planet necblogs

June 03, 2022

Mish Rahman's Blog

NEC Report – MAy 2022

Today’s NEC meeting. Key points – A lot of frustration from NEC members regarding the delay of the Forde report. I asked the GS for clarification whether any party officials had recieved the report – GS clarified that nobody had

New tranche of 21 parliamentary selections agreed and rubber stamped by NEC today which have already been widely reported here

Exclusive: Labour to agree 21 seats allowed to select Labour MP candidates – LabourList

Election results were discussed – both the positives such as increase in votes in some areas such as the West Midlands as well as historic victories such as Barnet, Westminister, Wandsworth and Worthing while negatives such as Tower Hamlets, Harrow, Croydon and Oldham

Assurances were given that the negative results and reasons for those results will be analysed and improved upon while everyone also agreed that we need to improve in all areas for more successful results and not be complacent

I made the point that with another set of local elections due in 10 months time – it’s vital selections are urgent and FAIRLY COMPLETED – no stitch ups leading to more division referencing successes in Wandsworth, Westminister, and Worthing as examples of the broad church working together

A new initiative called a Campaign Improvement Board to improve ‘underperforming’ Labour groups was discussed and agreed. These would be worked on with a NEC Local Government Panel which consists of the Chair of Org Sub committee and both NEC Cllr reps

I requested a reasonable amendment to include a CLP rep and a TU rep onto this board as this board may have to make interventions with LCF/LGC’s and CLP’s – this amendment was rejected but was told the makeup of the board will be revisited in Novembers NEC Away Day

It is frustrating that the full NEC hasnt recieved a financial or membership update paper for a significant period of time. GS informed us that there had been 10k new members in 2022 and current membership figures are approx 420k with 30k in arrears.

I raised concerns about skeleton staff in regional offices which impacts CLP support – this was acknowledged and improvements to staff numbers regionally were promised – finances also cited as requiring improvement (hence the need for full NEC to see a financial report)

Finally NEC members requested an update on dates for a Disabled Members Conference, Black Asian Minority Ethnic Conference and a Youth Conference – we were told that these will happen soon but nothing concrete yet in terms of dates.

by Admin at June 03, 2022 07:11 AM

NEC Report – january 2022

At today’s NEC meeting we were provided the current membership figures which we were told stand at 434,000 This includes members in arrears as well – the party cannot confirm how many are in arrears as an effect of the data breach until the end of this month.

Members will have to wait till February at the earliest for the Forde Report. NEC members expressed the understandable frustations of members. Many rank and file members have asked me how much the Forde report will cost

The GS expressed his “professional embarrassment” about the delay and confirmed the party wont pay the full amount till the report is published. The decisions for costs are delegated to the Business Board of the NEC

Members have speculated to me that the report will cost in excess of £500,000. I cannot confirm this at this stage – we will know when the report is provided and after full payment is made.

The bulk business of the meeting was spent discussing the Westminister Parliamentary selection procedures ahead of the next GE There was consensus gained on this paper through amendments and discussion both at the meeting and through the TULO prior to the meeting.

There was a campaign update, with more specific campaign planning for local elections to be discussed at the forthcoming March NEC meeting. Members spoke of how the party cannot keep relyng on the Tories to keep tripping up as they are likely to change leadership

We discussed the motion to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn.

We discussed a motion to stop the retrospective application due to proscriptions. We lost the vote: 22-15

by Admin at June 03, 2022 07:10 AM

NEC Report – POST CONFERENCE – SEPTEMBER 2021

On the eve of Conference, the Labour Party declared war with itself. The dirty move by Starmer to bring forward a proposal to change who elects the leader of the Labour Party showed himself to be a leadership who was fully focused on internal battles,

Our priority at Conference was to win on policy AND defend democracy.

And that’s what we did – won on policy and we did our very best to defend democracy.

Look at what we have achieved together at this years labour Conference – A Socialist Green New Deal – a motion the right wing blocked from coming to conference don’t forget which the left overturned at CAC – a motion which includes universal basic services, including a national care service and national nature service as well as public ownership of energy, public ownership of railways, free local bus networks, repealing all anti-trade union law –

Then

a £15 minimum wage, the right to food, the Housing motion to end right to buy, end no fault evictions – councils to deliver 150,000 social rent homes each year, including 100,000 council homes, the Palestine motion which included that Israel is practising the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN, we opposed AUKUS – a week after Starmer supported it!

We then defeated the NEC’s rule changes bringing snap election and by election selections into the hands of CLPs and not be allowed to be imposed by the NEC.

This defeat of the leadership was a major victory for Party democracy, as it puts control back in the hands of Party members and improves the chances of there being socialist candidates if there is a snap election or by election called in the next two years.

We, the left,  won all of this with a majority in the CLP section and the help of the left trade unions on the conference floor and then we defeated Starmers electoral college because thousands of members mobilised and made their voices heard with the trade unions.

We then defeated Starmers 25% threshold on the NEC only for Starmer to sneak in a 20% threshold – This was hardly the victory he anticipated and he has left the Party now more polarised than ever, while Labour’s and his poll ratings continue to decline rapidly.

We do not expect Starmer to willingly include these policies in the next Labour manifesto, even if they now are official Party policy. Our role has to be to use these policies to politically educate and organise and to get out into the country to build support for socialist ideas, and build pressure for their inclusion in any programme for government. This will require all our efforts, but after this year’s Labour Conference we are now building from a strong foundation.

We need to continue to build on our transformative agenda – an agenda that will take people off waiting lists and into council houses, an agenda that would have taxed the rich companies their fair share of taxes, an agenda that would have had those with more money give back more in proportion via a wealth tax

It is now clear that Keir Starmer’s and his promises of unity, electability and authority are poppycock. It is now clear his ten pledges were never intended to be put into action, they were to deceive the membership into voting for him – This conference has shown that The future success of our party requires a fundamental change of direction – and still today – a majority of members agree. 

If Unison who hold 9.8% of the conference floor voted with us, as they were mandated to in some of the votes by their NEC, then we would have defeated all of starmers rule changes.

That is a strong cause for hope for the left.

by Admin at June 03, 2022 07:09 AM

NEC Report – JULY 2021

Yesterday’s NEC meeting turned out to be a 9 and a half hour epic meeting despite NEC members raising and having accessibility needs and caring concerns.

As for the meeting itself, as the Forde report is still nowhere to be seen. The NEC requested the GS to invite Forde to the next NEC or to a Special meeting, to provide a summary before publication.

We approved a Code of Conduct on Islamophobia, a positive step, but will we see it seriously implemented and will it apply to everyone in the Party?

In the past we have seen clear evidence of MPs engaging in incitement against Muslims, and just recently we have seen Islamophobic briefings after the Batley and Spen by-election. A Code of Conduct is meaningless if there is no political will to apply it properly.

I voted against the proscribing and auto expulsion (see the statements below which explain my reasons why):

We were provided with an update on the progress and plans following the Caller Report into Liverpool. Here are the recommendations 👇🏾

https://t.co/eqkDx4NUlK

I am deeply concerned by the decision of the national party to control the selections process in Liverpool and do not see how this will address the issue of corruption at all. Once again the default response is the top-down one.

The financial situation of the Labour Party is in an unhealthy situation compared to a healthy peak in 2018.

Membership is down by approximately 120,000 members compared to a peak of 550,000 in January 2020 to approx 430,000 now.

This suggests sadly that the chickens are indeed coming home to roost on the leadership’s approach of alienating members and core voters, and poses major questions of the long-term viability of the Party.

by Admin at June 03, 2022 07:08 AM

NEC Report – MAY 2021

NEC MEETING UPDATE – MAY 2021

Yesterday, we had a full bi-monthly meeting of the Labour NEC.

Yesterdays meeting was definitely more positive in my opinion than previous meetings in terms of getting business completed and working more collegiately. A range of emotions so in this thread, I have included emojis to display those emotions

I asked Keir Starmer about his thoughts on replicating the success of the Matt Brown in Preston and Paul Dennett in Salford – whether he would replicate Community Wealth Building models such as the Preston Model in other councils.

Keir Starmer gave a strong endorsement of those models and my recent discussions with Anneliese Dodds, the new Party Chair and reviewing Policy, prior to the meeting, was also positive about this. Look forward to seeing this implemented.

I also asked Keir when the Community Organising Unit was coming back as they were so commended in the Labour Together report and also I asked whether he had ‘forgotten or ditched’ his 10 pledges. Unfortunately I did not get an answer to those questions

I moved an amendment to a paper on Mayoral Selections Processes to ensure this was reduced to 1/3rd of party branches / affiliated branches, in line with PLP selections introduced by the 2018 Democracy Review. This amendment fell. A step back for party democracy imo. PLP trigger ballots set at 1/3rd, why should this be different?

I also moved an amendment to ensure that candidates are not removed just by the General Secretary and Regional Directors but comes back to the NEC Organisational Committee as well. This amendment was voted on and ended in a 15-15 tie but then was defeated 16-14 on a recount. This was very close!

The party has 489k members and has lost approx 23k members since February including 7k of which are in their 20s. This is not a good sign. The party needs to do more to retain our members. How about restoring the whip to Jeremy Corbyn? After 4 NEC members asked this on 4 seperate occasions we were told this is a matter between the Chief Whip and Jeremy. So we now know who to ask!

Still no news on the Forde Report, there will be a Future Candidates Programme starting in the summer for future candidates.

by Admin at June 03, 2022 07:07 AM

May 30, 2022

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report – 24 May 2022

This was another relatively short NEC meeting, at six hours, as the party moves on from the infighting of recent years to preparations for the General Election.

 

The meeting opened Angela Rayner’s report as Deputy Leader. She talked about the local election results and then about the misogynistic and classist attack she had been subjected to by the media, prompted by the Tories, and thanked Keir, the NEC and party for supporting her. The meat of her report was then on policy on employment and workplace issues. The Tories had dropped the Employment Bill from the Queen’s Speech. Labour was promoting a New Deal for Working People, and improvements to procurement law that would be helpful to good businesses that invest in their staff and the country. She praised the GMB getting a good agreement for Deliveroo drivers. Labour would ban zero hours contracts. Sadly 230,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost. Angela had been on the picket line with Oldham bus drivers and attended the TULO (Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation) political weekend. She had been working with Labour Women’s Network and Stella Creasy to support women candidates. She highlighted the TUC We Demand Better march and rally due on 18 June. Labour had won the Commons vote on forcing the release of security advice about Lord Lebedev given to the PM. She was pursuing the scandals relating to dodgy PPE contracts, taxpayer funded focus groups for the Chancellor, and Baroness Mone. She believed that whilst law-breaking by the PM over party gate was not as central an issue the cost of living, it was still important to expose it as he has demeaned his office.

 

David Evans then reported as General Secretary. He described progress in the local elections as firm and significant. The staffing of the party was at its leanest but with fewer staff than in May 2020 we increased our vote share by 6% and got our biggest lead over the Tories for a decade. There were some flies in the ointment where we went backwards in individual councils. It was disgraceful the way Arooj Shah, who lost her seat as Oldham Leader, had been treated, and we had a duty of care to candidates. He said there was no complacency, and we can and must do everything better. We must change the party further and faster and challenge bad internal cultures and become inclusive and outward facing everywhere. Our digital campaigning was much improved. We had successfully framed the election as being about cost of living. The number of canvassing contacts made had broken records. We now need to put meat back on the bone of the staffing, that needs money. Resources must be focused on the battleground General Election seats and the key voters in them. We have raised more this year already than in 2021 but that is still not enough. Staffing was moving to a Task Force based structure for the General Election. A revised voter conversation script would deliver better information. Every marginal seat will have a plan of action tailored to it. Candidate selections have started. There have been 500 applications for the 21 trainee organiser roles. The Wakefield byelection campaign is underway and Simon Lightwood has been selected as candidate. We must take due diligence about candidates very seriously and that was done in Wakefield. We also have an excellent candidate in Tiverton & Honiton, Liz Pole. The independent complaints process is now up and running. Of the first c30 cases heard by NEC panels reviewed independently only one has been remitted back to a fresh panel. Membership is still declining but at a gentler rate than projected. With 10,000 new members this year, membership is now 420,000, of which 30,000 are in arrears. The new membership system for CLPs and branches to use will be in place by the end of the summer at the latest. Martin Forde QC has written a new letter saying his report will be completed shortly as it is being checked legally and for factual accuracy. Conference will run from Sunday to Wednesday, i.e. will not sit on the Saturday.

 

Answering questions on Forde, including a rather rude call for David to resign from one of the Momentum members, David said he was not in post when the Forde inquiry was set up, did not set the terms of reference and was confident he was discharging his duties correctly. He reminded Momentum they had had the chance to vote him out of office at Conference 2021 and had lost the vote. He will be the person who receives the report from Forde, he hasn’t received it yet. It will be a public document.

 

In other answers he said that Labour Muslim Network has applied to be an affiliated socialist society and this is being reviewed as per all applications. 58 trigger ballots for reselecting sitting MPs have been completed and 35 are underway. The NEC majority in the composition of byelection selection panels was raised and he reminded the NEC that one of our previous meetings had agreed the supplementary guidance on this as the rulebook contradicted itself since the 2021 rule change.

 

Keir Starmer then gave his leader’s report. It had been a good set of local election results. He cited wins in Cumberland (which includes the parliamentary marginals of Carlisle, Copeland and Workington), Rossendale, Southampton, Worthing, Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster, all significant pointers for General Election marginals. Barnet and Bury have large Jewish communities and could not have been won if we had not tackled antisemitism. There had been progress in Wales and in Scotland we moved into second place and got our best result for ten years. He thanked Shabana Mahmood, Conor McGinn and Morgan McSweeney for their leadership of the campaign. The next two years will involve a lot more hard work and hard decisions. We must win the Wakefield byelection. The Tories were out of touch and had no response to the cost-of-living crisis. He predicted they would U-turn on the Windfall Tax Labour had called for 132 days previously. People are really suffering but all the Tories do is stoke culture wars. They will try to focus on this and not the economy in the General Election. There was no content to the Queen’s Speech, even though it is supposed to be a two-year programme. We need to pull together and it was heartening that ASLEF and FBU conferences had voted to continue affiliation to Labour. We need good local campaigns to make national ones work across the country, hence the proposal for Campaign Improvement Boards. There are 11 months to a May 2023 election or 95 weeks to a May 2024 one.

 

Morgan McSweeney, Elections Director, reported in detail on the local elections. We won, with growth in every type of voter and every part of the country. The results would see us be the largest party in a General Election, but not yet reach 326 seats. It was the best Labour vote share lead for ten years. We gained a net 108 councillors and the Tories did a lot worse than expected. Our 12 council gains were in every part of the country. Labour vote share was up most in the North and the West Midlands, but the North West and Yorkshire had not performed so well. Our vote grew fastest in areas that had voted Leave in 2016. Where these elections mapped directly to parliamentary constituencies, there would have been 44 clear constituency gains. Labour’s projected national vote share of 35% would see us gain 88 MPs, whilst the Tories on 30% would lose 112. There were good signs of organisational health. 2.4 million canvassing contacts had been made between 1 January and Polling Day. This beats all the non-General Election years since 2010. We had fielded the most candidates of any party for the first time in six years (5,304 versus 5,273 Tories and 3,623 Lib Dems). We had stuck to the issue of the cost of living and not got dragged into Tory culture wars. This had all happened because the NEC had changed how the party works. The Tories can’t hold together their majority, forged around culture wars, because of the economy. Annual Conference is the next big set piece event and needs to be a platform to show the public what a Labour government would look like. In some areas the activity rates were low or local parties lack campaign skills. This must be addressed. There are fewer and fewer solid voters for either main party, and far more churn between elections, so we have to research what motivates voters.

 

Shabana Mahmood, Campaign Chair, added that there had been significant progress among Labour Leave voters and people we lost for the first time in 2019, but slower progress in winning over Remain-voting Tories, some of whom were moving to the Greens.

 

In the Q&A I warned about the Tories using government funding given to Labour councils for radical traffic reduction measures, such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, as a tool to create another culture war where they pit different elements of Labour’s support base against each other, namely our environmentalist middle class supporters against parts of our core vote who are reliant on their cars for essential journeys, and we lose votes at both ends of our coalition, to the Greens and the Tories.

 

We agreed that parliamentary selections in the following seats should begin as

soon as practicable: Bassetlaw, Birmingham Northfield, Bishop Auckland, Chingford & Woodford Green, Cities of London & Westminster, Dover, Erewash, Exeter, Hartlepool, Hastings & Rye, Hendon, Ipswich, Norwich North, Penistone & Stocksbridge, Peterborough, Plymouth Moor View, Shipley, South Swindon, Southampton Itchen, Stoke-on-Trent Central, and Watford. A review of procedures will be undertaken once selections in the earlier, first tranche of 16 seats have concluded, likely at a July meeting of the NEC. I urged a focus on speeding up the selections and said I hoped NEC colleagues would be relaxed about further tranches being signed off at NEC Officers’ meetings or Organisation Committee rather than waiting two months for a full NEC meeting. The aim remains to get all the marginal seats selected by the end of the year unless they would be massively impacted by boundary changes.

 

We agreed a proposal to create Campaign Improvement Boards which can intervene where there are dysfunctional Labour Groups or councils. I argued in favour of this, citing the success of NEC and LGA and government intervention in Hackney in the 1990s and 2000s in turning the worst local authority in the country into a very good one. The paper was passed by 20 votes to 8 with 2 abstentions.

 

We heard an NPF (National Policy Forum) update from Adam Terry, Head of Policy. There was a discussion about whether the final stage NPF meeting should be in Q4 of 2022 or summer 2023. Colleagues from the unions wanted to defer this decision until the July NEC meeting but that was defeated by 12 votes to 10 and it was agreed unanimously to hold the final stage meeting in summer 2023.

 

The meeting concluded with a very wide-ranging and impressive update on all the different strands of our equalities work by Vidhya Alakeson, the party’s new Director of External Relations, who stressed that “Equalities sits at the heart of what the Labour Party is about. It defines who we are as a Party and will define who we are as a future government.” She outlined work around creating a more diverse party; engaging equalities stakeholders; and policymaking to support equalities.

 

Since the previous NEC meeting on 29th March, I have also participated in the following other meetings. It is not my intention usually to report in detail on sub-committee meetings because when I was on the NEC before we were under instruction that reports should only be on full meetings not committees, and in the case of disciplinary panels the proceedings are confidential:

 

Boundary Review Working Group

 

4 Disputes Panels

 

NEC-led local government selection panels in Newham

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at May 30, 2022 07:26 AM

May 28, 2022

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Gemma Bolton’s NEC Report – 24.05.2022

See below for a report from Labour’s NEC held Tuesday 24th May 2022 by Gemma Bolton.

 


Leader’s Report

Keir Starmer reported to the NEC on his work as leader of the Labour Party, including Labour’s campaign for a Windfall Tax on the excess profits of energy companies; the results of the local elections; the forthcoming by-elections; and some of the upcoming items on the NEC meeting’s agenda. 

Starmer was asked a range of questions by NEC members. In light of what I thought was a positive campaign for a Windfall Tax, I asked Keir Starmer whether he was still committed to public ownership of the energy utilities as a long-term strategic approach to both the cost of living crisis and Britain’s energy sector. Keir spoke again about the need for a Windfall Tax but did not respond to the question about public ownership, which was disappointing given this commitment was a prominent feature of his leadership campaign. He was also asked whether he would support rail workers should a national rail strike go ahead, and he said he would consult with his cabinet on this. Keir was asked a number of other questions, including: the lack of visibility of disabled people in Labour’s local election campaign; the strained relationship between the party and the Trade Unions; local government workers’ pay campaign; long Covid; and what Labour can learn from the Australian Labour Party’s successful election result. 

 

Deputy Leader’s Report

Angela Rayner reported on her work as deputy leader, including the vile misogynistic abuse she had faced in the Daily Mail and the extent of misogyny faced by women in public life. Solidarity with Angela and all women in public life who have to put up with such abuse on a daily basis. 

 

General Secretary’s Report

Labour’s General Secretary David Evans reported to the NEC on a number of issues that had arisen since the last NEC. As I’ve reported before, the loss of members and reduced funding from trade union affiliates has had a serious effect on the party’s finances. David commented that the staffing operation was the leanest it had been in a long time, and that there are potentially changes underway to staff pensions. 

 

Forde Inquiry

The NEC was informed of yet another delay in the publication of the Forde Inquiry into the infamous ‘Labour Leaks’ report. We were told that Forde was checking the publication for ‘factual inaccuracies’, which seems to me another excuse bound to damage Mr Forde’s reputation. I note that Sue Gray was able to produce her far more complex report with a much quicker turnaround. 

 

By-Elections

The NEC was informed of the campaign plans for the Wakefield by-election, a crucial campaign for our party given the resignation of Conservative Imran Khan for being convicted of abusing a 15-year-old boy. The seat is in a part of the country that the Party desperately needs to win if we want a chance of securing a Labour government, and Keir Starmer referred to it as a must-win by-election. It was extremely disheartening, therefore, that the party took such a shambolic approach to selecting the Labour candidate for the election. The NEC chose to ignore a rule change passed by its sovereign body – conference – which mandated a majority of positions for shortlisting a candidate in a by-election to the local constituency party. Instead, the NEC chose to stack the panel with its own members, against the wishes of the CLP. This led to the mass resignation of all 16 of the Wakefield CLP Executive Committee in protest at the disregard in which they felt they had been held. My complete solidarity goes to the executive of Wakefield CLP. This kind of mismanagement and abuse of our party’s democratic structures undermines our abilities to mobilise members and win elections. Given the disarray the Tories are in, this felt like a missed opportunity to unite the party ahead of this by-election. Nevertheless, I hope that we see a Labour MP elected in Wakefield who will stand up for the people of Wakefield against this heartless Tory government. 

The Tiverton and Honiton by-election was mentioned to the NEC as something of an afterthought. I was lucky enough to sit on the shortlisting panel for this by-election, which was rewarding. My best wishes to Liz Pole, who stood for Labour in 2019 and came second to the Tories. 

 

Parliamentary Selections 

The NEC was informed that 58 ‘trigger ballots’ for sitting Labour MPs have been completed, with most of the remaining processes on track to be concluded by June. Best of luck to all Labour MPs engaging in this process, and to the CLPs organising them. 

 

Campaign Improvement Boards

The NEC was presented with a paper which aimed to improve the functioning of Labour Groups in local government. Unfortunately, there was some unhelpful briefing of the paper ahead of the meeting to the Huffington Post, which turned out to be quite different to the final paper presented to the NEC after amendments from different stakeholders had been taken into account. The NEC was told that a small number of Labour Groups have a poor performance in campaigning and governance and a dysfunctional culture. 

The paper proposed setting up ‘Campaign Improvement Boards’ (CIBs) for Labour Groups identified as having significant issues, on the recommendation of the General Secretary and agreed by the following panel: the two Local Government NEC representatives and the Chair of the Organisation Sub-Committee. The CIBs would then work with the Labour groups and local parties to improve campaigning capacity, the diversity of candidate selection, skills, policy development and more. Amendments were put forward by Mish Rahman to ensure that all major decisions of the improvement boards would have to come back to an NEC committee, and to give CLPs and Trade Unions greater representation on the boards. Unfortunately these amendments were rejected. 

I didn’t support this paper when it was moved to a vote. This is because whilst we should always be ensuring that Labour Groups are in the best place to win elections and deliver for their residents, I’m concerned at some of the top-down control freakery that this initiative could lead to. It’s always useful for Labour Groups to have advice on how to improve things but it seems to me that the major political decisions, such as who leads the group, should be made by the group and local party not by the NEC. Labour councillors, this paper is one to keep an eye on… 

 

 

Finally, I’m excited to be re-standing for the NEC this year on a platform of working towards a transformative Labour government and a democratic party. 

Thank you to all of the CLPs who have nominated me so far. The deadline for nominations is 17th June, so make sure you go to your CLP nomination meeting. The ballots will drop on 8th July and close 5th August. CLPD is proudly supporting the Grassroots Voice Five team: Jess Barnard, Gemma Bolton, Yasmine Dar, Naomi Winbourne-Iddrissi and Mish Rahman. Please support these candidates.

 

In Solidarity, 

 

Gemma Bolton 

CLP Representative / Labour’s National Executive Committee

Co-Chair / Campaign for Labour Party Democracy

by Jake Rubin at May 28, 2022 12:55 PM

May 11, 2022

Luke Akehurst's Blog

In memory of my dad

My dad, Anthony Philip Akehurst, died aged 83 on 9th May 2022. I wanted to tell his story so that future generations of the family, and anyone else who chooses to read this, will know a bit about this kind, modest, generous, helpful and caring man.

 

It’s impossible to tell dad’s story without setting it in the context of place, because he was born, lived all except two years of his life, worked and died all within about a 20-mile radius. Go to a map of East Kent and draw a rough quadrilateral with the west side being the River Stour, the north side the A2 from Canterbury to Dover, the east side the channel coast from Dover through Folkestone to Dungeness, and the south side a line from there to Ashford. Almost everything in dad’s life happened in this little part of the aptly named Garden of England.

 

Every day for 40 years my dad would drive to work on his farm every morning and back every evening through scenery literally labelled as an area of outstanding natural beauty. He was deeply rooted in this place, and he understandably didn’t want to be anywhere else.

 

Tony was born in July 1938 in his parents’ home, Kano, in the village of Dymchurch on Romney Marsh. He was the fourth of five children, with older brother Douglas already being 13, and sisters Daphne and Olive 10 and 7. His little brother Bob was born after the war in 1947. Dad’s father Philip was an insurance agent. Phil and his wife Freda were highly religious people, very active at the time in the Salvation Army, but later leaving it after some kind of falling out over the running of the local branch’s band. The whole family were musical – there is a press cutting I have from a local newspaper detailing all the different instruments each family member including aunts and uncles played.

 

The early years of dad’s life were played out with World War Two as the backdrop, in one of the most dangerous places in the country. East Kent was known as Hell’s Corner because it was the nearest part of England to the Nazi occupied continent, hence subject to air threat and in the case of Dover, where one of dad’s granddads lived, to long range artillery bombardment from Calais. Dymchurch, with its lovely wide sandy beach, would have been a key landing point for Operation Sealion, Hitler’s planned invasion, and dad’s house was immediately behind the sea wall. His parents were advised to evacuate but were stubborn and the family stayed through the entire war years in this potentially vulnerable location. Dad’s father was away serving in the RAF, serving as a ground crew electrician at the Lincolnshire base of 617 Squadron, the famous Dam Busters. For a little boy, the war was exciting. Dad saw both German and Allied aircraft, and later V1 doodlebug flying bombs, fly low over the sea wall. Next door was an anti-aircraft artillery gun base with soldiers to chat to. American GIs would come past and hand out sweets. Dad assembled a collection of shrapnel.

 

Dad didn’t enjoy school, other than showing a talent at Secondary Modern school for woodwork and metalwork. His only anecdotes about it were about avoiding being in the front row so the teacher couldn’t whack him on the knuckles with a yard ruler. He left with no qualifications as quickly as he was legally allowed, which in those days was just 15 years old.

 

At this tender age, he started working as a farm labourer, in his words “shovelling chicken shit out of sheds”.

 

In April 1954, Phil and Freda moved from Dymchurch to Clipgate Farm, at Lodge Lees, a hamlet between Barham and Denton, and took up farming, so from this point Dad was working on the family farm. The holding initially consisted of 10 acres of land, a timber bungalow of a type built in 1919 for returning WW1 officers, chicken sheds and pigsties. In the first few years Clipgate produced eggs, which were sold to the public in the neighbouring towns and villages via an egg round. Pigs were also reared for sale at Canterbury and Ashford Markets. Dad talked about Christmases dominated by plucking vast numbers of turkeys. Over the years the farm slowly grew in size and diversity, particularly taking on contracting work to make it more cost effective to own tractors and combine harvesters, with major clients being at times Kent County Council for grass verge cutting and snow ploughing, and Pfizer, who owned an experimental farm next door at Breach Farm in the Elham Valley.

 

At 18, Dad was unlucky to be part of the final intake of conscripts who had to do two years of Cold War era National Service. Like his father and elder brother Doug he went into the RAF. He served on bases near Stratford-on-Avon and in Wiltshire, the only time in his life he ever lived away from Kent. His duties were to be a telephone operator, and because he could already play a trumpet from his Salvation Army days, a bandsman. He claimed in later life to be able to assemble and disassemble blindfolded all the main small arms, Bren LMG, Sten SMG and Lee Enfield rifle, in the event that Soviet parachutists had landed at night! He didn’t enjoy air force service. It was boring, arduous, they had very little money and he was homesick. If given weekend leave, he would motorcycle all the way back to Clipgate to get Sunday lunch at home.

 

Back home working on the farm, dad’s social life centred on the East Kent Young Farmers, which I believe he was an office holder in. He played bass guitar in a band with Bob his younger brother on lead guitar and earned money from gigs at weddings and the like well into the 1980s. Whatever he got up to in the 1960s before meeting mum, he never told us!

 

In 1970 he met my mum, Nan Davies, at a jazz gig at Bridge Country Club. You can read more about mum here: http://lukeakehurst.blogspot.com/2021/04/in-memory-of-my-mum.html

 

He fell in love with this trendy and stylish young woman, who was eight years younger than him and from a rather more middle-class background. They had in common a love of music, and families that, whilst otherwise not very similar, were both staunchly Labour.

 

In October 1971 they married at Canterbury Registrar’s Office, and initially lived with mum’s parents in Rough Common, on the edge of Canterbury. Dad became very close to his in-laws George and Molly, who were delighted that their daughter had met a calming influence!

 

My mum viewed dad both with adoration but also as a long-term project – a rough-edged farm boy who needed to be poshed up a bit. She made him read library books every week, with some success as he got really into the historical novels of George MacDonald Fraser and William Clive. I’m not clear if listening to classical music was something he had done before, or a mum-imposed thing. She corrected his speech - dropped H’s and saying “ain’t” and swearing too much. He ignored her and carried on speaking the way he always had. Later she got him to give up smoking, but I’m fairly sure he carried on sneaking the occasional roll-up at work. He was given a constant rota of jobs around the house and garden, which must have been exhausting on top of a tough physical job at the farm. The bit of her lifestyle he really did buy into was the food, he was prepared to accept being bossed about as it came with cordon bleu dinners.

 

The family grew, to dad’s delight – the beam on his face in pictures with us as babies is something else. I was born in 1972 and my brother Sam in 1974 and sister Ella in 1976.

 

Dad was a wonderful father. He played sports with us and whilst he wasn’t that engaged directly in our play in the modern way he would ask us about everything we were doing and affect to being astonished by the complexity of our toy soldier battles compared to his. Where there were practical tasks, like fixing a Hornby railway set onto a massive base board, his DIY skills came into play. He drove us around on request to school, to drop us off to go running, and when we were sixth formers to and from the pub. On Saturday mornings in the school holidays he would often take us to the farm while he worked, leading to my brother taking a deep interest in tractors and their engines which set him on the path to be a Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He didn’t push advice or life lessons on us, but was there if we needed to talk to him, as long as it wasn’t over the phone, his conversations on that being limited to “I’ll just get your mother”. Everything we did or achieved seemed to delight and amaze him. When my sister encountered health problems, he devoted himself to her care, and has been there for her for decades providing incredible support through many ups and downs.

 

After a couple of years living with Molly and George, dad and mum moved to Coverts, another of the 1919 bungalows in Lodge Lees, on the plot next to Clipgate.

 

Dad was initially working on non-farm jobs as an insurance agent for his father’s old employer Wesleyan and General, and then as a sheet metal worker and later foreman at ActionAir and Canterbury Sheet Metal Works. He hated the factory jobs, and missed farming, so in the late ‘70s he went back to work on the family farm, staying there for the rest of his working life. This was the only major decision he ever took without mum and it angered her a lot, but I think it was probably essential for his happiness to be doing the job that he loved.

 

Farm life is necessarily seasonal, and my childhood memories are of dad almost staggering through the door having worked every daylight hour at harvest time, sunburnt and covered in dust from the combine harvester.

 

Throughout my childhood dad never earned much, money always seemed to be extremely tight. Their financial situation only really improved in the 1990s. Dad personally never carried any money at all, he gave his entire pay straight to mum as he didn’t want the rows over money he had seen between his own parents.

 

In 1979 mum and dad, having waited for a decent rather than decaying home for several years, benefited from the Callaghan government’s push on new social housing and were allocated a newly built house on The Hyde, an estate in the village of Chartham, just south of Canterbury. They lived in Chartham the rest of their lives, moving in the early ‘90s to Swanhaven, a house in the heart of the village. Mum’s extensive involvement in the village community and various clubs and committees meant that dad had a supporting role helping set up fetes, fairs and jumble sales, and helping us be perennial winners of “most unusual pet” competitions by bending the rules to include farm animals.

 

As we grew up and had families of our own, dad was delighted to become father-in-law to my wife Linda and Sam’s wife Catherine, both of whom he adored. He became a much-loved grandfather to a total of five little boys and has played an important role in bringing up my sister’s son Caspar, as she is a single parent and has lived with him at Swanhaven.

 

Dad made his first ever trip abroad with me (a day trip to Boulogne) as late as 1991, but he wasn’t a narrow-minded person, he liked to know about the wider world and enjoyed holidays with his children in Portugal and Italy and a period where he and mum explored Europe on coach trips.

 

I’m not 100% sure when dad formally retired from the farm, as he didn’t let on to mum that he had done so, and carried on going there every day, possibly to avoid being set chores. In any case, the ratio of tractor driving to tea breaks gradually reversed over time. He loved to spend time there with Bob and his wife Averil, who were not just his relatives and business partners, but also his closest friends. As late as the week before he died dad was at Clipgate, driving a golf buggy with Bob.

 

Having enjoyed robust health until he was nearly 80, Dad was diagnosed with a progressive lung disease in 2019, and this eventually caused his death, but he bore this unpleasant illness uncomplainingly and with considerable dignity, alongside deterioration in his hearing and eyesight which meant that he had to give up his car. Losing mum in April 2021 was a devastating blow to him after 49 years of loving marriage, but he was determined to carry on enjoying life, and in this last year enjoyed time spent with family and trips out to eat and to visit the farm. After mum’s death it was very touching that my private and reserved dad felt able to talk about his love for her and for us, and to hear how much we all loved him.

 

His mind was sharp and he kept his love of life right to the end, the week before his death he was still enjoying steak and a glass of wine at home.

 

Like many farmers, dad combined a love of being in the countryside and around nature with a passion for machinery and engines and driving. He loved music and could play piano, trumpet and guitar, and listened to a wide range of sounds but particularly trad jazz. He enjoyed both hearty food and fine dining, red wine, a G&T and a pint of Shepherd Neame Master Brew bitter.

 

He was a modest and somewhat shy man who never boasted about anything, but took obvious pride in his wife, children and grandchildren and their achievements.

 

But he was also extremely passionate in his political views. A lifelong socialist and Labour supporter, and in the ‘80s a big fan of Tony Benn, he was angry about injustice and inequality, and hated the Tories and the SDP.

 

He retained a keen interest in current affairs right until the final hours of his life, when he was asking about Ukraine and the local election results.

 

I never heard anyone say dad had done them any wrong, and I met many, many people he had helped through countless small acts of kindness. Everyone who met him enjoyed his company, and he was held in great affection by an incredible range of people.

 

He lived his life selflessly, working hard, nurturing and caring for his family, always putting others first.

 

He was fundamentally a very good, and lovely man, who consistently did the right thing as a husband and father.

 

I am honoured to be his son and loved him very much.

 

Dad is survived by his three children, five grandsons and his brothers Doug and Bob.

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at May 11, 2022 01:32 PM

April 24, 2022

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

April 03, 2022

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report – 29 March 2022

 The March NEC meeting was relatively short, at five hours, and focussed very much on the practicalities of the coming local elections and preparation for the General Election.


David Evans gave an extremely comprehensive and confident General Secretary’s report. He said:


There had been recent incidents where party staff had been briefed against. This would not be tolerated, and the party had the power to auto-exclude members who abuse staff.

The local election launch would be in Bury on Thursday. The seats being fought were last contested in 2018 when Theresa May was at a low point in her premiership, and 40% of them are in London where that round of elections had been a very high-water mark. We are in far better shape politically and organisationally than for last year’s elections in May 2021.

The staff structure is now more fit for purpose, but this restructuring is not complete yet. Shabana Mahmood has been driving through change as National Campaign Coordinator. Hollie Ridley has been promoted to Executive Director, Nations and Regions.

The solid result in the Birmingham Erdington by-election was testament to the party’s political and organisational improvements. 

Work was being done on improving digital campaigning and integrating it through the organisation, as this was an area where the Tories had dominated in 2019.

Operation Change was the internal transformation strategy to get the party ready for the General Election. Elements of it would be trialled in the local elections. Staff training was being enhanced, an Organising Academy established, and canvassing scripts modernised for the first time in over a decade.

The boundary review was proceeding, with the secondary consultation hearings around the country ending on 4 April, and revised proposals being published in the autumn.

The tough decisions taken to stabilise the party’s finances in 2021 had led to £4 million is savings year on year. The party had no debt and no deficit budget. Donor engagement was very encouraging and more had been donated in Q1 of 2022 than in the whole of 2021. There had been excellent fundraising gala dinners in the South East and North West regions, with the East Midlands one about to happen.

The party was very mindful about the impact of not being able to use All Women Shortlists on diversity in parliamentary selections. 

There was a lot more to do on diversity of the party staff, 56% of the workforce was male, and more women were needed in senior positions. BAME staff were 9% of the men and 21% of the women, a discrepancy that needs to be addressed.

The usual cyclical decline in membership has slowed to half the rate seen in 2021, and there are far more joiners, 8,000 so far this year. Total membership is 430,000. A recruitment and retention taskforce had been re-established.

Martin Forde QC had written to confirm that his report is finalised and is being legally checked. It is important to note that only the sections about the truth of the allegations in the 2020 leaked report and the structure, culture and practices of the party can be published yet, the section on the circumstances of the leak has to be held back for legal reasons. 

The backlog project has virtually cleared the 10,000 undealt with disciplinary complaints that had been uncovered. 97.2% had now been dealt with. The new independent complaints process was going to come into force very soon.

National Women’s Conference had been a great success. 

A new membership system to for CLPs and branches to use would be online in the late summer. Interim workarounds had been developed following the cyber incident and David would update CLPs about this.

Extra staff resource had been put into the London regional team due to all the out selections.

Training on recognising Islamophobia and other measures were being implemented in response to Labour Muslim Network’s report.


We agreed to add Derby North and Bolsover to the first tranche of 14 parliamentary selections agreed at the recent Organisation Committee meeting.


Keir Starmer opened his Leader’s report by paying tribute to the decades of achievement of NEC colleague Margaret Beckett, who has announced she is retiring as an MP at the next General Election. Other matters raised by Keir in his report included:


Ukraine. There should have been tougher sanctions against Russia years ago. There is far too much Russian oligarch money and property in London and the Government’s six-month registration deadline is a ridiculous loophole. The Government has been too slow, too mean, and too narrow in allowing in Ukrainian refugees. Keir had met the Belarussian opposition, the ambassadors and delegations from Finland and Sweden, and visited Estonia to meet UK and other NATO forces. Extensive talks were going on between Labour and Germany’s SPD.

The P&O scandal. P&O was contemptuous of the law and Parliament. The loophole they exploited has been there for years and the Government was warned about by Karl Turner MP two years ago.

The Spring Statement. People face the worst fall in living standards for seventy years, high inflation and a crunch on benefits and wages and a National Insurance rise. The Chancellor is deeply cynical and has failed to rise to the occasion, is a “low tax” Chancellor putting up taxes and is not helping the people who most need help. Labour’s alternative energy offer, funded by a windfall tax on oil and gas profits, would take £600 off the bills of those who most need it.

He was looking forward to five weeks on the road campaigning in the local elections.


Morgan McSweeney, Elections Director, presented on the local elections, which cover 164 councils including all 32 in London, all 32 in Scotland and all 22 in Wales. Labour will have over 6,000 candidates. Labour and the Tories are in a similar place in the polls to the previous time these seats were contested in 2018. Labour has 30 target councils in England and Wales, a mixture of potential gains and ones where we are fighting a defensive battle, and these councils have an eclectic mix of local political situations. The STV voting system in Scotland means every council is likely to be hung, but it would be a game changer if Labour could come second in national vote share across Scotland. 


Morgan said all his conversations with predecessors and sister parties had led to the same conclusions. Successful campaigns focus on the voters, on persuasion of swing voters not just mobilisation of core supporters, and on decisions based on data to make speedy, nimble, and targeted decisions. 


Labour’s contact rate was up significantly in key wards. 


Moving on to the General Election he said the scale of gains required, 125 seats just for a narrow majority, meant Labour had no choice but to try to win everyone, everywhere. No assumptions could be made about any category of voters, all were now volatile. The most volatile were those voters who had lost most from globalisation, who tended to be people who had stayed in the towns they grew up in. Labour’s problem was that in the two hugely important referendums, on Scottish Independence and Brexit, we had been the party of the status quo when lots of previously Labour voters had wanted change, i.e. “Yes” in Scotland, “Leave” everywhere. Our messaging about respect includes respecting the choices made by these voters and is essential to winning. Morgan emphasised there is no route to victory without significant gains in Scotland. 


He said that while some CLPs have very good levels of activity, there are others where the party needs to be reactivated. 


National security is the huge contextual difference from 2018, now voters trust Keir’s stance on Ukraine, whereas in 2018 they didn’t trust Labour’s position on the Salisbury poisonings. Now we were spending £1 million on trainee organisers while then we were spending it on a failed music festival.


Tom Lillywhite presented the party’s digital strategy. This included countering online disinformation and using social media to understand target voters and understanding how content spreads. All the party’s online content is now evaluated using randomised control trials. There is a digital roadmap to get us election ready. Easily localised content was being provided to candidates and CLPs. 


Finally, we voted to proscribe three organisations. Socialist Labour Network is simply a merger of two already proscribed organisations, Labour Against the Witch hunt and Labour In Exile Network. This was passed by 19 votes to 11. Labour Left Alliance has attacked the involvement of JLM in providing antisemitism training, is affiliated to and encouraged its supporters to join LATW and LIEN and uses the PayPal account of LATW to process its membership subscriptions and affiliation fees. This was passed by 20 votes to 11. Alliance for Workers’ Liberty actually has quite a good stance on antisemitism and was recommended for proscription for wholly different reasons: it is a revolutionary socialist party that was registered as a political party and stood candidates against Labour until it deregistered in 2015 and entered into the Labour Party, but has kept its own programme, principles and policy, branches, and distinctive and separate propaganda. This was passed by 20 votes to 11. I spoke and voted in favour of all three proscriptions. 


Since the previous NEC meeting on 25th January, I have also participated in the following other meetings. It is not my intention usually to report in detail on sub-committee meetings because when I was on the NEC before we were under instruction that reports should only be on full meetings not committees, and in the case of disciplinary panels the proceedings are confidential:


Complaints and Disciplinary Committee

Equalities Committee

Organisation Committee

Development Fund Panel

Boundary Review Working Group

2 meetings of the GRT Working Group

4 Disputes Panels

NEC-led local government selection panels in Newham, Sandwell and Walsall


by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at April 03, 2022 02:14 PM

March 14, 2022

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Update, March 2022

Below are notes on recent subcommittee meetings, leading up to the full NEC meeting on 29 March. Equalities committee, 1 March 2022 This was the first meeting since November, and the committee elected the following officers: Chair – James Asser Vice-chair, women – Ann Black / Nadia Jama (job-share) Vice-chair, disabilities – Ellen Morrison Vice-chair, […]

by Ann Black at March 14, 2022 11:05 AM

January 29, 2022

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Meeting, 25 January 2022

After tentative steps towards normality in November, Omicron threw the NEC into reverse and we were back online, with no opportunities for informal conversation.  The leader and deputy leader were in parliament for Angela Rayner’s urgent question on partygate, leaving the NEC to focus on internal matters. Leaks to LabourList started with the apologies and […]

by Ann Black at January 29, 2022 01:47 PM

January 26, 2022

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Gemma Bolton – NEC Report 25th January 2022

Gemma Bolton – NEC Report 25th January 2022

Labour’s National Executive Committee met 25th January 2022. Below is a report from the NEC and the key decisions made.

Leader and Deputy Leader’s Report

The NEC usually receives a report from the leader and deputy leader on their work in parliament and the country. Unfortunately, both Keir and Angela were absent from this key NEC meeting. This was disappointing as it is the only time CLP reps are able to ask questions of our leadership team on behalf of members. 

 

Motion on the Restoration of the Whip to Jeremy Corbyn MP

The withdrawal of the whip from former party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, after a democratic sub-panel of the NEC had re-admitted him to party membership, has been a stain on our party for the last two years and has divided us when we so desperately need to be united in opposition to the Tory government. 

My NEC colleagues Ian Murray (FBU) and Nadia Jama brought a motion to the NEC that aimed to rectify this sorry situation and urge Keir Starmer to return the whip to Jeremy. I spoke in favour of the motion, arguing that the whip suspension was disrespectful, causing untold damage and division to our party, and even harming our ability to campaign in CLPs across the country. 

Passionate speeches were given by NEC colleagues urging support for the motion. Not a single member of the NEC who voted against the motion spoke or gave any reasons for doing so. The motion did not pass, with 14 votes in favour, 22 against and one abstention. All 5 of the Grassroots Five CLGA candidates supported the motion. I have signed this statement along with other NEC colleagues to express our feelings at this state of affairs. 

I intend to continue campaigning for Jeremy Corbyn to be able to fight the next election as a Labour MP and urge Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner, the Chief Whip and the Chair of the NEC to convene a meeting with Jeremy at the earliest opportunity to resolve the situation. 

 

 

Motion on Retrospective Application of Expulsions Relating to Proscribed Organisations

At the NEC meeting on July 21st 2021, the NEC voted to proscribe four groups, meaning that any activity deemed as support for these groups would lead to a swift expulsion from the party. I opposed this at the time for a number of reasons (you can read why in my previous report here). Importantly, however, the paper that the NEC passed on this matter did not state at any point that historical support for any of these groups would lead to expulsion from the party. And yet we have seen scores of just such expulsions, with members being expelled for liking a post or even attending an event years before doing so was even considered a crime. 

My NEC colleagues Nadia Jama and Laura Pidcock brought a motion to the NEC seeking to clarify the application of proscriptions and prohibit any retrospective application of such breaches. I supported this motion, pointing out that these retrospective expulsions have often targeted young activists and party members who are finding their feet and learning their politics but have now been cast out by an unfriendly movement that should have been welcoming. Unfortunately, the motion did not pass, with 15 votes for and 22 votes against. All 5 of the Grassroots Five CLGA candidates supported the motion. 

I’m appalled that the NEC could not support such a basic application of our rulebook. This goes against the most basic principles of natural justice and the rule of law. It is horrifying that a party that seeks to govern this country would apply its rulebook in such an authoritarian manner. 

 

Forde Inquiry

 I can’t believe that I am writing yet another report from the NEC unable to demonstrate any progress on publication of the Forde Inquiry into the ‘Labour Leaks’ report. The report was first commissioned by the party before I even joined the NEC, and was first due to be released in July 2020. Martin Forde QC sent another letter to the party just the day before the NEC, detailing reasons for yet further delay of the report. He denies any political interference from the Labour Party in this delay. 

Questions were asked about how much money the party has now spent commissioning the report, to which we were told that this would not be shared with the full NEC but only with the NEC’s Business Board (which has delegated authority from the NEC, and should thus be accountable to the NEC). Forde’s letter says the report is ‘largely completed’ but we were previously told that the only delay was the outcome of an ICO investigation relating to data breaches from the leaking of the report. So is the report now being rewritten? Are parts being removed? I did not receive satisfactory answers to these questions at the NEC. Forde has said that the report can be released next month. I won’t hold my breath. 

 

General Secretary’s Report

2022 Rule Book

I asked when we would have the 2022 rulebook, normally produced after party conference each year. I sought assurance that the rulebook would contain, as it has for the past 100 odd years, all the rule changes agreed at conference. I asked specifically about the rule change brought to conference by City of Durham CLP regarding by-election selection procedures. The General Secretary, regional offices and leadership are currently ignoring this rule change, despite conference being sovereign. This is unprecedented. General Secretary David Evan’s said he “believes” it will be included and we will have the rule book in the coming weeks. It simply must be included as per sovereign conference and then must be adhered to, or we will be in breach of our own rulebook. 

 

Westminster Candidate Procedures

A very worrying paper on the selection procedures for parliamentary candidates was presented to the NEC that would have given the NEC the sole power to agree longlists for the selection of candidates for seats that Labour does not hold. A good amendment was agreed, however, which enables candidates who receive a nomination from an affiliated Trade Union to automatically be on the longlist. This amendment will allow for a broader range of choice for members in selection meetings. There were also other amendments that made small improvements to the paper; however, overall, this paper unsurprisingly represents yet another power grab by the leadership.

 

Membership Data and Member Centre

The General Secretary reported that party membership stood at 434,000, which is a drop of over 100k members since 2020. It’s also not clear how many of these members are in arrears. We know that such a drop in membership, combined with cuts to funding from affiliated trade unions, has led to financial ruin and scores of staff redundancies. The party leadership should adopt an approach in which members and our affiliated trade unions are properly valued in order to stop the rot.

Many members and office holders will also know about the data incident that has prevented the party from properly accessing its membership data for some months now. In parts of the country, such as London, this is even delaying Local Campaign Forums from selecting their council candidates for the May local elections. The NEC was told that membership data would be back online soon and I am hoping that members will be informed about this imminently. 

 

Labour Muslim Network

It is currently being reported in the press that Labour Muslim Network are concerned that they are not being taken seriously or listened to by the party. This is an issue this network has raised repeatedly at almost every Equalities Subcommittee I have attended since I was elected. I asked how often the party is meeting with the Labour Muslim Network and what measures are being taken to ensure they are being listened to and taken seriously by the party.

I was assured LMN are being consulted by the party on a range of issues, including EHRC implementation and the now completed and agreed Islamophobia Code of Conduct. Whilst this is to be welcomed, our party clearly needs to up its game in tackling Islamophobia, which is still clearly a serious issue in the party, and engage fully with Muslim members. 

 

National Policy Forum 

The NEC was asked to agree the proposed timeline for the “pathway to a manifesto” NPF process spanning the next couple of years, the six new policy commissions and co-convenors and the proposals for the timing of the final stage meeting

They are cutting the 8 current policy forums down to 6 and definitely removing clarity over what the focus of these commissions is to be. The new commissions will focus on the six themes of Stronger Together; 

  1. A green and digital future
  2. Better jobs and better work
  3. Safe and secure communities
  4. Public services that work from the start
  5. A future where families comes first
  6. Britain in the world

 

This is significantly more unclear than the current commission;

  1. Economy, Business and Trade
  2. International
  3. Health and Social Care
  4. Early Years, Education and Skills
  5. Justice and Home Affairs
  6. Housing, Local Government and Transport Policy
  7. Work, Pensions and Equality
  8. Environment, Energy and Culture

I fear this weakens the role of the NPF and will limit the ability of the NPF to make concrete policy. The proposals were agreed by the NEC. 

Joint Policy Commission

Gavin Sibthorpe from the GMB has replaced Tom Warnett, who also represented the GMB as the Chair of the Joint Policy Commission. 

 

Gemma Bolton 

CLP Representative on Labour’s National Executive Committee 

Co-Chair, The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy

by Jake Rubin at January 26, 2022 02:11 PM

January 25, 2022

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report – 25th January 2022

 

The January NEC meeting was mercifully short compared to some recent ones, at “just” five and a quarter hours.

 

Keir and Angela had to send their apologies due to the urgent statement about Ukraine in the House of Commons.

 

There was a poignant moment at the beginning of the meeting when obituaries to recently deceased comrades included former party Treasurer and Unite Deputy General Secretary Jack Dromey and Leo Beckett, much-loved husband and adviser to our NEC colleague Margaret and a formidable political operator in his own right.

 

We heard an update on implementation of the EHRC report. The new Independent Review Board, which reviews NEC disciplinary decisions, is now set up, but the recruitment process for the new Independent Complaints Board (ICB) is still being finalised. The new independent disciplinary process will therefore be up and running in March. The EHRC has moved Labour from monthly to quarterly reporting, and if all goes well the final monitoring point will be December 2022.

 

Anneliese Dodds updated us on work she is leading on tackling Islamophobia.

 

David Evans apologised that the Forde Report had been delayed again. A letter from Martin Forde states clearly that there has been no political interference and the delay is because the report is still being written. We were told it has been very nearly finalised.

 

Tom Webb, Director of Policy and Research, introduced a paper on The National Policy Forum (NPF) – pathway to the manifesto. This set out the framework and timetable for NPF activity in 2022 and 2023. There will be elections for new NPF reps in the summer. The September NEC will agree procedural guidelines for the final stage NPF meeting, which will be held in Q4 if a May 2023 election looks on the cards, or in summer 2023 if a later election seems more likely. A decision on this date will be taken in May. Six new policy commissions are being set up, to reflect the six themes of the Stronger Together policy review. These are listed below with their co-convenors:

 

1. Better jobs and better work – Rachel Reeves MP and Andy Kerr

2. Safe and secure communities – Yvette Cooper MP and James Asser

3. Public services that work from the start –Wes Streeting MP and Mark Ferguson

4. A green and digital future – Ed Miliband MP and Margaret Beckett

5. A future where families comes first – Bridget Phillipson MP and Diana Holland

6. Britain in the world – David Lammy MP and Michael Wheeler

 

Gavin Sibthorpe of the GMB was elected as the new Co-Convenor of the Joint Policy Committee.

 

David Evans gave his General Secretary’s report and made the obvious point that everything the party did was focused on the marginal constituencies needed to get us to 326 seats in the Commons. For the May elections there were target local authorities that aligned with parliamentary marginals. These would be challenging elections with a difficult base line for Labour. Pleasingly, more people are out campaigning and making more canvassing contacts than in recent years. Membership is now 434,000. That’s similar to late 2019 and not the haemorrhaging being speculated about on social media. In fact, membership has had an uptick in recent weeks due to the bad news afflicting the Tories. The cyber incident meant Member Centre is down so staff have had to develop work arounds and manual processes. A large number of join requests are being processed manually.

 

David reported that the Organise to Win restructuring had achieved 66% of the cuts in spending required to balance the budget. Staffing had been reduced by a net 60 posts (some new posts had been created in the regional hubs), without any compulsory redundancies. Non-staff costs were being reduced. The Party was on track for a balanced budget and a war chest for the General Election campaign.

 

A strong technical submission had been made to the Boundary Commission on the new parliamentary boundaries. Reselection trigger ballots had started, and six MPs had already been reselected, with another 50 processes underway. 350 people were being trained by the Future Candidates Programme. The new selections paper would deliver excellent candidates.

 

The party was implementing an action plan on diversity and inclusion.

 

Work on implementing the Liverpool Report is progressing well, led by Sheila Murphy, who is working to set up campaign structures and improve governance and probity measures in the City Council Labour Group. The number of complaints about members in Liverpool is falling.

 

I asked for a clear statement that we would have nothing to do with pacts, deals or alliances and that we were focused on winning a Labour majority government. I was pleased that both David and Shabana Mahmood, the National Campaign Coordinator, confirmed that and said there would be no deals with any other party and we would stand in every seat. Decisions about targeting resources would be driven by our own priority of getting a majority Labour government, not what other parties were up to.

 

After David’s report, we dealt with the papers on the new system for parliamentary selections. The NEC will longlist candidates in each constituency, in order to both increase diversity and help underrepresented groups get a shot at standing, and to carry out due diligence and remove unsuitable candidates before the process, rather than have to get people to stand down once they are selected and the media exposes things from their past. There will be a spending cap (£1,000 in the smallest CLPs up to £3,500 in the largest) for the first time, and a far shorter process, lasting only five weeks. Both measures are aimed at making the process more accessible to people with less money and time.

 

A range of amendments had been tabled. Some were withdrawn, and many others accepted by the staff. Ann Black wanted an even lower spending cap of £500 but didn’t persuade any of the rest of us of this. However, Ann’s proposal to limit nomination rights on the party, as opposed to affiliate side, to geographical branches, and not allow the new equalities branches (Women’s branches etc) to nominate was passed by 19 votes to 13. There was a unanimous vote to require a minimum of 50% women to each shortlist, rather than the “gender balanced” shortlist proposed in the original paper, which would have reserved half the places on the shortlist for men. We couldn’t reach a consensus on whether membership lists should be provided to all longlisted candidates or only to those who have been shortlisted, so this will be resolved after the meeting.

 

We then heard a report on elections from Elections Director Morgan McSweeney. He warned that the Tories could swap leader and call a very early General Election. He had been interviewing the Labour directors and campaign coordinators of every General Election campaign from 1987 to 2019 to learn what had worked and what hadn't. But he said the nature of the competition had changed dramatically. In the 1960s 87% of voters stayed with the same party in every General Election. In the 1980s 79% still did. But in the four General Elections from 2005-2017 only 40% of voters stayed with the same party in all four. Volatility has become huge, so whereas campaigns used to be focused on turnout they now have to be focused on persuasion. The party has invested in dashboards so that data can be tracked very closely, and in a big overhaul of digital campaigning. The local elections are only 100 days away, but Morgan elaborated on David’s figures about doorstep activity and said canvassing stats showed higher activity than in any year since records had started being kept in the same format in 2016. He concluded that this was encouraging but there was a lot more to do, with Saturday's national campaign day on the cost of living being a key member mobilisation date.

 

Chief Whip Alan Campbell MP then joined us to report on Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from the PLP. He said Jeremy had been suspended on 18th November 2020 regarding a breach of the PLP Code of Conduct regarding his remarks following the publication of the EHRC Report on antisemitism. Alan’s predecessor Nick Brown had written to Jeremy on 23rd November 2020 and published the letter due to the intense public interest in the case. The letter asked Jeremy to

1)    Unequivocally apologise for his comments about the EHRC report

2)    Comply with a request to remove or edit his Facebook post about the EHRC report

3)    Agree to cooperate fully on the party’s implementation of the EHRC recommendations

As yet, Jeremy has not done any of these three things. Alan said he was happy to meet Jeremy to receive his answers.

 

Ian Murray of the FBU and Nadia Jama then moved a motion calling on the on the Chief Whip to review his decision and arrange for the Parliamentary whip to be immediately restored to Jeremy Corbyn. This was defeated by 23 votes to 14 with one abstention.

 

Laura Pidcock and Nadia Jama then moved a motion trying to reopen the question of the four organisations proscribed in July 2021 and to re-examine what constitutes “support” for these organisations and to cease the “retrospective application of this rule”. Executive Director of Legal Affairs Alex Barros-Curtis said the principles of natural justice were applied to these cases. Members were served with a notice of allegations and their response to these allegations was considered by the NEC panels looking at these cases. On 20th July 2021 four organisations had been deemed to be in contravention of Labour’s rules and support for them was deemed incompatible with Labour’s aims and values. The party is entitled legally to disassociate itself from organisations and people it considers inimical to its aims and values. The motion was defeated by 20 votes to 14 and the meeting came to an end.

 

Since the previous NEC meeting on 21st November, I have also participated in the following other meetings. It is not my intention usually to report in detail on sub-committee meetings because when I was on the NEC before we were under instruction that reports should only be on full meetings not committees, and in the case of disciplinary panels the proceedings are confidential:

 

Complaints and Disciplinary Sub-Committee

Organisation Sub-Committee

Boundary Review Working Group

Unconscious Bias Training

4 Disputes Panels

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at January 25, 2022 10:22 PM

December 02, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

South East Regional Conference, 20/21 November 2021

Three years after the last conference, in Southampton in 2018, we gathered at Reading University.  It was good to meet in person and the weekend felt rather more Covid-secure than annual conference in Brighton.  We were welcomed by councillor Rachel Eden (a former co-chair of the Oxford & District Party) and Jason Brock, leader of […]

by Ann Black at December 02, 2021 11:21 AM

November 28, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Meeting, 25 November 2021

The first meeting after conference is an opportunity to take stock, and plan for the year ahead.  After months of disembodied shouting over Zoom it was worth the early start and jam-packed trains to be able to meet in London and chat over coffee, lunch and an unexpected fire drill (see here and here).  Informal […]

by Ann Black at November 28, 2021 02:09 PM

November 26, 2021

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report – 25 November 2021

The November NEC meeting is the Away Day when we don’t tackle ordinary business but instead hear a series of strategic presentations from senior staff.

 

It isn’t very “Away” as we met at Labour’s Southside HQ in London, but it was the first time since the initial Covid lockdown, aside from conference, that we have held a primarily in person meeting, and that was enjoyable and useful in terms of being able to speak to each other and key staff in the margins of the meeting. In fact, the meeting was successfully run as a hybrid, with about two thirds of us in the room and the remainder on a Zoom call. Alice Perry as the new NEC Chair very ably made this work so that both in person and online attendees were all able to have their say, and the meeting concluded on time at just after 5.30pm, a mere seven hours including a lunch break and a fire alarm drill!

 

At the start of the meeting Alice notified the NEC that the long-awaited Forde Report would now be circulated at some point ahead of our next meeting in January. She also said that a motion from Laura Pidcock and Nadia Jama opposing the retrospective implementation of proscriptions of four organisations would be taken at the January meeting.

 

The first presentation was on the party’s Organise to Win restructuring. We were told that the party had achieved 80% of the £5.5m savings it needed to make to balance its finances, and had reduced staffing from over 400 in April, to a more normal mid-term level of 320 now, through voluntary redundancies. The new structure would be finalised by January. The next set of priorities are parliamentary selections and reselections, the local elections in May (especially where these are in areas that are also marginal in the next General Election), developing new canvassing scripts, advising MPs on how to use their incumbency to defend their seats, transforming our digital campaigning, responding to the boundary review, and using an Organising Academy to increase the skills of specialist volunteers. I asked the party to prioritise recruiting more Regional Organisers as soon as we start increasing staffing in the run-up to the General Election.

 

We then heard about lessons from our sister party, the SPD’s, victory in Germany. They had held their nerve stuck to their plan even though they had been running third for most of the electoral cycle, and it paid off in the final weeks of the campaign. Everything had been focused on Olaf Scholz as Chancellor candidate and his competence and trustworthiness. German politics has been becoming increasingly volatile with fewer core voters for the two main parties, as in the UK. The SPD had a very clear narrative around three themes of Future, Respect and Europe, and a concise policy offer that was set out very early and not added to during the campaign. Two thirds of the campaign budget was spent on dominating the street battle with billboards (parties are allowed to flypost on street furniture in German elections). All materials offline and online kept to a very simple design with black and white photos and only one colour – reclaiming red. The campaign emphasised both change and reassurance and was strongly centralised. I said that whilst we cannot flypost on the streets we needed to improve quantity and quality of the UK version of this outdoor publicity, which is garden stake posters.

 

Anneliese Dodds presented on the internal culture of the party and our efforts to improve it. She outlined the new complaints process and new codes of conduct and training not just on antisemitism as required by the EHRC but also on Islamophobia and anti-black racism. She outlined steps being taken on harassment and trans awareness. Abuse of party staff was now a specific offence in the rules. We need to create a culture that is supportive of each other and what we are doing and achieving. Laura Pidcock said she felt the disciplinary actions being taken were alienating many members and were unfair, but I said that whilst there were cases where people had been administratively suspended for far too long because of the backlog of cases, we also had to prioritise justice for the victims of abuse and discrimination, particularly given that the EHRC had found us to have harassed our own Jewish members. I urged an end to the demonisation and hyperbolic criticism of Keir and David Evans, where there are exaggerated claims of purges and mischaracterisation of minor policy changes as though our leaders are Thatcherites.

 

We then heard a presentation about the local elections next May. 6470 council seats are being contested, including every seat in Birmingham, London, Scotland and Wales and a third of the seats in most metropolitan boroughs. When these seats were last fought in 2018 the vote share across the country had been quite good – 35% each for Lab and Con, 16% Lib Dem and 12% UKIP. Whilst Labour had gained a net 71 seats that year in England, this was driven by excellent results in London which offset losses in other areas. Labour had lost 133 seats in Scotland and 108 in Wales. Understandably the party is focusing resources on marginal wards in councils that could change control and which overlap with marginal parliamentary seats. I asked for reports to be given to us on the number of candidates fielded, so that we could ensure every voter had a chance to vote Labour and we didn’t fail to contest wards. I also asked for specific training, scripts and advice to be provided to areas where the main challenger to Labour is the Green Party, as this requires a different political response to areas where there is a straight fight between Labour and the Tories.

 

Then we were given a presentation about the General Election, talking us through the key metrics of activity that would be expected of candidates and CLPs in seats we need to gain to form a Labour Government. Keir emphasised the importance of due diligence and high-quality candidate selection as the recent Tory sleaze means every candidate will be under intense scrutiny. I asked for a clear twinning scheme where non-marginal seats would be linked to and given metrics for the support they would give a nearby marginal.

 

Finally, there was a fascinating presentation on the latest internal polling and focus group research by Deborah Mattinson. She talked us through the issues the public think are most important, and segmented the electorate and highlighted the groups of voters we have most chance of persuading to switch from Conservative to Labour.

 

After the Away Day presentations, there was a short business meeting that started poignantly with a minute’s silence in honour of the late Andy Howell. There was some to-ing and fro-ing about the NEC procedures for tabling late papers, which seemed to leave everyone satisfied. We renamed the Disputes Panel the Complaints and Disciplinary Sub Committee to make its role clearer. We delayed the start of next year’s internal elections by a week to 21 January to enable the deadlines for the National Policy Forum elections, which the unions want further consultation about, to be agreed at the Organisation Committee on 18 January. I successfully got the nomination thresholds reduced for the national committee elections for the new National Labour Students organisation, so that it will be easier for candidates to get on the ballot and members will get more choice and fewer uncontested elections.

 

The meeting ended on a high note with a very powerful exposition of the paper on NEC Aims and Objectives from Morgan McSweeney, Elections Director. Morgan said that after dealing with crucial internal issues the party now has to refocus externally on the voters. There could be a General Election at any time between now and 2 May 2024, and it isn’t clear on which boundaries as the new ones only get implemented on 1 July 2023. We need candidates who are insurgents and hungry to win, and the Labour rosette on a candidate needs to be seen by voters as a mark of quality. Both the standards and the diversity of our candidates can be increased. We need to revolutionise our digital campaigning. We have to change the whole way we work and campaign in order to build new coalitions of voters large enough to win a majority Labour government. The National Policy Forum process needs to be completed so that we are on a speedy pathway to an election-winning manifesto. And our culture needs to be transformed.

 

There was a half-hearted attempt to reopen the question about a moratorium on the retrospective application of the disciplinary action towards proscribed organisations, but as this was raised after the chair had declared the meeting closed, those of us present in person departed to the pub in good spirits, feeling it had been a focused and constructive meeting.

 

Since the previous NEC meeting on 17 September, I have also participated in the following other meetings. It is not my intention usually to report in detail on sub-committee meetings because when I was on the NEC before we were under instruction that reports should only be on full meetings not committees, and in the case of Disputes Panels the proceedings are confidential:

 

Annual Conference including two NEC meetings and the NEC AGM

Equalities Committee

Disputes Panel main meeting

Organisation Committee

4 Disputes Panels

3 panels relating to local or regional issues

Boundary Review Working Group

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at November 26, 2021 07:09 PM

November 18, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Update, November 2021

The next full NEC meeting is the post-conference awayday on 25 November, but until then here are some notes from subcommittee meetings.  As usual please send any comments to annblack50@btinternet.com A pdf version of this report is available here. Equalities committee, 2 November 2021 The national women’s officer reported that the online women’s conference in […]

by Ann Black at November 18, 2021 10:51 AM

October 04, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC at Conference, 24/29 September 2021

The run-up to conference was full of gossip about intense negotiations with trade unions, while the rest of us tried to keep up on Twitter.  Keir Starmer apparently wanted to bring back the electoral college for choosing party leaders, where MPs, individual members and trade union levy-payers each hold one-third of the votes.  One of […]

by Ann Black at October 04, 2021 02:01 PM

September 20, 2021

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Gemma Bolton’s NEC Report 17th September 2021

The NEC met on Friday 17th September. A full report of the meeting can be found below. 

Leader’s Report

Keir Starmer spoke about his summer traveling the country and speaking to voters as well as his TUC speech and the Tory failure on Afghanistan. I asked Starmer about the resignation of the shadow equalities minister, Marsha de Cordova. Reports in The Voice newspaper suggested that efforts to set up a Taskforce to formulate progressive race equality policy were sidelined by Starmer’s office due to not wanting to offend ‘red wall’ voters. I asked if these reports were true and what steps Keir would take to reassure black Labour members and voters that racial equality will be at the heart of Labour’s agenda for government. Starmer dismissed the reports as ‘nonsense’ but did not substantially answer my question on his plan for tackling racial inequality or how he would keep it at the heart of Labour’s agenda for government. I will be writing to him directly to ask for a full and proper response. 

Questions were also asked about Starmer’s commitment to party unity (to no satisfactory response); Labour’s position on ending vaccine poverty abroad; whether he would support the motion being brought to conference in support of a change in party policy in support of proportional representation for Westminster elections (which he also did not respond to) and about the scrapping of the Universal Credit uplift.

Rule Changes

The main items on the agenda were the NEC Rule Changes, and a review of the Rule Changes submitted by CLPS. There were a large number of rule changes considered by the NEC. I and my fellow Grassroots Voice Five NEC representatives generally supported rule changes that would give more power to members and trade unionists and opposed bureaucratic power grabs by Keir Starmer and his Acting General Secretary David Evans.

NEC Rule Changes

There were 85 pages of NEC rule changes originally submitted for NEC members to read over. Some of the rule changes voted on to be submitted to party conference are below: 

  • CLP Affiliations – a rule change was agreed requiring NEC approval for CLPs to affiliate to organisations
  • Disciplinary processes – rule changes were agreed in relation to a new disciplinary process regarding protected characteristics
  • Codifying STV into the rulebook as the voting system for the CLP section of the NEC
  • Calling for a requirement for training to be eligible as candidate for public office or internal elections
  • Giving the General Secretary increased power over who is allowed to join the party and who is blocked
  • And more… Delegates to conference please check the daily CLPD Yellow Pages for up to date recommendations on rule changes. You can sign up to receive them digitally here.

CLP Rule Changes

There were 10 rule changes submitted to conference by CLPs, which the NEC considered. Despite the best efforts of the Grassroots Voice 5 and our trade union colleagues, the NEC party leadership will be opposing all of them at conference. Below are some of the rule changes that may be of interest to members. 

Making the Parliamentary Labour Party accountable to Labour Conference 

This is a rule change that would require the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to report to Labour Party conference on its work to carry out the Party’s programme in parliament. Included in such a report would be a report by the chief whip of the PLP on any decisions they have made regarding the political discipline of Labour MPs. The rule change is designed to be implemented at this years conference, and the media are correctly reporting that such a rule change would give conference delegates the chance to return the Labour Party whip to Jeremy Corbyn MP. 

There has been some misunderstanding about this rule change, mainly that that it will prevent disciplinary actions on sexual harassment or racism for Labour MPs, or will lead to inappropriate matters such as these being discussed by party conference. This is not the case.

The amendment does not impact Party disciplinary matters because it is limited only to suspensions from the PLP whip. Other disciplinary allegations fall under the Party Rule book disciplinary rules, for example Chapters 1 and 6. Under Chapter 6, any PLP member can be suspended from Party membership, in the same manner as any ordinary Party member. If suspended from the Party, an MP is also automatically suspended from the PLP whip. The proposed rule change is limited to permitting Party Conference to confirm or void only a suspension of the whip made under the PLP standing Orders and would not authorise the reversal of a suspension imposed under the wider Party Rules.

If delegates to Labour conference want to return the whip to Jeremy Corbyn at this year’s Labour conference, they should support the rule change to make the PLP accountable to Labour conference. 

Abolish the ‘Three Year Rule’

Currently the Three Year Rule means that any rule change debated at a party conference cannot be debated again for another three years. This proposed rule change would modify the outdated brake on member-led democracy to ensure that, if there is a groundswell of support for a particular rule change, it does not have to wait three years to be debated again.

The point was made that we cannot fill up the agenda with too many rule changes. However, this would not flood the constitutional debate with rule changes previously heard and rejected as it only pertains to rule changes that obtain a groundswell of support and which 5 or more CLPs had passed. A Rule Change is usually brought by just one or two CLPs.

I also found this argument frustrating as we had just reviewed the 85 pages of rule changes that the NEC is bringing to conference and are reviewing only 10 rule changes from CLPs to this year’s conference. I don’t think members exercising their democratic voice is the problem here. 

Single Transferable Vote for ALL sections of the NEC

We discussed a motion to bring the elections for Councillor and PLP reps on the NEC in line with the new voting system for CLP representatives, which was brought in by the NEC just before the last set of elections for CLP representatives. The NEC is asking delegates to enshrine this system for CLP representatives in the rulebook at this upcoming conference. Having just a few minutes previously sat and listened to NEC members who do not represent CLPs arguing for STV for CLP representatives on the grounds of democracy then making a complete 180 degree turn to OPPOSE it for their own section was rank hypocrisy. There are arguments for and against STV generally, and I’m more than happy to have those discussions, but simply supporting STV for CLP reps in the rule book and opposing a move from members to bring other sections in line with this is gross hypocrisy and will rightly appear to members as a factional stitch up to rig the CLP seats against the grassroots candidates. 

Forde Inquiry

The NEC received yet another verbal report regarding the Forde Inquiry into the ‘Labour Leaks’ report (see NEC reports ad infinitum). The acting general secretary David Evans informed the NEC that he had had a meeting with Martin Forde QC to discuss the release of the report and that the report would now be released at the end of October / beginning of November. Given that we were told at the last meeting that we’d have it by now, this is not really reassuring. Part of the delay is due to the section on who released the report being subject to an ICO investigation. This section will still not be released. However, given that by far most of the people who have contacted me regarding the report have wanted the truth about what happened with staff seemingly sitting on anti-semitism cases in order to cause factional harm, the abuse of Black MPs and sabotaging of the 2017 general election campaign are not under any investigation, I still cannot understand what the hold up has been on these sections for such a huge amont of time. We asked Forde to attend the November NEC meeting. If Forde is not present at the November meeting then we will have no option than to attempt to meet with him ourselves. 

We were astonished to hear that the party had handed over even more money for the Forde report. It was asked why more money had been given when it had previously been agreed that the party would pay no more than a fixed sum, and particularly given the huge delays and expense there has already been with the report.  We were told that as it is an Independent enquiry the party does not  have control over the things it wished it had. 

Acting General Secretary’s Report 

The acting General Secretary David Evans reported to the NEC on his work. 

Staff Redundancies

David reported that, despite the voluntary redundancy scheme, the party had still not made enough cuts. I asked what plans there were to bridge this perceived gap. He assured the meeting that he was confident we will not go near compulsory redundancies. Instead, they would be conducting a full financial review, reviewing all non-staff costs, and ‘managing vacancy control’. He said they are constantly reviewing  and doing things smarter and they are also looking to raise income (party conference may help with this).  It was raised that many members of staff had not felt that the “voluntary redundancy” package was very voluntary when their roles had been deleted in the restructuring. My solidarity is with Labour staffers who have lost their jobs due to the political and financial mismanagement of our Party. 

Proscriptions

We discussed the events that had unfolded since the proscription of 4 groups at the previous NEC meeting. There was significant disagreement in the room as to what we had even agreed to at the last meeting (!), with many, including some who had voted for the proscriptions, making the point that nowhere in the paper did it say expulsions would be retrospective and that none of the examples given in the paper that would equate to support of the proscribed groups had made any mention of liking their social media posts, for example, despite notices of expulsion being handed out for as little as 2 historic social media likes. Even though the room was not in agreement about what we had even passed at the last meeting, something called  the 3-month NEC rule was put in place preventing the meeting from debating, changing or clarifying the new rules. Whilst I appreciate it may not be a sensible use of the NEC’s time to re-debate a paper passed at the previous NEC, if the meeting clearly disagrees on what was passed and the staff are implementing the paper in a way that was not agreed by the meeting, then further discussion, debate and clarity is clearly needed.

Jess Barnard and rogue Notice Of Investigations

Young Labour chair Jess Barnard was recently sent a ‘Notice of Investigation’ by the party for tweeting her opposition to transphobia. At the meeting, Evans said he held his hand up, a mistake was made in issuing this NOI and, as acting General Secretary, he takes full responsibility. He said he was satisfied that the notice issued was the result of a one-off example of practises not being followed rather than a systemic problem. However, given the number of emails NEC members have received concerning rogue NOIs, and the recent reports of a false investigation into Kate Osbourne along with other mistakes in the process, it is very difficult… nigh impossible… to believe. We called for an investigation into what is happening within the process and for these investigations to be halted and all recent NOIs revoked until such investigation had been completed and shared with NEC members. Shamefully, this proposal was not accepted. 

 

Code of Conduct on Transphobia

The need for the party to adopt a code of conduct on transphobia was restated, and the days following the NEC have only confirmed that pressing need. The NEC were informed that whilst the party was still committed to this, there were legal concerns, and the Code of Conduct would need to be legally accurate. As such, there is a delay in the work on this. However, they are looking at whether there is a form of guidance that could be put in place in the meantime. 

Quite clearly, given the recent media reports, the party currently has a transphobia problem. It is imperative that the party rebuilds its relationship with trans members and distances itself from transphobic views. My solidarity to trans members feeling marginalised within, and those who’ve sadly left, the Labour party.

Labour Students and Disability Structures

The meeting reviewed the work of the Labour Students and Disabled Members working groups, which have met to construct new democratic structures for each. Both were accepted unanimously. It was great to be part of the Labour Students working group and the outcomes are welcome. Both structures are a good step forward in party democracy and a welcome result of the democracy review. 

Party Conference

We received an update from the Chair of the Conference Arrangements Committee, Harry Donaldson, about the plans for party conference. Covid-19 safety was a key point of concern. Delegate packs will contain information about Covid precautions and it was agreed this would be added to the website. Masks are to be worn when not speaking. 

If you are a delegate to Labour conference make sure to attend CLPD’s essential online briefing event for annual conference which will give you all the information you need for the days ahead. Register here. 

And make sure you sign up as a delegate to CLPD’s conference delegate form, to receive up to date information about conference’s twists and turns, and CLPD’s famous ‘Yellow Pages’ delivered to your inbox every morning, with all of the day’s conference events explained. 

Despite everything, I’m really looking forward to Labour conference this year. It’s been a long while since many of us have been able to sit in person and discuss our plans and ideas for a Labour government and a better, more prosperous, more equal country. To those of you who are coming down to Brighton, have a great time, stay safe, and come over for a chat if you see me!

Gemma Bolton 

Co-Chair / Campaign for Labour Party Democracy

CLP Representative / Labour National Executive Committee

by Jake Rubin at September 20, 2021 09:53 PM

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report – 17 September 2021

 

The September NEC is always focussed on Annual Conference business. Whilst it was another long meeting, seven hours, it was curiously muted compared to recent meetings.

 

The meeting opened with a report on arrangements for conference from the Chair of the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC), Harry Donaldson. He said:

·         CAC has agreed which motions are valid. 330 met the criteria (covering one subject only, under 250 words long and about policy, not organisation) out of 375 submitted.

·         There are 50 subject areas that will go forward to the Priority Ballot, which decides which ones get debated.

·         Reference Backs on National Policy Forum (NPF) reports have been submitted in writing and will be published in the CAC reports.

·         The Emergency Resolutions deadline is noon on 23 September.

·         1179 CLP delegates and 259 from affiliated organisations have registered but some may drop out or fail passport checks.

·         A total of 7,000 people will attend conference.

·         There are at least 350 fringe events and 84 exhibitors.

·         The Business Forum has raised £110,000 in income from business visitors, and a further £143,500 has been raised in sponsorship.

 

We then moved on to the main business of the meeting, agreeing our position on possible rule changes to be debated at Annual Conference. I was somewhat bemused by Momentum voting against even anodyne rule changes to tidy up things like deleting references to MEPs and the EPLP, despite the votes on rules they had indicated they found contentious being taken separately. Rule changes on toughening our stance towards members who litigate against the party were held over until the meeting on Friday 24 September for further consultation. Amendments from the floor saw the right of administratively suspended members to vote in OMOV ballots retained, and the number of officers of a Local Government Committee increased to 4 so that there is a quota of 2 women.

 

The new (not tabled at the July meeting) batch of non-contentious rule changes passed with 19 For, 9 Against, 1 Abstention.

 

A second batch of rule changes relate to the new independent disciplinary process for cases relating to protected characteristics, required by the EHRC Report. This was passed with 18 For, 8 Against, 1 Abstention. I was really disappointed that eight colleagues would vote against a change that is a legal requirement following the investigation into antisemitism.

 

The third batch of non-contentious changes already noted by the NEC in July passed 19 For, 4 Against, 3 Abstentions.

 

 A rule change to codify STV (Single Transferable Vote) as the voting system for the ballot for the nine CLP reps on the NEC passed with 16 For, 8 Against, 3 Abstentions.

 

A consequent rule change to abolish NEC by-elections in the CLP section, as you can now just recount the previous STV ballot without the member who has stood down, was passed with 17 For, 9 Against, 3 Abstentions.

 

A rule change that prevents CLPs from affiliating to external organisations without NEC approval was passed with 19 For, 9 Against, 1 Abstention.

 

A rule change to place the longstanding practice of the General Secretary’s power to reject membership applications during the eight-week probationary period on a

contractual/rule-based footing was passed with 17 For, 9 Against, 1 Abstention.

 

An extensive rewrite of the membership rules to improve the processes around auto-exclusions, including giving those expelled under this process a right to appeal for the first time, was then debated, and at this point the meeting became a bit more tense. Questions were asked about the implementation of the July NEC’s decision to proscribe four organisations. This decision could not be revisited as we have a three-month rule – you can’t reopen NEC decisions until three months after they have been taken. The General Secretary said that he refuted that the proscriptions were being implemented factionally. I argued and the General Secretary agreed that proscriptions had to be applied retrospectively to evidence of support for an organisation before it was proscribed to have any meaning. We were informed that in contrast to the noise about them being generated on social media, only 57 letters had been sent to members alleging they supported proscribed organisations, and only 5 people had been expelled. Letters are not generated automatically, complaints come in and are then assessed, in 10 cases complaints have been dismissed and not proceeded with. Members accused of support for a proscribed organisation have an opportunity to refute the allegations.

 

There was a proposal to defer this rule change. It was defeated by 16 votes to 11.

 

Ann Black proposed an amendment to remove the retrospective nature of the proscriptions. This was defeated by 18 votes to 10.

 

The paper itself was passed by 20 votes to 9.

 

We then looked at rule changes submitted by CLPs and determined the NEC’s attitude to each one.

 

We agreed to ask Oxford East CLP to remit their proposal regarding BAME quotas on Council Cabinets in favour of an NEC alternative which would be more tightly worded for legal reasons.

 

A proposal for Annual Conference to have sovereignty over disciplinary decisions of the PLP Chief Whip was defeated by 18 votes to 9.

 

A proposal to elect the General Secretary in an OMOV ballot was defeated by 19 votes to 7 with 1 abstention.

 

A proposal to allow rule changes that are similar to a previous one to be considered after less than the current three-year rule was defeated by 17 votes to 7.

 

A proposal about members having absolute rights to free speech was defeated by 18 votes to 9.

 

A proposal to use STV in the elections for every section of the NEC except the union and socialist society ones was defeated by 16 votes to 9. The argument against this is that STV in blocks of 5 or fewer seats does not produce proportional results.

 

A proposal to give CLP EC’s more power over by-election selections and last-minute parliamentary selections was defeated by 18 votes to 9.

 

A proposal to give a minimum seven-day window to apply for parliamentary selections was defeated by 17 votes to 8. Sometimes the election timetable doesn’t allow this much time.

 

A proposal for spending limits in leadership ballots to be in the rule book rather than decided at the start of each election was defeated by 17 votes to 8.

 

A proposal to limit donations from any person or organisation other than affiliates to the party was defeated without being put to a vote, as this would present an existential threat to our funding, including ending £7.7m of Government grants via “Short Money” etc. I spoke on this item and urged that we should celebrate individual high value donors giving as much as they can afford to Labour, rather than make negative assumptions about their motives.

 

Keir then gave his Leader’s report, covering his visits round the country to speak to people who had stopped voting Labour, the Afghanistan crisis, the Workplace Taskforce policy announcements, and preparations for Annual Conference. He said he wants a benefits system that works much better than Universal Credit, which unfairly takes 75p from the first additional £1 you earn. On Social Care he said Labour’s policy stance is to:

·         Prevent people going into care homes for as long as possible.

·         Have a Home First principle.

·         Give the workforce proper terms and conditions and job security.

·         Have those with the broadest shoulders (people with income from property, dividends, stocks and shares) pay, not working people.

 

Keir refuted as nonsense allegations that Marsha De Cordova had resigned as Shadow Equalities Minister over lack of progress on racial justice policies.

 

He said Annual Conference was the first opportunity to look beyond the Covid crisis at what kind of future we wanted, one where we deal with the inequalities exposed by Covid and tackle the climate crisis.

 

On disciplinary cases he said he was in a fight to rid Labour of antisemitism, not a fight against any section of the party.

 

After Keir’s report I was delighted that we unanimously approved new national structures for Disabled Members and Labour Students. I served on both NEC working groups, as a disabled member of the NEC and a former National Secretary of Labour Students, and it was really good that in both cases a consensus was reached. I thanked Angela Rayner for her and her team urging a compromise national committee structure for the new Labour Students organisation, which had helped ensure a consensus was reached.

 

Angela’s Deputy Leader’s report focused on the way the Tories are making things tougher for ordinary people through the National Insurance hike and Universal Credit cuts. She praised union involvement in the Workplace Taskforce. Asked about party unity she said we all need to accept everyone in the party is motivated by wanting to change the country for the better. When we can’t reach consensus, we need to consider whether the action or policy we are backing will help get Labour into power.

 

David Evans gave his General Secretary’s report. He said the restructuring process within the party was halfway through. The voluntary redundancy scheme for staff had been closed. More that 100 staff had applied but some were in key roles, so their departure had not been agreed. The process was paused while leavers were being supported. A full financial review after conference would determine the next stage. The gap between the savings from voluntary redundancies and the £5.5m savings target was narrow enough that he had assured the staff unions that there would be no need for compulsory redundancies as it could be bridged through reducing non-staff costs, managing vacancies and raising income. Support for Young Labour would be in the new staff structure.

 

On the Forde Report he said the party was now expecting to be given the two sections that could be published in late October or November. He said the issuing of a Notice of Investigation (NOI) to the Chair of Young Labour had been due to an error, and a full review had revealed it was because of processes not being followed properly. There was a backlog of 5,200 outstanding complaints being worked through. The Executive Director of Legal Affairs, Alex Barros-Curtis, said that the process of going through the backlog would take 6 months and was in its 7th week. External additional staff had been trained in Labour’s rules and processes to do this. 3,000 cases had been assessed so far, of which 30% had been closed at assessment stage as they did not merit investigation. The NOI to Jess Barnard had not been signed off properly but it was an innocent mistake by the person concerned. The tone of letters had been amended and staff reminded never to send them outside office hours.

 

Alex Barros-Curtis was asked about the new submission to the EHRC from Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), who have claimed Labour has disproportionally expelled Jewish members. He said the party utterly refutes the submission made JVL: “Particularly that we disproportionately target them, and also that we ignore any complaints we have of theirs. Indeed, those complaints are actually in the backlog - so will be dealt with as part of the clearance project, which will mean these are resolved as swiftly as possible.”

 

The meeting closed with swift agreement of a series of reports on the Business Board, Women’s Conference, Sexual Harassment Procedures & Code of Conduct, and the National Policy Forum and Joint Policy Committee.

 

Since the previous NEC meeting on 21 July, I have also participated in the following other meetings. It is not my intention usually to report in detail on sub-committee meetings because when I was on the NEC before we were under instruction that reports should only be on full meetings not committees, and in the case of Disputes Panels the proceedings are confidential:

 

·         2 meetings of the Disabled Members Structures Working Group

·         3 Disputes Panels

·         Boundary Review Working Group

·         Briefing on the Boundary Review

·         Development Panel

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at September 20, 2021 03:12 PM

September 19, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Meeting, 17 September 2021

The meeting again rapidly deviated from the timings on the agenda, and rather than finishing at 4 p.m. we eventually stopped at 7 p.m.  Contrary to what newer members were told, NEC meetings do not have to be interminable, and less than five hours used to be normal.  Endurance tests are bad for representatives, for […]

by Ann Black at September 19, 2021 03:19 PM

September 16, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

South East Regional Executive Committee, 15 September 2021

NB pdf version available here.  This was the last full meeting of the old-style regional board, before the new south-east regional executive committee takes office following the regional conference on 20 / 21 November 2021 at Reading University. Acting regional director Ellie Buck gave an update on the implementation of Organise to Win, as announced […]

by Ann Black at September 16, 2021 08:14 PM

August 05, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

South East Regional Executive Committee, 27 July 2021

NB pdf version available here This was the first regular meeting since January and many of us were keen to share experiences from the council elections and the Chesham & Amersham by-election.  However we started with an item of unfinished business from the special meeting in February on rules for the new south-east regional executive committee […]

by Ann Black at August 05, 2021 01:56 PM

July 23, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Meeting, 20 July 2021

This meeting ran for more than nine hours, but there were several major presentations and the ratio of genuine questions to set-piece speeches was higher than of late.  Part of the problem is that the NEC expanded from 33 members to 35 in 2016 and to 39 in 2018 for various reasons.  Our constituents expect […]

by Ann Black at July 23, 2021 04:18 PM

July 22, 2021

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report – 21 July 2021

 

The July NEC has a reputation for having a heavy agenda every year, and this was no exception, lasting nine and a quarter hours on one of the hottest days of the year.

 

The most important items in my view were the reports from the General Secretary and Executive Director of Finance about Labour’s financial situation and the restructuring this necessitates.

 

David Evans said that since his appointment he had been preparing a restructuring called Organise to Win, aimed at getting the Labour Party into shape to fight the next General Election but also putting in on a sustainable financial footing. This is the first full scale review of Labour’s professional machine since 2006, so long overdue. The party was traumatised by four General Election defeats and by 2019 it had lost its reputation for campaigning innovation and faced a far more modern Tory machine, particularly in digital campaigning. Structural problems had been laid bare by the May local elections. The antisemitism crisis and legal challenges associated with it meant we are spending more on legal action than on campaigning, and ten times more than we used to. Much of the review was informed by pro bono work by Lord (Bob) Kerslake and other financial and organisational structure experts. The new structure will have a simplified hub and spoke model with support services in the centre and at three regional resource hubs, and as much campaigning resource as possible put out into the regions and nations. It will foster collaborative working and enable staff to develop specialisms and become experts. Resources will be focussed on communications, digital campaigning and field operations. To make it financially sustainable it will be lean, with sadly 90 redundancies needed, but strong enough to be built back from as we approach the General Election. Cultural change internally away from factionalism will be driven by rewarding good behaviour and a focus on diversity and inclusion. Sign off processes will be streamlined to try to reduce the risk averse culture that has developed. A flatter management structure is more appropriate for any political campaign organisation. All operations will be guided by the electoral strategy.

 

The Executive Director Finance provided more detail on the financial situation. As well as the vastly increased legal costs budget, staffing had remained at General Election levels ever since 2015 due to the three elections in quick succession and the unique circumstances of the pandemic. Historically all political parties have lower donations, lower membership and fewer staff in the mid years of the electoral cycle, and Labour needs to get back to a sustainable number of core staff in the midterm. The legal spend will gradually reduce as the backlog of disciplinary cases is dealt with. The party had lost 22% of the “Short Money” that funds the policy function of HM Opposition because this is based on a formula relating to electoral performance so it was cut due to the seats lost in 2019. The cancellation of the 2020 Annual Conference had removed the main source of commercial income for that year. Membership always spikes at a General Election or Leadership Election then drifts down between such events. Even so, membership income in 2021 was the same as in 2019, it was only lower than the record 2020 level. Plans were in place for growing both high value one off donations, smaller regular donations and membership. Treasurer, Diana Holland, noted that whilst the party has a deficit it needs to reduce by making savings, its long-term financial position is far stronger than before 2010 as it has no debt anymore.

 

David also reported on the boundary review process, the byelections in Chesham & Amersham and Batley & Spen, and the successful Women’s Conference. On the long-awaited Forde Report he said he was pushing Martin Forde QC to complete and publish by early autumn the two sections of the report which don’t potentially prejudice the ICO’s investigation. The sections on the truth or not of the content of the leaked report last year, and on the culture and practices of the party, could be published if they are ready, but the section on the circumstances of the leak need to wait until the ICO has reported.

 

Bespoke unconscious bias training was being rolled out to staff and the NEC. The NEC would continue to meet online until its meetings at conference. CLP meetings could now either be held in person or online, with guidance on Covid safety being issued.

 

As at previous meetings there were questions from his supporters about Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from the PLP. David emphasised that the Chief Whip has put the letter to Jeremy with its three criteria for the whip being restored into the public domain. Those criteria have not been met yet.

 

We also heard reports from the Leader and Deputy Leader.

 

Keir explained that the three days he had spent on the ground in Blackpool listening to voters was part of a pattern that would continue around the country through the summer. Each visit would show the leadership getting outside Westminster and would involve interaction with local media and community groups. Keir said that Labour was on the attack on every level against the Tories on Covid as the Delta variant was “the Johnson variant”, spreading rapidly due to Boris’ failure to take effective action, and the Tories were causing the country a summer of chaos and confusion.

 

It was disappointing that some colleagues again chose to waste their unique opportunity to engage constructively with Keir with rude and relentlessly negative questions, including asking the same ones about Jeremy Corbyn that David Evans had already answered.

 

Angela Rayner’s report focussed on the campaigning Labour would be doing over the summer to expose the Tories and set out our contrasting vision.

 

We agreed a report on Liverpool from a panel led by Sir David Hanson, which dealt with the Labour Party aspects of the fallout from the arrest of the former Mayor and subsequent Caller Report into the City Council. Having interviewed 60 of the key figures in the local party, it was clear that there was a bullying and toxic culture, a lack of scrutiny of the council, failure to declare interests etc. The panel’s 32 recommendations include dedicated party staff support for Liverpool, the NEC to run the panel process for council candidates, vetting, a code of practice and declarations of interest, antisemitism training for candidates and party officers, fast-tracking of all complaints about Liverpool members, refocusing the Local Campaign Forum on local issues, and reconstitution of the city’s CLPs so they all have a branch and GC model and scrutiny of councillors will be the same across the city.

 

I raised the related issues around Liverpool Jewish women MPs Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger being driven out of the party by antisemitism and said we would not have fully dealt with antisemitism until they felt able to re-join.

 

We then moved on to consider a general paper on how we assess the proscription of groups that are not compatible with Labour’s values, and four specific cases. I spoke in favour of the proscriptions. I was disappointed that some NEC members argued against proscription. I do not understand why more mainstream parts of the Hard Left cannot see the damage being done to their own reputation, let alone the party’s, by tolerating groups that minimise or deny the existence of antisemitism, or that are rival revolutionary communist parties seeking to infiltrate Labour. It was clear to me that Socialist Appeal is an entryist group, one of two lineal successors to the Militant Tendency, that Resist is already part of the steering committee of TUSC, a rival political party, and that Resist, Labour in Exile Network and Labour Against the Witch-hunt all oppose the party’s efforts to deal with antisemitism. None of these organisations belong anywhere near the Labour Party.

 

The main paper was approved by 22 votes to 11.

 

The proscription of Labour in Exile Network was approved by 22 votes to 10.

 

The proscription of Labour Against the Witch-hunt was approved by 22 votes to 10.

 

The proscription of Socialist Appeal was approved by 20 votes to 12.

 

The proscription of Resist was approved by 23 votes to 9.

 

We noted that membership of the party was now 466,000.

 

On Annual Conference we heard that the “Plan A” was a normal physical conference. If Covid necessitated, it then we could have a socially distant main hall with delegates only. Delegates who need to self-isolate could be replaced. Further fallback plans were for a hybrid online and physical conference or even a fully online one. Reference Backs on parts of National Policy Forum reports will now need to be sent in in advance of conference rather than from the floor. Replacement movers and seconders for composite motions will be allowed if the delegates from the initial organisations are pinged and have to self-isolate.

 

We agreed the outlines of the new Independent Complaints Process required by the EHRC as part of our action to stamp out antisemitism. It was noted that every action in the party’s EHRC Action Plan has been completed or is ongoing except this. The new process will apply to all disciplinary cases relating to the legally protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation), not just to antisemitism cases. Contrary to one NEC member’s question on an earlier item, Marxism is not a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act! The process requires further refinement and consultation with affected stakeholders before rule changes are agreed at Conference. Currently the NEC’s Disputes Panels, with an independent lawyer giving advice, hear cases where all the evidence is in writing. The National Constitutional Committee hears cases that need an oral hearing and appeals. Its rulings are final.

 

Under the new system the NEC Disputes Panels will still meet but where there are cases involving protected characteristics a lawyer from an Independent Review Panel (IRP) will be able to veto their judgements and refer them to an Independent Appeal Board (IAB) if they do not comply with the rules, the law, and new principles of independence. The IAB will consist of 4 lawyers, 4 lay members and 4 HR or regulatory experts, one person from each of these categories will serve on each decision-making panel. An IAB panel will also hear cases that would previously have gone to the NCC but involve a protected characteristic. The IRP will also have the power to undertake audits of the disciplinary process. IAB members will be appointed by a Recruitment Panel established by the General Secretary or their nominee.

 

Because of case law about the right to freedom of assembly and association under Article 11 of the Human Rights Act it isn’t legally possible to make the process totally independent from the Labour Party. The proposal is financially practicable and legally watertight and meets the EHRC’s requirements.

 

We were informed that it will take a further six months to clear the backlog of disciplinary cases.

 

We ended the meeting by agreeing a new Code of Conduct on Confidentiality by 19 votes to 10, and then there was a high note of unanimity where we agreed the very important Code of Conduct on Islamophobia, which incorporates the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims Definition of Islamophobia, unanimously.

 

Since the previous NEC meeting on 25 May, I have also participated in the following other meetings. It is not my intention usually to report in detail on sub-committee meetings because when I was on the NEC before we were under instruction that reports should only be on full meetings not committees, and in the case of Disputes Panels the proceedings are confidential:

 

·         Equalities Committee – 1 June

·         Organisation Committee – 8 June

·         Disputes Panel – 8 June

·         Health and Social Care Policy Commission – 26 May, 22 June

·         National Policy Forum – 6 July

·         Working Group on student structures – 8 July

·         Disabled Members Structures Working Group – 15 July

·         Boundary Review Working Group – 6 meetings and 3 regional consultation events

·         And a Disputes Panel hearing

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at July 22, 2021 04:09 PM

July 21, 2021

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Gemma Bolton’s Update from Labour’s NEC – 20th July

Labour’s National Executive Committee met yesterday 20th July 2021 and ran late into the evening. Below is a report from the NEC and the key decisions made. 

Leader’s Report

Keir Starmer reported on his work as leader of the party, including the Batley & Spen by-election. I asked Keir Starmer about a Survation poll published on 13th July which put the Tory Party at 43% and Labour at 32% and whether he believed his strategy of attacking the left of the Labour party more passionately than he attacked the Tory party would lead to electoral success for Labour. He replied that he was in fact offering a robust opposition to the Tories. He also fielded questions on a number of other issues such as returning the whip to Jeremy Corbyn, his apparent failure to challenge a reactionary comment from a voter on the laziness of young people and the party being outflanked to its left by the Tory Party on NHS pay. 

Forde Inquiry

The NEC received a very brief update on the Forde Inquiry into the ‘Labour Leaks’ document, which suggested internal sabotage of the party’s disciplinary process and 2017 general election campaign. The report is now over 12 months late and CLP reps urged the General Secretary in the strongest possible terms to find a way for Martin Forde QC to publish it. My NEC colleague Nadia Jama asked that Forde be invited to the next NEC meeting so that we can receive an update, which David Evans agreed to look into. If this does not materialise, myself and other CLP reps will attempt to arrange a meeting with Forde. Autumn is the timeframe in which NEC members were told to expect publication of the most important aspects of the report, with only the aspects related to the leaking of the document delayed due to an ongoing investigation from the Information Commissioner’s Office.  

Membership, Staffing and Finance

The NEC were informed of a stark drop in party membership, and were given an update on the party’s current financial situation, which I regret to report is in an extremely concerning state. We were therefore informed that a significant number of staff would have to be fired and a restructuring of the staffing operation would be carried out. My solidarity is with party staff who work so hard to deliver a Labour government and who are facing unemployment in the middle of a pandemic. I note the party is currently hiring temp staff to investigate cases. The party denies that this leaves us open to attacks of engaging in fire and rehire practices. 

In general, the party’s financial strategy currently seems to be to alienate members and trade unions, drive them out of the party, and deal with the financial and staffing consequences later. An urgent change of direction needs to occur, in which party members and trade unions are valued, in order to reverse this worrying trajectory. 

Proscriptions

As widely reported, a paper was presented to the NEC that proposed a new process for proscribing organisations from the Labour Party, and recommended that four organisations be proscribed from the party. As detailed in a collective statement prior to the NEC, I and the other Grassroots Voice 5 CLP representatives voted against the proscriptions. We are anti-racists and are committed to tackling racism and specifically anti-Semitism wherever it may arise in our party. We are also steadfast against people supporting candidates that stand against the Labour Party in elections. We believe, however, that the party already has processes in place for dealing with members that fall foul of these rules and expectations. Instead, what this looks like is a signal from the Labour leadership to the public that the priority in the middle of a pandemic is to attack their own party. I reminded colleagues at the NEC that this strategy of attacking one’s own party more than the Tories didn’t win Kinnock a General Election and it won’t win us one this time. 

Annual Conference 

Labour Party Annual Conference is due to go ahead this year, and will be held from the 25th-29th September in Brighton. The current working plan is for the conference to be held in person, although the party is aware that this may change due to government Covid restrictions. The NEC also discussed plans for a hybrid conference (some delegates attending in person and some online) and a fully online conference, if necessary. Below is an outline of the different scenarios we discussed: 

Plan A – fully in-person conference 

Plan B – hybrid conference, in person and online

Plan C – online conference

I’m really looking forward to this year’s conference, which should be an opportunity for members and trade unions to assert a socialist policy agenda that opposes the Tory attacks on our jobs and living standards, and not an opportunity for people to cosplay Kinnock’s 1980s left-bashing, which convinced the public that Labour were too divided to govern the country. 

Independent Complaints Process 

A paper was brought to the NEC which outlined a proposal for an independent complaints process. It was proposed that an Independent Review Panel of external lawyers be established that would oversee and have a power of veto over decisions made by NEC disciplinary panels regarding complaints related to protected characteristics. An Independent Appeal Board (made up of 4 lawyers, 4 lay members and four HR or regulatory experts) would also be established to hear any appeals against these decisions, or any complaints that an NEC panel feels it should hear. 

I accept the EHRC recommendations outlined in its report on the party and am committed to the Labour Party rebuilding its relationship with Jewish voters and members. I did not support this paper, however, because in my view it does not present an independent process for dealing with complaints, something the EHRC report mandated the party to create.  

The paper proposed that the Independent Review Panel and the Independent Appeal Board outlined above would, in effect, be recruited by the General Secretary. In my view this does not represent an independent complaints process. As the chief officer of the Labour Party, the General Secretary would form part of the prosecution process. For the General Secretary to recruit these panels, in my view, is tantamount to the prosecutor recruiting the jury / judge. It undermines the independence of the panels and goes against principles of natural justice. 

The NEC will be presented with rule changes to establish this complaints process in September, which will then be voted on by delegates at party conference. 

Codes of Conduct on Islamophobia 

A Code of Conduct was passed by the NEC on instances of Islamophobia, following consultations with Muslim stakeholders. It is a code of conduct the party can be proud of and I hope that it will go some way towards tackling Islamophobic prejudice in our party. This positive step was somewhat undermined, however, by the recent reports that Trevor Phillips – who has repeatedly expressed vile Islamophobic beliefs – has been re-admitted to party membership before completion of the disciplinary process. 

Muslim NEC colleagues Mish Rahman and Yasmine Dar also pointed out that the meeting yesterday was held on Eid Al-Adha, meaning that Muslim NEC members were not able to celebrate this important religious festival with their families. This was extremely disappointing and shows that the NEC needs to improve its commitment to equality and inclusion. May I wish Eid Mubarak to all Labour Party members celebrating. 

 

Gemma Bolton 

NEC CLP Representative 

Co-Chair / Campaign for Labour Party Democracy

by Jake Rubin at July 21, 2021 06:48 PM

May 29, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Meeting, 25 May 2021

The meeting opened with a moment’s silence for comrades who had died recently, including Frank Judd, Maureen Colquhoun and Ian Gibson, former MP for Norwich North.  Anneliese Dodds was welcomed as the new party chair, following Angela Rayner’s move to a high-profile voter-facing role, and she and Shabana Mahmood, national campaign co-ordinator, join the NEC […]

by Ann Black at May 29, 2021 02:27 PM

May 27, 2021

Alice Perry's Blog

Labour NEC Report – 25 May

Leader’s report

Keir Starmer spoke about the significance of the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and Labour’s response to the global movement addressing structural racism. Keir talked about the shadow cabinet reshuffle and welcomed the new national executive committee (NEC) members. He thanked the outgoing members for their work.

Keir thanked Labour members and supporters for all their hard work on May’s election. He talked about the mixed results. Keir noted that Labour achieved its joint best ever result in Wales and praised the leadership of Mark Drakeford and Welsh Labour. He talked about Labour’s improving performance in Scotland and, while there is a lot still to do to rebuild, the progress is positive.

The Labour leader talked about how Joanne Anderson became the first ever Black women to be elected mayor of Liverpool City and how Tracy Brabin was elected as the first female metro mayor. Keir highlighted some of Labour’s positive mayoral elections and talked about the bitter disappointment of our result in Hartlepool and other parts of England.

Keir talked about the changes necessary to win back public trust and support. He spoke about the need to move to a longer-term vision for the UK, which challenges inequality and insecurity in our economy. Keir told the NEC that Labour needs to be much more outward-facing and less concerned with internal party issues. Keir talked about how Labour also need to be focused on the future and the challenges of the future, rather than focusing on the past. Keir noted that the general election may be sooner than we think and we should plan for it taking place in 2023.

Keir took questions on the election results, international free-trade deals, national identity, the Forde Inquiry, the Batley and Spen by-election, the shadow cabinet reshuffle, social care, climate change, Labour’s disciplinary process, the policy review, community wealth building, community organising, Israel-Palestine and campaign strategy.

Deputy leader’s report

Angela Rayner thanked everyone for everything they did across the labour movement to support the elections. Angela talked about the consolidation of the right-wing vote and how Labour responds to the long-term trends that have been presenting electoral challenges.

She talked about her new work setting out Labour’s vision for Britain post-Covid, and about her work with the trade unions to focus on the changing world of work. Angela talked about her priority that all workers should be entitled to fair pay, job security and dignity of work. She highlighted issues around ‘fire and rehire’, sick pay and insecure contracts and contrasted Labour’s Welsh government with the priorities of the Tory Party in England. Angela reminded the NEC that where we are in power, we are making a real difference, and we should talk about this more.

Angela made the point that it isn’t just about the policies we have, but our tone that matters; we need to speak with people rather than talking down to them. She described how Labour should set out our policy agenda to show people we are on their side.

The deputy Labour leader quoted Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary Marsha de Cordova talking about how Black Lives Matter must be more than a slogan. She praised the work of Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy exposing structural racial equality. Angela told the NEC that a Labour government would implement the Lammy Review in full.

I thanked Angela for all her work as chair of the party, and particularly her tireless work to increase diversity in local government. This resulted in more diverse candidates standing to be mayors, councillors and police and crime commissioners. A lot of work often goes on behind the scenes to encourage people from under-represented groups to put themselves forward. While there is a lot more to do, we made important progress in May and wouldn’t have had some of our success stories without the hard work of Angela and others.

Election review

The NEC were presented with a summary of May’s election results. The Conservatives gained 14 councils with Labour losing eight. The Conservatives won 305 seats and the Greens won 74 seats, while Labour lost over 300. Labour won 11 of the 13 mayoral elections. We gained the West of England metro mayoralty and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoralty, where we came third in 2017. We won the new West Yorkshire metro mayor and held Greater ManchesterLiverpool City Region, North Tyneside, Salford, Doncaster, Bristol and London. Andy Burnham won every ward in Greater Manchester.

The NEC considered what lessons can be learned from Wales, where we recorder our best ever result. The NEC noted the 16% swing from Labour to the Conservatives in Hartlepool, and the positive swing towards Labour in Airdrie and Shotts in Scotland. We considered the regional swings around the country and the impact of the consolidation of the right-wing vote, with previous UKIP and Brexit Party voters switching to the Conservatives.

I gave the local government report on behalf of Labour group leader on the Local Government Association Nick Forbes. Nick had to leave the meeting to address urgent issues surrounding the government’s imposition of new Covid restrictions on a number of local authorities. We noted the loss of many excellent local councils and council leaders, including inspirational leaders like Sean Fielding and Alan Rhodes. Nick noted that many of the places Labour lost council seats were places where we lost MPs in 2019. In contrast, we often performed well in areas where we used incumbency in other tiers.

Despite being in government for over a decade, and imposing devastating cuts on local government, the Conservatives successfully positioned themselves as the party for change. In future, Labour must offer a messaging of local hope and positive vision for shaping our communities. Nick also highlighted the threat of the Greens and how important our work on climate change and the environment is to help counter this.

Membership

Labour has around 490,000 members. It remains one of the biggest political parties in Europe.

Sexual harassment

I raised the Labour Women’s Network campaign to improve the way Labour deals with sexual harassment and related complaints. I asked the Labour Party to publish the recommendations of the 2018 report by Karon Monaghan QC. David Evans agreed to do this in principle.

Meeting in-person

A full, in-person Labour Party conference is planned for September. It will take place in Brighton. Assuming the public health restrictions continue to ease, in-person meetings can start again soon. Meetings should remain online until July 31st. It will be possible that in-person meetings can begin from August.

NEC members raised the demand to keep meetings accessible and allow members to continue to attend either online or by telephone. I highlighted the Labour Party rule that states: “All group members may have the opportunity of participating in meetings and voting remotely using electronic means of communication where appropriate.” Many members of local parties and/or Labour groups have appreciated the flexibility of being able to participate in meetings remotely. Remote meetings have made politics more accessible to many. It is important that this can continue post-pandemic.

Policy making

New NEC member Anneliese Dodds gave an update on policy-making. She talked about how the pandemic has showed Labour values in action: solidarity, the value of trade unions and the importance of public service. Anneliese told the NEC that her policy review would work with the national policy forum (NPF), focusing on a smaller number of key strategic priority areas. Anneliese plans an interim report next spring/summer, preparing the work for a manifesto in 2023. The NPF will meet in July. NPF elections will take place in 2022.

by aliceperryuk at May 27, 2021 06:54 PM

May 26, 2021

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report - 25 May 2021

The NEC met in sombre and serious mood on 25 May, with an obvious priority of reflecting on the 6 May election results and considering the dramatic improvements and changes that will need to be made to respond to the message the electorate has sent us.

 

You can read my own analysis and response to the election results here https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/starmer-has-one-shot-to-save-labour-from-national-irrelevance-qqltzcj3f and here https://labourlist.org/2021/05/how-successful-was-labour-in-the-may-2021-elections/

 

Keir Starmer’s report opened with a pledge, on the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder and the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement, that a Labour Government would bring in a Race Equality Act to address structural racism.

 

Keir welcomed Anneliese Dodds (new frontbench rep) and Angela Eagle (new PLP rep) to the NEC.

 

He provided a candid, balanced and sobering summary of the election results and how serious a setback they had been, before setting out five policy themes that Labour will now be promoting:

 

1)    Restructuring a broken economy towards long-term investment rather than short-term shareholder return.

2)    Transforming the way we deliver public services so they are more integrated and less silo-ised.

3)    World class education and skills.

4)    Radical devolution.

5)    Modernisation of Britain.

 

He said the party needs a complete change of culture, so it is facing the voters at all times and less internally focused. We need to transform and modernise our campaigning structure in order to be able to transform and modernise the country.

 

Keir warned the General Election could be as early as May 2023 and we face the immediate challenge of a byelection in Batley & Spen.

 

During the Q&A I responded to claims by Momentum-supporting members of the NEC that members had been demoralised and therefore not campaigned by saying that this was not borne out by my personal experience as a council candidate or, in a different ward, as a ward organiser, in both cases I had seen increased levels of volunteering. Nor was it borne out by the data collected nationally about the number of canvassing contacts made, which Keir confirmed was higher than in the previous set of local elections, even with Covid affecting the way we could campaign. I asked Keir to make sure the policy review developed policies that would appeal to segments of the electorate who have moved away from us, particularly older voters, who we can’t win a General Election without winning back, as they are an increasing share of the population and have high propensity to turnout.

 

Answering a total of 16 questions, some of them disappointingly couched in less than comradely tones, Keir emphasised that policies from past manifestoes are never ruled out, but after several defeats you can’t just pick up the old manifesto you lost on as the starting point. We needed a simplified and focussed policy offer as there had just been too much for voters to believe was deliverable in 2019.

 

He emphasised the need to reach out to both rural voters and older voters, where an existing trend towards Labour voting falling off by age had become profoundly worse in 2019. He said we needed policies for older voters that would guarantee security and dignity in old age and wanted a discussion in detail about this at a future NEC meeting.

 

Asked about the Gaza conflict he reiterated Labour’s support for a two-state solution and referred the NEC to Lisa Nandy’s balanced statements which strongly condemned breaches of international law and human rights by either side (https://labour.org.uk/category/lisa-nandy/).

 

Following Keir, Angela Rayner also gave her report, talking about how we reconnect with voters we have lost and about her policy priority of addressing fire and rehire and insecure work in her new role as Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work.

 

Executive Director of Elections Anna Hutchinson took us through a detailed statistical analysis of the 6 May results.

 

General Secretary David Evans covered the byelections in Batley & Spen and Chesham & Amersham in his report, and the possibility of one in Delyn as the Conservative MP has been suspended for six weeks.

 

He reported on the work of the party’s internal Diversity and Inclusion Board, including the rollout of unconscious bias training.

 

He said publication of the Forde Report was still postponed, to avoid even partial disclosure prejudicing an ICO investigation. He was doing everything he could to get it published.

 

Membership is now 489,000, which remains very high by historic standards. A membership retention strategy is being developed.

 

The party was concerned about the risk of potential loss of income if Covid leads to restrictions on the format of Annual Conference.

 

Both David and Keir were repeatedly and tediously asked the same question about restoration of the whip to Jeremy Corbyn and David advised those NEC members who repeatedly raise this to write to the Chief Whip.

 

After David’s report we supported an amendment from Ellen Morrison to the paper about future arrangements for CLP and branch meetings to keep open hybrid online and offline options as online meetings are more accessible for many people. All meetings remain online until the end of July when the situation will be reviewed.

 

Anneliese Dodds spoke about the policy review she is now leading. This will produce a clear offer in time for a 2023 early General Election. It will show our core values of equality, security and ambition for our country. The review will work in step with and not duplicate the work of the National Policy Forum (NPF) and its commissions. The NPF tries to be encyclopaedic and develop policy on everything, whereas the review will only look at a small number of key areas. It will be future looking, trying to generate a Labour vision of the UK in 2030 and counterpoise that with a vision of what the UK will look like by 2030 if the Tories stay in charge. We want to create a country that is more equal, more secure and more ambitious about what it can achieve.

 

We were then given an update on the NPF’s processes. Equalities issues had been better integrated into the work of each Policy Commission. There will be a full NPF meeting on 6 July. The Policy Commissions were proving consensual and constructive. NPF Chair Ann Black said she wanted to harness the positive energy around policy making to give the NPF a more campaigning role.

 

Just to confuse things there is also an ongoing review of policy development. The deadline for CLPs and affiliates to make submissions is 24 June, then the NEC will agree proposals for a new way of making policy and put these to conference.

 

We signed off standing orders and a code of conduct for the National Women’s Conference.

 

We also signed off procedures for the trigger ballots and selections for Mayoral elections. Mish Rahman from Momentum proposed the trigger threshold should be 1/3 of branches or affiliates rather than ½ (i.e. that it should be easier to force a full reselection ballot). This was defeated by 19 votes to 10. He proposed that the Organisation Committee should have to sign off any decision by the General Secretary to rescind endorsement of a candidate if something damaging to the party emerges about them, This was defeated by 16 votes to 14.

 

Nadia Jama from Momentum tabled a motion calling for the Leader of Sheffield City Council Labour Group to be elected in an OMOV pilot by party members rather than by the Labour councillors. This was defeated by 20 votes to 11.

 

The meeting ended on a forward-looking note with agreement of a paper on an impressive Future Candidates Programme of training for up to 350 potential parliamentary candidates.

 

Since the previous NEC meeting on 11 February, I have also participated in the following other meetings. It is not my intention usually to report in detail on sub-committee meetings because when I was on the NEC before we were under instruction that reports should only be on full meetings not committees, and in the case of Disputes Panels the proceedings are confidential:

 

Equalities Committee – 4 March – dealing with EHRC Action Plan, All Women Shortlists, Women’s Conference, GRT working group, candidate diversity

Boundary Review Working Group – 9 March

Disputes Panel – 11 March

Organisation Committee – 11 March – dealing with EHRC Action Plan, new codes of conduct, BAME Structures, GRT working group, regional rules and standing orders

Working Group on student structures – 12 March

Health and Social Care Policy Commission – 15 March and 27 April

Full day training on Decision Making – 9 April

Training on antisemitism – 15 April

4 Disputes Panels hearings

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at May 26, 2021 05:30 PM

May 25, 2021

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Gemma Bolton’s Update from Labour’s NEC – 25th May 2021 (Key Items & Decisions)

Gemma Bolton’s Update from Labour’s NEC – 25th May 2021 (Key Items & Decisions)

Please find below a short update on the key decisions from today’s Labour Party NEC meeting, by NEC member and CLPD co-Chair Gemma Bolton. 

A full collective report on the meeting from the Grassroots Voice 5 (Gemma Bolton, Yasmine Dar, Nadia Jama, Laura Pidcock, Mish Rahman) will be circulated in due course. 

To sign-up for regular reports from the NEC and updates from CLPD, click here.


Update from NEC Meeting – 25 May 2021

The full NEC met 25th May 2021 and below are some of the key items discussed and decisions made. A more detailed collective report from the Grassroots Five will be circulated shortly. 

Elections Update, Leader and Deputy’s Leader Report

We had an elections update following the disastrous Hartlepool by-election, and a report from the leader and deputy leader on their work since the last NEC. We discussed where Labour was successful and what we need to change to win a future General Election. Questions were asked on a range of issues: from Keir’s commitment to his Ten Pledges, community organising, our council defeats (asked by Laura Pidcock), Palestine (asked by Yasmine Dar), the Whip being restored to Jeremy Corbyn and more.

General Secretary’s Report

The General Secretary reported on a number of issues, including the Forde Inquiry on the #LabourLeaks document. There is currently an investigation from the Information Commissioners Office which Forde believes publishing his report would prejudice. We were assured that once the ICO investigation is finished, the Forde Inquiry will be published.  We will keep pushing on this until the Inquiry is published and will ask for the Forde Inquiry to be on the NEC agenda for every meeting until it is. I have sent a set of questions to the General Secretary regarding a letter sent to the Party by Forde. Members deserve justice. 

Online Meetings

The NEC agreed that meetings will remain online only until July 31st at the earliest. 

Annual Conference

Labour Party Annual Conference is still due to go ahead *in person* from 25th-29th September in Brighton, unless the pandemic forces it to be moved online or delayed. 

National Women’s Conference

National Women’s Conference will be held online from 25th-26th June. Standing Orders and a Code of Conduct for the conference were discussed at today’s NEC meeting. I worked with Trade Union colleagues to secure some amendments to the Standing Orders and and the Code of Conduct. I loved the last Labour Women’s Conference in Telford, so am really looking forward to this one despite it not taking place in person! 

Single Authority Mayors – Selection Processes

A paper on the selection of Single Authority Mayors (e.g. Liverpool, Lewisham, Newham) was discussed. The paper proposed that where there was a sitting Labour Mayor, 50% of party branches or affiliated branches would have to indicate a desire to move to an open selection contest. My colleague Mish Rahman moved an amendment to ensure that this was reduced to 1/3rd of party branches / affiliated branches, which is in line with parliamentary selections introduced by Labour’s Democracy Review in 2018. Unfortunately this amendment fell. This looks like a step back for party democracy. Parliamentary trigger ballots were set at 1/3rd, why should this be any different? 

Motion on Members Electing the Leader of Sheffield Labour Group

My NEC colleague Nadia Jama presented a motion to the NEC calling for members in Sheffield to elect the leader of the Sheffield Labour Group, following an open letter to the NEC from Sheffield party members. There is provision in the rulebook for the NEC to pilot this so I was very happy to support this motion but it unfortunately did not pass. This could have been a fantastic opportunity to open up the election of the leadership of Labour in local government to grassroots members. 

Gemma Bolton 

Labour NEC CLP Representative 

Co-Chair / the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy 

 

by Jake Rubin at May 25, 2021 08:23 PM

May 22, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Update – Justice and Home Affairs Commission

As in my previous mail, the full NEC meets on Tuesday 25 May.  Thank you to everyone who has already sent thoughts about the elections and the aftermath, more comments are welcome!  I will read them all and reply to as many as I can. Justice and Home Affairs Commission, 12 May 2021 Policy commissions […]

by Ann Black at May 22, 2021 04:06 PM

May 04, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Update – Elections, Women’s Conference, Policy-Making

Thank you for everything that you’re doing, and good luck on Thursday.  These are not easy elections, and though the full NEC does not meet till 25 May, please send me any thoughts on your local campaigns while they are still fresh, and I will pass them on.  The NEC needs to know what worked […]

by Ann Black at May 04, 2021 03:46 PM

April 30, 2021

Luke Akehurst's Blog

In memory of my mum

 A few words about my mum, Nan Akehurst (nee Davies), who passed away suddenly today.

 

Mum was quite a character. She was fun, caring, thoughtful, arty, creative, wacky, and could be incredibly stubborn, illogical (she said logic came from maths, and she hated maths), and hot-tempered.

 

She was a baby boomer, whose mum and dad had put off starting a family for five years because they were busy doing their bit in WW2 as a casualty clearing station nurse and a Lance Bombardier in the 11th Survey Regiment. Back in civilian life her dad, George, returned to his teaching career, while her mum, Molly, cared for the family. Baby Nan was born in Northfleet, Kent, in June 1946. She owed her unusual first name to Scottish ancestry on her mum’s side, her maternal grandfather William McKenzie was born in Dumbarton but had travelled to Kent to find work and ended up as the Labour Mayor of Gravesend.

 

Mum’s childhood was marred by a series of painful operations and long stays in Great Ormond Street hospital for reconstructive surgery because she and her brother were born with a rare genetic anomaly that meant they only had one ear, and this obviously meant in later life her hearing was affected. Tragically her younger brother Billy died in a road accident when he was 11 and mum was 13. She became a rebellious teenager – school reports she kept cannot have been comfortable reading for her parents, nowadays we would say she had PTSD. Her dad’s promotions in his teaching career saw the family move first to Coventry, where my mum liked her short time at the gleaming new Whitley Abbey Comprehensive School, where her dad was a housemaster, and remembered crossing acres of still bombed out streets to get there (this would have been around 1957). Her dad’s promotion to be a secondary head teacher saw the family move back to Kent and settle in Canterbury. Mum didn’t enjoy her new school, Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar, and the loss of her brother a year later clearly had a big effect on her for a long time. She only really opened up to me about how traumatic it was a few years ago.

 

Mum left the Langton after a rather mixed bag of O Levels and spent a couple of years at Canterbury College of Art. It sounds like incredibly good fun, and she kept in touch for decades afterwards with her favourite teachers, but there were no jobs at the end of it. A highlight was that she designed a tie for Mick Jagger which she says he wore on stage.

 

After art college there was a brief period living away from home in Kingston-upon-Thames and commuting into a very dull civil service job in a tax office near The Strand.

 

London life didn’t appeal so mum ended up back in Canterbury and eventually found a role that really suited her as a fashion buyer in the boutique section – the clothes for younger women – at Martin’s, the main women’s wear shop in town. She also worked at Riceman's and Lenleys, department stores that were features of Canterbury shopping. The fashion job was in the late ‘60s.

 

1960s mum was described by her younger cousins to me today as “cool and groovy”.

 

By this time my mum had developed a very clear set of ideas about what she liked and what she didn’t like. She liked the Stones and despised the Beatles. She liked to be stylish, and this was achieved whether through careful saving for certain key outfits, or an incredible eye for bargains at sales and jumble sales. She liked music in a minor key and with soul to it – Motown, Ella Fitzgerald, Georgie Fame, blues, heavy Russian classical composers like Prokofiev and Rachmaninov. She liked equally soulful art: Van Gogh (who she identified with because of his missing ear), Hieronymous Bosch (thanks for the nightmares when you showed me his pictures of hell as little kid mum!), Fra Filippo Lippi. This meant on a later trip to Italy when we took her to Florence we got stuck for nearly an hour analysing one picture in the Uffizi. She liked cooking and eating spectacular meals, often waking at the crack of dawn to start preparing them, with a range from traditional roasts to French style sauces and often a choice of several hand made deserts. The Christmas parties she hosted were legendary. The final year of her life seemed to involve a lot of confit de canard. To go with the food, she liked wine – it had to be red, or if white, of a dryness akin to gargling pebbles. No fruit flavours were allowed to get in the way. Gin was also on the list of household essentials. She liked interior decoration, the house seemed to get a makeover several times a decade. She loved to read, particularly historical novels.

 

She did not like TV (until relatively recently – she didn’t allow one in the house until the late ‘80s), or sport, or technology, pizza, or pasta.

 

At the start of the 1970s she met my dad, Tony Akehurst, at the Bridge Country Club at a jazz gig, mum was working behind the bar there. They were together for the rest of her life, marrying in 1971. They would have had their 50th wedding anniversary this October. Dad was 8 years older than mum, and a farm boy from Barham in East Kent. I think he was blown away by mum’s sophisticated and fiery persona, and he provided the perfect foil for her – calm, laid back, practical. They made a brilliant team as parents to me (born 1972) and my younger siblings Sam (1974) and Ella (1976) and their loyalty and affection for each other and us has been just incredible.

 

Financially the 1970s were very tough for mum and dad, with mum at home with three little kids and dad in not very well-paid jobs, particularly after he returned to the family farm. They lived with my grandparents until I was two, and then in a draughty 1919 bungalow built of asbestos near the farm. This was a mile or more to the nearest bus stop, quite a hike with three children, so my mum felt very isolated.

 

Things looked up in 1979, though money was still short, when they were allocated a housing association house on a new estate in Chartham, a large village just outside Canterbury. Mum was delighted to be somewhere where there were people rather than just fields, and became a fixture of the village community for the rest of her life, later moving to the first and only house they bought, Swanhaven, in the heart of the village.

 

Mum was the Chartham village columnist for the Kentish Gazette for decades, paid 7p a line to report everything down to who got 3rd place for potatoes at the cottage gardeners’ society exhibition. She played a leading role in the Friends of Chartham Primary School, helping organise a succession of Christmas and summer fetes. She ran summer holiday play sessions for local kids, sometimes in liaison with the librarians from Canterbury children’s library. Whilst not as involved in political life as me or her grandparents, she was a member of the Labour Party from about 1980 onwards, standing once for the parish council (she didn’t enjoy being a candidate) and for many years leafletting the entire village at election times. Her politics were ferociously left-wing – she was burning with anger about her own experience of coping on Family Credit top-ups in the Thatcher years, but also about poverty, injustice and racism wherever she saw it.

 

Mum’s biggest contribution to village life was to be part of the upbringing not just of her own three children but of two entire generations of Chartham children. This started with helping organise the Chartham Preschool Playgroup, in the days before areas like that had any LEA provided nursery provision. This eventually folded into a proper nursery class at the local primary school, and my mum worked as a classroom assistant from the 1990s until well into her 70s. She was adored by small children and loved working with them. She stayed at the school so long that eventually children she had looked after in the 1990s came back as parents with their own children twenty years later. She spread happiness and love to hundreds of children.

 

Mum was delighted to become a mother-in-law to my wife Linda and Sam’s wife Catherine. She welcomed them into her family and hosted some of the most glorious, deliciously catered and wine saturated dinners you can imagine. She was even more delighted when over the last 15 years, between her three children a total of five grandsons joined the tribe.

 

She adored them all and loved spending time with them, and they with her. She particularly played a crucial role in the upbringing of my sister’s son Casper. My sister and her son have been living with my mum and dad as my sister has a number of health problems, and mum has sacrificed more than we will ever know to provide them with care, support and love.

 

Mum was a loyal friend to dozens of people. She would handwrite letters – definitely not emails, which she refused to engage with – in her extremely distinctive italicised handwriting (a graphologist would have had a field day) to contacts she had kept since school and art college days. Her art college friend Denise, who she adored, would come to stay. Every minutiae of people’s lives in the village and beyond appeared to be a matter of passionate concern. If you were alone, bereaved or having a bad time, there was a place at the dinner table. No matter her own family stresses and tribulations, and there were many, she was always there for other people.

 

My mum wasn’t a person who found consolation in any faith, but she lived her life by very firm values about serving and caring for others, friendship, selflessness and love.

 

She hated the idea of getting old, and never conceded an inch to the aging process. In going suddenly, we’ve missed a couple of decades we thought we had left of her excellent company, but she will be forever remembered as about as youthful a 74 year-old as it is possible to be.

 

Thank you mum for everything you have done for us. We will always be in debt to you for your love, support and care. We love you and miss you already.

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at April 30, 2021 07:52 PM

March 26, 2021

Mish Rahman's Blog

NEC Report – FEbruary – march 2021

Our NEC update from the Grassroots five for January 2021

Report authored by Gemma Bolton, Mish Rahman, Nadia Jama, Laura Pidcock and Yasmine Dar


FULL NEC MEETING – 11th february 2021

Leader’s Report

The NEC received a report from the Labour leader, which covered: universal credit, cladding, airports relating to job losses and plans for the local election campaign.

Keir was questioned on his lack of support for the National Education Union and how often he has seemingly supported the government rather than calling out their gross cruelty. Keir reminded us that the party has been using opposition motion days to work on action over cladding and Universal Credit cuts. We welcome action on these deeply important issues. However, in the context of 120,000 people dead from Covid-19, and the attacks on people’s jobs and living standards through renewed and harsher austerity imposed by the Tories, we are asking for much bolder opposition from the Labour front bench.

We raised concerns about the consistent addition of the Union Jack flag to all of the party’s branding. Black GV5 member Nadia Jama recalled racist abuse around the flag such as being told “there’s no black in the Union Jack” when younger. For many of the communities Labour hopes to represent, and which we often rely on for a large percentage of our vote share, the flag has negative connotations that the party is neither considering nor doing anything to address.

Keir was asked why the PLP had been whipped to abstain on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources bill, which would enshrine into law the ability of undercover agents to break the law without proper limitations and safeguards. We feel this is deeply dangerous and undermines a fundamental principle that the law must apply to everyone equally. We feel strongly that the Labour Party should have opposed this bill robustly. Keir Starmer defended his actions, saying it was the right decision to abstain on the bill as national security would have been weakened had this bill not passed.

Finally, Keir was reminded that the NEC meeting took place 3 months after the decision not to restore the whip to former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, despite his being re-admitted to party membership by a democratic sub-panel of Labour’s NEC. When the decision to not restore the whip was taken, Keir said the matter would be kept under review. NEC members received (and continue to receive) thousands of emails from members calling for the whip to be restored. In the name of democracy, respect for the party’s processes and party unity, and in the context of us embarking on a local election campaign with a starkly-split party and disgruntled membership, it is time this sorry business was put behind us. Jeremy is a Labour member and a member of parliament; he should also be a Labour Member of Parliament.

Deputy Leader’s Report

Angela gave the NEC an update on her work as deputy leader and Party chair. She reported back on her work to ensuring diverse candidates, specifically mentioning successes in bringing about greater diversity among the Police and Crime Commissioner candidates. Questions were asked with regard to ensuring those diverse candidates were also standing in winnable seats.

Angela further talked about her commitment to community organising despite multiple staff members of Labour’s Community Organising Unit losing their jobs in the middle of a pandemic due to the unit being entirely scrapped. David Evans later argued this was lack of finances but this doesn’t seem to hold true given that the party is hiring for a number of new roles. Biden’s victory in the United States, particularly in places such as the Georgia, shows how political parties can win by deep organising in the communities it wishes to represent. For Labour to win back areas we have tragically lost in recent years, community organising is essential. In light of this, it is of deep regret that the Community Organising Unit is being abolished. The whole situation smacks of an attempt to remove a unit that is simply deemed to be an imposition from the previous leadership. We also believe it was the most diverse unit in the party.

General Secretary’s Report

i) Forde Inquiry Update

The NEC was supposed to receive an update on the Forde Inquiry into the ‘Labour Leaks’ report, which alleged: factional mis-handling of antisemitism cases; abuse and harassment of party members and Black MPs by party staff, as well as internal sabotage of the party’s 2017 General Election campaign through the misappropriation of funds.

We were disappointed to be told by the Forde Inquiry that they had taken the decision to further delay the publication of the report as a result of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigating a potential data breach related to the leaking of the report. Forde argues that such publication of the report could prejudice the ICO investigation.

The publication of the report has already been extensively delayed – we echo this statement from 9 black MPs on the subject. Party members deserve the truth and justice for what went on.

ii) EHRC Implementation 

The EHRC action plan was approved by the EHRC in December. Setting out a framework for required stakeholder engagement, an advisory board and engagement group to sit below the advisory board. The education and training programme is also underway.

iii) Membership

The NEC received an update on Party membership. We were greatly concerned to hear of a swift decline in party members, especially amongst those who are young, Disabled and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. Labour members are our party’s greatest asset, and are a campaigning army to deliver seats and wins for Labour. We will pursue the party to regularly update the NEC on the work it is doing to win back members.

iv) Suspensions

The NEC received an update on suspensions from the party. We stated that suspensions should never be used as a form of punishment. This is an abuse of our procedures. We were told that the cases are now being processed but we are concerned that this is happening so slowly. We are keeping this under review and are asking questions at every opportunity.

v) Staffing

Alongside explanations as to why the Community Organising Unit was being removed, General Secretary David Evans reported that we now have equalities staff networks for women, disability, and more. There has also been the implementation of a prayer room and quiet space. There are now also free sanitary products at the offices and a menopause policy. The party is about to appoint an ‘Executive Director for People and Talent’. Clarity is yet to be obtained on what this role actually entails! There will also be ACAS inclusive training and training on Trans Rights from Gendered Intelligence.

Policy Development Review Update 

In line with the democracy review, Labour has undertaken a review of the way in which the party develops its policy. It looks at the relationship between the National Policy Forum, Party Conference and the formulation of the manifesto. We believe that if the review goes ahead as planned, more power will be handed to members over the way in which labour develops policy.

Sandwell Update

Due to a variety of longstanding issues in the Labour-controlled borough of Sandwell, the NEC agreed to send two representatives to work alongside West Midlands Regional Executive Committee members in selecting candidates for the upcoming May elections.

Sandwell is an area with a large Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic population and NEC CLP reps Yasmine Dar and Mish Rahman were suggested to form part of the panel. Two white NEC members were also put forward to be on the panel. Grassroots Voice reps and left Trade Union colleagues argued that in the interests of ensuring gender balance and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation in this diverse area, Yasmine and Mish should be appointed by the NEC on this occasion. It went to a vote that we lost, meaning that the NEC voted to send two white men as our representatives on this panel. This was an extremely disappointing outcome.

Labour Students

At an NEC meeting prior to Labour Party Conference 2019, the organisation formerly known as Labour Students was disaffiliated from the Labour Party, following a vote from the NEC. This was due to years of anti-democratic decisions and disenfranchisement of its own members.

The NEC was asked to agree a paper establishing a Labour Students Working Group to bring a proposal for the new structure to the NEC for agreement, the proposed makeup of the working group was:

NEC Chair

NEC Vice-Chair

NEC Treasurer

NEC Youth Representative

Young Labour Student Representatives

NEC CLP Representative

NEC Trade Union Representative

NEC Socialist Societies representative

Deputy Leader and Party Chair

It was agreed that Gemma Bolton and Luke Akehurst would jointly represent the CLPs and Michael Wheeler would represent the Trade Unions. An amendment was also moved that the 3 student reps on the Young Labour National Committee should be added as the only representatives in the party with a mandate explicitly from Student members of the party. This passed and was a win for party democracy.

The initial meeting of the working group took place on 12th March and there was broad consensus on the majority of issues. The group will meet again to formalise the agreements into a proposal and discuss the issues that did not reach consensus.

Letter to David Evans 

On December 11th, an unprecedented letter from 284 Party Chairs and Secretaries from over 180 Constituency Parties was sent to David Evans, expressing their concern over the guidance issued to Party Units restricting certain matters of political discussion, including expressions of solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn over his suspension and the restoration of the whip. A huge number of CLP Officers have been suspended following non-compliance with this guidance. CLP reps are working hard to rectify this situation. The Grassroots Voice candidates, along with our colleagues on the NEC, wrote to David Evans asking that his guidance be withdrawn and that he responds to these hard working volunteers. David has now responded and you can read his response, as well as the views of some of the CLP secretaries to his response here. You can read the original letter from the 284 Chairs and Secretaries here.


Organisation Subcommittee – 11th March 2021

EHRC Action Plan

In response to the EHRC report, Labour has drawn up an action plan, which has been accepted by the EHRC, in order to deal with the findings of the report. This includes making changes to the Social Media Policy code of conduct, the Confidentiality and Privacy Code of Conduct as well as creating Codes of Conduct on Anti-Black racism and Islamophobia.

Code of Conduct: Social Media Policy

In order to carry out the EHRC action plan, the Social Media Policy has been changed and we urge members to take a read of the document, which is available here. A key item of note is the addition that liking or sharing content deemed to be at odds with party rules and codes of conduct on fighting discrimination will now lead to disciplinary action.

We proposed multiple amendments in order to make sure all forms of discrimination were adequately and equally opposed within the party. All amendments passed.

We also sought assurances that after completion of the codes of conduct that are being drawn up on anti-black racism and Islamophobia, which are part of the implementation of the EHRC report, we would begin drawing up codes of conduct on all other forms of discrimination named within the rulebook and current codes of conduct in order to adequately define what constitutes a rule breach. This should mean codes of conduct are forthcoming on forms of discrimination such as Ableism, Transphobia and Homophobia.

Code of Conduct: Confidentiality and Privacy

A paper on Confidentiality and Privacy was presented for consideration. A number of concerns were raised, including the importance of elected representatives reporting back to members and those they are accountable to about NEC meetings. The paper was referred to a future meeting of the Organisation Sub-Committee so that more time could be given for consideration of its proposals.

Development of an Islamophobia Code of Conduct and an Anti-Black Racism Code of Conduct

Both papers were agreed with slight amendments and work is swiftly underway to put the codes of conduct in place. Nadia Jama and Carol Sewell are to be included in the group undertaking the anti-Black racism work together with other stakeholders and Black MPs.

In light of the EHRC and Labour Muslim Network reports, drawing up these Codes of Conduct are an important step in dealing with these forms of discrimination within the party.

NEC Aims and Objectives

Paper agreed. The need for greater policy from the party was stressed. It is important that the NEC and its elected committees and officers play an important role in the leadership of our party on governance and policy.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Structures working group outcomes

The long awaited new Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic structures and how a national committee would be composed and elected were finalised in this meeting.

The  Black Asian and Minority Ethnic committee structures will have CLP representation, Trade Union representation and reps from the PLP, ALC, NEC etc.

We managed to increase the number of CLP reps to gain parity with TU reps (11 each), something that the working group had failed to get consensus on.

We argued and voted for both the Chair of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Committee and the CLP places to be voted by OMOV (One Member, One Vote).

We argued this because we felt it was  important that EVERY Black, Asian and  Minority Ethnic Labour member gets a vote and not just the few who are able to go to a conference.

Unfortunately this was unsuccessful in a vote. We voted for OMOV on both occasions, which is what our members wanted as per the Democracy Review, while other CLP reps and even the NEC BAME rep voted against it. This is not good for member democracy in our view as it is our role as CLP representatives to speak up for rank and file members so we would have expected other CLP representatives to do the same.

Our major area of concern was allowing two voting positions to BAME Labour.

To sum them up: BAME Labour is a near defunct pocket organisation that represents almost no one in the Party.

We raised our concerns and asked for clarification on whether this moribund organisation is an official affiliate, whether it pays its affiliation fees to the Party and how many members they have.

These were important points that required clarification to give any legitimacy to BAME Labour as an organisation supposedly representing members. Our questions were not answered. We do not feel that this was good practice and we also lost that vote too.

Composition of GRT Working Group

The group has been set up to develop a definition of anti-Gypsy, Roma and Traveller racism and discrimination. GV5 and Trade Union colleagues had stressed the importance of making sure this group is overwhelmingly made up of community stakeholders. We were happy with the outcomes on this. It was agreed to send Laura Pidcock to the group to represent the CLP representatives and Andi Fox to represent the trade unions.

Elections Update

We tried to raise the Liverpool Mayoral selection contest and get an update on this extremely concerning situation. Unfortunately this was denied, it was argued that the matter was too confidential even for NEC members!

We raised concerns from the CLPs that they are struggling with activist engagement, noting the multiple reasons and issues members  had contacted us regarding. This included how many members feel attacked after the dictats and numerous suspensions and also the continued suspension of Jeremy Corbyn’s whip, which is affecting party unity and cohesion.

We also raised concerns about safely campaigning given the pandemic, from risk of infection to fear of attack and harassment for being out and about. Many members, especially younger activists, won’t yet be vaccinated and the party has a duty to make every effort to ensure we keep people safe. It will be included in communications to members and regional directors that those who do not feel safe should not feel any pressure to be out and that phone-banking and online campaigning is just as valued.

These are a hugely important set of elections, so we urge you to sign up for a postal ballot and vote early in order to ensure the best turn out for Labour.

CLPs in Special Measures

We were informed that the party was investigating serious incidents in the London borough of Newham constituencies of West Ham and East Ham.  There was no paper provided, just a verbal report. We were told this could lead to special measures.

We insisted that it is important a roadmap is urgently put together and that member-led selections are not impacted. We await the paper and a report into Newham.

NOTE – Both East Ham CLP and West Ham CLP’s were suspended the following day. We will be keeping an eye on the situation there and working towards the return of full democracy to the CLPs as soon as possible.

CLP motions + Recall Conference Motion

We considered the motions passed by CLPs. Members raised the ‘recall conference’ motion that had been passed in multiple CLPs and moved that we take a vote on it. The Chair did not allow for a vote on this, citing that it is not permissible for the NEC to take a vote on motions passed by CLPs.

As such, this means that, currently, the motions you as members take the time to pass in your CLPs are seen briefly by NEC members at the end of a long Organisation Sub Committee meeting, are noted, and then go no further and cannot actually be passed or agreed by the NEC. We have asked for CLP motions to be moved up the agenda and will be looking at ways to ensure members’ motions are given due consideration, discussion and action by the party.

Abuse

Unfortunately, the meeting ended with an incident. GV5 NEC member Laura Pidcock was speaking about the need for members to feel listened to, especially with regard to the NEC discussing and offering due consideration to motions passed by CLPs, an incident then occurred which the Labour Party’s General Secretary said the Party would conduct an investigation into.

Report authored by Gemma Bolton, Mish Rahman, Nadia Jama, Laura Pidcock and Yasmine Dar

by Admin at March 26, 2021 05:34 PM

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Grassroots Voice NEC Report: 11th February-26th March

See below for a report from the Labour Party NEC Organisation Sub-Committee meeting held 11th March 2021 and the Full NEC meeting held 11th February 2021 from the Grassroots Voice NEC CLP representatives team: Gemma Bolton, Yasmine Dar, Nadia Jama, Laura Pidcock, Mish Rahman. 

To sign-up for regular reports from the NEC and updates from CLPD, click here.

This report was originally published on grassrootslabour.net 


Full NEC Meeting – 11th February 2021

Leader’s Report

The NEC received a report from the Labour leader, which covered: universal credit, cladding, airports relating to job losses and plans for the local election campaign.

Keir was questioned on his lack of support for the National Education Union and how often he has seemingly supported the government rather than calling out their gross cruelty. Keir reminded us that the party has been using opposition motion days to work on action over cladding and Universal Credit cuts. We welcome action on these deeply important issues. However, in the context of 120,000 people dead from Covid-19, and the attacks on people’s jobs and living standards through renewed and harsher austerity imposed by the Tories, we are asking for much bolder opposition from the Labour frontbench.

We raised concerns about the consistent addition of the Union Jack flag to all of the party’s branding. Black GV5 member Nadia Jama recalled racist abuse around the flag such as being told “there’s no black in the Union Jack” when younger. For many of the communities Labour hopes to represent, and which we often rely on for a large percentage of our vote share, the flag has negative connotations that the party is neither considering nor doing anything to address.

Keir was asked why the PLP had been whipped to abstain on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources bill, which would enshrine into law the ability of undercover agents to break the law without proper limitations and safeguards. We feel this is deeply dangerous and undermines a fundamental principle that the law must apply to everyone equally. We feel strongly that the Labour Party should have opposed this bill robustly. Keir Starmer defended his actions, saying it was the right decision to abstain on the bill as national security would have been weakened had this bill not passed.

Finally, Keir was reminded that the NEC meeting took place 3 months after the decision not to restore the whip to former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, despite his being re-admitted to party membership by a democratic sub-panel of Labour’s NEC. When the decision to not restore the whip was taken, Keir said the matter would be kept under review. NEC members received (and continue to receive) thousands of emails from members calling for the whip to be restored. In the name of democracy, respect for the party’s processes and party unity, and in the context of us embarking on a local election campaign with a starkly-split party and disgruntled membership, it is time this sorry business was put behind us. Jeremy is a Labour member and a member of parliament; he should also be a Labour Member of Parliament.

 

Deputy Leader’s Report

Angela gave the NEC an update on her work as deputy leader and Party chair. She reported back on her work to ensuring diverse candidates, specifically mentioning successes in bringing about greater diversity among the Police and Crime Commissioner candidates. Questions were asked with regard to ensuring those diverse candidates were also standing in winnable seats.

Angela further talked about her commitment to community organising despite multiple staff members of Labour’s Community Organising Unit losing their jobs in the middle of a pandemic due to the unit being entirely scrapped. David Evans later argued this was lack of finances but this doesn’t seem to hold true given that the party is hiring for a number of new roles. Biden’s victory in the United States, particularly in places such as the Georgia, shows how political parties can win by deep organising in the communities it wishes to represent. For Labour to win back areas we have tragically lost in recent years, community organising is essential. In light of this, it is of deep regret that the Community Organising Unit is being abolished. The whole situation smacks of an attempt to remove a unit that is simply deemed to be an imposition from the previous leadership. We also believe it was the most diverse unit in the party.

 

General Secretary’s Report

i) Forde Inquiry Update

The NEC was supposed to receive an update on the Forde Inquiry into the ‘Labour Leaks’ report, which alleged: factional mis-handling of antisemitism cases; abuse and harassment of party members and Black MPs by party staff, as well as internal sabotage of the party’s 2017 General Election campaign through the misappropriation of funds.

We were disappointed to be told by the Forde Inquiry that they had taken the decision to further delay the publication of the report as a result of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigating a potential data breach related to the leaking of the report. Forde argues that such publication of the report could prejudice the ICO investigation.

The publication of the report has already been extensively delayed – we echo this statement from 9 black MPs on the subject. Party members deserve the truth and justice for what went on.

 

ii) EHRC Implementation 

The EHRC action plan was approved by the EHRC in December. Setting out a framework for required stakeholder engagement, an advisory board and engagement group to sit below the advisory board. The education and training programme is also underway.

 

iii) Membership

The NEC received an update on Party membership. We were greatly concerned to hear of a swift decline in party members, especially amongst those who are young, Disabled and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. Labour members are our party’s greatest asset, and are a campaigning army to deliver seats and wins for Labour. We will pursue the party to regularly update the NEC on the work it is doing to win back members.

 

iv) Suspensions 

The NEC received an update on suspensions from the party. We stated that suspensions should never be used as a form of punishment. This is an abuse of our procedures. We were told that the cases are now being processed but we are concerned that this is happening so slowly. We are keeping this under review and are asking questions at every opportunity.

 

v) Staffing

Alongside explanations as to why the Community Organising Unit was being removed, General Secretary David Evans reported that we now have equalities staff networks for women, disability, and more. There has also been the implementation of a prayer room and quiet space. There are now also free sanitary products at the offices and a menopause policy. The party is about to appoint an ‘Executive Director for People and Talent’. Clarity is yet to be obtained on what this role actually entails! There will also be ACAS inclusive training and training on Trans Rights from Gendered Intelligence.

 

Policy Development Review Update 

In line with the democracy review, Labour has undertaken a review of the way in which the party develops its policy. It looks at the relationship between the National Policy Forum, Party Conference and the formulation of the manifesto. We believe that if the review goes ahead as planned, more power will be handed to members over the way in which labour develops policy.

 

Sandwell Update

Due to a variety of longstanding issues in the Labour-controlled borough of Sandwell, the NEC agreed to send two representatives to work alongside West Midlands Regional Executive Committee members in selecting candidates for the upcoming May elections.

Sandwell is an area with a large Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic population and NEC CLP reps Yasmine Dar and Mish Rahman were suggested to form part of the panel. Two white NEC members were also put forward to be on the panel. Grassroots Voice reps and left Trade Union colleagues argued that in the interests of ensuring gender balance and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation in this diverse area, Yasmine and Mish should be appointed by the NEC on this occasion. It went to a vote that we lost, meaning that the NEC voted to send two white men as our representatives on this panel. This was an extremely disappointing outcome.

 

Labour Students

At an NEC meeting prior to Labour Party Conference 2019, the organisation formerly known as Labour Students was disaffiliated from the Labour Party, following a vote from the NEC. This was due to years of anti-democratic decisions and disenfranchisement of its own members.

The NEC was asked to agree a paper establishing a Labour Students Working Group to bring a proposal for the new structure to the NEC for agreement, the proposed makeup of the working group was:

NEC Chair

NEC Vice-Chair

NEC Treasurer

NEC Youth Representative

Young Labour Student Representatives

NEC CLP Representative

NEC Trade Union Representative

NEC Socialist Societies representative

Deputy Leader and Party Chair

It was agreed that Gemma Bolton and Luke Akehurst would jointly represent the CLPs and Michael Wheeler would represent the Trade Unions. An amendment was also moved that the 3 student reps on the Young Labour National Committee should be added as the only representatives in the party with a mandate explicitly from Student members of the party. This passed and was a win for party democracy.

The initial meeting of the working group took place on 12th March and there was broad consensus on the majority of issues. The group will meet again to formalise the agreements into a proposal and discuss the issues that did not reach consensus.

 

Letter to David Evans 

On December 11th, an unprecedented letter from 284 Party Chairs and Secretaries from over 180 Constituency Parties was sent to David Evans, expressing their concern over the guidance issued to Party Units restricting certain matters of political discussion, including expressions of solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn over his suspension and the restoration of the whip. A huge number of CLP Officers have been suspended following non-compliance with this guidance. CLP reps are working hard to rectify this situation. The Grassroots Voice candidates, along with our colleagues on the NEC, wrote to David Evans asking that his guidance be withdrawn and that he responds to these hard working volunteers. David has now responded and you can read his response, as well as the views of some of the CLP secretaries to his response here. You can read the original letter from the 284 Chairs and Secretaries here.

 

Organisation Subcommittee – 11th March 2021

EHRC Action Plan

In response to the EHRC report, Labour has drawn up an action plan, which has been accepted by the EHRC, in order to deal with the findings of the report. This includes making changes to the Social Media Policy code of conduct, the Confidentiality and Privacy Code of Conduct as well as creating Codes of Conduct on Anti-Black racism and Islamophobia.

Code of Conduct: Social Media Policy

In order to carry out the EHRC action plan, the Social Media Policy has been changed and we urge members to take a read of the document, which is available here. A key item of note is the addition that liking or sharing content deemed to be at odds with party rules and codes of conduct on fighting discrimination will now lead to disciplinary action.

We proposed multiple amendments in order to make sure all forms of discrimination were adequately and equally opposed within the party. All amendments passed.

We also sought assurances that after completion of the codes of conduct that are being drawn up on anti-black racism and Islamophobia, which are part of the implementation of the EHRC report, we would begin drawing up codes of conduct on all other forms of discrimination named within the rulebook and current codes of conduct in order to adequately define what constitutes a rule breach. This should mean codes of conduct are forthcoming on forms of discrimination such as Ableism, Transphobia and Homophobia.

Code of Conduct: Confidentiality and Privacy

A paper on Confidentiality and Privacy was presented for consideration. A number of concerns were raised, including the importance of elected representatives reporting back to members and those they are accountable to about NEC meetings. The paper was referred to a future meeting of the Organisation Sub-Committee so that more time could be given for consideration of its proposals.

Development of an Islamophobia Code of Conduct and an Anti-Black Racism Code of Conduct

Both papers were agreed with slight amendments and work is swiftly underway to put the codes of conduct in place. Nadia Jama and Carol Sewell are to be included in the group undertaking the anti-Black racism work together with other stakeholders and Black MPs.

In light of the EHRC and Labour Muslim Network reports, drawing up these Codes of Conduct are an important step in dealing with these forms of discrimination within the party.

NEC Aims and Objectives

Paper agreed. The need for greater policy from the party was stressed. It is important that the NEC and its elected committees and officers play an important role in the leadership of our party on governance and policy.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Structures working group outcomes

The long awaited new Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic structures and how a national committee would be composed and elected were finalised in this meeting.

The  Black Asian and Minority Ethnic committee structures will have CLP representation, Trade Union representation and reps from the PLP, ALC, NEC etc.

We managed to increase the number of CLP reps to gain parity with TU reps (11 each), something that the working group had failed to get consensus on.

We argued and voted for both the Chair of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Committee and the CLP places to be voted by OMOV (One Member, One Vote).

We argued this because we felt it was  important that EVERY Black, Asian and  Minority Ethnic Labour member gets a vote and not just the few who are able to go to a conference.

Unfortunately this was unsuccessful in a vote. We voted for OMOV on both occasions, which is what our members wanted as per the Democracy Review, while other CLP reps and even the NEC BAME rep voted against it. This is not good for member democracy in our view as it is our role as CLP representatives to speak up for rank and file members so we would have expected other CLP representatives to do the same.

Our major area of concern was allowing two voting positions to BAME Labour.

To sum them up: BAME Labour is a near defunct pocket organisation that represents almost no one in the Party.

We raised our concerns and asked for clarification on whether this moribund organisation is an official affiliate, whether it pays its affiliation fees to the Party and how many members they have.

These were important points that required clarification to give any legitimacy to BAME Labour as an organisation supposedly representing members. Our questions were not answered. We do not feel that this was good practice and we also lost that vote too.

Composition of GRT Working Group

The group has been set up to develop a definition of anti-Gypsy, Roma and Traveller racism and discrimination. GV5 and Trade Union colleagues had stressed the importance of making sure this group is overwhelmingly made up of community stakeholders. We were happy with the outcomes on this. It was agreed to send Laura Pidcock to the group to represent the CLP representatives and Andi Fox to represent the trade unions.

Elections Update

We tried to raise the Liverpool Mayoral selection contest and get an update on this extremely concerning situation. Unfortunately this was denied, it was argued that the matter was too confidential even for NEC members!

We raised concerns from the CLPs that they are struggling with activist engagement, noting the multiple reasons and issues members  had contacted us regarding. This included how many members feel attacked after the dictats and numerous suspensions and also the continued suspension of Jeremy Corbyn’s whip, which is affecting party unity and cohesion.

We also raised concerns about safely campaigning given the pandemic, from risk of infection to fear of attack and harassment for being out and about. Many members, especially younger activists, won’t yet be vaccinated and the party has a duty to make every effort to ensure we keep people safe. It will be included in communications to members and regional directors that those who do not feel safe should not feel any pressure to be out and that phone-banking and online campaigning is just as valued.

These are a hugely important set of elections, so we urge you to sign up for a postal ballot and vote early in order to ensure the best turn out for Labour.

CLPs in Special Measures

We were informed that the party was investigating serious incidents in the London borough of Newham constituencies of West Ham and East Ham.  There was no paper provided, just a verbal report. We were told this could lead to special measures.

We insisted that it is important a roadmap is urgently put together and that member-led selections are not impacted. We await the paper and a report into Newham.

NOTE – Both East Ham CLP and West Ham CLP’s were suspended the following day. We will be keeping an eye on the situation there and working towards the return of full democracy to the CLPs as soon as possible.

CLP motions + Recall Conference Motion

We considered the motions passed by CLPs. Members raised the ‘recall conference’ motion that had been passed in multiple CLPs and moved that we take a vote on it. The Chair did not allow for a vote on this, citing that it is not permissible for the NEC to take a vote on motions passed by CLPs.

As such, this means that, currently, the motions you as members take the time to pass in your CLPs are seen briefly by NEC members at the end of a long Organisation Sub Committee meeting, are noted, and then go no further and cannot actually be passed or agreed by the NEC. We have asked for CLP motions to be moved up the agenda and will be looking at ways to ensure members’ motions are given due consideration, discussion and action by the party.

Abuse

Unfortunately, the meeting ended with an incident. GV5 NEC member Laura Pidcock was speaking about the need for members to feel listened to, especially with regard to the NEC discussing and offering due consideration to motions passed by CLPs, an incident then occurred which the Labour Party’s General Secretary said the Party would conduct an investigation into.

by Jake Rubin at March 26, 2021 09:42 AM

March 23, 2021

Mish Rahman's Blog

NEC Update – March 2021

MARCH 12TH 2021

Yesterday’s NEC Organisation Committee was a bit of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Let’s start with the good.

There was a lot of discussion around different codes of conduct which are required as part of the EHRC action plan, such as Social Media Policy, on Islamophobia, on Anti Black racism and on GRT discrimination.

There was good discussion and we managed to make some amendments to the Social Media policy that were accepted by consensus. GOOD.

Following this we moved onto the long awaited new Black Asian Minority Ethnic structures and how a national committee would be composed and elected.

The BAME committee structures will have CLP representation, Trade Union representation and reps from the PLP, ALC, NEC etc.

We managed to increase the number of CLP reps to gain parity with TU reps (11 each), something that the working group had failed to get consensus on.

We argued and voted for both the Chair of the BAME Committee and the CLP places to be voted by OMOV.

We argued this because it is important that EVERY Black Asian Minority Ethnic Labour member gets a vote and not just the few who are able to go to a conference.

I’m sorry to say that this was unsuccessful in a vote. The GV5 and Ann Black voted for OMOV on both occasions, the other CLP reps voted against. This is not good for member democracy.

My major area of concern was allowing two voting positions to BAME Labour. You can see my criticisms of this organisation here: bit.ly/3vhRbWd

To sum them up: BAME Labour is a near defunct pocket organisation that represents almost no one in the Party.

I raised my concerns and asked for clarification on whether this moribund organisation is an official affiliate, whether it pays its affiliation fees to the Party and how many members they have.

These were important points that required clarification to give any legitimacy to BAME Labour as an organisation supposedly representing members. My questions were not answered. This was not good practice and we lost that vote too. BAD

Finally, we may have many discussions and disagreements in meetings, but nobody should be called names, and to hear it from the Chair of the NEC was embarrassing for everyone in attendance and deeply inappropriate. I stand in solidarity with Laura Pidcock and feel sorry that she had to endure this behaviour. UGLY.

by Admin at March 23, 2021 10:24 AM

NEC Update – February 2021

FEBRUARY 12TH 2021

Last Thursday 11th February 2021, I attended Labour’s full NEC as it met for its bi-monthly meeting. Overall it was a mixed bag, with some positives but also some aspects which left a bad taste in the mouth.

If we are truly an anti-racist party championing equality, then you would assume we stand up for all equality. We can’t just talk – we must walk the walk as well. Members aren’t empowered by empty words and manifestos but action and equality in practice.

On the plus side, we were able to get student reps onto the National Labour Student Organisation working group, while we also were able to prevent an attempt to reduce the number of meetings of the NEC. Although CLP reps are volunteers, it’s important we are given more opportunity, not less to represent members’ viewpoints. We also got good appointments onto the Audit & Risk Committee and the Bursary Panel.

However, the seemingly indefinite delay of the Forde report does not fill BAME members with any confidence. I am already fielding questions about the NEC and whether the Forde report will ever see the light of day or whether it will be ‘covered up for good’.

My serious concerns about our party’s relationship with BAME supporters are simply not being addressed. Are we meant to simply take our BAME support for granted? We are failing to empower BAME members at a time when Keir’s satisfaction rating amongst BAME respondents is in freefall: Ipsos MORI polling shows his net rating amongst BAME respondents has fallen from +53 (June) to +6 (December)

Courtesy @LeftieStats (twitter)

Community organising was a significant part of the Deputy Leader’s platform when elected, as well as part of the recommendations of the Labour Together report however the COU is a casualty of cuts and coincidentally the most diverse unit of the party, which is already severely lacking in terms of diversity. A diversity audit of the party is essential.

The NEC discussion and decisions on Sandwell. This really HURTS. Angela Rayner promised in her BAME Manifesto in the Deputy Leadership contest, that “there is BAME representation on all Regional Boards, including gender balance” she also spoke of “This starts by members accepting that no one knows more about their own racism than the people affected”.

So we asked for gender balance and BAME representation for NEC reps to a selection panel for Sandwell – but what did we get? When we asked that one of the two white men put forward ‘stand aside brother’ in favour of gender balance and the added benefit of BAME representation, they both refused.

It went to a vote and by a narrow majority, gender balance and BAME representation lost the vote. This vote was participated by the NEC Chair of Equalities, the NEC BAME Rep, the NEC Chair, the Chair of The Labour Party / DLOTO and in the presence of the General Secretary. Is this equality in practice and is this empowering BAME representation? Unconscious bias?

Members deserve to know the truth.

by Admin at March 23, 2021 10:21 AM

NEC Update – January 2021

JANUARY 22ND 2021

Yesterday the NEC Organisation Committee approved a paper supposedly to ensure that only ‘High Quality Candidates’ are selected for local government and Parliamentary selections.

The paper made it clear that candidates and elected representatives are held to a higher standard than party members and the NEC expects the highest standards of probity.

That’s fine in principle – but there were several elements of the paper which are deeply unsettling.

The system laid out in the paper ultimately rests on highly subjective and value judgements, in my opinion it will increase incentives for false/malicious accusations which are already a key contributor to toxifying party culture.

I asked for greater clarification on how a potential candidate can be deemed to “embarrass” the party and put down a basic amendment to change wording from “that be embarrassing” to “that would be seen by many people as”, but this was defeated.

Another simple amendment was made to stop the General Secretary unilaterally ruling out a candidate, adding stipulation for it to be brought to the NEC.

This was also defeated.

The fact that elected bodies can potentially be cut out of crucial decisions to rule candidates out troubles me immensely.

I believe the paper hands too much power to unelected officials and has a negative and discouraging tone towards disabled, working class or BAME people.

This could potentially intensify domination of professionalised, career-oriented people standing for elected office.

We don’t want bland robotic suits with little lived experience – we want people who represent our communities.

People make mistakes. They learn. Sometimes they are victimised by unfair accusations.

If we are to be relevant to ordinary people, we need to accept that not everyone standing for elected office will be perfect.

by Admin at March 23, 2021 10:19 AM

March 17, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Update, March 2021

National Executive Committee Update, March 2021 The full NEC does not meet again till 25 May, when the elections will be all over bar the shouting, but there have been plenty of other meetings. Justice and Home Affairs Policy Commission, 24 February 2021 This was the only meeting to focus on policy.  Shadow home secretary […]

by Ann Black at March 17, 2021 02:57 PM

March 10, 2021

Alice Perry's Blog

Labour NEC Report – 4 to 9 March 2020

Women’s conference

The NEC women sub-committee discusses the 2021 women’s conference. Plans are continuing for a democratic women’s conference in June. This event will be run on online and could be used as a model for national Labour Party conference if it needs to take place online or in a hybrid format. Delegates can submit policy motions. We discussed whether local parties could also submit rule changes. I asked how motion compositing would work for online.

Transphobia

Ann Black asked a question at the equalities committee about the party’s work to tackle transphobia. This is an important issue, and work to tackle transphobia will take place alongside Labour’s Equality and Human Rights Commission action plan and the ongoing work to tackle prejudice and hate. This will also include a code of conduct for members.

Support for candidates with disabilities 

The NEC equalities committee discussed support available for people with disabilities standing to be candidates in local or national elections. It is important that people with disabilities are able to fully access democracy and stand for election. The issue of the impact of long Covid on members and candidates prompted a discussion about medical exemptions and/or reasonable adjustments for candidates.

I raised the importance of offering pregnant candidates the opportunity to do telephone canvassing in place of doorstep canvassing. There are a variety of medical conditions that impact people’s ability to campaign in the traditional way, and adjustments and extra support sometimes needs to be put in place. Labour will issue guidance on this top local parties and local campaign forums (LCFs).  

All-women shortlists

The NEC reconfirmed Labour’s commitment to all-women shortlists (AWS). There will also be a renewed focus on phasing out all-male council wards and recruiting, selecting and supporting diverse candidates.

Parliamentary boundaries

I attended the parliamentary boundaries working group. The next general election will be conducted on the new boundaries. The Boundary Commission for England will publish proposals in early summer, with consultations running throughout the summer. In Wales and Scotland, the Boundary Commission proposals are due in early Autumn. 

The terms of reference of the group are as follows:

  1. To implement the Labour Party’s political and organisational strategy for the 2023 boundary review as agreed by the NEC.
  2. To direct the staff team to appropriately respond to the consultations, including putting together alternative proposals.
  3. To lead on stakeholder management to ensure so far as is possible all parts of the Labour Party are acting in line with the NEC’s agreed strategy.
  4. To consult as appropriate with internal groups within the party, in particular the PLP, Scottish Labour, and Welsh Labour.
  5. To agree a process for a formal consultation of internal stakeholders to feed into the Labour Party’s final representations, and to implement that consultation.
  6. To consult as appropriate with external expertise with prior experience of parliamentary boundary reviews.
  7. To undertake preliminary work on any required procedural guidance, including on parliamentary trigger ballots and selections, and CLP reorganisation.
  8. To report back to the NEC and its sub-committees as necessary.

Upcoming NEC meetings

The disputes committee and organisational committee are due to meet on Thursday this week. I will report back after these meetings.

by aliceperryuk at March 10, 2021 07:50 PM

February 24, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

South East Regional Executive Committee, 23 February 2021

NB pdf version available here This was a special meeting called to discuss rules for the new south-east regional executive committee (REC) and regional conference.  The framework is laid down in the 2020 rulebook following the party democracy review, but regions are allowed some flexibility subject to approval by the NEC. The proposals before us were […]

by Ann Black at February 24, 2021 10:51 AM

February 13, 2021

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report - 11 February 2021

 

Although there have been the NEC Away Day and a special meeting to deal with the EHRC Action Plan, this was the first ordinary full NEC meeting I have attended since my election back onto the NEC in November.

 

Apparently, it was a better meeting that others in 2020 had been. The mind boggles about what they were like if this was a “better” one. Presumably, any improvement is down to the changed political balance. There is now a clear working majority that supports the leadership, making any votes that are forced performative displays of victimhood by the Hard Left for the benefit of their reports to the (rapidly dwindling based on the results of recent CLP AGMs) Momentum email list.

 

When I served on the NEC from 2010 to 2012 it was characterised by being a friendly, collegiate body, where people from across the spectrum of party opinion looked for issues where they could work together, treated each other respectfully, and were polite and positive towards the leadership and the General Secretary.

 

This longstanding culture has been broken and needs to be restored. I am assured by people who have served in the interim that the breakdown in good manners and professional behaviour is very recent, and that despite profound concerns about his leadership, moderate NEC members treated Jeremy Corbyn with respect and courtesy.

 

Now we have a situation where the majority on the NEC are behaving in a comradely, professional way and a minority are being relentlessly uncomradely.

 

The six and a half hours of the NEC meeting included large sections where the time of people of good will who are trying to make Labour electable was wasted in order for people who don’t want Keir to succeed to undermine him with a litany of negativity.

 

Time, because of what members choose to focus their questions on, is disproportionately spent on attack lines about confected internal cause celebres that excite the hyper-active, have already been extensively aired on social media and are of very little interest to the mass of party members let alone Labour or potentially Labour voters (whether Keir should appear next to our national flag, the end of the Community Organising Unit, suspensions for ignoring instructions about non-competent business, Jeremy Corbyn’s disciplinary case, something that Lord Falconer has said). Rather less time is spent making positive proposals or offering constructive scrutiny that might help the party staff with their immediate and huge task of rebuilding a party traumatised by the Corbyn era and winning the bumper lot of elections that are happening in May.

 

It is like having an opposition party inside the NEC meeting trying actively to damage the party. On occasion people were overtly personally rude as well.

 

I think this is a terrible waste. There are talented people from across the political spectrum on the NEC. If everyone played their role as team players we could achieve so much more, and in fact the left of the party would be far more likely to advance its agenda by being collegiate and constructive.

 

This is not a good use of Keir, Angela or David’s time, and their forbearance, dignity and calm in putting up with this nonsense is extraordinary, as is Margaret Beckett’s skill as chair.

 

Keir’s report was delivered from Heathrow where he had been meeting Unite union reps in solidarity with their dispute over fire and rehire. He outlined Labour’s approach to the Budget on 3 March and to the May elections, stressing that we want to “build forward” to a different, more equal future, rather than “build back” to the pre-Covid world as the Tories want. Keir said Labour will be fleshing out the detail of our practical “Recovery and Rebuild” policy proposals, which are in the three areas of health and wellbeing, the economy, and redistributing power.

 

Keir reported that Labour had forced Opposition Day debates on topics that were important to raise in Parliament and divided Tory MPs: fire and rehire, Universal Credit and Cladding.

 

In the Q&A I asked Keir to emulate the Biden campaign by consistently driving home the message about the need to sign up for postal votes.

 

Keir was on incredible form and dealt with all the questions, positive and negative, with great answers.

 

Angela Rayner’s report focused on campaigning but again there were silly attempts by the Hard Left to extract damaging answers, such as asking for foolhardy predictions about May’s elections. Have these people never heard of expectation management? I was pleased that Angela specifically picked up on my theme about postal voting and set out steps that are being taken.

 

David Evans read out a letter from the Forde Inquiry, saying they had had to pause publication of their report while the Information Commissioner’s Office conducted an investigation into the data breach associated with the leak that Forde was investigating. The report has already been delayed because the panel has conducted so many interviews and considered so many submissions. The letter has now been published on the Forde Inquiry website: https://www.fordeinquiry.org/forde-inquiry-update/

 

David also covered progress on the Organise to Win 2024 programme of organisational change, staff diversity, and the EHRC Action Plan, where he reported on creation of an Antisemitism Advisory Board (biographies here: https://labour.org.uk/antisemitism/action-plan/ ) and said training for staff and the NEC would be completed by 29 April.

 

On the suspensions for ignoring guidance about non-competent business about antisemitism there had been no blanket policy of suspensions, they had been on a case-by-case basis and were being resolved by Disputes Panel hearings. The key issue was that the EHRC Report had made the Labour Party legally responsible for the actions of its “agents” down to the level of councillors and branch and CLP officers. David said he would, after consulting the NEC, recast and reissue an updated set of guidance in order for CLPs to be able to frame discussions about antisemitism in a safe and inclusive way. He would also change the disciplinary process so that members could be issued with reminders of conduct and formal warnings without them having to be suspended.

 

I welcomed David’s proposed change to the disciplinary process as I don’t think it is fair for people breaching the rules in less serious cases to lose their right to hold office for months and eventually only get a written reprimand. But I made it clear that I supported the party having taken the action then available to it to stop uncontrolled debates about issues around antisemitism, which could have created flash points that would have caused a hostile environment for Jewish members and could have led to further legal and EHRC problems for the party. I said that many members had contacted me demanding the party take action to tackle the unpleasant culture in their CLPs and desperately wanted positive debates about policy and campaigning, not meeting after acrimonious meeting focused on the debate around antisemitism and the disciplinary process.

 

The membership report revealed we now have over 512,000 members, 19% of whom have joined since the start of 2020. I urged the party to work with affiliated unions to bring union members into full individual membership to redress the longstanding disproportionate bias in the party’s membership towards older middle class white male graduates and the London and South East regions.

 

We were given an update on the review of how the party makes policy, which will now move to a period of focussed engagement led by Angela, with rule changes to be proposed at Annual Conference. David said he was committed to there being a 2021 Annual Conference but Covid meant there were still two scenarios, a full conference and a socially distant one.

 

The most important item from my point of view was the update on the May elections, presented by the newly appointed Executive Director Elections & Field Delivery, Anna Hutchinson. This is a uniquely challenging double set of elections, with the added complication of Covid meaning that doorstep campaigning is unlikely to be possible and in-person voters will be told to wear a mask and even take their own pen or pencil! The party’s top priorities are maximising the number of postal voters, which we are describing as “early voters” as postal voting has connotations of being for older people only; and using the newly upgraded Dialogue phone canvassing. It was fantastic to hear that as much canvassing is now being done via Dialogue as was being done conventionally pre-lockdown. I was pleased that Anna responded positively to my suggestion of greater use of twinning and targeting of key marginal areas given that this is particularly easy when almost all the work is being done by phone. She said the party will be pushing a message to CLPs that every third Dialogue session they run should be in support of a marginal area.

 

We agreed that in Sandwell, where there has been a lot of local infighting (largely unrelated to national left vs. right conflicts), to ensure the council candidate selections are run fairly they should be untaken by panels consisting of regional appointees, and we added two of our own NEC colleagues, Nick Forbes and James Asser, to the panel line-ups.

 

A working group to come up with a model for re-establishing a student wing of the Labour Party was agreed. I was very pleased to be appointed to serve on this as I am a former National Secretary of Labour Students.

 

We agreed that overseas members in the Labour International CLP should be allowed to pay the concessionary membership fee if they are unwaged, when previously all overseas members had been charged the full rate.

 

Finally, we agreed to sign up the Labour Party to the employer aspects of the Armed Forces Covenant.  

 

Between the NEC Away Day on 24 November and this meeting I also participated in the following other meetings. It is not my intention usually to report in detail on sub-committee meetings because when I was on the NEC before we were under instruction that reports should only be on full meetings not committees, and in the case of Disputes Panels the proceedings are confidential:

 

·         Training for serving on Sexual Harassment disciplinary panels – 3 December and 2 February

·         Two Disputes Panel hearings.

·         Equalities Committee meeting on EHRC Action Plan – 4 December – this elected James Asser as the new committee Chair.

·         Special full NEC meeting on the EHRC Action Plan – 7 December

·         Development Fund Panel – 10 December – this panel allocates grants to CLPs

·         Equalities Committee – 14 January – this included items on the EHRC Action Plan, Women’s Conference, tackling anti-GRT (Gypsy, Roma and Traveller) racism, and BAME working group.  

·         Disputes Panel – 21 January – this elected Shabana Mahmood as the new Panel Chair and received statistics on total numbers of cases being resolved etc.

·         Organisation Committee – 21 January – this elected Wendy Nichols as the new committee Chair. I was elected to the working group on the parliamentary boundary review, and as the NEC link member for Labour International CLP. Items considered included the Liverpool Mayor candidate selection process, boundary review, ensuring high quality candidates, election of Young Labour equalities positions, membership data access and use for CLP officers.

·         I have also been elected to the NPF Health and Social Care Policy Commission, but this has not met yet.

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at February 13, 2021 06:07 PM

February 12, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Meeting, 11 February 2021

Keir Starmer joined from Heathrow where he was supporting Unite members, on strike against plans to fire and rehire them on worse conditions.  He stressed the importance of the May elections.  With Scotland, Wales, London, councils, mayors, police and crime commissioners, and all the 2020 contests rolled in, this was the biggest test outside a […]

by Ann Black at February 12, 2021 03:44 PM

January 30, 2021

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Grassroots Voice NEC Report – Organisation Sub-Committee 21.01.2021

See below for a report from the Labour Party NEC Organisation Sub-Committee meeting held 21st January 2021 from the Grassroots Voice NEC CLP representatives team: Gemma Bolton, Yasmine Dar, Nadia Jama, Laura Pidcock, Mish Rahman.

To sign-up for regular reports from the NEC and updates from CLPD, click here.


Grassroots Voice NEC Report – Organisation Sub-Committee 21st January 2021

Election of Chair & Vice Chair

We had another election of Chair and Vice of the Organisation Committee, the left NEC candidates put forward, were the incumbent chair Andy Kerr (CWU) and vice chair Howard Beckett (Unite), unfortunately, we lost out on the vote – the new chair elected was Wendy Nicholls (Unison) and vice chair was Michael Wheeler elected (USDAW) Vice Chair.

Forde enquiry

Whilst this item hadn’t been on the agenda, the General Secretary wanted to discuss the delayed report in that he asked permission from the NEC members to contact the Forde Inquiry and request that they work to a deadline of the 31st January to produce the report to the NEC.

We have raised this in a number of meetings and via email, so we were really pleased that the whole of the NEC agreed to this request.  We will provide a further update as soon as we can.

Ensuring High Quality candidates

One of our first questions was to ask, why this paper was necessary – had there been significant problems that required this additional level of scrutiny?  There were a number of examples provided by other NEC members, as to why they felt it was necessary.  We then attempted to raise a number of amendments to the paper.

One of our suggested amendments related to convictions in particular, including wording around spent convictions, under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, in that this would not normally prevent anyone from being a candidate. This was VOTED DOWN.

We asked for more clarification to define how a candidate can ‘embarrass’ themselves or the party – this is highly subjective, we proposed an amendment again this was VOTED DOWN.

There was a clause that allowed the General Secretary to remove the endorsement of any nominee on the recommendation of the Regional Director  –  we requested that they add and the “approval of the Chair of the NEC Organisation Committee’’ to bring this decision back into the NEC Committee, this too was VOTED DOWN.

Our view has not changed – we believe this paper restates those powers with a tone that is highly problematic. Highly discouraging tone and potential negative outcomes affecting disabled people, working class people, BAME people. It could also intensify domination of professionalised, career-oriented people standing for elected office, at a time when our party needs working class, unionised members of Parliament with lived experiences. The whole system ultimately rests on a value judgement. It increases incentives for false or malicious accusations which are already a key contributor to toxifying party culture. The tone and focus of it also gives people low incentives for being truthful about anything contradicting the form.

The sentence ‘The form below represents the NEC’s expectation for high quality candidates’ contradicts the subsequent part where it says ‘While I understand that answering ‘yes’ to any of the above does not automatically disbar me from being a Labour Party candidate’ -. it doesn’t actually spell out what the circumstances that would/wouldn’t lead to a candidate being barred are. Defining a ‘high quality candidate’ in these terms is absurd.

Out of the 9 CLP representatives only the GV5 CLP reps voted AGAINST this paper.

Liverpool Mayoral Selection

There were suggested changes to the panel structure for the Mayoral selection together with a timetable agreed.

We requested an extension to the self nomination period to ensure it was more inclusive, in particular for women candidates; this was not accepted.  (We felt 7 days was too short, and could result in women candidates missing out –  as well as other equality groups).

Data Access

This paper was to update the rulebook on what data different stakeholders in the party can use and clarifying what data can be used from what purpose. The paper passed with some small amendments.

Young Labour National Committee Equalities Positions

The whole of the NEC voted to support the changes for the Young Labour equality position.  Lara McNeil the Youth Rep, welcomed this and stated it was long overdue, particularly that liberation reps should have been elected such a long time ago, that some were now in their early 30’s, above the age of eligibility.

Boundary review working group

A paper was brought to discuss setting up a working group on boundary reviews, it wasn’t clear how the group had been determined – but Ann Black suggested that rather than her being on the working group, she would like Luke Akehurst to take her place, as the CLP Rep.  There was no vote to agree or disagree with this change.

CLP’s in Special Measures

There were a number of CLPs in special measures – we asked about roadmaps for those CLPs and noted how special measures appear to affect BAME populated areas. We raised some concern around some of the wording used in the paper and wanted to be sure that there were no vexation claims against members, we were reassured this was not the case, Effort to work with the CLPs to progress them out of special measure, was key.

CLP motions

We had been assured prior to the meeting that a motion that had not been progressed from last November from Sheffield Central CLP on a trial for disabled candidates in local election, would be discussed. In any event our Disabled Rep spoke towards the motion and everyone was in agreement that this should progress and that we should find a way for it to happen. Angela Rayner voiced her support in making this happen.

We noted that there were a number of motions that had been brought before us, regarding the EHRC – we questioned how this was possible given the ‘guidance’ that the General Secretary has sent a number of times to CLP and BLP chairs and secretaries.

We raised the distress and anguish suspensions have caused many members and whilst we were certainly not advocating for the 3 CLP officers of the 3 motions on our agenda, we pointed out the inconsistency and unfairness to those that had been suspended from the party.

The General Secretary acknowledged this inconsistency and reminded the NEC members that the delegated powers that had initiated this guidance last year, could be revoked at the request of the NEC.  We are in the process of arranging a motion and letter to this effect – we will keep you posted.

Appointment of NPF vacancies

We then put our names forward for the following positions that had vacancies:

Nadia Jama: Justice and Home Affairs

Mish Rahman: International

AOB

We reminded the committee of the desire under the previous Equalities Committee Chair to increase our engagement with more stakeholders, through roundtables. It’s clear from the Labour Muslim Network, who attended the last equalities committee, that lots of concerns were not being addressed.  The current format of having the groups report back for 5 mins, is not sufficient. We recommended that this was reviewed and separate meetings or a process for stakeholders to feed into the equalities committee to ensure stakeholders have more time to present and discuss – as well as ensuring the equalities committee, as a sub committee, is properly structured with named members, as well as allowed elected NEC members to discuss other matters.  The point was noted but not responded to, we will raise it in the next equalities committee.

by Jake Rubin at January 30, 2021 12:32 PM

January 27, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

South East Regional Executive Committee, 26 January 2021

The chair Vince Maple reported on a positive meeting with general secretary David Evans, where he raised the need for more resources in the south-east.  A partywide review of staffing was under way, though David acknowledged the importance of replacing our communications officer.  Deficiencies in digital systems were being addressed. There was more to do […]

by Ann Black at January 27, 2021 04:50 PM

January 24, 2021

Alice Perry's Blog

Labour NEC Report – 21 January 2021

The organisational sub-committee and disputes sub-committee of Labour’s national executive committee met today. I also attended the LGA Labour group meeting, which unfortunately clashed with part of the disputes committee meeting.

Parliamentary Labour Party representative Shabana Mahmood MP was elected chair of the disputes committee. UNISON representative Wendy Nichols was elected chair of the organisational committee and Usdaw’s Michael Wheeler was elected vice-chair of the organisational committee.

Complaints and disciplinary hearings

The NEC disputes sub-panels have been regularly meeting and have heard over 300 cases. The majority of these cases have concerned complaints relating to people’s protected characteristics. As agreed as part of the Equality and Human Rights Commission action plan, regular statistics about complaints and disciplinary cases will be published on the Labour Party website.

2021 elections

The LGA Labour group also met today. The meeting discussed the 2021 elections and when they might take place. If the elections are postponed, councils will need as much notice as possible to accommodate changes. As things stand, numerous polling stations are currently being used as vaccination centres and Covid-19 testing centres. There are some very difficult, practical challenges that councils need to resolve in order for safe elections to be able to take place. Many councillors expressed serious concerns about the elections taking place in May as planned.

Another issue raised is that currently people are unable to register for postal votes online. Labour has been lobbying government to change this and make it much easier for people to register fully electronically. Any change to this won’t be made in time for elections in May.

Postponing the elections to July or September would also pose challenges to local government staff, who have been working extremely hard in challenging circumstances. An election in September would also disrupt the party conference season.

Due diligence for candidate selection

Labour’s EHRC action plan includes commitments to undertake addition due diligence for candidate selection. There have been damaging incidents in the past where candidates were selected, only to be removed due to previous unacceptable behaviour coming to light.

Candidates and elected representatives are held to a higher standard than party members. The NEC agreed that it is right and proper that the highest standards of probity are expected. Additional checks and balances will be made to relevant selection procedures, including local government selections.

Forde Inquiry

General secretary David Evans updated the NEC about the status of the Forde Inquiry. This is an independent, impartial review. The report was due to be delivered last year but has received a high volume of submissions, which contributed to the delay. The report will be completed and delivered shortly.

Liverpool mayoral selection

The NEC agreed a process for selecting Labour’s candidate for mayor of Liverpool. The process has been accelerated to allow a candidate to be selected as quickly as possible.

Parliamentary boundary review

The NEC agreed proposals for an NEC boundary commission working group to oversee Labour’s response to the parliamentary boundary review and relevant organisational work relating to this. This working group will be a sub-committee of the NEC and any recommendations and proposals will need to come back to the full NEC for agreement.

Intimidation in public life

The NEC agreed that Labour could sign up to a joint statement on tackling intimidation in public life. This has been driven by cross-party parliamentary work and the Jo Cox Foundation. You can read more at Intimidation in Public Life: a joint approach to tackling intimidation on gov.uk. All political parties have agreed to sign up apart from the Conservative Party. I raised the issue of unacceptable levels of abuse aimed at councillors and council candidates. Ann Black also made important points about the need to change the culture within the Labour Party, as well as tackling wider abuse people face from the public.

by aliceperryuk at January 24, 2021 08:37 PM

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Grassroots Voice NEC Report – November 2020- January 2021

See below for a report from the Grassroots Voice NEC representatives, backed by CLPD and the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance: Gemma Bolton, Yasmine Dar, Nadia Jama, Laura Pidcock, Mish Rahman

This report was originally published on grassrootslabour.net

You can also download the report here


NEC Report – Grassroots Voice Team

This is the first of the GV5 NEC reports. During the elections, we ran on a platform of extending party democracy, building on the radical, socialist policy platform developed over the last five years, and supporting trade unions and social movements fighting for workers’ rights, peace and social justice. Since being elected, we’ve been working hard to put these principles into action. Below, we’ve outlined what we’ve been doing on a range of issues, from standing with education unions, to pressing the leadership on tackling islamophobia in the Labour Party.

NEC Induction Meeting

We attended an induction meeting in November as new members of the NEC and were given a guide and presentation on various organisational structures. We were welcomed by the General Secretary and the various heads of the other units within the party’s bureaucracy.

Labour Muslim Network Report

In our first meeting with the new General Secretary, we raised the issue that members have flagged to us regarding a perceived lack of action and response to the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) Report, which presented some damning evidence of Islamophobia within our party.

The General Secretary was keen to point out that all recommendations of the paper will be implemented. We will continue to review this and update members over the coming weeks and months, once dates and timescales are shared of how these recommendations will be implemented.

Forde Inquiry

We also raised the view that many members felt the Forde Inquiry had been kicked into the long grass. We were assured, at the time, that the report would be delivered by the end of the year. As it happened, the report was not delivered as expected at the end of 2020, so we wrote to the leadership for clarity on the exact date and how this will be shared with the wider membership, as well as the plan to address any findings. We were notified that the report will be provided to the NEC. Our next full NEC meeting is now February, so we will ask for this to be on the agenda.

NEC Away Day

Our first NEC meeting at the end of November was presented as an awayday. We had been told that this would be an opportunity for the NEC to review the previous year and plan for the challenges ahead. We are at a crucial point in our party’s history, given the recent examples of funding being withdrawn by Unite and – more recently – the Baker’s Union (BFAWU) consulting with their members about the possibility of disaffiliation.

It was announced that there would be an election of the Chair and the Vice Chair at the away day. We were aware that custom and practice for a number of years was that the Vice Chair moved into the Chair position, which in this case would be a member of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). Therefore, when the agenda item for the election was moved, it seemed obvious that the new leadership wanted to change that practice and implement their own preference for Chair and Vice Chair.

The NEC is the governing body of the Labour Party and the Labour Party was born out of the trade union movement. There are millions of trade union members and many of them are also party members, including the GV5 – the new leadership should be looking to build on and strengthen this relationship, not blocking trade union representatives from taking roles on the basis of factional political manoeuvring.

This anti-democratic action, the insult to the FBU, with a move away from agreed protocol, and the ongoing perceived factionalism from the new leadership, left those who disagreed with this decision with no alternative but to leave the meeting as a unified block. There were no tirades and no abuse, just a point of order – the content of our views is now on public record. You can read our letter to David Evans HERE

All Women Shortlists (AWS)

We wanted to set out to make a difference for members, so it’s been great to see and to be part of the work to reverse a decision that had removed the All Women Shortlist protocol (AWS) for local candidates in one of our regions. Women are integral to our movement and the AWS requirements MUST be maintained, so this was a great result for all concerned and one of the first initiatives we became involved in with our trade union comrades on the NEC.

NEC Agenda

We stood on a platform of being the voice of members within the NEC, so we have asked that a standing item for CLP Representatives is included on the agenda for future meetings to represent the issues that matter to you, as and when they arise. Members are our greatest asset, and your views are as important as the Leader and Deputy Leader, who both enjoy dedicated slots on the NEC agenda. Our request hasn’t been accepted; however, we will continue to press for this at all future full NEC meetings.

Windrush Scandal – Stop the Plane

Following the absence of their names from a ‘round robin letter’ signed by more than 60 MPs, we wrote to Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, urging them to speak out over the unjust deportation flight that had initially sought to remove 50 individuals from the UK. Campaigners and lawyers were able to get 37 people removed from the plane before take-off. Labour must join these efforts, with the leadership at the forefront of speaking out against the government’s “hostile environment” policies. No response has been received.

Sexual Harassment Panel Training

We undertook training, so that we can take part in cases that are brought through the Sexual Harassment Panel.

Equalities Committee

We attended our first equalities committee, where there were further elections for Chair & Vice chair, following the departure of Ann Henderson, Ann was thanked by all for her dedication and hard work over the last few years as the Chair. -She will be missed by all. Nominations were then taken from the floor for a replacement Chair, (there doesn’t appear to be a custom and practice of statements or requests for candidates in advance of meetings to put themselves forward for role). James Asser was elected Chair and Vice chairs were elected for a number of roles. Ellen Morrison was elected Vice Chair for Disability, Lara McNeill was elected Vice Chair for Youth, Nick Forbes was elected Vice Chair for LGBTIQ, Carol Sewell was elected Vice Chair for BAME while Jayne Taylor and Ann Black were elected to job share Vice Chair for Women’s role

Special Meeting – EHRC response

There was a special NEC meeting to discuss the ongoing response of the Party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report. The party’s initial plan for the implementation of the report was discussed and agreed to be sent to the EHRC. The next step is for the EHRC to agree to the initial plan before more detailed discussions as to the recommendations and implementation of the report are had.

We are totally committed to rebuilding trust and relations with Jewish communities and ensuring the Labour Party is a welcoming and inclusive space for people of all backgrounds and communities.

NEC Development Fund Committee

We attended our first Development Fund Committee, where we reviewed 50 applications from party members / groups. We elected our new Chair Ellen Morrison and were able to make some additional approvals for funding for accessibility for member meetings. We also suggested some improvements to the application form and ask for better guidance for members to aid their application in the hope that these would be more successful.

We are also happy to support any queries members may have in readiness for the next round. The next funding application deadline will be 26th February 2021. If you would like to make an application for the fund, please find all information HERE

Women’s Conference

The Labour Party will be holding an online, fully democratic Women’s Conference from 26th-27th June. There were discussions about a physical conference but due to social distancing this presented obvious issues with being able to ensure that each CLP would be able to send representation to the conference. The Women’s Conference Arrangements Committee (WCAC) reps also had concerns about people travelling alone and not being able to socialise with other delegates which could have made for a very lonely occasion without the incredible atmosphere that our most recent conferences have had.

The delegate entitlement will be the same as before, 2 delegates per CLP, one of which must be BAME, disabled or LGBT+. CLP reps and the WCAC, in consultation with Young Labour are also working to ensure that representation of young women is increased at the next conference and that young women feel as engaged as possible in our women’s structures going forward.

LBC – Call Keir

We wrote to Keir Starmer following his failure to challenge the far-right views expressed during his Call Keir slot on LBC – A caller had made comments likened to the racist ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory, stating that the “racial inequality is now against the indigenous people of Britain, who are set to become a minority in 2066”. We wanted an urgent meeting to discuss this incident and to suggest how the party could reassure members that we are committed to fighting all forms of racism wherever we find it. No response has been received.

Well-being of Members

We wrote to David Evans and the new leadership asking for an urgent meeting, as we were concerned for members wellbeing due to the spate of suspensions, the lack of detail provided to members and the fact that emails notifying members of their suspension were being sent late at night. We were initially provided with details to signpost members to a number of organisations like the Samaritans, MIND, A&E as well as referring members to their local GPs. We felt this response was a shocking superficial way to meet our obligations to our members, so we restated our request for a meeting to discuss the wellbeing of Labour Party members. No further response has been received.

Standing Up for Labour Party Democracy

At the last NEC meeting we had wanted to raise a motion regarding discussions in CLPs – at the request of thousands of members – in particular, the seemingly arbitrary undemocratic guidance from the General Secretary, which has no basis in the Labour Party Rule Book. The guidance prohibits some political discussion, including the discussion of the current status of the Labour Party’s former leader, who has been cleared of a suspension charge. This is clearly relevant party business, and we believe that this unprecedented undemocratic crackdown on normal CLP functions is destroying the party from the inside out.

Moreover, we must recognise the undue stress CLP officers as volunteers have been placed under because of this move, documented in this letter from 240 constituency Chairs and Secretaries. The letter calls for David Evans to withdraw his guidance. As Labour’s NEC, we have a vital role to play in ensuring that we provide CLP officers and members with a safe environment to volunteer their time in the Labour Party. We must ensure that CLP officers are supported in their roles of administering their local parties and are able to express themselves freely as a part of our duty of care to those who campaign for the Labour Party. Their voices must be heard and respected by the General Secretary.

Our motion wasn’t allowed on the agenda, but we will push to ensure that this is taken at the next full NEC meeting and continue to work to have this issue progressed

We were co-signatories to a letter calling for the reinstatement of the whip to Jeremy Corbyn and the rights of members to discuss legitimate topics in their CLPs, as well as calling on the leadership to end the attacks on party democracy. You can read the full letter HERE

School Closures

We started the New Year as we intend to continue as trade unionist-supporting workers. We organised an open statement regarding the situation on the reopening of schools, asking the new leadership to support the trade unions’ call for schools to remain closed for the safety of working people, children and our communities. This received overwhelming support across the Labour movement and had joint signatories from TU General Secretaries, MPs, left Groups within the movement as well as support from a leading Parent Group. We have received no response to date – you can read the statement HERE

Member Surgeries

Part of our manifesto was the commitment to regular engagement with the members, so we’ll be organising our first Member Surgeries in the coming weeks to enable us to listen to your concerns and issues, as well as feeding back the work we are undertaking on your behalf. So, watch this space.

 

Gemma Bolton, Yasmine Dar, Nadia Jama, Laura Pidcock, Mish Rahman

by Jake Rubin at January 24, 2021 02:09 PM

January 22, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Committee Report, 21 January 2021

Disputes Panel This was the first meeting of the NEC cycle and Shabana Mahmood was elected as chair, with 18 votes to 11 for Yasmine Dar.  Yasmine was thanked for all her work during an exceptionally busy time.  Shabana is the fifth person to chair the panel in the last three years. We then heard […]

by Ann Black at January 22, 2021 01:20 PM

January 21, 2021

Alice Perry's Blog

Labour NEC Report – 14 January 2021

Various sub-committees of Labour’s national executive committee are meeting in the next few weeks. On January 14th, I attended meetings of the women’s committee and the equalities committee. I also attended the national policy forum’s justice and home affairs policy commission meeting.

The women’s committee noted that UNISON have elected Christina McAnea as their first female general secretary. UNISON represent over one million female members. The committee sent their congratulations to Christina.

Women’s conference

Women’s conference this year will take place online. This will be a democratic conference and will incorporate online voting technology. Women’s conference is piloting this technology, which could be used for annual Labour Party conference if necessary.

The cost of the conference for delegates was discussed. Options to reduce the cost are being considered and any changes will reflect the cost of running a democratic conference online. I also asked about opportunities for sponsorship and revenue generation for online conferences. It was good to hear about the work that is ongoing in this area.

Representatives from the women’s conference arrangements committee joined the meeting and discussed possible themes, topics and speakers for the conference. 

EHRC action plan

The equalities committee discussed the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) action plan. On December 17th last year, the Labour Party published its action plan for driving out antisemitism in the Labour Party in response to the EHRC report into antisemitism in the party published on October 29th.

The action plan demonstrates how the Labour Party will address all the recommendations made in the EHRC’s report and sets out a clear timetable for implementation. You can read the action plan on the Labour Party website. It was agreed that this will be a standard agenda item at all equalities committee meetings.

Challenging GRT discrimination

The equalities committee discussed work to tackle antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination within the Labour Party and public life. A working group will be established to move this important work forward, consulting with relevant community stakeholders. NEC members also noted the recent International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination. 

Future priorities for the equalities committee

In recent years, NEC agendas have been very reactive (not a surprise given the circumstances with successive general elections, referendums and leadership elections!). The NEC equalities committee discussed plans and priorities for 2021. Suggestions included work to address discrimination against disabled and deaf people, improving the culture within the party to make it more welcoming and inclusive, tackling Islamophobia, addressing sexual harassment (including complaints about historic abuse) and increasing diversity of political representation.

2021 elections

Next week’s organisational committee will include an update about plans for the 2021 elections. The Local Government Association is in regular contact with the government about possible plans to postpone the elections. While the government claims to have no current plans to delay the elections, there are contingency plans being developed to hold the elections in June, July or September, or they could be delayed until 2022. The uncertainty is understandably frustrating, but not surprising given the way the Tory government behaves.

Justice and home affairs

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP and David Lammy MP presented on recent justice and home affairs activities at their NPF policy commission meeting. The focus of this year’s policy consultation is devolution and Gordon Brown has agreed to lead a piece of work on this. Labour is currently near the beginning of the policy cycle, which will eventually produce the next general election manifesto.

Annual conference is planned for September, with contingencies for a hybrid or online conference should the pandemic make this necessary. We briefly discussed suggestions for online policy motion compositing meetings, which sound like they will be very challenging. There will also be benefits to an online conference, which will reduce costs for delegates and potentially make conference more accessible.

by aliceperryuk at January 21, 2021 11:17 AM

January 16, 2021

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Committee Report, 14 January 2021

NEC Women’s Sub-Committee / Equalities Committee, 14 January 2021 Returning after a strange and subdued winter break, these were the first NEC meetings of the New Year.  The women’s sub-committee congratulated Christina McAnea on her election as general secretary of UNISON, the first woman to hold the position. The committee moved on to discuss arrangements […]

by Ann Black at January 16, 2021 11:39 AM

January 11, 2021

Mish Rahman's Blog

NEC Report – November – January 2021

Our NEC update from the Grassroots five for January 2021

Report authored by Nadia Jama, Mish Rahman, Laura Pidcock, Gemma Bolton and Yasmine Dar.

This is the first of the GV5 NEC reports. During the elections, we ran on a platform of extending party democracy, building on the radical, socialist policy platform developed over the last five years, and supporting trade unions and social movements fighting for workers’ rights, peace and social justice. Since being elected, we’ve been working hard to put these principles into action. Below, we’ve outlined what we’ve been doing on a range of issues, from standing with education unions, to pressing the leadership on tackling islamophobia in the Labour Party.

NEC Induction Meeting

We attended an induction meeting in November as new members of the NEC and were given a guide and presentation on various organisational structures. We were welcomed by the General Secretary and the various heads of the other units within the party’s bureaucracy.

Labour Muslim Network Report

In our first meeting with the new General Secretary, we raised the issue that members have flagged to us regarding a perceived lack of action and response to the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) Report, which presented some damning evidence of Islamophobia within our party.

The General Secretary was keen to point out that all recommendations of the paper will be implemented. We will continue to review this and update members over the coming weeks and months, once dates and timescales are shared of how these recommendations will be implemented.

Forde Inquiry

We also raised the view that many members felt the Forde Inquiry had been kicked into the long grass. We were assured, at the time, that the report would be delivered by the end of the year. As it happened, the report was not delivered as expected at the end of 2020, so we wrote to the leadership for clarity on the exact date and how this will be shared with the wider membership, as well as the plan to address any findings. We were notified that the report will be provided to the NEC. Our next full NEC meeting is now February, so we will ask for this to be on the agenda.

NEC Away Day

Our first NEC meeting at the end of November was presented as an awayday. We had been told that this would be an opportunity for the NEC to review the previous year and plan for the challenges ahead. We are at a crucial point in our party’s history, given the recent examples of funding being withdrawn by Unite and – more recently – the Baker’s Union (BFAWU) consulting with their members about the possibility of disaffiliation.

It was announced that there would be an election of the Chair and the Vice Chair at the away day. We were aware that custom and practice for a number of years was that the Vice Chair moved into the Chair position, which in this case would be a member of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). Therefore, when the agenda item for the election was moved, it seemed obvious that the new leadership wanted to change that practice and implement their own preference for Chair and Vice Chair.

The NEC is the governing body of the Labour Party and the Labour Party was born out of the trade union movement. There are millions of trade union members and many of them are also party members, including the GV5 – the new leadership should be looking to build on and strengthen this relationship, not blocking trade union representatives from taking roles on the basis of factional political manoeuvring.

This anti-democratic action, the insult to the FBU, with a move away from agreed protocol, and the ongoing perceived factionalism from the new leadership, left those who disagreed with this decision with no alternative but to leave the meeting as a unified block. There were no tirades and no abuse,

just a point of order – the content of our views is now on public record. You can read our letter to David Evans HERE

All Women Shortlists (AWS)

We wanted to set out to make a difference for members, so it’s been great to see and to be part of the work to reverse a decision that had removed the All Women Shortlist protocol (AWS) for local candidates in one of our regions. Women are integral to our movement and the AWS requirements MUST be maintained, so this was a great result for all concerned and one of the first initiatives we became involved in with our trade union comrades on the NEC.

NEC Agenda

We stood on a platform of being the voice of members within the NEC, so we have asked that a standing item for CLP Representatives is included on the agenda for future meetings to represent the issues that matter to you, as and when they arise. Members are our greatest asset, and your views are as important as the Leader and Deputy Leader, who both enjoy dedicated slots on the NEC agenda. Our request hasn’t been accepted; however we will continue to press for this at all future full NEC meetings.

Windrush Scandal – Stop the Plane

Following the absence of their names from a ‘round robin letter’ signed by more than 60 MPs, we wrote to Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, urging them to speak out over the unjust deportation flight that had initially sought to remove 50 individuals from the UK. Campaigners and lawyers were able to get 37 people removed from the plane before take-off. Labour must join these efforts, with the leadership at the forefront of speaking out against the government’s “hostile environment” policies. No response has been received.

Sexual Harassment Panel Training

We undertook training, so that we can take part in cases that are brought through the Sexual Harassment Panel.

Equalities Committee

We attended our first equalities committee, where there were further elections for Chair & Vice chair, following the departure of Ann Henderson, Ann was thanked by all for her dedication and hard work over the last few years as the Chair. -She will be missed by all. Nominations were then taken from the floor for a replacement Chair, (there doesn’t appear to be a custom and practice of statements or requests for candidates in advance of meetings to put themselves forward for role). James Asser was elected Chair and Vice chairs were elected for a number of roles. Ellen Morrison was elected Vice Chair for Disability, Lara McNeill was elected Vice Chair for Youth, Nick Forbes was elected Vice Chair for LGBTIQ, Carol Sewell was elected Vice Chair for BAME while Jayne Taylor and Ann Black were elected to job share Vice Chair for Women’s role

Special Meeting – EHRC response

There was a special NEC meeting to discuss the ongoing response of the Party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report. The party’s initial plan for the implementation of the report was discussed and agreed to be sent to the EHRC. The next step is for the EHRC to agree to the initial plan before more detailed discussions as to the recommendations and implementation of the report are had.

We are totally committed to rebuilding trust and relations with Jewish communities and ensuring the Labour Party is a welcoming and inclusive space for people of all backgrounds and communities.

NEC Development Fund Committee

We attended our first Development Fund Committee, where we reviewed 50 applications from party members / groups. We elected our new Chair Ellen Morrison and were able to make some additional approvals for funding for accessibility for member meetings. We also suggested some improvements to the application form and ask for better guidance for members to aid their application in the hope that these would be more successful.

We are also happy to support any queries members may have in readiness for the next round. The next funding application deadline will be 26th February 2021. If you would like to make an application for the fund, please find all information HERE

Women’s Conference

The Labour Party will be holding an online, fully democratic Women’s Conference from 26th-27th June. There were discussions about a physical conference but due to social distancing this presented obvious issues with being able to ensure that each CLP would be able to send representation to the conference. The Women’s Conference Arrangements Committee (WCAC) reps also had concerns about people travelling alone and not being able to socialise with other delegates which could have made for a very lonely occasion without the incredible atmosphere that our most recent conferences have had.

The delegate entitlement will be the same as before, 2 delegates per CLP, one of which must be BAME, disabled or LGBT+. CLP reps and the WCAC, in consultation with Young Labour are also working to ensure that representation of young women is increased at the next conference and that young women feel as engaged as possible in our women’s structures going forward.

LBC – Call Keir

We wrote to Keir Starmer following his failure to challenge the far-right views expressed during his Call Keir slot on LBC – A caller had made comments likened to the racist ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory, stating that the “racial inequality is now against the indigenous people of Britain, who are set to become a minority in 2066”. We wanted an urgent meeting to discuss this incident and to suggest how the party could reassure members that we are committed to fighting all forms of racism wherever we find it. No response has been received.

Well-being of Members

We wrote to David Evans and the new leadership asking for an urgent meeting, as we were concerned for members wellbeing due to the spate of suspensions, the lack of detail provided to members and the fact that emails notifying members of their suspension were being sent late at night. We were initially provided with details to signpost members to a number of organisations like the Samaritans, MIND, A&E as well as referring members to their local GPs. We felt this response was a shocking superficial way to meet our obligations to our members, so we restated our request for a meeting to discuss the wellbeing of Labour Party members. No further response has been received.

Standing Up for Labour Party Democracy

At the last NEC meeting we had wanted to raise a motion regarding discussions in CLPs – at the request of thousands of members – in particular, the seemingly arbitrary undemocratic guidance from the General Secretary, which has no basis in the Labour Party Rule Book. The guidance prohibits some political discussion, including the discussion of the current status of the Labour Party’s former leader, who has been cleared of a suspension charge. This is clearly relevant party business, and we believe that this unprecedented undemocratic crackdown on normal CLP functions is destroying the party from the inside out.

Moreover, we must recognise the undue stress CLP officers as volunteers have been placed under because of this move, documented in this letter from 240 constituency Chairs and Secretaries. The

letter calls for David Evans to withdraw his guidance. As Labour’s NEC, we have a vital role to play in ensuring that we provide CLP officers and members with a safe environment to volunteer their time in the Labour Party. We must ensure that CLP officers are supported in their roles of administering their local parties and are able to express themselves freely as a part of our duty of care to those who campaign for the Labour Party. Their voices must be heard and respected by the General Secretary.

Our motion wasn’t allowed on the agenda, but we will push to ensure that this is taken at the next full NEC meeting and continue to work to have this issue progressed

We were co-signatories to a letter calling for the reinstatement of the whip to Jeremy Corbyn and the rights of members to discuss legitimate topics in their CLPs, as well as calling on the leadership to end the attacks on party democracy. You can read the full letter HERE

School Closures

We started the New Year as we intend to continue as trade unionist-supporting workers. We organised an open statement regarding the situation on the reopening of schools, asking the new leadership to support the trade unions’ call for schools to remain closed for the safety of working people, children and our communities. This received overwhelming support across the Labour movement and had joint signatories from TU General Secretaries, MPs, left Groups within the movement as well as support from a leading Parent Group. We have received no response to date – you can read the statement HERE

Member Surgeries

Part of our manifesto was the commitment to regular engagement with the members, so we’ll be organising our first Member Surgeries in the coming weeks to enable us to listen to your concerns and issues, as well as feeding back the work we are undertaking on your behalf. So watch this space.

Report authored by Nadia Jama, Mish Rahman, Laura Pidcock, Gemma Bolton and Yasmine Dar.

by Admin at January 11, 2021 02:56 PM

December 08, 2020

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Report, 7 December 2020

Two special meetings were held to consider Labour’s response to the EHRC (equality and human rights commission) report on anti-semitism in the party.  The equalities committee met on Friday 4 December:  together with NEC members this committee is attended by stakeholders from affiliated organisations who bring a wider perspective.  The full NEC then met on […]

by Ann Black at December 08, 2020 04:46 PM

November 30, 2020

Ann Black on the Record

South East Regional Executive Committee, 25 November 2020

South East Regional Executive Committee, 25 November 2020 The meeting opened with a presentation from the party’s national Head of Safeguarding.  The unit was responsible for protecting children, and also vulnerable adults.  There were now up to 10,000 children (aged under 18) in membership.  Incidents could occur where there was a potential victim, a perpetrator, […]

by Ann Black at November 30, 2020 04:17 PM

November 25, 2020

Alice Perry's Blog

Labour NEC Away Day Report – 24 November 2020

Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) away day took place on November 24th. The morning was set aside for formal business, including the election of chair and vice-chair. The second half of the meeting focused on elections, membership engagement and effective governance. The NEC thanked outgoing members for their service and contributions and welcomed incoming members, and thanked the outgoing chair Andi Fox for her service.

Dame Margaret Beckett was elected chair of the Labour NEC. Margaret has had a remarkable political career. She has served as leader and deputy leader and has blazed a trail for women in politics. I was honoured to be elected vice-chair of the Labour NEC (big thank you to Tom Warnett from the GMB and Ann Black for proposing and seconding me). I look forward to working with Margaret and the other NEC officers to help rebuild the party, win back public trust and win back power for our communities.

Leader’s report

Keir Starmer gave the leader’s report. Keir spoke about the importance of reconnecting and reengaging with voters. He stressed the importance of being outward-looking and focusing on winning elections. If we lose the next general election, we will have let down an entire generation. Keir spoke about Labour’s ongoing work to connect with voters and win across the UK.

Keir talked about the importance of unity, which is not about everyone agreeing with each other but about having a shared sense of purpose. Keir talked about the importance of constructive criticism and challenge. He told the NEC that it is healthy for people to put forward different views in a respectful and tolerant way.

Keir talked about the important 2021 elections. These elections will be a test of the Labour Party and we must rise to the challenge. Keir talked about how the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed structural inequality and how we can’t go back to the old ways of doing things as we rebuild the economy. He also stressed the importance of standing up for key workers and ensuring they get the pay they deserve.

Keir took questions on a range of topics including Brexit, nationalism, devolution, next year’s elections, local government funding, public sector pay and the Covid recovery.

2021 elections

Next year’s local elections are unprecedented in scale and complexity. In 2020, around 5,000 councillors are up for election. This is 30% of all English councillors. 40 police and crime commissioners are being elected in England and Wales. There are Scottish parliamentary elections, Welsh Senedd elections, seven metro mayors, five local authority mayors, the London mayoral and Assembly elections, as well as over 100 by-elections. Campaigning has been disrupted by the pandemic and our strategy needs to be adapted. The NEC then formed small discussion groups to consider key strategic and operational questions.

Safeguarding

The safeguarding manager gave a report about the review and consultation of improving the protection and safeguarding of children who take part in activity with the Labour Party and Young Labour. This will include a paper review, survey, focus groups and an external consultation. The NEC welcomed the presentation on this important topic. Discussion included how this important safeguarding work will link to our existing policies around areas like social media, membership conduct, sexual harassment and bullying and harassment.

Labour annual report

David Evans moved the Labour Party annual report. The report is usually moved as part of the general secretary’s report to Labour Party conference. It has certainly been an eventful year. The report will be published shortly following the NEC agreeing it at the away day.

Women’s conference

There will be a democratic online women’s conference next year in late June. The NEC discussed the delegate entitlement and process for electing delegates online. It is hoped that this online conference will be a one-off and we will return to the traditional format when it is safe to do so. Women’s conference will cost around £40 per person. Since it is online, CLPs will save money on travel and accommodation.

Membership

Staff gave an update about membership engagement. This included opportunities for new relationships, social organising and using new engagement tools. Phonebanking has been taking place across the country via Dialogue and new features of the Organise database are being explored. NEC members discussed how we can improve membership engagement, recruitment and retention. Labour currently has 540,000 members and our members have a key role in Labour’s future success.

Motions

Relevant CLP motions are shared with the NEC organisational committee. The NEC notes these motions. The NEC discussed the further information and feedback that will be shared in response to these motions in future. Motions on policy are sent to the relevant national policy forum (NPF) policy commission.

NEC code of conduct

The NEC must be held to the highest standards. A new code of conduct for members of the NEC was agreed. David Evans also gave a very welcome statement on last week’s high-profile disputes sub-panel. The decisions, discussions and outcome of this panel has been widely misrepresented. Media outlets have published contradictory, misleading and sometimes defamatory articles about the day’s proceedings. David’s clarification was very welcome.

Transparency and reporting

David Evans updated the NEC on plans to begin publishing summaries of key decisions made at NEC meetings. NEC members are able to report back from meetings. David talked about the importance of transparency in politics. (There is a difference between reporting back and leaking confidential information.) The NEC had a good discussion about culture and governance and improvements that can be made in the short, medium and long term.

by aliceperryuk at November 25, 2020 06:10 PM

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report - 24 November 2020

 Yesterday was my first NEC meeting after an eight-year gap.


I wanted to give you a quick report back so that you can be confident all of us elected on the Labour to Win ticket are doing the job of representing you that you would expect.


I think I ought to have anticipated a fraught start to the meeting when outgoing Chair Andi Fox congratulated a list of newly elected list of members and perhaps accidentally, perhaps on purpose, left out my name, and then had to be reminded to grudgingly add it.


Within minutes we were into an explosive row about who should be NEC Chair. This matters, it isn’t just about effective chairing of often contentious meetings, the Chair can rule out agenda items and only be overturned on this by a two thirds majority (which supporters of the leadership don’t have, we only have a simple majority), and the Chair and Vice-Chair sit on the extremely powerful NEC Officers group, which makes urgent decisions between NEC meetings. A hostile Chair using their role negatively could really damage Keir Starmer’s ability to lead Labour effectively.


The Hard Left argued that the outgoing NEC Vice-Chair Ian Murray (from the Fire Brigades Union, not the Scottish MP of the same name) was next in line to be chair.


We argued that the principle of seniority should be restored, which had been Labour’s custom and practice for four decades until broken by the Hard Left in 2017. This meant that we nominated Margaret Beckett for Chair as the longest-serving NEC member. She first joined the NEC in 1980, whereas Ian Murray has only been on the NEC about three years.


At this point Howard Beckett from Unite and Laura Pidcock attacked Keir and the General Secretary for “factionalism” and led a virtual walkout (it was a Zoom meeting) of 13 Hard Left NEC members.


In my first intervention I condemned this extraordinary behaviour. The disrespectful and personalised attacks on Keir and David Evans and the childish petulance of the walkout really shocked me, as when I had previously served on the NEC from 2010-2012 it had been a very comradely and collegiate body. Apparently this rude and aggressive behaviour only started in April when Keir became leader. The people who walked out failed their own supporters by leaving them voiceless in the rest of the meeting. This isn’t the serious approach to internal governance that a potential party of government needs to demonstrate, particularly when under scrutiny from the EHRC.


The rest of the eight-hour meeting was quorate, friendly, constructive, and brilliantly chaired by Margaret Beckett, who we went on to elect nem con once the kerfuffle from their stunt had died down. Alice Perry was also elected nem con as Vice-Chair. Congratulations to them both. They will bring much needed calm and experienced leadership to the NEC. Margaret is an iconic figure as Labour’s first woman Deputy Leader, Acting Leader and Foreign Secretary, who brings huge gravitas to the role of Chair.


During the formal part of the meeting we agreed a new NEC Code of Conduct (clearly behaviour of members needs to improve); a process for dealing with CLP motions sent to us; an important review of Safeguarding for children and vulnerable adults who participate in the Labour Party; and gave the go ahead for an online Labour Women’s Conference from 25-27 June 2021, which will elect the National Labour Party Women’s Committee. 


In the afternoon we had our “Away Day” where staff presented to us and we brainstormed ideas around three themes; Elections 2021, Engaging our Membership under Covid, and Effective Governance. We learned that Labour now has 540,000 members, a historically very high total.


We heard reports from both Keir and Angela Rayner. Keir answered questions on the forthcoming Brexit deal vote, devolution, public sector pay, Islamophobia (the party is drawing up an action plan to tackle it), local government funding, and shop workers. 


After an unnecessarily and wholly inappropriately disrupted start this felt like a good beginning for the new NEC with its new pro-leadership working majority. I’m honoured that your votes have allowed me to serve on the NEC and help with the big task of repairing the party. 

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at November 25, 2020 03:50 PM

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Report, 24 November 2020

Joint Policy Committee, 17 November 2020 This was the first formal meeting I attended, as the returning chair of the national policy forum.  The leader Keir Starmer stressed his commitment to democratic policy-making processes.  The wealth of knowledge and experience among the membership would help us build a vision for the future of the country, […]

by Ann Black at November 25, 2020 11:02 AM

October 16, 2020

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

NEC Report September / October 2020

From Yasmine Dar, Ann Henderson and the CLP representatives on Labour’s National Executive Committee supported by the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance. Also published on grassrootslabour.net 

NEC Report – September & October 2020

Two meetings of Labour’s NEC took place in September 2020. Earlier in the month we met to reflect on the Review of the 2019 General Election, followed by the formal full NEC meeting on Tuesday 29th September. Subsequently the NEC Organisation Committee met on Tuesday 6th October.

The NEC formal September meeting opened with a Leader’s Report from Keir Starmer, and then from Angela Rayner as Deputy Leader. Keir reported back on some of the visits he had been able to make, despite restrictions, during the summer, then he summarised Labour’s priorities at Westminster. Keir also placed on record thanks to the staff for the support given to the Party’s recent digital event Labour Connected, of which a full evaluation is being prepared, including acknowledging there had been some problems. It was noted that 27,000 members had registered to attend, and far greater numbers had been able to watch keynote speeches through various channels.

Points raised by NEC members included: the need for a robust ethical code with regard to donations and fundraising, and a recognition that members were concerned if the fundraising strategy was to shift away from building and investing in a mass membership party, with key links to the trade union movement; various examples of problems across the country with the Conservative government’s response to the COVID crisis, particularly on failings in access to testing; better support for those working from home including revising and improving allowances for low paid workers; going forward it would be wrong to abandon all the positive polices and member engagement from 2019; concerns over lack of Front Bench comment on Belarus; confirmation of a continued commitment to the ten pledges made during the Leadership campaign, including whether the Green New Deal be at the heart of Labour’s plans going forward; and a need for alternatives to the Tories’ approach to the NHS to be outlined clearly. Several NEC members reflected the widespread criticism of the decision to sack three front bench members following the vote on the Overseas Operations Bill; and other issues raised included the internal market Bill and impact on devolved administrations; the impact of COVID in the Higher Education sector currently; concerns about the Union Jack social media ad on the day of Keir’s Connected speech; and the need for action in relation to the inappropriate public comment on a recent disciplinary case by Wes Streeting and other PLP members undermining Labour’s complaints process and making it more difficult for members to come forward with complaints.

In response Keir assured the NEC that a future discussion would be held on a fundraising strategy, agreeing there needs to be a clear framework, and giving an assurance that there was no intent to weaken links with trade unions; that additional resources and time commitments from PLP members would be going into the Scottish 2021 elections; that he would continue to be critical of those who pursue a ‘fire and rehire ‘ policy, and will address the situation in Tower Hamlets; that it was normal practice when MPs broke the Whip to remove them from the front Bench; that he would talk to Lisa Nandy about Belarus. Keir reaffirmed that policy going forward would include commitments around green recovery.

Angela Rayner reported on a large number of digital events at which she had represented the Party over the summer. Progress has been made with improving Dialogue and a new phone app will be piloted in November, which will improve phone banking. Various NEC members including MPs offered to help with phone banking, including in supporting the forthcoming Scottish local government by-elections. Angela confirmed her intent to stick to the pledges made in the Leadership and Deputy Leadership campaign, whilst recognising the new context. With regard to MPs and their use of social media, and the recent references to a disciplinary case, she confirmed this had been raised with the Whip. The Forde Inquiry continues, confidentiality is to be maintained, and a report will come to the NEC in due course. No date was given. It was also confirmed that any necessary disciplinary processes within the party were still being followed and would not be delayed.

The push to increase the diversity of Labour’s candidates in all elections, including on socio-economic background, requires more resource, but it was noted that the events on which Angela has been leading recently have been successful. CLP reps raised several concerns, including asking what checks and balances were in place regarding allegations that the rulebook was being too often ignored; and an urgency to deliver justice rapidly through the Forde inquiry. Angela stated her commitment to upholding the rulebook and suggested potential breaches could be reported to her office.

Moving on to the report from the General Secretary, David Evans covered briefly the Forde Inquiry, reporting to the ICO and the draft EHRC Report, where there is still no firm date for publication. The General Secretary defended the wording in the letter sent to CLPs which restricted what could be discussed locally. NEC CLP reps highlighted that this had generated an adverse reaction from many CLPs, and that a way must be found of listening to, and acting, on, members’ views, especially in the current situation with conference being cancelled. A definition of ‘competent business’ as decided by the NEC was requested. The NEC had previously raised concerns about the West of England Mayoral selection procedures, which the General Secretary reported had been addressed as far as possible. A verbal report on the complaints process was given, but it was agreed more detail was needed, in particular in cases where the rulebook is not being followed, and consistency of approach is sought.  An assurance was also given that the mental health and wellbeing of staff was being given additional resource, working under the COVID restrictions.

Left CLP reps raised the need to review and improve on digital access for CLPs, learning from the recent nominations process; and raised concerns about consistency across regions in advice given and in particular in adhering to the Rule Book. Questions were raised about when the 28 January NEC decision on publishing agendas and minutes on the Members website page would be enacted; where is the progress on the equality monitoring of the Party’s Complaints process; how the Democracy Review recommendations on equality structures are being resourced and followed through, noting that the NEC Equalities Committee has not had a fully prepared meeting since March; the importance of the NEC and its members fulfilling their non-exec roles; that good governance also requires the NEC Organisation Committee to be serviced and to meet;  and the need to consider how CLP motions will be taken forward, particularly given Conference was cancelled. Comments were fed in about the ongoing internal organisation review, requesting clarity on the organisation as currently structured. The General Secretary indicated that the staff trade unions were fully involved in the review, and that the Staff Diversity and Inclusion board was up and running. Reports from the Directors in the Party’s offices in the nations and regions were noted.

Based on the General Secretary’s response, we expect to see further discussion on the process for CLP motions; greater attention to be paid to building the equality structures and implementing the democracy review; a review of Labour Connected; and a revisiting of some of the NEC governance questions, including on delegated powers and on a Code of Conduct for NEC members.

Specific agenda items were taken on:

Finance update. It was noted that the Annual Report which is being prepared will include the Annual financial statement as would usually have been presented to Annual Conference, and that the General Election 2019 campaign had been well supported financially, showing the support from members. It was agreed that communication with CLPs could be improved with regard to financial decisions, and that the current guidance on an ethical code for fundraising and donations should be circulated and confirmed at the next NEC meeting.

General Election Review update: CLP reps stressed the urgency of developing an effective digital strategy; and the need for a review of the selection processes which would allow concerns to be fed in from last year.  The role of NEC oversight of election strategy was emphasised, and the need not to ignore 2017 and 2019 voters in a quest to reach new voters.

NEC suggested improvement: Suggestions from members invited in August focussed on improving transparency and accountability but no firm proposals were brought to this meeting. Other suggestions included improvements that could be made in the support for NEC members, and improved efficiency in sharing papers and implementing previous NEC decisions. Reminders were given of the role and responsibilities of NEC members, including to respect confidentiality when appropriate, and to abide by the Party’s Code of conduct on social media.

An update was given on Party membership, which is 560,000, and this will be further examined at the next meeting, with a request for more data on the demographics, and on leavers, joiners and those in arrears, where CLP reps asked for a robust programme of retention. The importance of collecting equality data at every opportunity, in line with previous NEC decisions, was stressed. Trade union links continue to be vitally important, and can also feed into the work to improve diverse representation at every level, for the Party.

A proposal for an NEC Gypsy, Roma and Traveller working group was deferred to the NEC Equalities Committee to finalise remit and membership.

The previous NEC meeting had clearly reaffirmed its commitment, with no dissent, to using positive action measures such as All Women Shortlists in selections at local government and parliamentary levels. The NEC had also asked for clear guidance to be given on all the options open to the Party to promote more diverse and representative candidates. A short report was given to this meeting, indicating that the limitations of the Equality Act 2010 as in clause 104 apply. (AWS may not be used where a (Labour) group already has at least 50% women members, and that clause 158 Equality Act 2010 gave guidance on some other measures that could be taken for BAME members or disabled members). This report left unanswered a number of questions, as different regions are interpreting the advice in different ways, which still needs to be addressed. It was also noted that the framework set by the July NEC meeting had not been followed through. The NEC meeting reaffirmed its commitment to using positive action measures, within the broadest possible scope of the Equality Act, and a motion was agreed which laid out more detail on diversity measures. No information was given regarding any advice for elections other than for 2021 local government in England and Wales

The NEC meeting ran for over 7 hours. Some items which should have been treated as urgent, such as the establishment of the new Labour Student structures and funding for CLPs, were deferred until late November, despite opposition from the majority of CLP reps, the young Labour rep, and some other NEC members. Although it would have made more sense to defer these to Organisation Committee the following week, and this was confirmed by staff as possible, the majority that has been in place since the new leadership took office, including the two CLP reps elected in the by-election, voted for a two month rather than a one week deferral.

Having voted not to defer it, an important discussion on moving to online Annual General Meetings (AGMs) for CLPS and Equality branches, was curtailed by NEC members including, perhaps surprisingly, one of the CLP reps – this then came back on 6th October to the NEC Organisation Committee.

The 6th October NEC Organisation Committee meeting agreed that CLPs and Branches (including Equality Branches) could now proceed with immediate effect to hold AGMs. The required notice should of course be given to all eligible members, and dates are to be advised to regional and national offices, although the reason for this was questioned by CLP reps given the lack of confidence in some regional offices. Correspondence has now been issued to all CLP Secretaries and guidance will follow shortly. Left CLP reps have been asking for this to happen for some time, so the progress is welcome. NEC members raised a number of questions, and further examination of the feedback from the NEC nominations exercise with online meetings has provided a good indication of some of the problems to be addressed.

Following an amendment proposed by Rachel Garnham, it was agreed that AGMs must be completed by the end of July 2021. Ann Henderson reiterated a proposal she had raised at the July NEC meeting suggesting that the General Secretary make written contact with all Party members for whom the Party does not hold email addresses, to flag up the increasing amount of business now being conducted online, to encourage participation, but also to recognise that all members should be kept informed, whether or not in receipt of emails. No progress has been made on this.

With regard to Equality Branches, Ann advised that as Chair of the NEC Equalities Committee, she had been receiving examples of variations in guidance from Regional offices, on the new Rule Book provisions, and it was agreed that the guidance for AGMs would be issued in a consistent format.

A report was given on changes to the Sexual Harassment complaints procedures, and this too will need to come back to the various committees for further progress.

The Democracy Review 2018 recommended a review of the membership fees allocation to CLPs and of membership rates and discounts. Proposals on this were deferred to the 24th November meeting of the NEC, although the majority of CLP reps argued for this to be taken as scheduled, or at the 6th October meeting, and were preparing to argue for CLPs to receive a higher proportion of funding.

The Democracy Review had also proposed an overhaul of the Policy Forum process. Despite repeated attempts over the last two years by the majority of CLP reps to take this forward, no progress has been made. A paper was discussed which will open up a new round of consultation with a view to bringing rule changes to annual conference 2021. A left amendment to add a commitment that any new policy- making process would be inclusive was agreed. Left CLP reps also asked for assurances that the Joint Policy Committee will not start meeting without elections to the CLP places, or at very least, NEC CLP reps in attendance.

Other business considered at the NEC Organisation Committee 6th October included the West Yorkshire Devolved Combined Authority Mayoral Selection process. Positive action measures were agreed and some slight strengthening of wording regarding taking account of CLP nominations. In light of the West of England Mayoral Selection debacle, where the candidate with the most CLP nominations was excluded by the selection panel for what appeared to be factional reasons, Rachel Garnham proposed two amendments to the process to strengthen the role of CLPs, including that any candidate with a certain number of CLP nominations should automatically be shortlisted subject to due diligence. These amendments were defeated, with only Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance CLP reps in favour, alongside left trade unionists; with the two NEC CLP reps elected in the by-election earlier this year abstaining.

New rules for some Regional Executive Committees were brought to the meeting for noting, based on the new Chapter 9B of the Rule Book. However the wide variation was noted, particularly for Eastern Region, whose rules seem to more closely resemble those that are now obsolete. It was agreed to defer these to a future meeting. Some progress with local authority candidate selections was noted; and there was a welcome discussion on how best to consider CLP motions when submitted for NEC attention, particularly as Annual Conference 2020 was cancelled. A paper was promised, taking on board a number of the points raised in discussion, for the NEC Organisation committee scheduled for 10th November.

The Chair of Organisation Committee, Andy Kerr, had requested additional initial reports on membership and on Disputes Panel hearings and membership appeals. NEC members welcomed both reports, accepting that the information contained at this stage should remain confidential, and the discussion identified areas where more information was required and should be brought back to the relevant NEC sub committees, and to the full NEC. In particular the need for equality monitoring was once again noted and Yasmine Dar stressed the role of education and raised concern that panel members had not received any training in respect of anti-black racism or Islamophobia.

Given the amount of business deferred, or awaiting further information, from the September and 6th October meetings, and arising from the March and July NEC Equalities meetings, a proposal raised under Any Other Business to cancel all NEC meetings until late November, seemed a highly irresponsible course of action.

Following a lengthy argument on this point, the proposal was narrowly defeated. The NEC meetings (NEC Equalities 5th November, and Organisation and Disputes Committees 10th November will go ahead. The 24th November meeting of the NEC is scheduled as an Away Day, where those winning the current NEC elections will take up their seats, but this now seems likely to also include very many NEC business agenda items.

Altogether, two deeply unsatisfactory meetings have demonstrated the depths to which the post-April majority on the NEC will sink to curtail discussion and dismiss the rights and concerns of grassroots members. It remains crucial to ensure that as many of the Grassroots Voice slate as possible are elected to fight for members’ voices to be heard.

by Jake Rubin at October 16, 2020 06:13 PM

September 30, 2020

Alice Perry's Blog

Labour NEC Report – 29 September 2020

Labour’s national executive committee met today, September 29th. This was the last full meeting before the new NEC is elected. 40% of NEC posts are up for election and some long-serving members are standing down. This meeting usually takes place before Labour Party conference, but the Covid-19 pandemic led to conference being cancelled and the NEC election timetable was extended.

Leader’s report

Keir Starmer gave the leader’s report. He updated the NEC on recent activities. Keir has had meetings in the Midlands and Scotland, working to regain trust with former Labour voting communities. He talked about his TUC speech on the importance of job retention. Keir highlighted that Labour believes it should be illegal for businesses to fire people and rehire them with worse terms and conditions. He condemned the Tory government’s total chaos and incompetence in their handling of the pandemic.

Parliamentary business is currently focused on tackling Covid and local restrictions. Keir has been in regular contact with local government representatives who have been managing this across the country. Serious concerns continue to be raised about the government’s handling of the crisis.

Keir talked about Labour Connected, thanking staff for all their work. 27,000 registered to take part, with 84,000 listening to Angela Rayner’s speech and 120,000 tuning in for Keir’s speech.

Questions and discussions included: the political situation in Belarus and support for pro-democracy protesters, Brexit, the internal market bill and its implications for devolution, Labour’s fundraising strategy, support for local government, support for local businesses, mental health during the pandemic, green jobs and the green new deal, the Covid-19 recovery, Keir’s ten pledges in the leadership election, election campaigning, collective responsibility, support for veterans and the armed forces, support for higher education and students, Covid-19 testing, track and trace, the role of the NEC and governance, Labour’s complaints process and Labour’s improved performance in the opinion polls.

Keir welcomed the questions and discussion. He talked about the importance of transparency, working collectively and constructively challenging each other with a shared sense of purpose. Keir talked about how disrespectful it is for people to leak from confidential meetings. He reminded the NEC how he stood with Jeremy Corbyn against leaking from shadow cabinet meetings.

Deputy leader’s report

Angela Rayner gave the deputy leader’s report. She told the NEC that she and Keir have been working hard to together to meet the challenges of 2020 and the crisis we face. She talked about Labour’s positive vision for Britain and the importance of “jobs jobs jobs” and the Green New Deal. She talked about fundraising and the value of gifts of all sizes to support our election campaigns. She gave another confidential update on the Forde Inquiry and ongoing disciplinary proceedings.

Angela talked about her first PMQs and thanked everyone for their support. She was disappointed but unsurprised that Boris Johnson didn’t know the average hourly wage of care workers. Angela talked about the importance of a real living wage and decent sick pay for key workers, particularly during the pandemic.

Angela talked about candidate recruitment and the importance of ensuring our representatives reflect the diversity of the communities they represent. Angela has been working to recruit key workers and people from non-traditional backgrounds. Angela has been hosting training sessions over the summer for people who want to be councillors. I’ve been really happy to help with this important work. You can watch the videos of these webinars on the Labour Party website.

I asked a question about campaigning for the crucial elections in 2021, which gives the public an opportunity to send a message to this disgraceful, shambolic Tory government. Members and councillors across the country are keen to support Covid-secure campaigning to support everyone how has elections next year in England, Scotland and Wales.

General secretary’s report

David Evans gave an update about a range of topics. He talked about plans for election plans, including improving digital campaigning, post and phone canvassing. Selections for candidates are underway across the country for next year’s elections. I asked if we could have a regular standing item on elections at full NEC meetings.

NEC members fed back on Labour Connected. The NEC was presented with an update on the finance strategy. NEC fed back on various internal reviews.

Membership

Labour has around 560,000 members. Party membership peaked at its highest ever level in February 2020. Around 90,000 people joined the Labour Party this year. Engaging and retaining members is a priority.

Online democracy

NEC members thanked staff for all their hard work in enabling NEC nomination meetings The NEC discussed plans to allow CLP meetings to resume with their full business online. Members will be able to hold AGMs online. It is unlikely that members will be able to meet in person in 2020 and beyond so NEC members are keen to allow members to meet virtually to conduct their usual business. 

Improving diversity in local and national government

The NEC reconfirmed its support for all-women shortlists. I proposed a motion, seconded by socialist societies rep James Asser. The motion noted:

The NEC equality committee has frequently noted the need for more work to be done to increase diversity in local government. As part of this important work Labour should:

  • Expand the “Be a Councillor” training aimed at increasing diversity in local government.
  • Recognise the achievements of groups that reach gender balance, and shares best practice about how this can be achieved. 
  • Provide the NEC with regular equality monitoring data on the number of candidates standing for election, and who are elected, who are women, BAME, LGBT+ and/or disabled, including other relevant information such as age.
  • Provide the NEC with an annual list of the remaining all male wards, with details of the local plans to recruit women to stand to be councillors. 
  • Through the NEC, undertake a wider review of diversity in local government and what more Labour can do to increase diversity of political representation and remove structural barriers that prevent more people standing.

The motion was passed unanimously. This is an issue that unites the NEC, and it is something we are passionate about. 

And finally…

A big thank you to the 71 Labour groups who nominated me to the NEC. You can read more about why I am standing for the NEC, and what I have achieved during my time on the NEC on my blog.

by aliceperryuk at September 30, 2020 10:12 AM

September 14, 2020

Luke Akehurst's Blog

Labour NEC Elections - state of the race

According to the CLP nominations so far, I'm currently 10th in the race for the 9 CLP reps on the NEC, which is an exciting place to be!

The deadline for CLPs to nominate NEC candidates is fast approaching on the 27th September.

There are over 200 CLPs with nomination meetings scheduled in the next two weeks.

How is the battle for nominations going so far?

The headline figures are that Momentum are ahead, but not by an insurmountable margin given there are hundreds of CLPs still to nominate. Labour to Win candidates already have more nominations than in 2018, with two weeks to go, and Momentum have lost many of the CLPs they won then. Here are the numbers from Friday, when 120 CLPs in total had nominated:

Laura Pidcock                      Momentum                    83 CLPs
Ann Black                            Open Labour                  81
Yasmine Dar                         Momentum                   68
Gemma Bolton                     Momentum                    67
Mish Rahman                       Momentum                     65
Johanna Baxter                  Labour to Win                     61
Nadia Jama                           Momentum                            60
Gurinder Singh Josan      Labour to Win                     59
Ann Henderson                    Momentum                            56
Luke Akehurst                    Labour to Win                     45
Theresa Griffin                    Tribune                                 38
Jermain Jackman                 Open Labour                        36
Michael Payne                    Labour to Win                     35
Terry Paul                            Labour to Win                     31
Shama Tatler                       Labour to Win                     30
Paula Sherriff                      Tribune                                 25
Crispin Flintoff                      Independent                         16
Roger Silverman                  Labour Left Alliance            14
Vince Maple                          Independent                         12
Liz McInnes                          Tribune                                  11
Cameron Mitchell                 Independent                         11
Alex Beverley                       Independent                         11

Another 12 candidates also have the required 5 nominations to get on the ballot.

Things to bear in mind:

·         The final ballot is by Single Transferable Vote so it will award seats roughly proportionately between the factions – the days of one grouping taking all nine seats are gone.
·         Any increase in our representation from the 2 of 9 seats we already hold strengthens the mainstream majority on the NEC as a whole.
·         Over 100,000 new members who joined the party to vote for Keir, Lisa or Jess didn’t get a vote in the February NEC by-elections that saw Gurinder and Johanna narrowly win. They can now vote. And the Hard Left keep complaining that many of their supporters have quit the party …
·         With every week of nominations, our position has got stronger compared to Momentum’s.
·         Over 80% of the CLPs nominating Labour to Win candidates are gains we didn't win in 2018.
·         We are doing best in CLPs with All Member Meetings where the new members can vote, and Momentum are mainly holding on where there is a delegate GC system – AGM cancellations due to the General Election and COVID mean some GC delegates were elected at the height of Corbynism in 2018.
·         We are doing best in the CLPs with the largest membership that will have the most voting members in the final ballot while many of Momentum’s nominations come from small CLPs.

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at September 14, 2020 04:14 PM