Luisa Attfield writes about the need for the new Leader and Deputy Leader to change the party's culture, introduce a proper complaints process and bring about a process of healing the divides.
The Labour Party isn’t always a pleasant organisation to be involved with. After all the EHRC is investigating it for institutional antisemitism, and the amount of transphobia, misogyny and racism at the grassroots level is sickening. Since Corbyn’s election the Party has become hyper-factional and increasingly divided. This level of factionalism feeds a culture of bullying and abuse. People lose friends over internal elections, and are bullied into voting one way on meaningless motions.
Changing the culture of the Party needs to be a priority for the next leader. Members take their cues from the actions of those at the top, and moral leadership is needed to change the culture. They need a Shadow Cabinet (including top positions) that reflects the plurality of thought within the party, and for Shadow Cabinet members to not back slates in NEC and NCC elections.
The next Leader must be proactive in calling out CLP motions that contain antisemitic tropes, urging that CLPs with reports of racism and bullying be investigated, and call out abuse of MPs by members. This means drawing up a Code of Conduct for MPs and not being hesitant to withdraw the whip. When MPs receive no sanction for pandering to anti-LGBT protestors or continuously baiting the Jewish community, this signals to the membership that this behaviour is acceptable.
Whilst the Leader tackles the culture, the Deputy should focus on procedural changes. Having STV for internal elections will prevent a single faction dominating on bodies like the NEC and NCC. Making the disciplinary process more robust and independent is essential. It is up to the Deputy Leader to make them happen. Whilst the Leader should support these proposals, it’s the job of the Deputy to draft rule changes and propose them to the NEC, then have the inevitable fights against parts of the internal party machine.