The NEC Equalities, Disputes and Organisational Committees met on 6 March 2018 to discuss a range of topics:
Increasing Diversity in local and national government
I recently blogged about ideas Labour are discussing to increase diversity in local government. This continues to be an important area of work for the NEC. We want our elected representatives to reflect our diverse communities and want to encourage more women, BAME, disabled, LGBT and working class people to stand for election at all levels of the party.
Labour will shortly be launching the Bernie Grant Initiative, a leadership and candidate training programme for BAME members similar to the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme. There will also be “Be a Councillor” events to encourage trade unionists, women, BAME members, disabled members, LGBT and young people to stand to be Councillors. I recently attended one of these events for GMB shop stewards in Liverpool – it was inspiring and exciting to meet so many excellent future candidates and Councillors.
The NEC Equalities Committee discussed the latest draft of the statement about trans inclusion in the Labour Party. Continue reading
For many years, the Labour Party has been working hard to ensure our elected representatives reflect the diversity of the communities we represent. Recent initiatives have focused on increasing the number of Labour MPs and Councillors that are female, BAME, LGBT, disabled and/or from working-class backgrounds.
Discussing Labour’s democracy review at the local government conference
A recent 2017 report by the Fawcett Society and the Local Government Information Unit looked at a number of issues facing women in local government. Following on from this work, a cross-party group from local and national government is considering the changes that could be made to improve diversity and encourage more people from traditionally under-represented groups to stand to be councillors.
The Labour Party’s asks to government include:
- Introduce maternity, paternity and carers’ leave for all councillors.
- Restore councillors’ access to pensions and consider a fair system for allowances so people from all backgrounds can afford to stand to be councillors.
- Remove councillors’ home addresses from ballot papers, replacing them with “address in xx ward”.
- Increase resources and funding for security at councillors’ surgeries. No one should be threatened or attacked while carrying out their duties.
- Tough action to tackle online abuse, which puts off many people from getting involved in politics or public life. This includes making social media companies take responsibility for some of the appalling abuse that takes place on their sites.
- Amend the all-women shortlist legislation to allow for AWS selections for directly elected mayoral posts. Labour is also considering whether it should also amend this legislation to allow for all-BAME shortlists.
- Increase awareness of the role of a councillor, the positive difference councillors make to our communities, how you can successfully balance it with other commitments and how to get involved and stand.
Jeremy Corbyn began his report by wishing Margaret Beckett a happy 75th birthday. He spoke about the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Representation of the People’s Act. He paid tribute to inspirational campaigners and activists who fought for universal suffrage. He noted that he spoke about his personal admiration for Mary Wollstonecraft in a recent BBC programme celebrating the centenary. Jeremy also noted that the NEC was over 50% female with a record number of BAME representatives. He spoke of Labour’s clear commitment to increasing diversity of our political representatives at both local and national levels.
Jeremy also talked about the NHS crisis, the subject of a recent party political broadcast. Jeremy also spoke about Carillion and how the subsequent collapse highlights the deep flaws in the Tory’s privatisation agenda. Jeremy described the scandal as a watershed moment in the relationship between public services and privatisation. Jeremy talked about Labour’s work preparing for government and setting out Labour’s positive vision for Britain. He talked about Brexit and the EU, as well as the damaging impact the roll out of universal credit has had on many communities.
Finally, Jeremy spoked about international human rights, refugees and forced migrants around the world. There are 66 million UN recognised refugees escaping conflict, environmental disasters and climate change. Jeremy said that Britain ought to be leading the world in supporting refugees and challenging the causes of the global migrant crisis such as inequality, poverty and climate change. Continue reading
Labour’s NEC Equalities, Disputes and Organisation Committees met on Tuesday 16th January ahead of the full NEC meeting next week. We discussed the following:
Trans women standing in All Women Shortlists
Labour supports and values our trans community. Trans women are welcome to stand in All Women Shortlists and to take part in schemes like the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme. The NEC will discuss this further next week and will put out a statement following the meeting clarifying the position. In the meantime, the Equalities Committee endorsed the recent LGBT Labour statement.
Sexual Harassment Policy
You can view the Labour Party Sexual Harassment Policy online at https://labour.org.uk/about/sexual-harassment-policy/. Labour have an independent reporting hotline managed by Rape Crisis. This hotline covers all forms of sexual harassment and sexual violence. A panel of NEC members who have received specialist training will hear complaints. I received my training this week, which covered the law, Labour’s policy and generally responding to sexual violence and the awareness of border issues like rape culture and barriers people overcome in order to make a complaint. Members of staff and members of the NCC are also undertaking this training.
Party Democracy Review
Katy Clark gave an update about the Party Democracy Review. Thousands of members have made submissions online and events have taken place across the country. The initial focus has been on topics related to engage young people, BAME communities and disabled people. Continue reading
The next General Election could be months away. It could be in May 2022. With this in mind, Labour’s National Policy Forum is working to build on the popular 2017 Manifesto and help prepare for a possible incoming Labour government.
The NPF Policy Commissions are meeting this month to finalise the consultation documents that will be sent to members for discussion and debate. A full NPF meeting will take place on 17 and 18 February, where the various representatives will meet to consider policies for a future Labour government. The consultation topics include:
- TOWARDS A NATIONAL EDUCATION SERVICE (Early Years, Education & Skills Policy Commission Co-Chaired by Angela Rayner and Christine Shawcroft)
- A FAIR DEAL AT WORK: The future of work (Economy, Business & Trade Commission Co-Chaired by John McDonnell and Jennie Formby)
- LEADING RICHER LIVES: A Greener Britain (Environment, Energy and Culture Commission Co-Chaired by Sue Hayman and Margaret Beckett)
- HEALTHCARE FOR ALL: Tackling health inequalities (Health & Social Care Commission Co-Chaired by Jonathan Ashworth and Keith Birch)
- LEADING RICHER LIVES: Giving people the power to shape their local communities (Housing, Local Government & Transport Commission Co-Chaired by Andrew Gwynne and Jim Kennedy)
- A GLOBAL BRITAIN: Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (International Policy Commission Co-Chaired by Emily Thornberry and Cath Speight)
- SAFER COMMUNITIES: Protecting our communities and turning lives around (Justice and Home Affairs Commission Co-Chaired by Diane Abbott and Alice Perry)
- EQUALITY FOR ALL: Addressing in-work poverty and working age inequalities (Work, Pensions and Equality Co-Chaired by Debbie Abrahams and Diana Holland)
Jeremy Corbyn updated the NEC on his work in parliament, praising the PLP for working together to defeat the government on NHS pay and student fees. He talked about Brexit and the importance of transitional arrangements and maintaining strong relationships with European countries when we leave the EU. Jeremy condemned the terrible abuse female like Luciana Berger and Diane Abbott MPs have received. Jeremy made it clear this abuse has no place in public life.
Jeremy has had a very busy summer, visiting 50 marginal seats across the country, laying the foundations for a future electoral victory. Jeremy talked about a rally on the beach in Southport attended by 5,000 people. Labour’s vote has quadrupled in Southport in the last seven years. Jeremy said this was a good example of why Labour rejects so-called progressive alliances, and instead will fight to win every seat. Jeremy has enjoyed meeting members, speaking with the public and holding Q&As. Jeremy told the NEC that he didn’t want to talk at people, he wanted to really listen to their concerns.
Jeremy then took questions on a range of issues including human rights in Myanmar and Yemen, climate change Continue reading
This week’s Labourlist poll asked if all women shortlists should be used more in local government selections. Numerous recent reports have highlighted the urgent need to increase female representation in local government overall and in leadership positions.
Jeremy Corbyn committed to a gender balanced parliamentary Labour Party and supported plans to increase women’s representation at all levels of the party, including local government. To this end, the 2016 Labour Party Conference agreed a a number of important changes to rules and procedures. One was the phase out all male wards and the other was to extend the use of all women shortlists in Council selections.
According to Labour Party rules, if members are selecting candidates three positions to represent a Council ward, at least one of these candidates should be female. For various reasons, in a minority of cases this rule hasn’t always been strictly enforced. The result has been a small number Council wards where all of the Labour candidates are male. Last year’s conference and this year’s NEC Equalities Committee agreed that this practice should end. It was particularly noted that the NEC did not want to see any all male wards standing for election in the 2018 London council elections.
Last year’s conference also clarified rules about extending the use of AWS for council selections. While a least one of three Council candidates in a ward of three must be female, local parties can also chose to increase this to help them reach a gender balanced Council. Continue reading