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.
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
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
The 2017 general election sees the highest number of female candidates contesting parliamentary seats. This is an important achievement.
While Labour is committed to having at least 45 per cent of candidates standing local and national elections to be women by 2030, women remain under-represented in politics at all levels.
At a national level, Labour is increasing training and support for women through initiatives like the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme and by extending the use of all-women shortlists. At a local level, constituency Labour parties are working hard to engage female members. Continue reading
This report includes updates from the March NEC Equalities, Disputes and Organisation Committee meetings, as well as the National Policy Forum Joint Policy Committee meeting.
The Joint Policy Committee is the body which has strategic oversight for Labour’s policy development and acts as the steering group for the National Policy Forum. March’s JPC meeting agreed the policy consultation documents that will be sent to members and local parties shortly. Consultations will run in the coming months and will contribute to the policy documents prepared for the Labour Party Conference in September. The full National Policy Forum will be meet on 1 and 2 July somewhere in the North of England (I suggested Blackpool). The GMB’s Cath Speight was elected Chair of the JPC. I have written a guide to how the National Policy Forum works and how members can get involved.
New Powers for Labour Women’s Conference
The 2017 Labour Party Women’s Conference will play a formal role in the policy-making process for the first time in decades. The NEC is working through the details of how this will work. An interim Women’s Conference Arrangements Committee was approved. Members of this committee are:
- Ann Black, NEC Equalities Vice-Chair Women and NEC CLP representative
- Cath Speight and Diana Holland, NEC Trade Union Representatives
- Alice Perry, NEC Local Government Representative
- Jasmin Beckett, NEC Youth Representative
- Shabana Mahmood, NEC Rep and NPF Vice Chair