Category Archives: Politics

Labour NEC: Report from the JPC, Equalities, Disputes and Organisational Committees

This report includes updates from the March NEC Equalities, Disputes and Organisation Committee meetings, as well as the National Policy Forum Joint Policy Committee meeting.

Policy Consultation

The Joint Policy Committee is the body which has strategic oversight for Labour’s policy development and acts as the steering group for the National Policy Forum. March’s JPC meeting agreed the policy consultation documents that will be sent to members and local parties shortly. Consultations will run in the coming months and will contribute to the policy documents prepared for the Labour Party Conference in September. The full National Policy Forum will be meet on 1 and 2 July somewhere in the North of England (I suggested Blackpool). The GMB’s Cath Speight was elected Chair of the JPC. I have written a guide to how the National Policy Forum works and how members can get involved.

New Powers for Labour Women’s Conference

The 2017 Labour Party Women’s Conference will play a formal role in the policy-making process for the first time in decades. The NEC is working through the details of how this will work. An interim Women’s Conference Arrangements Committee was approved. Members of this committee are:

  • Ann Black, NEC Equalities Vice-Chair Women and NEC CLP representative
  • Cath Speight and Diana Holland, NEC Trade Union Representatives
  • Alice Perry, NEC Local Government Representative
  • Jasmin Beckett, NEC Youth Representative
  • Shabana Mahmood, NEC Rep and NPF Vice Chair

Continue reading

Do you want to be a Councillor?

The Fabian Women’s Network have launched an excellent new booklet full of practical tips and information for people wanting to stand to be Councillors. This is part of a drive to encourage more women to stand for election, but the information is useful to anyone interesting in knowing more about what is involved in being a Councillor.

Download the Fabian Women’s Network Be a Councillor publication

The Local Government Association have a wealth of useful information on their website and regularly run “Be a Councillor” training courses. Being a Councillor is a lot of work but is also very rewarding and a great way to serve your community.

Labour NEC Report – January 2017

Leader’s Report

Jeremy Corbyn’s NEC report included updates on Labour’s response to Brexit, opposing a second Independence Referendum in Scotland, reaction to the election of Donald Trump, the rise of fake news and how this is changing politics, post-liberalism, the women’s marches around the world, engaging people with politics, Melanie Onn and Keir Starmer’s private members bill protecting workers rights, investing in infrastructure to grow the economy and the cynicism and hypocrisy of the Liberal Democrats.

Labour’s response to Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn discussed the recent Supreme Court judgment, saying “The Government has today been forced by the Supreme Court to accept the sovereignty of Parliament. Labour respects the result of the referendum and the will of the British people and will not frustrate the process for invoking Article 50.

“However, Labour will seek to amend the Article 50 Bill to prevent the Conservatives using Brexit to turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven off the coast of Europe. Labour is demanding a plan from the Government to ensure it is accountable to Parliament throughout the negotiations and a meaningful vote to ensure the final deal is given Parliamentary approval.”

Protecting the NHS

img_7204The NEC welcomed back Jon Ashworth, who gave an update about the NHS crisis in England and Scotland. He noted that this winter has seen the worst NHS crisis for 20 years. The NHS in England has run out of beds on 108 occasions and is regularly failing to meet the four hour A&E waiting time target. Tory and SNP government decisions have led to huge pressures on the NHS in England and Scotland, made worst by their cuts to social care. Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Labour have been working closely Jon and Jeremy to expose the SNP’s poor record on health.

Jon highlighted the enormous contributions workers from the EU make to the NHS and the care sector. Jon and Jeremy thanked the thousands of Labour members across the country who have taken part in NHS campaign action days. Last Saturday’s #CarefortheNHS day reached over 10 million people on Twitter.

The NEC were also reminded of comments made Stoke-on-Trent Central UKIP by-election candidate Paul Nuttall about his desire to privatise the NHS.

Policy

Ann Cryer, Chair of Labour’s National Policy Forum, gave an update on policy making. I have written a guide to how the NPF works and how members can get involved. Policy Commission meetings are taking place in January and February to agree first drafts of the policy documents that will eventually be put before Labour Party Conference in September. Labour members and voters will be asked to feed in to this process and take part in consultations. I will be Chairing meetings of the Home Affairs and Justice Policy Commission, which will look at issues like policing, community safety, prisons, domestic and gender based violence, historic justice campaigns, national security, immigration and constitutional matters. You can read more about the work of the NPF, and make policy submissions online at http://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/.

Progressive Alliances and electoral pacts

Jeremy Corbyn and the NEC confirmed opposition to so called “progressive alliances”, with Jeremy and others agreeing that parties like the SNP and the Liberal Democrats are not progressive. Continue reading

Labour NEC: Report from January’s Equalities, Disputes and Organisational Committee meetings

Labour NEC Equalities, Disputes and Organisational Committee meetings took place on Tuesday 17th January. The NEC discussed the following:

Women’s Conference

Labour Party Conference in September agreed to give policy-making powers to Women’s Conference. Members and affiliates will be able to send delegates to Women’s Conference to discuss and debate policy. Women’s Conference will still be open to everyone interested in attending with the hope that it will retain its lively, informal and welcoming atmosphere. In 2017 Women’s Conference will take place immediately before the national conference in September. The NEC Women’s Conference Working Group, chaired by Ann Black, is considering whether Women’s Conference should be moved to the Spring in future years to be a standalone conference. We will be consulting members to see which option will be preferable.

Increasing Women’s representation in politics

Jess Philips presented the Women and Equalities Committee report on Women in the House of Commons after the 2020 report to the NEC Equalities Committee. This cross-party report calls on all political parties to committee to having at least 45% of female candidates for Parliament and local government elections by 2030. The Equalities Committee noted the recent NEC commitment to expand the use of All Women Shortlists in local government selections and consider ways to make parliament and local government more family friendly. The Jo Cox Foundation will support some of this important work. The NEC also discussed the importance of maintaining the proportion of female and BAME MPs following possible Boundary changes.

Improving political representation of disabled people

The NEC Equalities Committee discussed the ongoing work to improve political representation of disabled people at all levels. A consultation on LGBT and disabled issues has been circulated to CLP Secretaries and relevant CLP officers. Please do get in touch if with staff you have any questions about this or want to make a submission.

Report from the Women’s PLP and Shadow Equalities team

Jess Philips talked about the forthcoming Women’s PLP campaigns, which will include campaigns around childcare, maternity and paternity rights, women in the economy, the impact of Brexit and austerity of women and protecting our rights at work. Continue reading

Labour NEC Report – November 2016

Leader’s Report

Jeremy Corbyn reported on recent activities and preparations for 2017, including a possible General Election. Jeremy said he had enjoyed the 2016 Labour Leadership campaign and had enjoyed meeting members around the country and debating with Owen Smith. He said that it is now time to move on, unite, stop looking inwards and focus outwards on the challenges and opportunities that Labour and the country face. He identified the economy, Brexit and 2017 elections as the three biggest issues for Labour to focus our energy on. Jeremy talked about his recent speech to the CBI and the need for the UK to invest in infrastructure, training and house building. Jeremy Corbyn repeated that Labour will accept the result of the EU Referendum and will work to secure worker’s rights, consumer rights and environmental protections. He talked about forthcoming campaign days and the tour of rural communities he is planning with Rachael Maskell. Jeremy is keen for Labour to reach out to rural Britain and respond to the concerns of voters living in these communities. Jeremy talked about the importance of the 2017 local elections, praising Labour Councillors and condemning the unfair Tory cuts to Council budgets.

General Secretary’s Report

rochesterIain McNicol reported on past activity and plans for the future. In the past year Labour has contested and campaigned in parliamentary by-elections, Mayoral elections in Bristol, London, Hackney, Salford and Liverpool, local government elections and the EU referendum. Other activities have included the Leadership election, Conference, the Party Reform working groups and National Policy Forum meetings. Labour has launched a number of bursaries and training programmes to encourage candidates from underrepresented Groups to stand for election. Activities for the year ahead include preparing for elections, ensuring the Party remains financially stable, improving campaigning capacity, expanding the use of community organising, responding to the Parliamentary Boundary Review, developing policy and engaging members. The NEC joined Iain in praising and thanking staff for their continued hard work and dedication.

National Policy Forum and Policy Making

The National Policy Forum met in Loughborough for a policy conference the weekend before the NEC Awayday. The meeting was extremely positive and focused on Brexit and the work of the eight policy commissions Continue reading

Labour NEC Report – October 2016

This report covers NEC Equalities, Disputes and Organisational Committee meetings in October 2016:

Improving diversity of political representation

The Equalities Committee and Organisational Committee discussed various proposals to increase diversity of elected representatives. This including discussions on extending the use of All Women Shortlists in local government selections to help Labour Councillors reach a 50-50 gender balance. Jeremy Corbyn voiced his support for gender balance in both national and local government.

It is not currently possible to use AWS for Metro Mayor selections as this isn’t including in the current legislation, but Labour will continue to campaign to amend and strengthen this legislation and look at other methods of encouraging more woman, BAME, disabled, working class, LBGT and disabled candidates to stand for elections. With this in mind Labour has launched the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme to help train women for leadership roles and a Bursary Scheme to encourage more working class candidates.

Metro Mayor selections

Elections for Metro Mayors will take place across the country in May 2017. Negotiations

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Greater Manchester Metro Mayor candidate Andy Burnham with Judith Blake, Alice Perry and Nick Forbes

continue in various regions to agree new devolution deals. Possible Combined Authorities due to elect Metro Mayors include Solent, Norfolk and Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, West of England, Sheffield City Region, Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority and Tees Valley. The NEC agreed the timetable and process for these elections. Applications for candidates opens on 19 October and closes on 2 November. In line with the NEC work on gender representation and increasing diversity, the selections panels want to give consideration to the widest range of possible applications. We strongly encourage qualified candidates to apply, particularly if they are female or from under-represented groups.

Having run Metro Mayor selections for the first time this summer, we have adjusted the process based on feedback from members in the North West and West Midlands. Thank you to everyone who passed on their feedback. I proposed an amendment to allow Council Labour Groups to make supporting nominations, which the NEC agreed to trial. Continue reading

How the Labour Party is responding to the Boundary Changes

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What is the 2018 boundary review and why is it happening?

The Conservative Government voted to decrease the number of MPs in parliament from 650 to 600. New laws require “every new constituency (except four specified island constituencies) must have roughly the same number of electors: no fewer than 71,031 and no more than 78,507.”

In order to deliver this, there are independent reviews of parliamentary constituencies. These reviews are being conducted by each home nation’s boundary commission. Consultations have opened into the shape of the the new boundaries. This is the beginning of a long process, with various reviews publishing their final reports in 2018, and will then be subject to a parliamentary vote.

Is the Boundary Review unfair?

Reducing the number of MPs to 600 was a Tory manifesto commitment. It has also been some time since a review of parliamentary boundaries was completed. However,there are some real issues with the current review, which is based on the number of registered voters rather than the number of eligible voters who live in each area. This disproportionately effects traditional Labour areas. Many people left off the electoral register are on lower incomes, young or living in the private rented sector. The Boundary Commission is also being forced to use an older version of the electoral register, which does not include almost two million people who registered to vote in June’s EU referendum. It is also arguably undemocratic to reduce the number of elected MPs in the House of Commons while continuing to increase unelected peers in the House of Lords.

How is the Labour Party responding to the changes?

In terms of responding to the current consultation, in some areas we will support the commissions’ recommendations, in other places we will be submit alternative plans. Other political parties will make their own submissions. Labour is coordinating its response via the various regional parties and the NEC boundary review steering group, of which I am a member. Sitting MPs and CLP representatives will be consulted as part of the process for agreeing a final position to be signed off by the NEC. Continue reading