For the first time in Islington’s history, over 50 per cent of our councillors are women. This landmark achievement was the result of long-term measures and commitment to increasing diversity. This included significantly increasing the number of candidates selected by all-women shortlists (AWS), as well as a lot of hard work by our local campaign forum (LCF) and CLP women’s forums to identify, train and support talented people interested in local government.
Somewhat predictably, when we celebrated this achievement online we received a barrage of negative comments suggesting this was sexist to men, that identity politics is stupid and what really matters is selecting/electing the best person for the job.
A strong commitment to AWS is something that unites every Labour NEC member. Continue reading
The NEC Equalities, Disputes and Organisational Committees met on 6 March 2018 to discuss a range of topics:
Increasing Diversity in local and national government
I recently blogged about ideas Labour are discussing to increase diversity in local government. This continues to be an important area of work for the NEC. We want our elected representatives to reflect our diverse communities and want to encourage more women, BAME, disabled, LGBT and working class people to stand for election at all levels of the party.
Labour will shortly be launching the Bernie Grant Initiative, a leadership and candidate training programme for BAME members similar to the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme. There will also be “Be a Councillor” events to encourage trade unionists, women, BAME members, disabled members, LGBT and young people to stand to be Councillors. I recently attended one of these events for GMB shop stewards in Liverpool – it was inspiring and exciting to meet so many excellent future candidates and Councillors.
The NEC Equalities Committee discussed the latest draft of the statement about trans inclusion in the Labour Party. Continue reading
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.
This week’s Labourlist poll asked if all women shortlists should be used more in local government selections. Numerous recent reports have highlighted the urgent need to increase female representation in local government overall and in leadership positions.
Jeremy Corbyn committed to a gender balanced parliamentary Labour Party and supported plans to increase women’s representation at all levels of the party, including local government. To this end, the 2016 Labour Party Conference agreed a a number of important changes to rules and procedures. One was the phase out all male wards and the other was to extend the use of all women shortlists in Council selections.
According to Labour Party rules, if members are selecting candidates three positions to represent a Council ward, at least one of these candidates should be female. For various reasons, in a minority of cases this rule hasn’t always been strictly enforced. The result has been a small number Council wards where all of the Labour candidates are male. Last year’s conference and this year’s NEC Equalities Committee agreed that this practice should end. It was particularly noted that the NEC did not want to see any all male wards standing for election in the 2018 London council elections.
Last year’s conference also clarified rules about extending the use of AWS for council selections. While a least one of three Council candidates in a ward of three must be female, local parties can also chose to increase this to help them reach a gender balanced Council. Continue reading
Reflecting on the General Election
Campaign selfie with Councillors Alice Perry and Martin Klute during the General Election
The full NEC met for the first time since 8th June. Jeremy Corbyn praised everyone who contributed to the result and participated in campaigns around the country. Jeremy talked about the amazing response Labour received as the General Election date drew nearer. People of all ages and backgrounds were inspired by Labour’s message of hope. Jeremy told the NEC that if the election had taken place one week later Labour would have won.
No one knows when the next General Election will take place. It could be as early as September or as late as 2022. Labour will keep up the pressure on the Conservatives by continuing to campaign hard around the country. Jeremy will continue to campaign in key marginal and hold rallies to mobilise and engage members and the public. Labour will be ready for the next General Election, whenever it takes place.
Selecting candidates for the next General Election
July’s Full NEC meeting will begin reviewing the process for selecting candidates in key marginal in England for the next General Election. The Scottish and Welsh Executive Committees are responsible deciding the process for candidate selection in Scotland and Wales.
The discussions are in early days but like many other NEC members, I am keen that local parties are able to hold selection with members able to vote for their preferred candidates. I would also like to see local parties able to make nominations to ensure people are fully engaged and popular local candidates aren’t overlooked.
The NEC will also need to decide how many of the marginal seats are All Women Shortlists. In order to achieved a gender balanced PLP it has been suggested that at the very least 50% of the marginal seats should be AWS. Continue reading