Rebels reject loyalty tests
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Tuesday 17 November 1998
Left-wing members of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) intend to tackle Mr Blair over the series of rows about the selection of party candidates for London mayor and the Scottish and Welsh assemblies.
A new controversy over the determination of the leadership to impose its will on the party broke out over a plan, disclosed in The Independent yesterday, to force sitting MPs to appear before a selection panel before they can stand again. Critics protested that it would become a "loyalty test".
Despite fears among some ministers that Mr Blair is fighting internal battles on too many fronts, the Prime Minister will make an uncompromising defence of his strategy at today's NEC meeting.
He is so keen to answer the allegations that he is a "control freak", he also plans to make an unscheduled address to Labour MPs on the issue.
Mr Blair will make "no apology" for showing strong leadership. One ally said last night: "He does not want to impose anything from on high, but he does want structures which ensure a disciplined and effective party."
But Mr Blair's authority will be challenged by the four left-wingers who were elected to the NEC in September againsthis wishes. They attend their first meeting of the executive today, which takes place amid allegations that party officials want to "gag" them by imposing a code on how NEC members handle the media.
Mark Seddon, one of the left-wingers, said last night that he would not be bound by the code.
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager for Cyber Secur...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst (App...
£35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engine...
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...