Streatham Labour just gave Chuka Umunna a ‘people’s vote’. But it wasn’t the one he wanted.

Crowds of Labour members in Streatham picture next to Labour MP Chuka Umunna
Joshua Funnell

After a tight vote, Labour members voted in favour of democratic party reform in Streatham. But one person unlikely to be happy about it is Streatham’s centrist MP – and arch Corbyn critic – Chuka Umunna.

What was at stake?

The Canary previously covered the build-up to the vote in detail. Put simply, it determined whether Streatham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) should adopt an All Member Meeting system (AMM) which allows all members to vote to decide local labour policy. The existing general committee system (GC) had allowed a relatively small group of delegates to determine policy on behalf of all members.

The following tweet gives some insight into the proposed reform:

And many on the left in Streatham Labour believed this existing system permitted a small clique of Umunna’s allies to control the CLP:

The possibility to easily move to an AMM system was permitted under Labour’s Democracy review which was championed by Jeremy Corbyn’s democratic reforms of the Labour Party. Significantly, this win could pave the way for a reselection process for Umunna, Streatham’s current MP. And as The Canary previously reported, Umunna has become despised by the left of the Labour Party due to his constant attacks on the current leadership.

A tight vote

The vote took place on 31 January with around 500 people in attendance:

The final result was tight:

But was welcomed with euphoric scenes:

Others saw the funny side of the outcome:

And Owen Jones, who campaigned for the outcome, congratulated the CLP:

An Important result for mass political participation

For many in attendance, the proceedings demonstrated why AMM is essential for greater political engagement. Tom Munday of the New Socialist remarked on the quality of speeches it permitted members to make:

And for one member, this meant looking forward to attending future meetings:

Others commented on how the CLP had been run prior to the vote:

Bitter centrist backlash

But unsurprisingly, not everyone was happy with the result – namely the so-called centrists of the party. Some in attendance heard disparaging comments aimed at members seeking democratic reform:

And arch-Blairite and Labour right winger, Luke Akehurst, suggested the reforms somehow undermined minorities currently represented within the current delegate structure:

And that it harmed Labour’s union links:

But Streatham socialists didn’t take these charges lying down:

 

And elsewhere, union members praised the opportunities for representation the AMM structure may provide.

The Blairite ship is sinking fast

The bitter reaction to the result by Labour’s centrists reveals a faction in terminal decline. It is a spent force, lashing out at democratic reforms that they fear undermine their historic domination. And, now democratically relieved from power, they can no longer so easily prop up their preferred candidates.

And as Skawkbox reported, the same result also occurred in Wimbledon CLP on the same night. But by a far larger margin. Let’s hope this is the start of things to come.

Featured image by Youtube and tbtpeters.

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