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’s National Policy Forum: How it works and how you can get involved

Alice Perry, the Labour national executive committee (NEC) member for local government, has written a preview of the national policy forum (NPF) which is happening this weekend:

What is the National Policy Forum?

Labour’s National Policy Forum plays a key role in drafting policy documents, which are agreed by Labour Party Conference and form the basis of the Party’s General Election Manifesto. The NPF is responsible for ensuring the Labour’s policy direction reflects the broad consensus in the party.

Who is on the NPF?

The NPF includes representatives of CLPs and regions, councillors, affiliated trade unions and socialist societies, the PLP, the EPLP and other stakeholder groups within the Party. Current NPF members are listed online. Members of the NEC are also automatically members of the NPF.

How does the NPF work?

The NPF has a number of Policy Commissions that review various policy areas. The eight current Policy Commissions are: 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

Maternity and Paternity leave for Councillors

A number of Councils have formal or informal arrangements to allow Councillors to take maternity and paternity leave. I was involved in drafting my Council’s policy.

You can view our policy here.

You can view the Manchester Labour Group policy here.

You can also view  Camden’s policy online at http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/documents/s51723/PART%206%20Members%20Allowance%20Scheme.pdf.

If your Council has a maternity/paternity policy please do get in touch and share it with me. It would be great to collect and share best practice in this area.

NEC Report – Labour Party Conference 2016

Congratulations to Jeremey Corbyn

The NEC congratulated Jeremy Corbyn on his re-election as Labour Leader. Leadership elections are resource intensive and tiring for everyone. While there are always lessons to be learned on how any process like this is administered, we look forward to moving on, uniting behind Jeremy and campaigning on the issues that matter most to our communities. Preparing for a possible snap General Election is now also a top priority.

Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 policy pledges

The NEC unanimously agreed Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 policy pledges on topics like health, housing, education, protecting the environment and building a stronger economy and fairer society. You can read the full text online. Labour’s National Policy Forum will now consider how these pledges can be delivered, costed and form a General Election manifesto.

NEC Rule Changes

The NEC meeting on 20 September agreed a package of rule changes that were put to the 2016 Labour Party Conference. All but one rule change was unanimously agreed. There was a disagreement about the implementation of the one aspect of a rule changes in the devolution section. Everyone on the NEC supported giving Scottish and Welsh Labour more power, influence and autonomy. Currently the Leader of the Scottish and Welsh Labour Parties are able to attend NEC meetings but do not have full voting rights.img_4406

The new plans grant the Leaders (or someone they appoint from their front bench) full NEC membership and voting rights. This is a longstanding issue that for many years Scottish and Welsh Labour have campaigned for. In Scotland and Wales it is not viewed as a left/right issue. While Labour is in government Wales, we face enormous challenges in Scotland rebuilding the party and winning back trust. These new powers should help this important work and demonstrate how seriously we take winning back Scotland and supporting our government in Wales.

We also agreed to give more powers to Labour Women’s Conference, a change lead by Ann Black, Chair of the Gender Representation Party Reform work. This was welcomed across the party as an important step forward.

Party Reform: Support for Councillors

Last November, Labour started a process to reform our structures so we better reflect and represent our local communities. Continue reading

Labour NEC Report – September 2016

Leader’s Report

Jeremy Corbyn gave the Leader’s report. He talked about his work to make politics more engaging. He welcomed the increase in Labour Party membership and talked about the positive difference new members could make, particularly in parts of the country where Labour has not traditionally been active. He thanked Labour Party staff for their continued hard work. He spoke about the importance of uniting the party after the leadership election. He thanked the NEC for all their work on Party Reform and welcomed discussions about shadow cabinet elections. He also touched on a range of topics including Orgreave, tackling anti-Semitism, workplace 2020, economic development, Brexit, Post Office closures and justice for blacklisted workers. He took questions on government education policy, grammar schools, tackling bullying and harassment, recent TV documentaries, 2017 elections, gender based violence in the UK and internationally, devolution, preparing for a snap general election, Lords Reform and Labour’s constitutional convention. The NEC endorsed Jeremy’s comments on support for staff. The NEC also agreed that after the leadership election people must put aside their differences and unite to form a credible and effective opposition.

Deputy Leader’s Report

Tom Watson’s report covered a range of areas. He introduced a new safeguarding policy for young members, agreed a social media code of conduct to tackle online abuse, talked about the significant improvements Labour is making to digital campaigning, training new community organisers and Party Reform.

The NEC agreed a number of key rule changes and new guidance notes to be put to Labour Party Conference this weekend:

New Powers for Women’s Conference

The NEC agreed to establish a formal policy-making Women’s Conference. Important campaigns on issues like the minimum wage, the Living wage, fairer pensions, affordable childcare and protecting the NHS have been supported and driven by women in the Labour movement at Women’s conference. The exact details have yet to be finalised but this commitment was welcomed by everyone as an important step forward.

Support for Councillors

It was very positive that the NEC supported my Local Government Party Reform Paper, with recommendations to make our processes and procedures fairer and more transparent, increase diversity and better support Councillors. Thank you to the thousands of Councillors over the past year who contributed to the consultation and final report.

New changes to guidance includes: Continue reading