Eddie Izzard champions diversity in bid to join Labour NEC

23 Oct

Eddie Izzard has renewed his campaign to join Labour’s ruling national executive committee, calling on his party to increase representation of LGBT, disabled and minority ethnic members.

The comedian and Labour activist, who failed to win a seat on the NEC in 2016, said he would stand for a second time after the party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, announced at the autumn conference that there would be three new places on the governing body.

Speaking to the Guardian, Izzard said Labour needed to “tap into the diversity within our movement” and “do more to increase involvement from a range of groups that I don’t feel are represented enough in our party”.

He added: “That includes those from LGBT, disabled and ethnic minority backgrounds, as well as those who have suffered from mental health issues. Gender equality and increasing working-class participation is also vital.”

The new members of the NEC will be elected by the membership in local constituency Labour parties. The seats are likely to be won by candidates who express support for Corbyn.

Momentum, the grassroots group of Corbyn supporters, has already released a slate of four candidates, including its founder, Jon Lansman.

Izzard said it would be his priority to help Corbyn and Labour take the fight to the Tories, but he was “not standing for any faction”. He said another key issue would be making the party more welcoming to groups who often feel isolated or excluded from taking part in the political process.

“I am Labour and I’ll always fight for us. I am a proud British European, absolutely committed to Labour values. I believe in equality, fairness, social justice and compassion,” he said.

He also said it was key to make sure Labour was a movement that “takes on publicly and vocally any signs of Brex-hate and Trump-hate to make the world a better place for everyone”.

“I have campaigned against racists and fascists all over our country and around the world, and I want all of our members to feel welcome in the Labour party,” he added. “Our meetings and events should be open to all of our members, particularly members who felt excluded from politics in the past.”

When Izzard stood as an independent candidate for the NEC last year, he gained 91 nominations from constituency Labour parties and more than 71,000 votes, coming eighth in the ballot.

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