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.
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.
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 →
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 →