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
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
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 →
The Labour Party NEC held its annual away day to discuss future strategy, aims and objectives.
Labour Party Membership
Labour Party membership is now at over 370,000. There has been a huge increase in membership since May’s elections. The new members are more gender balanced and younger than the party’s existing membership base. New members have been surveyed about their interests and reasons for joining, which includes wanting to contribute to policy making, meeting MPs and the Shadow Cabinet, wanting to make a positive difference nationally and locally, helping Labour win elections and meeting like-minded people. New member events have been taking place around the country, with thought being put into how we can better use new and existing members’ different skills and talents, and how we can better engage and support members. Labour wants communication with members to be two-way and are looking at ways to use social media and new technology to facilitate discussions. The success of sourcing questions for PMQs from members was noted. The NEC discussed some of the challenges the dramatic increase in membership has brought, including the additional resources needed to support Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and our volunteer CLP Officers. More training and support will be made available to CLPs and members.
A key priority for the party is ensuring Labour’s policy making process is as inclusive as possible. We also discussed how improving digital and online engagement could allow members to engage more in meaningful policy discussions. Current, short-term policy priorities for the Leader’s Office and Shadow Cabinet are changes to tax credits, the British steel industry, responding to the Comprehensive Spending Review and a review of strategic defence and security. A number of policy reviews were announced at Labour Party Conference in September, including defence and security, the economy, housing and home ownership, mental health and access to arts. Labour is at the very early stages of long-term policy development for our 2020 manifesto. Policies for Labour’s 2020 manifesto should be forward looking and relevant to Britain as it will be in 2020 and beyond.
The Labour Party is now debt free (excluding mortgages). This in itself is fantastic news. Unfortunately if the Trade Union Bill passes this will have very serious financial implications for the Labour Party. The Trade Union Bill is totally disgraceful for many, many reasons, including the way it seeks to silence and bankrupt the government’s political opponents. The NEC discussed future fundraising strategies and recognised the excellent work of the party’s digital team in raising millions of pounds from online, micro-donations. The surge in membership also helps the Labour Party’s finances. I highlighted the amount of money Labour Councillors contribute to the party and the importance of communicating to Councillors how this money is spent and the transformative, difference it makes. Continue reading →
This week Vince Cable warned of “inequalities caused by the housing crisis”, fueled by government policies like Help to Buy and Right to Buy. Yes that’s right, fueled by government policies. His government’s policies. The policies of the government which he is a part of.
If attacking the inequality caused by your own government seems a bit ridiculous (as the Lib Dem’s own former press spokesman recently said “if the Lib Dem’s didn’t exist, who would invent them?”) , talking about ways to tackle the UK’s housing crisis makes perfect sense. For many voters housing is a key issue for next year’s general election.
Labour’s National Policy Forum in Milton Keynes agreed some really strong policies on housing. This included a commitment to building at least 200,000 homes a year, a commitment to replace each council house sold under Right to Buy by with a new council house in the same local area, removing Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap for councils, stopping retaliatory evictions and reinforcing tenants’ rights in the private rented sector. Continue reading →
London CLP Reps Fiona Twycross, Nicky Gavron, Alice Perry and Alon Or bach at the NPF
“What’s the point of the National Policy Forum?” A question I have been asked many times since I was elected to represent party members in my region on Labour’s National Policy Forum (NPF).
“Why would you want to join the National Powerless Forum anyway? It’s a waste of time” I was told.
Returning home from this weekend’s NPF meeting in Milton Keynes, it did not feel like a waste of time, and as a constituency party representative, I did not feel powerless. Together, the representatives of party members from around the country made our voices heard and secured commitments for progressive policies that will help win us the general election.
A list was put together of improvements delivered by the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) and regional representatives on the NPF. A snapshot of some of these includes:
Stronger Safer Communities
Replacing each council house sold under right to buy by with a new council house in the same local area.
Building at least 200,000 homes a year.
Removal of the cap on Housing Revenue Account for councils to allow more building.
Increased support for carers and the role of local authorities.
Enhanced powers for democratic Health and Wellbeing Boards.
Properly resourced mental health care for children.
More effective regulation of care providers.
Britain’s Global Role
Protect public services from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and reform of investor-state dispute settlement.
Increased support for human rights (including women’s rights and LGBT rights).
Cross-departmental working in international development.
Creation of an Armed Forces credit union.
Education and Children
Improved citizenship education.
Duty to provide a youth service.
Commitments around Sure Start and free school meals.
All these policies were put forward by party members around the country, taken up by the constituency and regional reps and are now in the policy documents heading for the manifesto. Continue reading →
I co-signed the following letter published in today’s Guardian:
Many people would prioritise spending on health or education, on infrastructure, job creation or supporting the vulnerable rather than on replacing Britain’s Tridentnuclear weapons. Others would argue that spending over £100bn on a cold war weapons system – rather than maintaining our troops or combating cyber warfare – is detrimental to the national interest. Many of us see that there is no strategic, economic or moral case for nuclear weapons, but others who think otherwise. It remains a controversial debate (Cheers in the sun as Obama promises nuclear cuts, 20 June). Continue reading →