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Tuesday, 23 May, 2000, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
'Baldrick' joins Labour's elite
Tony Robinson
Tony Robinson: Actors' union campaigner
The actor Tony Robinson, best known for playing Baldrick in the TV series Blackadder, has won a place on Labour's governing body.

Mr Robinson, who is a prominent member of the actor's union Equity, gained a seat on Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) on Tuesday.

The biggest casualty of the annual internal election was the left-winger and editor of Tribune Mark Seddon, who lost his place after falling foul of a ruling designed to get more women onto the NEC.

Turn-out in the ballot was low, at just 25%.

Tony Robinson won hands down
Tony Robinson topped the poll with 43,526, more than 8,000 votes ahead of second-place former party general secretary Lord Sawyer.

Mr Seddon, who ran as part of the left-wing Grassroots Alliance slate, took 32,502 votes.

He won fifth place in the constituency section of the NEC, in which the party rank and file elects six members. But a rule that automatically appoints the top three women saw Mr Seddon lose his seat.

But fellow member of the Grassroots slate Christine Shawcroft benefits from the rule by keeping her NEC position, despite finishing seventh.

NEC members' section
Tony Robinson
Tom Sawyer
Shahid Malik
Ruth Turner
Ann Black
Christine Shawcroft

Mr Robinson has responded to his poll victory by calling for fairer internal elections.

He said: "I'm really pleased that fellow Labour Party members have given me the opportunity to help get the party in shape for the next election.

"I argued that all internal elections should be fairer and more transparent and that we need to renew the relationship between the leadership and the grassroots.

"This seems to have struck a chord with the membership."

Of his own defeat, Mr Seddon said the low turn-out played a part. "The disappointing turn-out is a reflection of demotivated activists," he told BBC News Online.

"The left benefits from a high turn-out in internal elections, so we need re-energise the party membership to vote in them if we're going win back seats on the NEC.

"The NEC elections have become much lower profile in recent years - which serves only the party machine. We need to raise that profile considerably."

Election post-mortem

Tuesday's meeting of the NEC was the first since Labour lost more than 600 council seats at the local elections and suffered humiliating defeat in the London mayoral election.

The new NEC takes up its responsibilities after Labour's party conference this autumn and will serve for one year.

Also elected were Shahid Malik, Ruth Turner and Ann Black. The latter also ran on the Grassroots Alliance slate.

Mr Malik serves on the Commission for Racial Equality and is the first ethnic minority candidate to be elected to the NEC since MPs were barred from standing in the constituency section.

Ms Turner, who is a co-founder of the Big Issue magazine in the north, and Ms Black, join the NEC for the first time.

In the separate NEC section for MPs and MEPs, Parliamentary Labour Party chairman Clive Soley, Helen Jackson and veteran left-winger Dennis Skinner were returned unopposed, and Margaret Prosser was elected treasurer.

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15 Sep 98 | TUC Conference
Baldrick boots 'miserable' Murdoch
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