Jeremy Corbyn gave an updated on his recent activities and described May’s elections and June’s European Referendum as top priorities. He has been working with the Shadow Cabinet on Labour’s response to the budget. He will continue to make use of social and local media, as well as traditional media outlets, to put forward Labour’s own vision for Britain and our response to Tory plans. Jeremy Corbyn made it clear that it is particularly important to oppose the Tory cuts to local government and to highlight how Tory cuts disproportionately hit women and damage the environment. He also talked about Workplace 2020, a project to look at progressing workers’ rights in modern, post-industrial Britain. He reminded the NEC of recent successes in defeating the Tory government on issues such as tax credit cuts, police cuts and Sunday trading. He talked about the importance of defending our record in government and make it clear that Labour was not responsible for causing the global financial crisis. Jeremy Corbyn also highlighted the damage done in Scotland by the SNP.
Zero tolerance of racism
Jeremy Corbyn made it clear that Labour will not tolerate racism or anti-Semitism in any form. Both the Leadership and the NEC firmly believe that racist and sexist views have no place in the Labour Party. Baroness Jan Royal will lead an investigation into recent allegations of anti-Semitism and related issues.
European Parliamentary Labour Party Leader Glenis Willmott gave the European Report, which included an update on June’s referendum, the posting of workers directive, TTIP, Labour MEPs work on gender equality and flood relief. Labour MEPs successfully pressured the UK government to use EU funds to help with flooding clear-up. Now the Government must ensure funding for flood victims goes directly to affected communities. The EU Referendum is a priority for the party. Labour is officially supporting the Remain Campaign to support UK jobs, the economy and protect our rights at work.
Jon Trickett gave an update on the strategy for May’s elections. Elections are taking place for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Mayor and GLA, English Councils, (including directly elected Mayors in Liverpool, Bristol and Salford), Police and Crime Commissioners and two parliamentary by-elections. In 2017 there will be elections for County Councils and Metro Mayors. Local campaigns will tailor their messages to fit the different local contexts. There will also be various national campaign themes on issues like housing, policing, the economy and the NHS. Establishing economic credibility and regaining public trust was also identified as key national priorities.
Report from the LGA Labour Group Leader Nick Forbes
In February Newcastle City Council Leader Nick Forbes was elected as Leader of the Local Government Association Labour Group. Nick Forbes attended the NEC to give the Local Government Report. Nick talked about how local government is working closely with MPs and Trade Unions to fight Tory cuts to Council funding, which disproportionately affect Labour areas. He reported that 86% of the extra funds recently given to local Councils went to Tory run authorities. The LGA has been working closely with MPs and Peers to oppose the Housing and Planning Bill and oppose the proposed changes to Council ethical investment policies. These changes will make it harder for Councils to support fair trade, human rights and workers’ rights. Newcastle Council have recently passed a motion on this – you can download it here.
The NEC thank Nick Forbes and local Councillors for the amazing, positive difference we continue to make to our communities, despite the enormous Tory government cuts to our budgets. The NEC fully supports Councils in our budget setting processes.
The Housing and Planning Bill
The Housing and Planning Bill presents some of the most drastic and draconian legislation ever introduced on housing. The new levy on councils to fund the Right-to-Buy sale of housing association properties will be collected through the enforced sell off of higher value council homes. Labour in local government is working cross party at the LGA to fight the Government on this bill, we are intensifying our lobbying in the House of Lords and are working closely with our Shadow Housing Ministerial team.
Selecting our Mayoral Candidates
The March Organisational Committee agreed the process for selecting candidates for the new directly elected Metro Mayors. These elections are scheduled to take place in May 2017. Nominations will open later this year with voting taking place over the summer. Unlike in the London Mayoral election, registered supporters will not be eligible to vote in these elections.
Labour Local Government Conference
Over 300 delegates attended the Local Government Conference in February with over 50 speakers, including 12 shadow ministers. For the first time there were more women speakers than men. The conference also brought in a record amount of sponsorship.
Report by the Shadow Chancellor
John McDonnell gave a report to the NEC on his work ahead of the Budget. He highlighted how 81% of the cuts have fallen on women and picked up on the theme of working to restore Labour’s economic credibility. He talked about the importance of investing in skills, infrastructure and the green economy. I thanked him for his letter of support of Councillors and his rejection of calls for Councillors to set illegal budgets. He confirmed that this position of rejecting calls for Labour Councillors to set illegal budgets will continue throughout this parliament.
The Labour Party is debt free and able to finance May’s elections. The additional income from new members is welcome, as are new donations for the forthcoming elections. The Trade Union Bill and proposed changes to short money pose serious challenges to Labour’s long-term finances. The NEC is grateful to all the support Councillors give the party, including the financial support we provide through our ALC subs. The NEC supports the principal of accountability and transparency for the ALC subs – the Party Reform work will establish how this will work in practice. In the meantime General Secretary Iain McNicol and Treasurer Diana Holland have offered to meet with Councillors to present information on how these subs are used and the difference they make.
Jeremy Corbyn and the NEC are united in support for the Party’s Compliance Unit. The Compliance Unit is responsible for a wide range of activities, including reporting donations to the electoral commission, electoral law administration, providing legal services, rule book queries and procedural guidance, running internal elections, acting as the secretariat for NEC committees and much more. Without the Compliance Unit Labour could not exist as a political party. The NEC thanked party staff for all their hard work.
If you have any questions please get in touch. You can follow me on twitter at @AlicePerryUK. You can sign-up to receive regular emails and updates and read previous NEC reports on my blog at https://aliceperry.wordpress.com/nec/.