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.
The Labour NEC met that day after the General Election was announced to discuss candidate selection, campaign strategy, the manifesto and party finances.
Jeremy Corbyn and NEC Chair Glenis Willmott began the meeting with a positive message of hope and unity. The General Election is a chance for Labour to frame the debate on the kind of society people want to live in. The NEC noted that Labour policies are popular with the public and supported by people across the Labour movement. Jeremy said that he wanted everyone to be involved in the election, showcasing “team Labour” throughout the media. Jeremy also spoke about the importance of mobilising voters, particularly younger people who are traditionally less likely to vote and who could decide the election. The election is a chance for Labour to reach out to the whole country and demonstrate that we are listening to voters and addressing their concerns.
No progressive alliances or coalitions Continue reading
Looking back over the last five years, various occasions have reflected the kind of Prime Minister Cameron really is. Remember pastygate? Those country suppers with Rebeka Brooks? The time he left important Northern Ireland peace negotiations early for toattend a “rave” at Chequers with B-list celebrities for Sam Cam’s 40th birthday (made even more bizarre by the fact that she was actually 43)?
All you need to know about the kind of person Cameron is can be summed up by last week’s gaff when he claimed to “forget” which football team he supported. Rather than being honest and admitted he is not a football fan (as he has done in the past), Cameron has made an obvious and pathetic attempt to pretend he is into football. Forgetting his football team made him looked ridiculously inauthentic, foolish and lightweight.
It is interesting Cameron felt the need to pretend he liked football. I imagine he did this because football matters enormously to millions of people in Britain. Supporting a particular football club is an important part of our cultural identity. As much as some of us may sometimes like to forget which team we support, it would be like forgetting our own name.
In contrast, Labour gets football. For everyone who has yet got round to reading all 84 pages of the Labour manifesto, the section that covers important policies areas like crime and immigration includes Labour’s plans for football. Continue reading
Local Government NEC reps Alice Perry and Jim McMahon
The March NEC meeting covered a range of different areas including the General Election Campaign, local government, international politics and Europe, as well as reports from the Leader, Deputy Leader and General Secretary. Continue reading
Cllr Alice Perry and Islington Labour out campaigning
The election results for Labour’s National Executive Committee was as follows:
National Executive Committee – Division IV (Local Government)
McMAHON, Jim 1,894 Elected
PERRY, Alice 1,510 Elected 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.
- Stop retaliatory evictions and reinforce tenants’ rights in the private rented sector.
- An accessible and fair system of legal aid.
Health and Care
- 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
Scouts from Islington 31st in the Council Chamber
“If you want people to be interested in politics why do you make it so boring?” A question one Scout asked me when I took the wonderful 31st Islington Scout Troup on a tour of the Town Hall.
The Scouts, aged from 10 to 14, had lots of fun running around the Council Chamber, Members Room and Leaders Office (sorry Richard), taking it in turns to be Mayor and even paying a brief visit to an unsuspecting Communities Scrutiny Committee Meeting, which, as it happens, was discussing knife crime, gangs and youth violence.
The tour including a Q&A, where I explained what the Chief Whip does (hint, they don’t get to hit naughty Councillors with sticks), I was particularly interested in some of the Scouts’ questions. Questions like “why is it that most people don’t want to vote?”, “how come all politicians seem the same?”, and “how did you get involved in politics? It sounds well boring.” Continue reading