Labour’s national executive committee met today, September 29th. This was the last full meeting before the new NEC is elected. 40% of NEC posts are up for election and some long-serving members are standing down. This meeting usually takes place before Labour Party conference, but the Covid-19 pandemic led to conference being cancelled and the NEC election timetable was extended.
Keir Starmer gave the leader’s report. He updated the NEC on recent activities. Keir has had meetings in the Midlands and Scotland, working to regain trust with former Labour voting communities. He talked about his TUC speech on the importance of job retention. Keir highlighted that Labour believes it should be illegal for businesses to fire people and rehire them with worse terms and conditions. He condemned the Tory government’s total chaos and incompetence in their handling of the pandemic.
Parliamentary business is currently focused on tackling Covid and local restrictions. Keir has been in regular contact with local government representatives who have been managing this across the country. Serious concerns continue to be raised about the government’s handling of the crisis.
Keir talked about Labour Connected, thanking staff for all their work. 27,000 registered to take part, with 84,000 listening to Angela Rayner’s speech and 120,000 tuning in for Keir’s speech.
Questions and discussions included: the political situation in Belarus and support for pro-democracy protesters, Brexit, the internal market bill and its implications for devolution, Labour’s fundraising strategy, support for local government, support for local businesses, mental health during the pandemic, green jobs and the green new deal, the Covid-19 recovery, Keir’s ten pledges in the leadership election, election campaigning, collective responsibility, support for veterans and the armed forces, support for higher education and students, Covid-19 testing, track and trace, the role of the NEC and governance, Labour’s complaints process and Labour’s improved performance in the opinion polls.
Keir welcomed the questions and discussion. He talked about the importance of transparency, working collectively and constructively challenging each other with a shared sense of purpose. Keir talked about how disrespectful it is for people to leak from confidential meetings. He reminded the NEC how he stood with Jeremy Corbyn against leaking from shadow cabinet meetings.
Deputy leader’s report
Angela Rayner gave the deputy leader’s report. She told the NEC that she and Keir have been working hard to together to meet the challenges of 2020 and the crisis we face. She talked about Labour’s positive vision for Britain and the importance of “jobs jobs jobs” and the Green New Deal. She talked about fundraising and the value of gifts of all sizes to support our election campaigns. She gave another confidential update on the Forde Inquiry and ongoing disciplinary proceedings.
Angela talked about her first PMQs and thanked everyone for their support. She was disappointed but unsurprised that Boris Johnson didn’t know the average hourly wage of care workers. Angela talked about the importance of a real living wage and decent sick pay for key workers, particularly during the pandemic.
Angela talked about candidate recruitment and the importance of ensuring our representatives reflect the diversity of the communities they represent. Angela has been working to recruit key workers and people from non-traditional backgrounds. Angela has been hosting training sessions over the summer for people who want to be councillors. I’ve been really happy to help with this important work. You can watch the videos of these webinars on the Labour Party website.
I asked a question about campaigning for the crucial elections in 2021, which gives the public an opportunity to send a message to this disgraceful, shambolic Tory government. Members and councillors across the country are keen to support Covid-secure campaigning to support everyone how has elections next year in England, Scotland and Wales.
General secretary’s report
David Evans gave an update about a range of topics. He talked about plans for election plans, including improving digital campaigning, post and phone canvassing. Selections for candidates are underway across the country for next year’s elections. I asked if we could have a regular standing item on elections at full NEC meetings.
NEC members fed back on Labour Connected. The NEC was presented with an update on the finance strategy. NEC fed back on various internal reviews.
Labour has around 560,000 members. Party membership peaked at its highest ever level in February 2020. Around 90,000 people joined the Labour Party this year. Engaging and retaining members is a priority.
NEC members thanked staff for all their hard work in enabling NEC nomination meetings The NEC discussed plans to allow CLP meetings to resume with their full business online. Members will be able to hold AGMs online. It is unlikely that members will be able to meet in person in 2020 and beyond so NEC members are keen to allow members to meet virtually to conduct their usual business.
Improving diversity in local and national government
The NEC reconfirmed its support for all-women shortlists. I proposed a motion, seconded by socialist societies rep James Asser. The motion noted:
The NEC equality committee has frequently noted the need for more work to be done to increase diversity in local government. As part of this important work Labour should:
- Expand the “Be a Councillor” training aimed at increasing diversity in local government.
- Recognise the achievements of groups that reach gender balance, and shares best practice about how this can be achieved.
- Provide the NEC with regular equality monitoring data on the number of candidates standing for election, and who are elected, who are women, BAME, LGBT+ and/or disabled, including other relevant information such as age.
- Provide the NEC with an annual list of the remaining all male wards, with details of the local plans to recruit women to stand to be councillors.
- Through the NEC, undertake a wider review of diversity in local government and what more Labour can do to increase diversity of political representation and remove structural barriers that prevent more people standing.
The motion was passed unanimously. This is an issue that unites the NEC, and it is something we are passionate about.
A big thank you to the 71 Labour groups who nominated me to the NEC. You can read more about why I am standing for the NEC, and what I have achieved during my time on the NEC on my blog.