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

Tackling anti-Semitism: Report from special Labour NEC Equalities Committee meeting

anti-semitism-report-330x440A special meeting of the NEC equalities committee took place on Monday to discuss tackling anti-Semitism and other abusive behaviour. Labour has a proud tradition of fighting racism and standing up for equality. The NEC and Labour leadership is committed to tackling all forms of bullying and harassment and improving our own internal complaints and disciplinary processes.

The growth in social media has also sadly lead to a rise in abusive behaviour online. Jeremy Corbyn told the meeting that online abuse is as unacceptable as abuse in any other forum, and possibly worse because the abuse is often very public. Labour has devised a new social media code of conduct for members to help address this.

Labour is reviewing our complaints and disciplinary processes to make things as clear, quick, fair, transparent and accessible as possible. Labour also welcomed and agreed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which Theresa May announced the UK government will sign up to: 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’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.