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
The Labour Party General Election Manifesto is agreed at a special meeting, known as the Clause Five Meeting. This meeting is attended by representatives from across the Labour movement including the trade unions, local government, Scotland, Wales, Parliament, the European Parliament, the socialist societies and ordinary members.
The Clause Five meeting to agree the 2017 General Election Manifesto took place on 11 May. There was intense media interest in the event, particularly as earlier drafts of the manifesto appeared to have been leaked to various news outlets. While this was certainly unusual, particularly as most of the Clause Five meeting attendees were not shown the Manifesto before 10am on the day of the meeting, it did mean that there was widespread discussion and debate about the content, and numerous polls have shown that Labour policy is very popular with the general public.
I arrived just after 10am so I would have as much time as possible to read the Manifesto. Ideally it would have been good to have more than two hours to read and reflect on the document, especially as it is easy to get distracted. (I hadn’t seen Ann Black for a few weeks and it was tempting to just drink tea and chat as things have been fairly eventful lately.) Continue reading
Labour’s NEC met on 21 March. Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Watson and the NEC agreed that party unity and the upcoming elections are the key priorities for all of us. The NEC endorsed Jeremy and Tom’s joint statement on party unity. We are committed to moving forward together, focusing on addressing the issues that matter most to the public and achieving the best possible results for Labour in May’s elections.
Jeremy Corbyn reported on Labour’s reaction to the budget and his meeting with the Federation of small businesses in Torquay. He also spoke about Brexit and the triggering of article 50, the importance of retaining tariff free access and membership of the customs union and preparations for forthcoming elections. Jeremy thanked the many, many members from across the party who campaigned in Copeland and Stoke Central. There followed a discussion on a number of topics including reaction to the Stoke and Copeland by-election results, the role of social media in campaigning, taking on UKIP, the Conservatives and SNP, possible visits to South Asia and/or the Caribbean, Brexit and the role that local government and devolved governments in Scotland and Wales should play in the negotiations, as well as Labour’s own vision for the UK outside the EU.
Labour’s reaction to a second Independence Referendum in Scotland
Jeremy Corbyn was clear that Labour does not support a second independence referendum in Scotland and is committed to defending the union and Scotland’s important place within the UK. Jeremy said it was clear there is no credible case for a second independence referendum and that the case for Scottish independence is not economically credible, particularly given the fall in oil prices. Jeremy reminded the NEC that the SNP “talk left in Westminster” but their own record in government does not match their rhetoric.
Deputy Leader’s Report
Tom Watson gave an update on the Scottish Labour Conference and the local government conference. He talked about the important role Councillors play demonstrating the positive difference voting Labour makes. Tom also talked about the Future of Work Commission. Tom is working with Usdaw to survey their members about the impact of automation and wearable technology in their workplaces. Tom is meeting with Matthew Taylor to discuss his review into the Gig economy. Both Jeremy and Tom look forward to campaigning together across the country in the run-up to important local government elections in May. 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
Labour NEC Equalities, Disputes and Organisational Committee meetings took place on Tuesday 17th January. The NEC discussed the following:
Labour Party Conference in September agreed to give policy-making powers to Women’s Conference. Members and affiliates will be able to send delegates to Women’s Conference to discuss and debate policy. Women’s Conference will still be open to everyone interested in attending with the hope that it will retain its lively, informal and welcoming atmosphere. In 2017 Women’s Conference will take place immediately before the national conference in September. The NEC Women’s Conference Working Group, chaired by Ann Black, is considering whether Women’s Conference should be moved to the Spring in future years to be a standalone conference. We will be consulting members to see which option will be preferable.
Increasing Women’s representation in politics
Jess Philips presented the Women and Equalities Committee report on Women in the House of Commons after the 2020 report to the NEC Equalities Committee. This cross-party report calls on all political parties to committee to having at least 45% of female candidates for Parliament and local government elections by 2030. The Equalities Committee noted the recent NEC commitment to expand the use of All Women Shortlists in local government selections and consider ways to make parliament and local government more family friendly. The Jo Cox Foundation will support some of this important work. The NEC also discussed the importance of maintaining the proportion of female and BAME MPs following possible Boundary changes.
Improving political representation of disabled people
The NEC Equalities Committee discussed the ongoing work to improve political representation of disabled people at all levels. A consultation on LGBT and disabled issues has been circulated to CLP Secretaries and relevant CLP officers. Please do get in touch if with staff you have any questions about this or want to make a submission.
Report from the Women’s PLP and Shadow Equalities team
Jess Philips talked about the forthcoming Women’s PLP campaigns, which will include campaigns around childcare, maternity and paternity rights, women in the economy, the impact of Brexit and austerity of women and protecting our rights at work. Continue reading
Jeremy Corbyn reported on recent activities and preparations for 2017, including a possible General Election. Jeremy said he had enjoyed the 2016 Labour Leadership campaign and had enjoyed meeting members around the country and debating with Owen Smith. He said that it is now time to move on, unite, stop looking inwards and focus outwards on the challenges and opportunities that Labour and the country face. He identified the economy, Brexit and 2017 elections as the three biggest issues for Labour to focus our energy on. Jeremy talked about his recent speech to the CBI and the need for the UK to invest in infrastructure, training and house building. Jeremy Corbyn repeated that Labour will accept the result of the EU Referendum and will work to secure worker’s rights, consumer rights and environmental protections. He talked about forthcoming campaign days and the tour of rural communities he is planning with Rachael Maskell. Jeremy is keen for Labour to reach out to rural Britain and respond to the concerns of voters living in these communities. Jeremy talked about the importance of the 2017 local elections, praising Labour Councillors and condemning the unfair Tory cuts to Council budgets.
General Secretary’s Report
Iain McNicol reported on past activity and plans for the future. In the past year Labour has contested and campaigned in parliamentary by-elections, Mayoral elections in Bristol, London, Hackney, Salford and Liverpool, local government elections and the EU referendum. Other activities have included the Leadership election, Conference, the Party Reform working groups and National Policy Forum meetings. Labour has launched a number of bursaries and training programmes to encourage candidates from underrepresented Groups to stand for election. Activities for the year ahead include preparing for elections, ensuring the Party remains financially stable, improving campaigning capacity, expanding the use of community organising, responding to the Parliamentary Boundary Review, developing policy and engaging members. The NEC joined Iain in praising and thanking staff for their continued hard work and dedication.
National Policy Forum and Policy Making
The National Policy Forum met in Loughborough for a policy conference the weekend before the NEC Awayday. The meeting was extremely positive and focused on Brexit and the work of the eight policy commissions Continue reading
What is the 2018 boundary review and why is it happening?
The Conservative Government voted to decrease the number of MPs in parliament from 650 to 600. New laws require “every new constituency (except four specified island constituencies) must have roughly the same number of electors: no fewer than 71,031 and no more than 78,507.”
In order to deliver this, there are independent reviews of parliamentary constituencies. These reviews are being conducted by each home nation’s boundary commission. Consultations have opened into the shape of the the new boundaries. This is the beginning of a long process, with various reviews publishing their final reports in 2018, and will then be subject to a parliamentary vote.
Is the Boundary Review unfair?
Reducing the number of MPs to 600 was a Tory manifesto commitment. It has also been some time since a review of parliamentary boundaries was completed. However,there are some real issues with the current review, which is based on the number of registered voters rather than the number of eligible voters who live in each area. This disproportionately effects traditional Labour areas. Many people left off the electoral register are on lower incomes, young or living in the private rented sector. The Boundary Commission is also being forced to use an older version of the electoral register, which does not include almost two million people who registered to vote in June’s EU referendum. It is also arguably undemocratic to reduce the number of elected MPs in the House of Commons while continuing to increase unelected peers in the House of Lords.
How is the Labour Party responding to the changes?
In terms of responding to the current consultation, in some areas we will support the commissions’ recommendations, in other places we will be submit alternative plans. Other political parties will make their own submissions. Labour is coordinating its response via the various regional parties and the NEC boundary review steering group, of which I am a member. Sitting MPs and CLP representatives will be consulted as part of the process for agreeing a final position to be signed off by the NEC. Continue reading