Labour NEC Report – Tuesday 24 March

In his final report, Jeremy spoke about Covid-19 and how we are living through unprecedented times unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes. He spoke about the need for strong action to slow the spread of the virus and support the country, and about how the impact will be particularly felt by those with the least resources.

Jeremy has been in lengthy discussions with the Prime Minister. The government has seemed behind the curve in responding to the outbreak, which has also highlighted issues of poor quality housing, overcrowding and low-paid and insecure work. Jeremy also reflected on his time as leader of the Labour Party and the changes that have occurred during his leadership. National executive committee (NEC) members thank Jeremy, with some members paying emotional tributes to him and his leadership.

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Care about your community and want to make a difference? Stand to be a Councillor

Labour may be out of government in Westminster, but we are in power in Wales, and in hundreds of towns and cities throughout the UK. Every day, our councillors in both Labour run authorities and in opposition, fly the flag for Labour values and make a meaningful difference to our local communities.

Being a councillor is a lot of work, but is extremely rewarding. It is an honour to be elected to stand up for your community. And it is important that our elected representatives mirror the diversity and experiences of the communities we come from.

There is lots we have been doing as a party, and more we can do, to encourage more people to get involved and stand to be councillors. This includes supporting more women, BAME candidates, people from working class backgrounds, LGBT and disabled people to stand for election.

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NEC Away-day Report – January 2020

Reflecting on the General Election defeat

The 2019 General Election was a disaster. The result was devastating on many levels. Labour gained the lowest number of Parliamentary sears since 1945, losing many seats that had been Labour held for generations.

The Labour NEC began conversations about why Labour lost and where we go from here. In order to do this we need to be open and honest with ourselves and each other. We need to resist temptation to try to select facts that support our world view, ignoring other fact that inconveniently do not. It can be hard to do this in a highly politicised climate and particularly during a leadership election. Nevertheless, it was a good start to discussions. A special NEC meeting will be scheduled to allowed more detailed conversions and will include the new Leadership team.

NEC member contributions included questions and comments on strategy, seat targeting, resource allocation, candidate selection, messaging and communications, policy, the relationship between community organising and traditional door step canvassing, Brexit, leadership, the role of the media, demographic of members compared to demographic of voters, the future of the UK as a union, the echo chamber of social media and more. Continue reading

Labour NEC Report – 14 January 2020

Sub-committees of Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) met on January 14th to discuss a range of issues including the leadership election, preparation for conference, policy making and improving the disciplinary and complaints process.

Leadership election

The procedures for administering the leadership and deputy leader elections are decided by the procedures committee – a sub-committee of the NEC. There was a discussion about access to and use of membership data, to ensure that all the candidates have a level playing field.

The committee has agreed hustings in every region of the country. It recognised that members across the UK are keen to attend hustings. If people are not able to attend in person, they can hopefully watch via live stream. There will also be a special hustings event for councillors at the local government conference in Nottingham in February. Continue reading

Labour NEC Report – 6 January 2020

Labour’s national executive committee met on Monday, January 6th, to discuss the process for electing a new leader and deputy leader, as well as by-elections for vacant NEC places. Jennie Formby and Jeremy Corbyn gave brief reports but questions and discussions on the general election and future plans are being saved for the NEC away day at the end of January. NEC members asked that this meeting also discuss tackling antisemitism and any plans for organisational restructure. Continue reading

How registered supporters shape Labour’s leadership elections

In early January the Labour national executive committee (NEC) will meet to discuss and agree the process for selection Labour’s Leader and Deputy Leader.

I joined the NEC in September 2014. Since then, we have already had two general elections, the EU referendum, the Scottish independence referendum, two leadership elections, a deputy leader ship election, two Scottish leadership elections and a welsh leadership referendum, as well as annual local government elections.

The process for electing a leader has varied. A new system was introduced under Ed Miliband giving votes to Registered and Affiliated supports. The idea behind this change was to give ordinary Labour voters a chance to have a say in who our leader should be.

Registered supporters made a huge impact on the outcome of both the 2015 and 2016 leadership elections. This impact was unexpected by some of the NEC members who drafted the original rules.

When the NEC agreed the fee of £3 in 2015, only around 10,000 people had signed-up to be a registered supporter. It was agreed that members of the NEC should be part of an NEC oversight panel to check all these supporters met Labour’s aims and values.

It’s fair to say we had no idea how many people would register and some of the logistical challenges this would bring. For example, all members and supporters need to be on the electoral roll. When tens of thousands of people started registering, it put a huge drain on staff resources. A low point for me was when someone successfully registered their per cat.

The oversight panels were controversial, with new members and supporters claiming they had been “purged”. The complaints made about the process in the press and on social media often differed to the reality. People would claim they were banned for something minor but once you dug into it there was often a more serious complaint behind their ban. Sadly some complaints did warrant looking into again and at the time there was no appeal process, which caused a lot of anger and frustration. There still does need to be a mechanism for ensuring people joining or registering support meet the eligibility requirements. It will be interesting to see what process is recommended for doing this for the 2020 leadership election.

Back in 2015 members and supporters of other political parties were bragging about how they had successfully signed up as registered supporters with the intention of subverting the process. Right-wing blogs were publishing guides online about how to do this. While it was easy to spot high profile case, it was hard to prevent this from taking place.

This was part of the rationale behind the increase of fees for registered supporters in 2016. We agreed that registered supporters should pay £25. This didn’t seem to deter genuine supporters from registering (almost twice as many people registered compared to the previous year). It also raised millions of pounds for future election campaigns.

Some felt the £25 fee for registered supporters was a bit steep. In the Scottish Leadership election the fee was reduced to £12. I would expect the fee for registered supporters in the 2020 leadership election to be somewhere in the range between £12 and £25.

It will be interesting to see if any of the leadership candidates will have a mass appeal beyond the current party membership to inspire tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) to join/sign-up to vote.

Registered supporters have made a big impact in recent elections but many have argued in favour of abolishing they altogether. Abolishing registered supporters would require a rule change at conference. The debate about registered supporters will continue within the party, but as we try to build as mass movement it is good to see new supporters get involved and previous supporters rejoin. (And Labour would certainly benefit with the membership and supporter fees as we prepare for crucial council elections next year!)

What is Labour’s Clause V meeting and how does it work?

In a few weeks Labour will meet to agree the 2019 General Election Manifesto. The meeting that signs this off is called the Clause 5 meeting, taking its name from Clause 5 of the Labour Party rule book. So what is the Clause 5 meeting and how does it work? Continue reading