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

Making Labour’s Selections Fairer And More Transparent

lab-conference-2016Each year Labour’s governing body, the National Executive Committee, can propose changes to the party’s rules to be voted on at Labour Party Conference. Recently there has been increased interest in what any potential rule changes might be. People have speculated about whether these changes will be used to pursue various factional agendas or “settle scores”.

In reality, the rule changes we have spent the past year working on are designed to improve campaigning, communications and engagement through digital technology and Party Reform. Key areas identified for improvement have been increasing support for Councillors, responding to devolution and doing more to ensure our MPs, Councillors, PPC and Mayors reflect the diversity of the communities they represent.

Labour’s local government representatives play a huge part in our party, and the introduction of directly-elected mayors of Combined Authorities represent an exciting, new opportunity for us.

If elected, Labour’s new Metro Mayors will make a huge positive difference to their communities, building more housing, improving transport, education and more.

So far though, our high profile Mayoral candidates have been male. It is clear we need to do more to increase diversity in local government, including increasing the number of Labour’s female Councillors and women in leadership roles within local government. This involves identifying the barriers that prevent more women (and candidates from other under-represented groups) from standing for election and fulfilling their leadership potential, and working to remove these barriers.

Equally, we need to do much more to encourage more BAME, working class, LGBT and disabled people to stand for elected office.

New measures currently being discussed by the NEC include:

  • Expand the use of all women shortlists in local government selections.
  • Increase the training and targeting currently done for underrepresented groups in local government.
  • To support new Councillors, there will be more dedicated local government materials including a pack for new councillors.
  • Council and Group executives should reflect the gender makeup of their Groups and should reflect the wider community. If an executive does not reflect the makeup of their group, this could lead to disciplinary action.
  • Work to phase out all male member Council wards.

We are also discussing how local government should be better represented within the Party. Continue reading

Thank you for re-electing me to the NEC

Thank you so much to everyone who voted, nominated and supported me. I am so honoured to be re-elected to the Labour NEC. Whatever the future holds for us, I will always stand up for Councillors and Labour in local government.

I am delighted that the LGA Labour Group Leader Nick Forbes has also been elected. We will always do our best for you.

The full results are given below: