I have made a decision to only endorse one candidate for the NEC this year. I don’t do so in any formal capacity, and my doing so is not a reflection on any of the other candidates – some of whom are excellent, and may well earn my vote when the time comes.
But Johanna Baxter has earned my vote, my support and my endorsement now. Tomorrow, I will share with you an interview that Johanna gave me to talk about her time on the NEC and her ambitions for her time to come. Her passion for the Labour Party in that interview is clear, and dimmed only by her passion for Labour Party members. Putting members first for Johanna isn’t a slogan, it’s a way of life.
Over the last two years I’ve got to know Johanna pretty well. We meet on the rare occasions she isn’t visiting a CLP for a quick meal. When we do, what she talks about is Labour members. We became close over our commitment to the principles of Refounding Labour. Our desire for an open and transparent policy-making process which all members could understand and engage proactively with. Jo understands Labour members needs like no one else I know. Probably because she’s doing her damnedest to meet every single one of them and ask the simple question that no one else seems to have though of “what do you want?”.
The NEC is the governing body that guides the direction and policy making processes of the Party. Like the board of shareholders of a large company, they can seem remote and disconnected from the wider business. Labour has called for employee representation on company boards, believing this will increase transparency, accountability and fairness. I believe it is for precisely these reasons that we need Jo standing up for ordinary rank and file Labour Party members on the board that oversees our interests.
Jo describes herself as not a member of any slate. Her first loyalty is to the member she represents. Slates are grey and dull and a 21st century roofing material. The roof of the future is grass. Grass has roots and for the roof to hold, those need to be nurtured. Jo is the grassroots candidate.
If you are a Labour Party member reading this, I urge your to ask your CLP to nominate Johanna Baxter for the NEC. And when the time comes, I urge you to put your X next to Johanna’s name when you come to vote for your CLP representative on the NEC.