Decisions made by Labour’s National Executive Committee seldom make front page news, but following the recent landslide of the left in the party’s ruling body elections, eyes were sharpened more closely than usual when the group met for the first time since the Corbynite takeover.
The meeting did not disappoint, making an unprecedented and extraordinary ruling against the housing policies of the Labour-run Haringey Council, insisting that the authority cease the creation of a public-private joint venture to redevelop rundown housing estates.
The ruling is one of those moments that is at once totally meaningless whilst at the same time hugely significant. The NEC has no mandate over the policies of democratically elected local authorities, so the ruling forces them to do nothing at all. Yet the political pressure is immense, and the very fact that the NEC feels it has the right to pass such a motion adds to the suspicion that the hard left run body is styling itself as Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘politburo’.
Whether from left or right, Labour councillors are eyeing the move with great nervousness. Are their democratic decisions at a local level going to be routinely reviewed at a national level, and will they be next to receive similar political ‘instruction’? And where is Sadiq Khan in all of this? The London Mayor wants more homes built and supports Labour councils in London who are doing so. But on this, silence. Maybe he wants to be the next Labour Leader even more…