next election, which in safe seats, can essentially amount to a job for life.
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) January 21, 2020
It's worth saying that Labour councillors are currently subject to open selection. As are Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs. If anything, far from being a Stalinist plot, RLB's announcement merely brings Labour in step with other centre-left parties.
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) January 21, 2020
Open selection is vital if we are to have a Labour Party that is geniunely representative of the Labour movement.
We cannot continue to have a situation where over 70% of Labour MPs have not had to face an open selection vote since 2015. Members must be allowed to vote. https://t.co/ZS7gLlPNfj
— Stats for Lefties (#VoteRLB) (@LeftieStats) January 21, 2020
— Pamela Fitzpatrick (@Pam4HarrowEast) January 21, 2020
Seems Rebecca Long-Bailey has endorsed Open Selection.
That's more than enough to settle it for me. I'll be voting for RLB.
— Chris Henry #TimeForSocialism (@Socialist_Chris) January 21, 2020
RLB backing open selection could sway this leadership election. Starmer could never back it.
— A (@ItsNotPiss) January 21, 2020
On Saturday I was proud to set out why I back Open Selection.
There's growing support for giving members and trade unions more say in our Party – including over who Labour's candidates should be at each election.
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) January 22, 2020
There are still a couple of months to go in the leadership race. And there are still some concerns on the left about some of Long-Bailey’s positions. But if people’s reactions are anything to go by, her support for open selections could be a big vote winner.
Featured image via YouTube, with additional content via Press Association
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?