Ideas to improve diversity in local government

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.

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Labour NEC Report – 23 January 2018

Leader’s Report

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 NEC Report – 16 January 2018

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

2018 National Policy Forum activity and how you can get involved

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)

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Labour NEC Report – November 2017

Last weekend the NEC met in Glasgow for our annual Away-day. The first half of the day was a joint meeting of the NEC and Scottish Executive. Jeremy Corbyn suggested holding more future full NEC meetings outside London and suggested holding a similar meeting in Wales with the Welsh Executive.

Winning back Scotland

In order to win a parliamentary majority, Labour must win back seats in Scotland. Richard Leonard addressed the NEC and SEC on the failure of the SNP and Labour’s plan to challenge SNP and Tory austerity. Richard Leonard talked about mobilising members, trade unions, MSPs, MPs and Councillors to win back Scotland. Additional resources will be targeted to Scotland to train community organisers and improve digital and doorstep campaigning.

Leader’s Report

Jeremy Corbyn reported on his recent activities. Jeremy has been campaigning across the UK and spends at least one day a month campaigning in Scotland. He was pleased to report on recent electoral successes in Scotland, where Labour party membership is growing and there is a renewed sense of enthusiasm for Labour politics. Continue reading

Labour NEC Report – October 2017

img_2314The NEC Equalities, Disputes and Organisation Sub-Committees met on October 31st. Representatives from the ALC and LGA also met with Katy Clark to discuss party reform.

Sexual Harassment Policy

In response to the 2014 Lord Rennard Scandal Labour began a review of the party’s sexual harassment policy to ensure it was fit for purpose. The rise of social media also presented new challenges to our bullying and harassment policies and codes of conduct. One of the first people I met with after being elected to the NEC in September 2014 was the then young rep Bex Bailey, who wanted to brief me and get my support for strengthening the sexual harassment policy. Bex and other members of the Equalities Committee have been working hard for years to champion this important issue. Some NEC members also bring considerable experience from the trade union movement of dealing with bullying and harassment. The policy the NEC considered in October 2017 is the product of years of hardwork and the timing shows just how important it is to effectively tackle bullying and harassment, as well as ensure victims and survivors get justice and are treated sensitively and with respect. Continue reading

Labour NEC Report – September 2017

Leader’s Report

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