Actor Eddie Izzard Izzard launched his candidacy for the Labour Party's ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), by calling for an end to "politics as usual" and said he wanted to make Labour more welcoming to "groups who often feel isolated or excluded from taking part in the political process".
Judi Dench, me and director Stephen Frears at the Toronto Film Festival premiere of Victoria and Abdul — right now!… https://t.co/79dJ22IGmp— Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard) October 12, 2017
He said he was referring to members of the LGBT, disabled and ethnic minority communities, as well as those who had suffered from mental health issues.
'For an Open, Tolerant Party'
"I'm proud to be a member of our party and I believe we can make it even better. That is why I am standing for the NEC to end the 'politics as usual' approach by fighting for an open, tolerant party that reaches out to excluded groups and campaigns tirelessly for a Labour victory at the next election," said Izzard.
Note to Eddie Izzard: it’s not LGBT & minority ethnic people who feel excluded from the Labour Party, it’s ordinary working people. pic.twitter.com/zWcmMt3TH3— Jon Holbrook (@JonHolb) October 23, 2017
"I came out in 1985, joined the Labour Party in 1995 and I have now campaign for LGBT rights, for the Labour Party, for Europe and have run marathons for charities for many years. 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," added Izzard.
The NEC is a powerful body which decides the direction of the party and makes key decisions, although they have to be ratified at the annual conference.
At September's conference in Brighton it was agreed three extra seats would be created on the NEC.
Failed to Get on NEC in 2016
Izzard was close to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown during Labour's time in government, which makes him unpopular with many supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, who are in the ascendancy.
He tried and failed to get elected to the NEC in 2016, being nominated by 91 Labour constituency parties but getting only 71,000 votes.
He was well behind Ann Black, chair of Oxford East Labour Party, who got 100,999 votes, and five others — Christine Shawcroft, Claudia Webbe, Darren Williams, Rhea Wolfson and Peter Willsman — all of whom had the backing of Momentum, the left-wing grassroots organization which has backed Jeremy Corbyn from the outset.
Up Against Momentum Candidates
This time round Izzard is up against Jon Lansman, the co-founder of Momentum, Manchester City councillor Yasmine Dar, Mid Bedfordshire secretary Rachel Garnham, all of whom are expected to get backing from Momentum.
Cecile Wright, vice-chair of Momentum and co-founder of the Labour Black Network, is also in the running as are a handful of candidates who are more on the Blairite wing of the party.
Nominates close on November 16 and the election will take place in December, with all party members to be balloted.