The Labour NEC met on 20 March. The main item of business was to elect a new General Secretary. There were also updates about the 2018 local elections and the usual reports and agenda items.
Thanking Iain McNicol
Jeremy Corbyn and the NEC sincerely thanked Iain McNicol for his work, friendship and service to the Labour Party. Everyone also thanked the outgoing members of staff. NEC members shared their warm memories of working together over the years. Jeremy made the point that we never really say goodbye to former members of staff as they remain important and active members of the Labour family and we will continue to work together for our shared values and goals. Iain reflected on his time as General Secretary, an eventful period that included two General Elections, two Referendums, two Labour Leadership elections and many important local elections. Key achievements included paying off all of Labour’s historic debt and the rapid growth in membership. Iain and the outgoing members of staff received a standing ovation from the NEC and the very best wishes for the future. 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
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
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