Labour’s national executive committee met via Zoom today. The NEC thanked outgoing general secretary Jennie Formby for her service.
Keir Starmer talked about his work holding the government to account during the Covid-19 pandemic. He talked about Labour’s work challenging the government on a range of key issues, including selective use of statistics, the furlough and self-employment scheme and lack of personal protective equipment for key workers. Keir talked about 40% of Covid deaths being in care homes, where the crisis has been absolutely shocking. Keir talked about how Labour is pressing the government hard on safety in the work place, transport and schools. Labour is doing a wide consultation with trade union and local government to ensure the experiences of the pandemic across the UK are reflected and raised.
Keir has been holding virtual meetings around the country with local communities. These have included a number of open meetings with local people, including current and former Labour voters, to listen and rebuild trust. The first meetings took place in Bury and Tees valley.
The NEC then asked questions on a range of issues, including: uniting party, Kashmir, the urgent need for financial support for local government, Covid-19, deaths in care homes, support for renters, reopening schools, surveillance testing and contact tracing, the impact of the pandemic on mental health, party discipline, safety of bus workers and other transport workers, the impact of Covid on BAME communities, funding for TFL, the economy, the importance of resisting future austerity and digital inclusion.
An emergency meeting of Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) was held on April 23rd to agree the terms of reference into an investigation about a leaked internal Labour Party report, which contained serious allegations about behaviour and culture.
The meeting took place via Zoom. The NEC welcomed eight new members, including a new leader and deputy leader, two new local party reps, a new BAME rep and three new frontbench appointments. The NEC congratulated Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner on their victories. It was a shame that their first meeting took place in such circumstances.
Jennie Formby gave a brief report. It was agreed that the meeting would not discuss the report itself, and instead focus on agreeing the terms of reference for the external, independent investigation.
As well as electing a new Labour leader and deputy leader, members have elected two new constituency reps to the national executive committee. BAME members and trade unionists also elected a new BAME rep to the NEC.
Labour’s NEC is made up of representatives from different stakeholder groups – including members, trade unions, the shadow cabinet, backbench MPs, local government, socialist societies, Scotland and Wales, as well as the leader, deputy leader and treasurer of the Labour Party. The NEC is the governing body of the Labour Party. So, what does it do?
NEC members hold an important role in holding the general secretary and party leadership to account. This can lead to uncomfortable and difficult conversations in meetings that can be tense (and long!). Recently the mood on the NEC has been constructive and collaborative, with the scrutiny function remaining important. Typical areas of discussion include strategy, campaigning, messaging and resource allocation.
In his final report, Jeremy spoke about Covid-19 and how we are living through unprecedented times unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes. He spoke about the need for strong action to slow the spread of the virus and support the country, and about how the impact will be particularly felt by those with the least resources.
Jeremy has been in lengthy discussions with the Prime Minister. The government has seemed behind the curve in responding to the outbreak, which has also highlighted issues of poor quality housing, overcrowding and low-paid and insecure work. Jeremy also reflected on his time as leader of the Labour Party and the changes that have occurred during his leadership. National executive committee (NEC) members thank Jeremy, with some members paying emotional tributes to him and his leadership.
Reflecting on the General Election defeat
The 2019 General Election was a disaster. The result was devastating on many levels. Labour gained the lowest number of Parliamentary sears since 1945, losing many seats that had been Labour held for generations.
The Labour NEC began conversations about why Labour lost and where we go from here. In order to do this we need to be open and honest with ourselves and each other. We need to resist temptation to try to select facts that support our world view, ignoring other fact that inconveniently do not. It can be hard to do this in a highly politicised climate and particularly during a leadership election. Nevertheless, it was a good start to discussions. A special NEC meeting will be scheduled to allowed more detailed conversions and will include the new Leadership team.
NEC member contributions included questions and comments on strategy, seat targeting, resource allocation, candidate selection, messaging and communications, policy, the relationship between community organising and traditional door step canvassing, Brexit, leadership, the role of the media, demographic of members compared to demographic of voters, the future of the UK as a union, the echo chamber of social media and more. Continue reading