Jeremy Corbyn was unable to attend the May NEC meeting as he was in Manchester for the events to commemorate the tragic Manchester Arena bombing. The NEC observed a minutes silence for the victims of the attack and sent our solidarity to the people of Manchester.
Deputy Leader’s Report
Tom Watson gave the Deputy Leader’s Report. He described May’s council elections as his recent top priority. Tom, Jeremy and members of the shadow cabinet have been campaigning around the country. Tom praised the positive spirit of unity showed by activists and councillors campaigning in the elections. New and longstanding members worked together for a Labour victory in the local elections and the next general election (whenever that will take place). Tom also praised the role trade unions played in mobilising voters, particularly in London.
Tom touched on recent events in parliament, including the betrayal of victims of phone hacking and data theft, plus the victory for the campaign against fixed-odds betting terminals. Tom Watson praised Diane Abbott’s response to the Windrush scandal. He talked about recent visits to Brussels to discuss Brexit, including its impact on food security and the UK’s creative industries.
Tom then took questions on a range of topics including antisemitism, parliamentary discipline, Brexit, immigration, the proposed Sainsbury’s-Asda merger, the parliamentary enquiry into sexual harassment, the Lewisham by-election, increasing diversity in national and local government, the local elections, engaging young members and the UCU pension’s dispute.
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 →
The next General Election could be months away. It could be in May 2022. With this in mind, Labour’s National Policy Forum is working to build on the popular 2017 Manifesto and help prepare for a possible incoming Labour government.
The NPF Policy Commissions are meeting this month to finalise the consultation documents that will be sent to members for discussion and debate. A full NPF meeting will take place on 17 and 18 February, where the various representatives will meet to consider policies for a future Labour government. The consultation topics include:
TOWARDS A NATIONAL EDUCATION SERVICE (Early Years, Education & Skills Policy Commission Co-Chaired by Angela Rayner and Christine Shawcroft)
A FAIR DEAL AT WORK: The future of work (Economy, Business & Trade Commission Co-Chaired by John McDonnell and Jennie Formby)
LEADING RICHER LIVES: A Greener Britain (Environment, Energy and Culture Commission Co-Chaired by Sue Hayman and Margaret Beckett)
HEALTHCARE FOR ALL: Tackling health inequalities (Health & Social Care Commission Co-Chaired by Jonathan Ashworth and Keith Birch)
LEADING RICHER LIVES: Giving people the power to shape their local communities (Housing, Local Government & Transport Commission Co-Chaired by Andrew Gwynne and Jim Kennedy)
A GLOBAL BRITAIN: Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (International Policy Commission Co-Chaired by Emily Thornberry and Cath Speight)
SAFER COMMUNITIES: Protecting our communities and turning lives around (Justice and Home Affairs Commission Co-Chaired by Diane Abbott and Alice Perry)
EQUALITY FOR ALL: Addressing in-work poverty and working age inequalities (Work, Pensions and Equality Co-Chaired by Debbie Abrahams and Diana Holland)
Jeremy Corbyn updated the NEC on his work in parliament, praising the PLP for working together to defeat the government on NHS pay and student fees. He talked about Brexit and the importance of transitional arrangements and maintaining strong relationships with European countries when we leave the EU. Jeremy condemned the terrible abuse female like Luciana Berger and Diane Abbott MPs have received. Jeremy made it clear this abuse has no place in public life.
Jeremy has had a very busy summer, visiting 50 marginal seats across the country, laying the foundations for a future electoral victory. Jeremy talked about a rally on the beach in Southport attended by 5,000 people. Labour’s vote has quadrupled in Southport in the last seven years. Jeremy said this was a good example of why Labour rejects so-called progressive alliances, and instead will fight to win every seat. Jeremy has enjoyed meeting members, speaking with the public and holding Q&As. Jeremy told the NEC that he didn’t want to talk at people, he wanted to really listen to their concerns.
Jeremy then took questions on a range of issues including human rights in Myanmar and Yemen, climate change Continue reading →