Jon Lansman condemns 'duplicitous' Labour ruling body as voting begins in crunch election
Momentum founder Jon Lansman has condemned Labour's "duplicitous" ruling body - as he seeks to be re-elected to it.
The veteran left-winger hit out at the way the party's national executive committee conducted itself when Jeremy Corbyn faced a leadership challenge two years ago.
He also accused the NEC of sometimes working "against the membership" and said it was vital that it had as many pro-Corbyn representatives on it as possible.
Nine seats on the powerful body are up for grabs, with voting beginning today and set to run until 30 August.
Mr Lansman, who is one of nine candidates standing on a left-wing slate, said the make-up NEC was "finely balanced" between those loyal to the Labour leader and more moderate party members.
"The importance of these NEC elections cannot be exaggerated," said Mr Lansman. "We must not forget the duplicitous behaviour of the NEC during the second leadership election.
"They tried to keep Corbyn off the ballot, banned tens of thousands of members from voting and had the cheek to charge 180,000 new members £25 to vote.
"It’s clear the NEC can work for or against the membership, and at the moment it’s very finely balanced."
In a rallying cry to his supporters, Mr Lansman added: "Key measures could come down to a single vote, and we can’t let further reform be endangered by not taking this election seriously.
"It is clear we’re on the right track. While many social democratic parties across the continent are withering away and scrabbling for answers, Labour is ahead in the polls and has more members than at any time in its history.
"This is because of our bold socialist vision, and our commitment to build a different kind of political party."
Richard Angell of the centre-left campaign group Progress, which is backing moderate candidates in the election, said: "These NEC elections really make a difference. Whether it is the NEC’s appalling decision on anti-Semitism, the continuing denial of party members to have a say on Brexit and the total London-centric way the NEC works, who represents party members at the top of the party matters.
"Voting for the same candidate means you get the same outcomes – denegrating Labour proud anti-racism credentials, support for a Tory hard Brexit and no real say for members outside London."