planet necblogs

November 18, 2022

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Update, November 2022

NEC Update, November 2022 The full NEC will meet in Newcastle on 29 November.  Before then, here is a report on various meetings since conference. Organisation Committee, 8 November 2022 Reorganisation Postponed Back in July the committee agreed to reorganise English CLPs along new Westminster boundaries from 1 January 2023.  The committee now decided to […]

by Ann Black at November 18, 2022 03:56 PM

October 10, 2022

Ann Black on the Record

NEC at Conference, 24/28 September 2022

This report is relatively brief because the NEC made all the key decisions before conference, and because Covid finally caught up with me and I spent most of the week trying to keep up online from my hotel room. I did manage the NEC meeting on Saturday evening before testing positive.  The rule changes had […]

by Ann Black at October 10, 2022 03:10 PM

September 23, 2022

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Ann Henderson reports from the 20 September NEC

The NEC met on Tuesday 20 September, in London (hybrid format). The meeting considered the progress on recommendations from the Forde Report, the re-establishment of the National Policy Forum and Joint Policy Committee, and preparations for the forthcoming Annual Labour Conference in Liverpool. This included consideration of a number of Constitutional Amendments (rule changes) and an update on delegations. The NEC meeting also took reports from the General Secretary, the Leader, and the Deputy Leader. There were some important items missing from the agenda altogether, notably the timeline we had been promised on the conferences for women, disabled, and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic members for 2023.

With regard to Annual Conference 2022, the updated agenda was shared with the NEC and will now be uploaded to the Conference webpage and app. We were advised of the NEC Assistant Chairs (Diana Holland, Wendy Nichols, Gurinder Singh Josan, Angela Eagle). There was no explanation as to how these had been selected, and some NEC members recorded their view that the process should be transparent and should have taken account of the NEC section filled by Disabled and BAME members’ reps. Best Practice Awards were also proposed for endorsement by the NEC. Whilst all the recommendations were supported, NEC members asked for clarification on the process followed for nominations, and the General Secretary noted that this was currently staff-led, through Regional Director consultation, but agreed to bring this back for review to the NEC.

Concern was expressed about the low take up of the Access Fund, provided to support and enable disabled members to attend Annual Conference, and it was agreed to increase the publicity around this Fund.

Harry Donaldson, Chair of CAC, attended part of the NEC meeting to update on arrangements. Motions received by the deadline are currently being reviewed. Priorities Ballot on topics for debate will run during the day on Sunday. Compositing sessions will have time limits this year and will take place from 3pm on Sunday.  Composite motions will then be circulated to delegates early Monday morning.

12 Reference backs were received by the deadline. Emergency Motions deadline is noon on 22 September. 970 CLP delegates are registered, representing 503 CLPs.  260 delegates are registered from affiliated organisations. There are still some delegate credentials to be checked. The total number attending Annual Conference, including visitors, ex-officio, exhibitions, guests etc – is now over 10,000 people.  The CAC report also included updates on security arrangements, safeguarding, mental health awareness, ongoing liaison around access requirements. It was noted that over 150 organisations are exhibiting, bringing in nearly £1 million. A significant number of Business Engagement events are being held, including a Business and International Reception, bringing in further sponsorship and donations.

The Partner Charity this year is Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice, Liverpool, information is within the conference booklet and reps will be on site at conference.  NEC members conveyed thanks to the Party’s Conference and Events team, and to the CAC, in all the preparatory work undertaken so far for the Conference. Delegates raising points of order will be encouraged to work through staff/Chair’s aide.

Constitutional Amendments (Rule Changes) for Annual Conference

This discussion was split into two parts, firstly looking at Rule Changes which the NEC would be taking to Conference, and secondly determining the NEC’s attitude on those Rule Changes submitted by CLPs.

A number of those coming from the NEC are ‘tidying up’ amendments: replacing all references to ‘Disputes Panels’ throughout the Rule Book with ‘ Complaints and Disciplinary Sub Committee’; replacing references to the ‘Welsh Assembly’ with ‘Welsh Parliament’ ; and inserting references to the Independent Complaints Board (ICB) along with the outline of the new Complaints process, removing some of the references to the role of the NCC.

Other NEC amendments which were passed without dissent included: introducing ex officio delegate status to Annual Conference for two members of the National Women’s Committee (NWC), the BAME Members’ Committee, and the Disabled Members’ Committee; a procedure on local government coalition agreements in England, Wales and Scotland; a requirement and procedure for resigning as a local councillor when elected as an MP; oversight of multi-CLP Women’s Branches to pass to the NWC, rather than NEC Equalities; and increasing the TULO representation at the Clause V meeting from 8 to 11.

For the first time, the Annual Women’s Conference (AWC) has been able to bring forward proposed Rule Changes, and this year the NEC endorsed the 2022 AWC proposal on giving Women’s Branch Secretaries and Women’s Officers  access to women on the membership lists (to enable organisation); and the NEC also supported the NWC’s proposal for an amendment to the Rules of the Women’ Conference, which will see CLP card votes based on the numbers of women paid up members, not all members as is currently the case.  Whilst this work on the Women’s Organisation rules may seem rather detailed, it is significant in demonstrating that women members want to be involved in strengthening and shaping their Conferences and Women’s Branches. Following on from the Democracy Review, previous NEC members did a lot of work to make these routes possible, so it is encouraging to see issues being raised constructively.

There were strong differences of opinion expressed on some of the other NEC amendments. All were passed, but I joined with 10 or 11 members in voting against on different points. I opposed the following changes: reducing the maximum delegation that a CLP can send to annual conference to six members, irrespective of size of the CLP; reverting to electing the two members of the CAC (CLP section) on the floor of Conference rather than by OMOV; changes to Chapter 5 Clause IV on selection processes, which we felt gave too much power to the NEC; and changing the recent Conference decision which allowed for CLPs to put forward a constitutional amendment (Rule Change) for consideration in the same year as submitted. The Governance and Legal Unit was asked in future to give written motivations for the Rule Changes brought forward for the NEC to consider. It was not clear at all why the decision to put CLP Rule Changes back into an 18 month delay before consideration, although some NEC members seemed to be suggesting the NEC was the only body that was capable of working out Rule Changes.

Ellen Morrison and others spoke against reducing the size of CLP delegations at Annual Conference – pointing out that the opportunities at Conference had supported many of those currently on the NEC in their political journeys and development as activists and representatives.  Luke Akehurst, CLP section, argued in favour of the reduction to six, suggesting that CLPs should be using their funds for election campaigning, not wasting their money, and that Conference was lopsided when dominated by larger CLPs. Along with Mish Rahman, Nadia Jama and Yasmine Dar, I voted against this rule change, as did Ann Black (Ann also cited loss of income to the Party if Conference numbers were reduced)  – CLPs are well able to make their own decisions about how many delegates to send to conference, and how to best reflect the diversity in their own constituencies. It should not need to be pointed out that this is a membership organisation, and that means bringing members together from time to time in a way that is representative of the size and diversity of CLPs and affiliates.

CLPs had also submitted various Rule Changes to Annual Conference. These come to the NEC to decide its recommendation on each one. All those from CLPs were opposed by the NEC. This included one from eight CLPs including Islington North, which would ensure the rules for sitting MPs to seek reselection were the Party’s rules, and were not overridden by the Party Whip in the PLP. It was suggested by the Governance and Legal Unit that this would leave the Party open to legal risk, and did not treat all members fairly – 10 members of the NEC were not convinced by this argument, and voted to support the CLPs.  A Rule Change from five CLPs including City of Durham, on CLPs drawing up both the longlist and the shortlist in selections, and building in places on the longlist for nominees from the Cooperative party or affiliates was opposed on the grounds it would contradict the position of the NEC having oversight of all selections, and could see affiliate nominees allegedly by-passing the due diligence procedures. Members from different areas have raised concerns about the current selection process and the longlisting, and this would have been a step towards addressing members’ concerns. Other CLP proposals that the NEC rejected included a restriction on lobbyists seeking selection as Party candidates, and a proposal to add reps from the Party’s equalities structures to the National Policy Forum membership. I’m seeking clarification on how all the CLP Constitutional amendments will be tabled for consideration by full Conference.

The Leaders’ Report was brief, given that there has been little parliamentary activity since the last NEC meeting in July, but Keir reported on the various activities required following the Queen’s death and the national mourning period. Preparations were well underway for Annual Conference, during which a number of key policy announcements will be made. No questions were taken on the Leader’s Report, as the decision was taken to prioritise the Forde Report discussion, during the limited time that Keir had available to be present at the NEC.

Progress on the Forde Report recommendations

The Executive Director of Legal Affairs presented a paper on taking forward the Forde Report. This included discussion on a statement from the NEC, which was strengthened during the meeting, and agreed for publication without dissent. There was a wide-ranging discussion with many NEC members contributing, and it became clear that further discussion was needed on how to maintain oversight of the actions underway already internally, and the planned meetings with stakeholders.  A considerable amount of organisational restructuring, and changes in the complaints process, has already happened, much of it linked to the EHRC Report and requirements, and the ongoing EHRC monitoring. There was a favorable report on the work of the internal Diversity and Inclusion Board.

Points raised included: raising awareness of the visible frustration within the Party about the apparent lack of serious attention being paid to the Forde report; the Labour Black Socialists statement and protest; the NWC request for a special meeting to allow full discussion amongst women members; the importance of addressing the Forde Report recommendation on maintaining political neutrality of staff; scrutiny and review of the various staff and member training programmes, including costings and outcomes; the continuing blurring of lines between the General Secretary’s office and the Leader of the Opposition’s office; discrediting of current selection processes and concerns over perceived staff interventions; insufficient focus on speaking with Party members; the need for a clear whistleblowing policy; a request for an organagram of the Party’s structures for any member to see; clarity on who ‘stakeholders’ are and the need to set up far wider member engagement than small selective roundtables; noting there is still little or no transparency in how decisions are being made, for example in some of the options presented to the NEC on agenda items; or in how Panels are put together from the NEC, in selections or in disputes procedure.

I have asked for more weight to be given to tackling the misogyny and sexism, and sexual harassment, evidenced in the Report, and that to be taken forward in discussion with women Party members at every level. Training programmes are not enough. (not that there appears to be anything other than a two hour course for some staff, ICB, IRB, NCC and NEC members on sexual harassment). I also suggested that JVL be included in the programme for stakeholder meetings. I queried the absence of any independent oversight or appeal process in instances where a Regional Organiser and two CLPS were in dispute over eligibility to attend conference  (both CLPS have been barred from sending their delegations); and asked for accuracy when reporting on progress made on complaints, appeals and suspensions, all of which still take too long to deal with – and with no equality assessments or data being collected or shared.

Throughout the meeting there was of course acknowledgement of the work put in so far by staff to make progress.  The NEC was clear that this must be shared with the membership. In my view, it had been a mistake to refuse the request made by a number of us at the July meeting, for a special NEC meeting in the summer.  More engagement with the whole membership is key. I was assured that ‘stakeholder engagement’ included members, but the difficulties in securing discussion at Annual Conference or in CLPs or in the Women’s Committee, or amongst BAME members, suggests otherwise.

Given the number of contributions and concerns raised in the NEC meeting, it would not have been appropriate to sign off the initial paper we had in front of us.  We were asked to feed back any further points requiring action, to the General Secretary’s office by the end of the week. An NEC working group will be set up at the end of Conference, to prepare, along with staff, papers for the NEC November Away Day. Meanwhile I hope that members will continue to make their views known through their NEC reps and in their regions and nations.

The General Secretary’s report gave us an update on current Party membership – 401,000 with approximately 28,000 in arrears. CLP Secretaries should be able to access membership records soon (many complaints still coming in about the difficulties of not being able to do so, especially when preparing selections and other activities which require accurate records) and there will be sessions running at Conference on the new membership system. On Party finances, the General Secretary reported that discretionary expenditure continues to be carefully scrutinised, that higher value donations have been coming in, and the Party will be setting up a Lottery, as part of ongoing fundraising. A pilot telephone fundraising project, making direct contact with 4,000 members, is underway.  Concerns were raised by left CLP reps, with regard to promoting gambling, seeking assurances of appropriate guidance and support; and also questions were asked about the appropriateness of telephoning members during these difficult economic times, and assurances were sought about the contract with the company carrying out these calls. It is not clear how the calls are being monitored, nor indeed if Party members are aware that their details are being used in this way. The General Secretary assured the NEC that good practice had been followed in procurement and more information would be shared with the NEC.

On staffing, the NEC was advised that ‘Operation Change’ is underway, reviewing regional and national resources, with an emphasis on scaling up the Regional Comms and Regional Digital Teams. 31 trainee organisers have now been recruited, and the NEC will be given a further report on the diversity and remit of these organisers at the next meeting. The General Election Task Force is meeting regularly, and a paper on the long campaign structure will come to the next NEC meeting (November).

The recent NEC ballot had an 18.6% turnout, lower than in previous years. Ann Black asked for the full ballot results of the NEC election to be shared. Governance and Legal staff indicted that all members who had raised questions about not receiving papers as their Direct Debits had not been taken, had subsequently received their ballot papers. (this may be a disputed point, from information I and other CLP reps received from disenfranchised members.) Arrangements are in hand for the move out of the Southside offices in London, to different premises, which will also be suitable as the General Election HQ. A review is underway of all properties owned by the Party in the regions and nations.

Carol Sewell and Nadia Jama expressed great frustration at the failure to honour the commitments given previously for a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic members’ conference, noting that the online event planned for 19 November would not fulfill the same purpose. Similarly Ellen Morrison recorded that no progress was evident on establishing the Disabled Members’ structures.  The Disability Labour statement, declaring the Party to be institutionally discriminatory and ableist, was referenced, and the General Secretary indicated that he would be meeting with Disability Labour, who had also been assisting with Annual Conference preparations.  Yasmine Dar asked what has happened to the next cohort for the Bernie Grant Leadership programme, and no information was available.

CLP reps also called for progress to be made on guidance on the holding of hybrid meetings, nearly a year having passed since the NEC agreed on pilot schemes and interim guidance. The General Secretary promised that Ellen Morrison would be involved at every stage going forward. I raised the request that the Wales Women’s Conference in November have a hybrid option. (no response on this)

A number of NEC Members asked what had happened to the promise given at the last NEC meeting, that timetables for the 2023 Women’s conference and other equalities conferences would be brought forward to this meeting. It was made clear by Diana Holland that cost should not be used as an excuse to not meet Rulebook requirements, and the Conferences need to be scheduled. AWC should meet in the spring, according to the rulebook.  Later in the meeting the dates for Women’s Committee meetings were considered, and it was agreed to review the proposal of three meetings a year of two hours each in length, noting this was completely inadequate, and noting the request for an early NWC meeting prior to the next NEC, to lead the discussion on the AWC 2023. This matter will come to the new NEC when it meets next week. But the General Secretary indicated that a paper on all the Equalities Conferences would go to the NEC Organisation committee on 8 November, which would include financial considerations.

I asked the General Secretary for updates on a number of matters: is there any progress on taking CLPS out of suspension, some having been suspended for years (no response); what has happened to the assurances that priority would be given to hearing appeals from those members suspended, some of whom have been suspended for over a year, and in Pamela Fitzpatrick’s case an elected member of the National Women’s Committee has not been able to take up her place (no response); why did the ALC seat on the National Women’s Committee remain unfilled (agreed to look into establishing a process to fill this seat); and I asked if good employment practice was being followed when arranging for cover for staff taking maternity leave. I remain concerned that in some areas a decision is made that the work can be covered by existing staff, which devalues everyone’s roles, and does not open up employment opportunities for maternity cover posts.

I am aware that CLPs have raised concerns about selections and the way in which the Party is approaching the Boundary Commission review outcomes, on which there was no discussion this month, and I understand that an update on Westminster selections procedures will come to the NEC Organisation Committee meeting in early November.

Angela Rayner gave a Deputy Leader report, which referenced the recent parliamentary and formal events around the Queen’s death, and the proclamation of King Charles III. As parliamentary business had been suspended, there was less to report. Angela spoke of the Party’s consistent support for the rights of trade union to organise, and indicated that she and Keir had met with the TUC Executive recently, and would both be attending the rescheduled TUC Conference. Andi Fox asked for support of the forthcoming rail union industrial action, and Angela made clear that there was not a ban on MPs attending picket lines.

Angela paid particular tribute to Jean Stretton, former Leader Oldham Council, whose death had just been announced, placing on record the significant role that Jean had played in in public life herself, whilst also encouraging other women to come forward.

The meeting took a brief discussion on the National Policy Forum, which will be holding its first full meeting (online) early evening of 25 October. At that meeting the Chair and three Vice Chairs will be elected. NEC Co-Convenors of the Policy Commissions will be appointed at the NEC Organisation meeting on 8 November. Nominations during October will also be sought for the Joint Policy Committee, which will meet on 15 November. Work and consultations will then commence after November, leading up to a full NPF event in July 2023.

At the end of the meeting there was a suggestion that the NEC Minutes were now available online for the wider membership to access – which was agreed several years ago and has never happened – it was agreed to look into this. Transparency, or the lack of it, still to be addressed indeed.

 

Ann Henderson 22.09.22

 

 

 

by Rachel Garnham at September 23, 2022 11:17 AM

September 22, 2022

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Meeting, 20 September 2022

The meeting opened with a minute’s silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth.  After ten days of national tributes,  normal business could resume.  However the power went off after an hour, cutting lights, microphones and wi-fi.  There were enough of us in the room to make a quorum, but those Zooming in could have been seriously […]

by Ann Black at September 22, 2022 02:06 PM

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report – 20 September 2022

 

The September NEC meeting is always dominated by conference business, and is a meeting of the outgoing NEC, as any newly elected members take office at the NEC AGM on the final evening of Annual Conference.

 

We began with a minute’s silence in memory of the Queen.

 

We then agreed the conference timetable and, in a contested vote, appointed Angela Eagle, Diana Holland, Gurinder Singh Josan and Wendy Nichols as assistant chairs of conference, meaning that they will be part of the pool of chairs of conference sessions alongside the NEC Chair (Alice Perry) and Vice-chair (Johanna Baxter).

 

After a short break due to a power cut, we agreed best practice award winners and then moved into a debate and votes on proposed NEC-sponsored rule changes.

 

We agreed to promote the following rule changes (alongside a number of uncontentious tidying-up changes to wording). These are all a lot more minor than the big package of changes last year.

 

·         Capping each CLP’s Annual Conference delegation at six delegates to prevent conference floor being dominated by very large delegations from wealthy CLPs (and stop CLPs wasting money on 7th, 8th or even 20thdelegates which they could be spending on campaigning). This does not affect the voting strength of CLPs, which continues to be based on their number of members. Passed by 16 votes to 11.

·         Restoring flexibility to how the NEC deals with shortlisting in snap elections and by-elections. Passed by 21 votes to 10 with 1 abstention.

·         Changing the election system for the two CLP reps on the Conference Arrangements Committee from OMOV to a ballot of CLP delegates at conference. This is logical as the steering committee for conference should be elected by conference. It removes the need for any OMOV ballots every second year, saving the party about £25,000. Passed by 20 votes to 11.

·         Restoring the “one year rule” so that rule changes submitted by CLPs or affiliates are tabled and considered by the NEC for a year and can be properly responded to before being voted on at conference, rather than taken in the year they are submitted. Passed by 20 votes to 11.

·         Councillors who do not withdraw from coalitions with other parties when the national party instructs them to lose the whip. Passed nem con.

 

The CAC Chair, Harry Donaldson, reported on arrangements for conference. He told us that 1,032 CLP delegates and 260 affiliate delegates had registered and that the total number of attendees including visitors was over 9,500.

 

We then considered the NEC position on rule changes submitted by CLPs. There were legal or consequential reasons to reject all of them, but contested votes went as follows:

 

·         A rule to allow an MP suspended from the PLP to come back in as candidate if readmitted, even if another candidate had already been chosen. Vote went 21 to 10 with 1 abstention to oppose this.

·         A rule to remove the NEC’s ability to stop affiliate backed candidates from being on parliamentary selection longlists on due diligence grounds. Vote went 21 to 11 to oppose this.

·         A rule to ban property developers and private sector lobbyists from being selected for any public office until four years after they leave the job. Vote went 22 to 10 to oppose this.

·         A rule to force the NEC to provide specific details of why it has imposed a candidate at any level. Vote went 21 to 10 to oppose this.

 

Keir Starmer then gave this leader’s report. He said it had been an extraordinary ten days of national mourning and that he had been honoured to represent the Labour Party at the Queen’s funeral and the new King’s accession council. He paid tribute to the Queen’s 70 years of public service. He said politics had now restarted after the mourning period and there was a clear divide over energy prices, with both major parties agreeing on a price freeze, but Labour believing the energy companies should pay through a windfall tax, while the Tories want working people to pay through tax in the future. As well as the cost-of-living crisis, the NHS was under-funded and the Tory policy on the economy and growth appeared likely to be based on failed trickle-down theories of making the rich richer through tax cuts and hoping some of their spending reached people lower down the economic ladder. Labour’s position is to build the economy in a way that deals with the climate crisis and creates the next generation of green jobs. We had an industrial strategy that aims to create growth across the UK. We were moving from a political era of a character divide with Boris Johnson to one of a policy divide with Liz Truss. A major statement from the Government on the NHS is expected on Thursday, and a fiscal statement on Friday. Keir said that whilst his 2020 speech had been acknowledging how badly Labour had lost in 2019, and his 2021 speech had been introducing himself to the country, the 2022 leader’s speech would be about his plan for Britain and would contain a series of robust policy propositions. On the Forde Report he reiterated his apology to all the individuals concerned who had been affected by unacceptable behaviour, and said we now needed to work on Forde’s recommendations.

 

We then moved to a discussion on the Forde Report. An extensive piece of work had been untaken by party staff over the summer to analyse the recommendations and group them into three categories, those that had already been enacted (because a lot had changed in the party while the report was being written), those that there were legal, financial or regulatory reasons for not enacting, and those that needed further detailed work on how to enact them. This middle group, initially comprising 79 of the 165 recommendations, will be referred to an NEC Working Group which will report back to the NEC Awayday in November. We agreed that if any NEC member feels one of the recommendations should be moved into the middle category from another category and examined by the Working Group, this would happen. The main political disagreement seemed to be over the inclusion of a recommendation about political neutrality of staff, which some NEC members felt meant staff being totally apolitical, whereas I made the case that whilst the staff leave their personal politics at the door, it is an element of their job for some of them to carry out political management tasks to ensure that the party moves in the political direction the NEC desires e.g. staff involvement in policy development is not a neutral task as the party leadership needs outcomes from the policy process that help it win elections. There was a move by Momentum supporters on the NEC to delay the entire process until after the Away Day, but we argued there is a strong desire from members to see action on implementing the recommendations sooner rather than later.   

 

The following statement was agreed by the NEC:

 

“The Labour Party apologises for the culture and attitudes expressed by senior staff in the leaked report, as well as for the way in which those comments came to light. The report is clear that the culture of factionalism led to a situation where allegations of racism and harassment weren't being addressed. Elected representatives, our members, and the public rightly expect better from a progressive left-wing party.

 

The Labour Party is committed to ensuring that such a situation will not arise again and that any racist and discriminatory attitudes will be tackled immediately, wherever they arise, in whatever section of the party.

 

An apology alone is not enough, and that is why, even prior to the publication of the Forde Report, steps have been taken to begin to change the culture of the party. This work is ongoing, and the Forde Report provides additional recommendations to further this work and to ensure that this is never allowed to happen again.

 

The NEC is currently seeking the views of Party stakeholders in deciding how to take forward the recommendations from the Forde report.”

 

We then moved on to David Evans’ report as General Secretary. He said the absolute priority remains preparation in case there is a snap General Election, although this now looks less likely to happen. He had been on a tour of all the nations and regions as part of this. The priority areas for investment were field operations, digital campaigning, and comms. A staff training programme had been launched with a focus on leadership and persuasion skills. The regional comms team and digital campaigning team have been scaled up. The party was doing well regarding securing high value donations and, once licensing is completed, will be launching its own national fundraising lottery. A pilot scheme phoning members who have been identified as potential donors was generating a lot of donations. Discretionary spending remains carefully scrutinised so that resources are focused where that are most needed. A very diverse and talented team of 31 new trainee organisers have been recruited. Moves were being planned to integrate locally funded organisers better into the staff structure. Party membership is now 401,000 of whom 28,000 are in arrears. This is 8,000 above the projected level for this point in the electoral cycle because there have been 24,000 new joiners this year. The turnout in the NEC elections had been 18.6% (approximately 70,000 votes cast out of approximately 380,000 ballots issued). There would be a briefing for the NEC on the introduction of the new membership database. The final legal hurdles were being crossed in procurement of a new HQ which is only 50% the cost of the current one and better configured both as a general working environment and as HQ for a General Election campaign. There was also a review going on of properties used to house the nations and regions.

 

Angela Rayner gave her report as Deputy Leader. She paid tribute to the late Queen’s 70 years of public service and said she was honoured to have spoken in the parliamentary tributes to the Queen. She then went on to speak about two Labour Party activists who have recently sadly passed away, Jean Stretton (former Leader of Oldham Council) and Kathryn Sharman. At the end of Angela’s report we held a further minute’s silence for these two comrades and others who have passed away since our last meeting. Angela said she saw Liz Truss as proof that the extremist ERG faction had taken over the Tories, and the prospect of them winning another term in government with such a hard right agenda was scary. We were focused on winning the argument for an economic approach based on higher wages as well as higher growth. She had spent the summer highlighting Tory failures on the cost of living and other scandals such as the dumping of sewage. She will be opening party conference on Sunday and closing it on Wednesday. She stressed that there is no ban on Labour MPs joining picket lines, it is just not viewed as a good idea for the Shadow Cabinet to do so. We will support union members taking industrial action.

 

The meeting closed with a report on the timetable for the National Policy Forum, which will meet online on 25 October to elect its chair and vice-chairs.

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at September 22, 2022 08:01 AM

September 12, 2022

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Report from NEC Equalities Committee from Ann Henderson

Report from NEC Equalities Committee

Ann Henderson, NEC CLP representative, September 2022

The NEC Equalities Committee met on Thursday 8th September 2pm – 3.45pm. With a number of apologies, and a light agenda, the meeting was poorly attended and not as focused as the wider Party membership might reasonably expect an Equalities Committee to be, given the recent publication of the Forde report.

In the absence of James Asser (Chair) who was unwell, the meeting was chaired by Ann Black, one of the NEC Vice Chairs for Women. Anneliese Dodds MP, as Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, and as Party Chair, gave a report on Shadow Cabinet campaigning and parliamentary activity, and was in attendance for the whole meeting. Ongoing work referenced here included: cost of living increases, highlighting impact on women including lone parents; working with Vicky Foxcroft on disability policies, including campaign for pay gap reporting; new deal for workers, including commitment on statutory rights for equality reps; working with the health team on maternal healthcare, particularly black women’s experiences; and commending the work done by Taiwo Owatemi MP as Deputy in the Women and Equalities team. Taiwo stood down from this role, and from a Whip’s role, this week, in order to manage her constituency commitments. The National Women’s Committee (NWC) that morning had placed on record their thanks for Taiwo’s work to date. Anneliese and the front bench have noted that the Cabinet team under Liz Truss no longer includes any Cabinet or Ministerial role with a remit specifically for women.

Anneliese reported that work continues on Labour’s proposal for a new Race Equality Act, and that she had been working with LGBT+ Labour, praising them for their work on London Pride 50 years, noting that Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and herself joined the demonstration in July.

Following on from concerns raised at the Women’s Committee, I asked Anneliese to reiterate that she would be working with the Governance and Legal Unit to ensure that local CLP role holders and Regional Offices were giving the right support to new Women’s Branches and officers. I also made clear that the NWC had been unanimous in voicing its frustration at the lack of progress on the Annual Women’s Conference 2023, on which no information has been forthcoming for months now.

Concerns have already been raised forcefully at the NEC by the left CLP reps about the General Secretary’s decision to cancel CLP AGMs in London region and elsewhere in England. This is a misguided response to the expected Boundary Commission Review changes and will impact on the Women’s Branches and other equalities work too. Anneliese agreed to look further into this.

At the last NEC Equalities Meeting, Anneliese had reported on a thorough piece of work to improve our equality monitoring and to get consistency in the data, in line with the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010. Progress is being made across the EDI Board internally with staff, and now all new initiatives (such as the Trainee organiser programme) will reflect a more systematic approach, using the ONS categories as the basis for data collection.

On the Forde Report, Party staff indicated that work is underway to see which recommendations have been addressed already and which need other work to be done, taking into account the ongoing EHRC commitments too. No real detail has been shared with the Equalities Committee or the Women’s Committee so far, and the full NEC on 20th September may expect a more detailed report.

It was noted that the General Secretary had issued an apology to the PLP, along with Anneliese, as had Keir Starmer.  (Although nothing was shared in the papers for the meeting, on 27 July Labour List had carried an extract from the letter sent by the General Secretary and Party Chair  https://labourlist.org/2022/07/exclusive-do-not-dismiss-concerns-of-bame-members-over-forde-mp-urges/  )

Although there was also a separate agenda item on the ‘Party’s Response Plan’ on Forde, there was no other discussion in the meeting. The Equalities Committee was not being asked for its views on any of the substance of the Report and its recommendations, really only being advised that a progress report was going to the NEC later this month.

The same paper had been tabled at the National Women’s Committee that morning, and although discussion was not encouraged there either on the substance of the Forde report, the Women’s Committee members did flag up the need for a discussion with women in the Party about concerns over rising misogyny and complaints of sexism. The Committee will be represented at a women’s stakeholders roundtable next week, convened by Anneliese in conjunction with the External Stakeholders Manager from the Leader’s Office. NEC members were also asked to report to the full NEC, that the NWC wanted a special meeting on the Forde Report to be scheduled.

It is also evident from the recent visible protests from Black members of the PLP and the Party more generally, that statements such as those given by Head Office when Forde Report was published suggesting ‘that good progress is being made under the current leadership’ are not acceptable. Members want much more action and evidence of change.

Stakeholders present at the NEC Equalities Committee this month were: Jewish Labour Movement (Mike Katz), Labour Women’s Network (Claire Reynolds) and Disability Labour (Kathy Bolt). Verbal reports were taken from all three.  For the future, it was agreed (not for the first time) that written reports should be submitted in advance, to allow for NEC members to prepare for the discussions with stakeholders more effectively and make better use of the Committee time.

Disability Labour reported on growing frustration within the Party from disabled members, as repeated failures are recorded in meeting members’ requests for reasonable adjustments, and in moving to a more flexible approach on arranging hybrid meetings.  Kathy Bolt also indicated that individual member complaints were increasing, referencing again the difficulties at the 2021 Annual Conference, and the flaws in the new Complaints procedures. Ann Black as Chair of the meeting stressed it was important these were all addressed, and the Governance and Legal Unit asked for specific cases to be passed on. The Disability Labour Statement is here:

https://mailchi.mp/19fcf8617c64/summer22-update-16583223

Mike Katz from the Jewish Labour movement reported on a busy summer of training activity, highlighting successful sessions provided at the GMB Annual Conference in Harrogate, and encouraging other trade unions to take up the JLM offer of antisemitism training, to which Wendy Nichols responded enthusiastically in relation to discussing with JLM rolling out training through Unison regions. JLM is working with Party staff to train trainers, to build capacity in the Party. JLM has also been providing training to regional office staff.  It was noted that the GMB has established a Faith Workers Branch, in which JLM is glad to be involved.

The other summer activity has been around selection and trigger ballots, and Mike Katz urged the Party to improve the communications around timetables and crucial dates, in order to allow socialist societies and affiliates to be able to maximise member participation. Wendy Nichols as Chair of NEC Organisation Committee, agreed to take this back.

JLM indicated they had already been involved in discussions following the Forde Report publication, but nothing further was raised during the meeting.

For Labour Women’s Network, Claire Reynolds reported on training – the recently completed delivery of a women’s leadership programme in Eastern Region; Jo Cox programme for cohort five is underway; forthcoming training in the North West Region, and a major fundraising dinner in Sheffield on 26 November. Two fringe events are planned for Annual Conference, a stall, and the LWN reception is now running as a joint reception with the Party. Claire is also now on the Board of Make Women Count. LWN will be relaunching their campaign on abortion rights at Annual Conference.

Following on from all three reports, I asked for more clarity and an NEC review of all training programmes for which the Party was committing funding, or allocating staff time, and the costs and overall budget. There has not been transparency over contracts in the past, and I recall this being an issue with the first Bernie Grant programme.  There are other examples, such as the apparent monopoly on antisemitism training, or the lack of involvement of the National Women’s Committee in any of the current women’s development and training schemes. Members should know how their money is being spent – and if the programmes best meet the needs of the Party. This is another question to consider when reviewing the Forde recommendations.

Claire from LWN explained that LWN fills a gap that nobody else does, and that the funding for the Jo Cox programme is conditional on LWN delivering it.

The NEC will hopefully pick up on the wider discussion when reviewing budgets and training priorities in the year ahead.

The final item on the agenda at the NEC Equalities Committee was a report on Equalities conferences for 2023. The meeting was informed there was nothing to report, as discussions were ongoing in the staff teams and a report would go to the full NEC on 20th September.

The recommendations from the Democracy Review of 2018, translated into rules by successive Annual Conferences, are fast receding into the distance despite the rulebook –just when tackling sexism, misogyny, racism, ableism, and all discrimination, should be at the heart of our work.

 

 

Ann Henderson 09.09.22

by Rachel Garnham at September 12, 2022 10:24 PM

July 28, 2022

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

Gemma Bolton NEC Report – 19th July 2022

Please see below Gemma Bolton’s report from Labour’s full NEC, held 19th July 2022.


Labour’s NEC met last Tuesday 20th July, on what happened to be the hottest ever recorded day in Britain. Below is a report of an aptly heated meeting, with some spicy revelations. 

 

Leader’s Report 

Keir Starmer updated the NEC on his work as leader of the Labour Party. He spoke about the decision of Durham Police not to fine him for allegedly breaking lockdown rules, arguing – with a straight face –  that this showed him to be a man of unparalleled integrity compared to Boris Johnson. He also spoke about the commision led by Gordon Brown to review the constitutional make-up of the United Kingdom, which I am hoping will have some ambitious proposals for how Labour can begin to regain seats in Scotland and distribute power to all corners of the UK. 

There was certainly a shift at this NEC, with Starmer facing challenging questions from NEC members not usually deemed as on the ‘left’ of the party, particularly trade union reps with regard to the relationship between the Labour Party and trade unions. Two sorry episodes were referred to – David Lammy’s criticism of BA workers’ strikes and the cowardly instruction to the Labour frontbench that its members should not be seen on RMT picket lines during their historic national strike action. My solidarity goes out to the thousands of RMT members who are fighting to defend their conditions and pay whilst the profits of rail companies sky-rocket. The Labour MPs who defied these instructions and stood shoulder to shoulder with striking workers on picket lines are on the right side of history. I was proud to visit Three Bridges picket line in Crawley during the last round of strikes and I know I will see Labour members and representatives on the picket line during the next round of strikes, which includes action from the RMT, TSSA, ASLEF and CWU. 

 

Forde Inquiry

After 2 years of waiting for the Forde report, with NEC members raising this issue at every NEC meeting only to be told it was in the pipeline, the report coincidentally landed in our laps a mere 35 minutes before the NEC was due to meet. 

I have since had time to read the report and its recommendations. It is a very sobering document which, in many regards, vindicates what a lot of us in the party already knew: that there was a conscious campaign of sabotage in the 2017 general election by party staffers, which included diverting funding away from seats the party could have won in favour of factional allies; that there is a gross culture of racism in the party,which has been experienced throughout the party and even by senior and long-standing black MPs such as Diane Abbott; and that attempts to deal with serious cases of anti-semitism appear to have been delayed for factional advantage.

Having campaigned for the last two years for this report to be published, if re-elected I will work on the NEC to ensure that the culture of toxic factionalism displayed in the report is replaced with a culture of tolerance, decency and democracy, so that Labour can campaign against this rotten Tory government.

 

Parliamentary Selections 

The NEC received a report on parliamentary selections. I asked why it was the case that, out of 17 candidates selected, only 6 were women and only 1 candidate was BAME, and whether this contradicted the party’s commitment to equality. I also asked why it was the case that senior left-wing Labour councillors, such as the deputy leader of Hastings council, Maya Evans, and the then leader of Stroud council, Doina Cornell, had been blocked from parliamentary shortlists. Finally, I asked why it was the case that candidates with a trade union nomination were kept off of shortlists, despite it being agreed previously by the NEC that candidates who meet this criteria would automatically be included on the shortlist. We were incredulously told that factionalism had not been an element in parliamentary selections. 

A senior NEC member raised the issue of due diligence on parliamentary candidates, arguing that over-scrawling through Facebook posts could ultimately discourage people from working class and marginalised backgrounds from applying to be candidates, harming the party in the process. I agree, If we only select politicians who have been squeaky clean since they are young enough to have a social media account, we will likely get nothing more than careerist drones like Liz Truss as MPs! 

 

Trigger Ballots of Sitting Labour MPs

The NEC received an update on progress in the ‘trigger ballot’ process for Labour MPs who wish to re-stand as candidates in the forthcoming general election. Congratulations to all of the Labour MPs who have already successfully been re-endorsed by their local parties and affiliates. 

NEC members did, however, raise some of the appalling practices observed in the trigger ballot processes for MPs such as Apsana Begum in Poplar and Limehouse and Sam Tarry in Ilford South, where a range of anti-democratic incidents have been taking place. We were particularly concerned at the treatment of Apsana, who appears to be undergoing a hate campaign from her former partner and has been signed off sick by her GP, and raised the duty of care the party has to its MPs.

The General Secretary, David Evans, said that whilst the party is always looking to review processes, he was satisfied with the robustness and security of the trigger ballots that are taking place. I’m afraid I do not have the same confidence in the processes of the two trigger ballots mentioned above. 

 

Membership Figures

The NEC was told that the party’s membership stands at 415,000 with some 30,000 in arrears, which is a staggering fall from the 570,000 members reported in July 2020. It suggests that over 100,000 members have left the party, with dire consequences for the party’s finances and our ability to mobilise for elections. 

 

Membership System

Party office holders will be happy to hear that HQ is close to finishing the new Labour Party membership system to hold membership data, following a data breach over 6 months ago. Many members have been in touch about the delay in getting this up and running, so I am hoping that the new system will help local parties to campaign and win elections for Labour. 

 

Equalities Update

It was reported, that the BAME conference due to take place this year had been cancelled, in favour of an online event. This feels particularly tragic in the context of the escalating Tory attacks on BAME communities and the revelations of the Forde Report. The NEC received assurances that there would be a BAME conference next year, with voting powers. CLP reps on the NEC will lobby passionately to ensure this does actually take place.

 

Grassroots Five for NEC

Finally, this is a reminder that NEC elections are just around the corner, with ballots dropping on Monday 1st August. I’d like to thank the 165 CLPs that nominated me. I’m proud to be re-standing to represent Labour’s members on the NEC. If elected, I will continue to campaign for a transformative Labour government and democratic party, one that upholds the rulebook and the decisions of annual conference, and puts members and working people at its core. 

Please support the ‘Grassroots Five’ team for Labour’s NEC: Jess Barnard, Gemma Bolton, Yasmine Dar, Mish Rahman and Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi. We will be a strong voice for members and party democracy; for taking the fight to the Tories; for peace, justice and democracy; and against austerity, racism and war. Read the candidates’ statements here.

Due to the Single Transferable Vote system used to elect the CLP representatives onto Labour’s NEC, to maximise our chances of getting all five elected, please use CLPD’s postcode tool here to find out which order to vote in your area. 

In solidarity, 

Gemma Bolton 

CLP Representative / Labour National Executive Committee 

Co-chair, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy

by Jake Rubin at July 28, 2022 03:07 PM

July 25, 2022

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

NEC report

Labour NEC Report July 2022

Ann Henderson, NEC CLP section

The full NEC met on Tuesday 19th July. We met online, due to the heatwave, rather than in hybrid format. The day was dominated by the publication of the Forde Report, a copy of which was supplied to NEC members half an hour before we started our meeting. More on this later.

The agenda was busy, although supported by disappointingly few papers, a point which was raised during the meeting. Numerous verbal reports on the day of a meeting make it hard to prepare and do justice to the concerns of the members we represent. Since rejoining the NEC on 31st January 2022, I have not seen a financial report, a membership report, nor written information on a number of other aspects of the Party’s work. Whilst I understand the cyber incident disrupted the membership system last autumn, other NEC CLP reps tell me there were no written membership reports before that either.

On membership, the General Secretary reported that current membership stands at 415,000, of which 33,000 are in arrears; 15,000 members have joined since January 2022. It was explained that this reflects a familiar pattern of a drop in membership numbers in between General Elections.  This seems to me to be an inadequate explanation for the drop in membership figures from 570,000 in 2020.

The impact of the cyber incident means no equality data or regional data has been shared with the NEC, and it is very hard for local Party role holders to do their job. The new membership system will be implemented before the end of the year and will address this and other problems.  But with this inadequate information available, I am concerned that the Party is not following any trends amongst particular sections of the membership, nor identifying and responding to reasons for resignations, nor holding accurate membership records which ensure full democratic participation in line with the rights that come with membership.

The meeting opened with the regular Report from Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner MP. There was commendation from the NEC for Labour’s interventions, and Angela’s in particular, in the previous day’s debate on the vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister. The front bench has been leading on the Tory attacks on employment rights, the failure to bring forward the Employment Bill, and highlighting Labour’s commitments on the Future of Work and repealing the regulations which place further restrictions on workers rights. The work on the Green Paper on Employment rights was also commended by the NEC.

Higher profile is being given to the Party’s policies on tackling climate change, and picking up on the absence of plans on civil resilience, as highlighted this week.  Angela also referenced her recent appearance on LBC, the policy activities through ‘Stronger Together’ events being led by Anneliese Dodds, and events recently attended including the Durham Miners Gala and Tolpuddle. Questions to Angela Rayner included seeking clarification on the reports on Labour voting against the extension of free school meals; concerns over the messaging around the Shadow Cabinet’s support for the recent industrial disputes, including attending (or not attending) picket lines; a call for Labour to have clearer policy on maximum temperature working protections; recognition of rising rates of COVID and a response; seeking clarity over the role of Stronger Together in relation to Party conference and the National Policy Forum; concerns over the potential impact of the Party’s proposals on managing CLP reorganisation in England on the back of the Boundary Commission review, the outline of which is expected in October; and urging the Party to be stronger on explaining tax cuts means public service cuts.

In response to various points raised, the Deputy Leader confirmed the Shadow Cabinet was looking at the question of maximum working temperatures, reaffirmed Labour’s belief that it is a basic right to withdraw labour; and that there is full support for the trade unions. The questions on Shadow Cabinet presence were raised again with the Leader later in the meeting. In response to the question on free school meals vote in the Lords, Labour Peers had taken this position as it was an uncosted policy.  On Stronger Together, Anneliese Dodds leads on this, but it is to be assumed that its report will go to Annual Conference, and members will have the chance to discuss it. Similarly with front bench spokespeople and policy announcements.

At this point (around 50 minutes into the meeting –12.50) it became known that the Forde Report had been leaked. Expressing strong disappointment, the Chair and the General Secretary proposed the NEC formally publish the Report and come back to a discussion on it later in the meeting. This was agreed unanimously.

We then moved onto the General Secretary’s report. In addition to the membership information to which I referred earlier, David Evans reported that good progress was being made on improving campaigning and fundraising, and staff who were taking the Westminster selection process forward were thanked. Following on from conference decisions that were said to improve the processes for both selections and trigger ballots, the GS reported that the process was working better. The importance of the due diligence measures was stressed.  Consultation is ongoing with staff regarding reorganisation. There is a review ongoing of all properties/assets in regions and nations, and we were advised that a new central London location is being sought, near to Westminster and providing a good working environment, as the Party’s lease at Southside ends in October 2022.  The fundraising team is working well, brining in sizeable donations and legacy gifts, following the ethical policy previously agreed by the NEC. Pledges are coming in for the General Election Fund.

NEC members asked for more information in written format, and the General Secretary indicated this could be provided following an NEC meeting, but the immediacy of some of his report meant that it was better to be verbal and as up to date as possible.

At the NEC Organisation Committee two weeks before, a paper had been presented which outlined a proposal for appointing interim officers in all CLPs in England, by early 2023 (except where local authority elections are pending, when different processes may apply). Yasmine Dar, Ann Black and I all raised questions about the practicalities of this, the impact on regional staff resources and on CLP local democracy, and the continuing uncertainty over accurate local membership records; suggestions made included allowing CLP officers to remain in place where the impact of boundary change affected 20% or less of the membership, or another agreed figure. The General Secretary did agree to take this all back, to discuss further.

Other questions raised included: assurances re COVID safety measures at forthcoming Annual Conference (agreed to raise immediately with Events team currently on a site visit); concerns over the promised Black and Minority Ethnic members’ conference; the lack of Disabled members’ Party structures being established; trigger ballot processes continuing despite complaints being made during the process (examples given included Poplar and Limehouse, and Ilford South); staffing shortages and pressure on capacity in a number of regional offices; reassurances sought that Party staff would be supported following the publication of the Forde report, noting current low morale (GS advised that there was an all-staff meeting scheduled for the following day); I also asked if the regional and national Officer reports could include recording the progress with establishing Women’s Branches and Women’s Committees; for more information on the membership of the Campaign Improvement Boards and where interventions were taking place; and I asked that the representations from Tottenham CLP and Hornsey and Wood Green CLP, with regard to Annual Conference participation, be addressed as a matter of urgency. All NEC members had received a copy of a letter from two former staff members regarding the Party’s public response on their experience, now picked up publicly in their solicitor’s letter to the Guardian, and an assurance was sought (and given) that this would be replied to.

In response, the General Secretary assured the NEC that equalities data would be shared as soon as possible, and that all the equalities conference questions would be picked up later on the agenda. With regard to the trigger ballot processes, an assurance was given that all complaints were investigated promptly and the Party believes the processes undertaken so far are all completely robust.  The next NEC meeting will receive an update on staffing levels and plans, addressing concerns about pressures in the regional offices in particular.  On Campaign Improvement Boards, a new process to offer additional support to Labour Groups that were having problems, signed off at the previous NEC meeting (with no clarity on membership, other than referring to the NEC members being drawn from the NEC Local Government Panel) the General Secretary advised that a number of Labour Groups were now receiving support, including: Hastings, Mansfield, Croydon, Birmingham, Blackpool, Dudley, Redcar, Sheffield, Stoke, Wirral, and Sunderland. The CIB memberships would be circulated to NEC members for information.  The General Secretary confirmed that the correspondence from Tottenham CLP and Hornsey and Wood Green CLP would be looked at seriously and followed up.

NEC members have also urged that the trigger ballot process should include clear guidance for procedures when a Member of Parliament is unwell. Prior to the 2019 General election, the NEC amended the procedures to ensure clarity if a Member is on maternity leave, but did not detail any other circumstances where it could be appropriate to amend the process.. This should be revisited.

We now moved to take the Leader’s Report, timing of agenda to suit Keir’s availability.  Keir reported on the good progress being made in the polls, in the media questioning now much more focused on the offer from a future Labour Government, rather than looking back, and the Tory Leadership election. Keir commented on the good progress with the selection process which is already producing higher calibre candidates, with rigorous due diligence applied. It was noted that the Commission on the future of the UK, led by Gordon Brown, is preparing its report, looking at how Labour will devolve economically, growing the economy at a local level, whilst uniting the country.  Carwyn Jones, as Wales rep, spoke favorably of the work of Gordon Brown’s commission. As an active member of Scottish Labour, this was all of interest, but I am concerned that I’ve heard this Commission mentioned at the NEC but not amongst the Scottish Party membership.  

The NEC discussion and questions included: congratulating the leadership on the handling of the situation with Durham police, the outcome of which was said to have vindicated Keir and Angela’s position; a number of very strong contributions by trade union members of the NEC in particular criticising the Shadow Cabinet for appearing to distance themselves from the RMT dispute, and seeking assurances that the Party would clearly promote constructive engagement with all forthcoming industrial disputes; the public mood is with those workers fighting for a pay rise. The Leader was urged to be clear that investment in public sector pay is essential after years of a pay cut; discuss with the trade unions to ensure the facts are understood about each dispute; offer greater clarity on Labour’s attitude to a Scottish independence referendum; highlight the difference between the Labour call for a national care service in England, with the SNP proposal for a national care service in Scotland which is based on commissioning, a different proposal, to which Labour and the trade unions are opposed; and several NEC members appealed for more effective and understandable language to be used in our campaign and policies on the economy; including calling out the profits and incomes of Chief Executives, showing where the money actually is.  Supporting workers in their fight for a pay rise should be easy to explain, it was noted, including pressing the point that this is not the cause of rising inflation. One NEC member commented that Keir Starmer’s name was booed at the Durham Miners’ Gala, indicating Labour’s messaging is not getting across.

In response Keir reiterated his own personal commitment to trade union membership, and that Labour and the trade unions are one movement. There is a good relationship with the TUC, he said, and the Green Paper on Employment Rights published last year was cited. From the leadership’s perspective, the role of the Shadow Cabinet is to be seen clearly as ‘a government in waiting’ which does not sit well with being on picket lines. Many NEC members were not convinced by, nor in agreement with, this approach. The points made by NEC members about Labour’s messaging on the economy, and on standing clearly in support of a pay rise in the public sector, were to be taken on board, whilst landing responsibility with the Tories after 12 years of a stagnant economy.  Policies are being developed which will tax unearned income properly, more attention will be paid to the ethnic minority pay gap in our campaigning, and our climate change policies highlighted more too. Keir reiterated his view that there would be no deals with the SNP.

The meeting then took a 30 minute break, before moving into the discussion on the Forde Report, starting around 15.15.  Keir Starmer was not present for this item nor the rest of the agenda, having other unspecified commitments.

A senior staff member gave a summary of the structure and content of each section of the Forde Report, as an introduction, which was helpful. We then had an initial discussion on content and on next steps. The discussion was calm and considered, and every NEC member who spoke, started by saying they had not had time yet to read the whole Report.  With over 1,100 submissions (which were not seen by the Party or the NEC) there had been significant input from members.

The General Secretary commented on the seriousness of the evidence on a culture of racism and sexism, indicated that some of the recommendations on staff management and recruitment had already been implemented, as changes had been made in 2020. Governance and Legal Unit staff reminded the NEC that the report was sub judice as ongoing investigations and active litigation cases were outstanding. It is also the case that the Party is still in ‘special measures’ following the EHRC investigation, and the interaction between that, and the Forde Report, had to be managed with care. Although the disciplinary process as such was not in the Forde inquiry remit, there were recommendations on this, following on from issues raised in their investigations.

Comments raised by NEC members included: noting that the Forde Report recommendations were not legally binding; that the current revised disciplinary procedures are working well, but also comments made that further clarity and improvements were needed; that the Forde Report clearly stated the Ergon house project, with staff diverting election funds to particular areas, was wrong; the need for a full day NEC special meeting, for NEC members to all be allowed the time to consider report and recommendations fully; encouragement for the return of in person meetings to better facilitate discussion, formal and informal; some NEC members argued there was little point in going over old ground again; factionalism diminishes everyone, no return to such behaviour (although a number of NEC members also noted this is not a new experience in Labour’s history); the role of staff when Labour is in opposition must continue to be professional/ as in civil service; that the relationship between LOTO and Party staff had to be clear; questions on how  an NEC statement or response will be worked up for Annual conference, which members will expect by then; asking what is the total cost of the Forde Report; highlighting the need for different procedures and financial controls to be applied when decisions are taken to launch Inquiries; concern about loss of trust in staff, which needs to be rebuilt; that comments on poor record keeping and no audit trails need to be addressed in the daily work of the Party.

In summary, as I said, no NEC member had fully read the Report, and members wanted the opportunity to discuss it again, once everyone had read it. Whether that was through a special meeting, time set aside at the next meeting, work on sections of the report, drawing up an Implementation Plan, there was agreement we should come back to it – and by implication there was no agreed response or comment possible. Earlier in the meeting, when the Report was published formally by the NEC, I understood a holding statement would also be put out, making clear we had not had time to consider an informed response.

So, let’s see what happened:

The NEC unanimously agreed to publish the Forde Report around 13.00 (soon after it had been leaked) The Forde Inquiry remit specified that the Report was to be prepared in publishable format, and passed straight to the NEC for decision on publication. The leak bounced the NEC into releasing it with no discussion.

At 13.10 journalists started tweeting the following:

NEW: Labour sources say Forde Report “completely debunks the conspiracy theory” the 2017 general election was deliberately sabotaged by party staff opposed to Corbyn’s leadership.

Who authorised this, who are these Labour sources and how did they read the full 138 page report prior to the NEC releasing it? It certainly was not possible to read it in less than ten minutes. That press comment was ready surprisingly quickly after the document was leaked then released.   During the NEC meeting, I was not aware that this was on social media, or I would have raised it.

A subsequent statement from the Party appeared on social media too, which comments on the progress made on some of the Forde recommendations under Keir Starmer and David Evans, says that ‘we’ (presumably the Leader and the GS) will study the Report and report back to the NEC, and concludes:

‘A Labour Party spokesperson said “The Forde Report details a party that was out of control. Keir Starmer is now in control and has made real progress in ridding the party of the destructive factionalism and unacceptable culture that did so much damage and contributed to our defeat in 2019”’

This press release did not come anywhere near the NEC either. The tone is completely inappropriate. It was issued at 16.45 whilst we were still in session, and not shared with us during our meeting or subsequently.  Found on social media again.

It was presumably issued with sign off from the General Secretary and the Leader (who was not present for our NEC discussion).  It is disrespectful to say the least, of all the NEC members who were taking seriously the difficulty of ensuring full analysis and response to the Forde Report when we had not had time to read it, and it does a disservice to Martin Forde QC and all those who worked on the Forde Report, and those who took the time to make submissions.  Given the way in which the briefing lines went out at 13.10, followed by this at 16.45, I question whether the Report had been read before releasing the lines or seriously considered at all. Certainly the press lines do not reflect the cautious consideration by all NEC members, nor do they reflect the complexities of the Report content. And, as the NEC was the body supposed to be in control of releasing the Report, it should not have been possible to read it before 13.00 on Tuesday 19 July.

Tackling factionalism and respecting the Party membership? We’ll see.

The NEC meeting still had other business on the agenda, which was covered very quickly before the meeting closed at 7pm. All constitutional amendments (Rule Changes) have been deferred for NEC consideration on 20th September.

The Selection process in England continues, with a report presented on numbers so far selected, which whilst not showing 50% female, is better than initially expected. However, black and minority ethnic candidates are already disproportionately few in number, which was raised by several NEC members. This will be monitored.  Some changes have been made in the procedures following feedback, and may be further reviewed in September. Supplementary guidance on procedure at selection meetings is being produced. There was no discussion on points made by CLP reps which raised the concerns of local members and CLP activists about exclusion of certain candidates or about lack of local representation in panels. The Deputy Leader also raised concerns about the application of due diligence processes which may unintentionally exclude strong candidates from diverse backgrounds, and the ‘over-professionalisation’ of the process. The NEC agreed with the office recommendation to support the MotherED initiative,  headed up by Stella Creasy MP.  I did ask that this be passed to the National Women’s committee discussion, as yet again the NEC was being advised of work on women’s representation which was not involving our own women’s membership and leadership.

The National Policy Forum Report is being prepared for Conference and the Joint Policy Committee meets on 1st August. The draft Agenda for Annual Conference was discussed and it will be updated.

There was very little time to discuss all the points to be raised on Equalities. Vidhya Alakeson, Director of External Relations in the Leader’s Office, outlined the arrangements for an online event in November for Black and Minority Ethnic members. Several NEC members made strong representation that this was not what had been offered or agreed, and that the delays in establishing the democratic structures for Disabled members and for Black and Minority Ethnic members was unacceptable.  Nadia Jama referenced the Forde Report and racism and called for urgent change, which should be demonstrated by empowering members to organise. I also raised again the absence of any report of venue and timeline for a spring 2023 in-person (possibly hybrid) Women’s Conference. A clear assurance was given that the September NEC would have proposals for a venue and timeline for the Women’s Conference and timelines for Disabled and Black and Minority Ethnic members Conferences too. Recruitment of the second equalities stakeholder officer (including the remit to support the Women’s Organisation) is nearly complete.  In future the Minutes from the NWC will be shared with the NEC.

Questions were raised at the end of the meeting by the National Campaign Co-ordinator, asking for an update on Regional Office staff capacity and some acknowledgement of the impact of staffing reductions. This will be prepared and reviewed at the Business Board initially.

The meeting finished around 7pm. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 20th September, with an NEC Equalities Committee and a National Women’s Committee meeting also scheduled for Thursday 8th September.

Ann Henderson
ahendersonlab@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Rachel Garnham at July 25, 2022 05:33 PM

July 21, 2022

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Meeting, 19 July 2022

The NEC was back on Zoom, this time because of climate crisis rather than Covid, trapped in our individual sweltering attics and offices.  After more false sightings than the Loch Ness monster the Forde report, an inquiry into the leaked internal report of 2020, had finally slipped into the general secretary’s inbox.  The NEC agreed […]

by Ann Black at July 21, 2022 08:41 AM

Luke Akehurst's Blog

NEC Report – 19 July 2022

We had unexpectedly weighty business to conduct at the July NEC, as at 11.35am, 25 minutes before the meeting and well over two years after it was commissioned, we finally received the Forde Report into the leaked submission Labour never made to the EHRC. This was swiftly added to the agenda, and we all attempted to read bits of it during the first few agenda items and the lunch break.

 

Angela Rayner’s report as Deputy Leader opened the meeting. She described the no confidence in Boris Johnson debate, and said his speech was delusional and that the Tories were trying to divide Labour over Brexit and levelling up. There had been more personal attacks on Angela from the Tories, which did not work as they were based on misogyny and classism. Angela outlined her work on the Procurement Bill and the Employment Bill, which the new PM might drop. Labour was fighting against Tory attempts to break strikes. The heatwave was clear evidence of the climate crisis, and Angela was exposing the Government’s lack of resilience planning. Angela was looking forward to bringing the policy-building project, “Stronger Together: A Better Future for Britain” to Annual Conference. She had attended both the Durham Miners’ Gala and the Tolpuddle Festival. Asked about frontbenchers being told not to attend picket lines, she said this was to stop the Tories making industrial disputes about the Labour Party, we all support the trade union movement.

 

At this point the NEC voted by 27 votes to nil to immediately publish the Forde Report. You can read it here: https://www.fordeinquiry.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/The-Forde-Report.pdf

 

David Evans then reported as General Secretary. Task forces had been set up to prepare for the General Election, they will report regularly and fully to the NEC. There need to be tough decisions about which areas of campaigning machinery we invest fastest in. He praised the work of staff and NEC members in administering the initial tranche of selections. The trigger process for incumbent MPs was almost complete. We all want to complete all the selections in good time so that we move away from the candidate impositions of the 2017 and 2019 snap elections. He had absolute confidence in the due diligence process for parliamentary candidates. No one has an absolute right to be a candidate. Whilst membership will continue to trend downwards until there is a General Election (this is what always happens), the curve is not steep, and we still have 415,000 members (32-33,000 in arrears) and have recruited 15,000 new members in 2022. The new membership IT system was being progressed and staff appreciated the serious impact on local role holders of lack of access to it at the moment. Party HQ would move out of Southside in October and there was a review of the entire property portfolio, including the nations and regions. There was a shortlist of 2 or 3 alternative premises, all near Westminster and flexible enough to be scaled up for a General Election campaign. On fundraising, £2.3m had been raised this year, £1.8m from major donors and £400,000 from the Rose Network (previously the 1000 Club). The target is to build a General Election war chest of at least £10m from major donations, with the aspiration being to have this given or firmly pledged by the end of 2022.

 

In response to a question from Ann Black about the speed at which CLPs were being asked to reconfigure along the new parliamentary boundaries, David said he wanted to give provision to move as fast as possible where changes were minimal, whilst appreciating that it might take longer where the changes are more radical. The concerns raised by Ann would be taken back to the NEC Boundary Review Sub-Committee. The bottom line was that our structures had to have changed before there was a General Election on the new boundaries.

 

In response to my question about the urgency of increasing staffing in the regions, David said he was reviewing staffing right now for the English regions and would soon be deploying the 30 trainee organisers. The staff structure needs to be much more voter-focussed, and staff would be redeployed to achieve that, with a focus on comms and field operations roles.

 

David revealed that Campaign Improvement Boards would be working with the Labour Groups in the following local authorities: Birmingham, Blackburn, Croydon, Dudley, Hastings, Luton, Mansfield, Nottingham, Redcar & Cleveland, Stoke, Sunderland and Wirral.

 

He confirmed that, contrary to media reports, Labour does not use Non-Disclosure Agreements to mute former staff from speaking out on sexual harassment issues.

 

Keir Starmer then gave his Leader’s report. He commented on Boris Johnson’s exit and his extraordinary behaviour in the vote of no confidence debate. The Tories were now in a cat fight over the new leader, the candidates had all pulled out of the final TV debate as the first two debates had given Labour so much ammo, particularly their fantasy economics. The country needs a fresh start with a new Labour government, not just a new Tory leader, after 12 years of Tory failure. Keir briefly referred to the Durham Police decision, then spoke about his Gateshead speech on the economy, which had focussed on creating next generation jobs, revitalising public services, and uniting the country. Labour was pledging £28bn in climate investment to create jobs and meet the UK’s carbon obligations. We had a buy, make and sell in the UK policy. Decision-making needs to be devolved as close to the people as possible. We need public services focused on prevention. Keir said we had come a long way electorally but warned against complacency. The question we were now being asked was how we would form a government, not if it is possible. Our candidate selections required a new and higher standard of candidate. We’ve seen the Tories brought down by scandals around MPs, so due diligence is essential. Annual Conference will be a very important opportunity to set out our stall and plans for the country. There would be strategic visits over the summer to build up to it.

 

Questions to Keir focussed on support for the current strikes. Keir said we are one labour movement, the party and the unions, hence the big package of policies around employment rights announced last year. There is no weakening of our commitment to trade unionism. The cost-of-living crisis was impacting severely on people who hadn’t had a decent pay rise for years. He knew that strike action wasn’t being taken lightly. Responsibility for unresolved public sector industrial disputes lies with the Tory Government. If we were in power, we would do things differently. Half of the Shadow Cabinet are members of unions that are on strike, so there is no question of an absence of solidarity, its about how you show that support, and Labour’s frontbench has to present itself as a government in waiting.

 

On making Brexit work, Keir said he had had talks in Berlin with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and focused on practical arrangements for the UK to work better with the EU, not going back in or re-joining the single market.

 

After the lunch break there was an opportunity to discuss the Forde Report, though all members noted it had not been possible to read it in detail when Forde had given it to the party at such short notice before an NEC. It was agreed that the September NEC meeting would be given a paper analysing which of the 165 recommendations we could and should implement. 61 of them relate to disciplinary processes, 28 to culture, 27 to social media and 49 to staff recruitment and management. Some of the ones to do with the disciplinary process may clash with the new process we have already brought in, and the party’s lawyers reminded us that this was designed in conjunction with the EHRC, and we were still under special measures from them.

 

There was a wide-ranging but calm and remarkably blame-free debate, showing perhaps how far the culture of the NEC has already moved on from the period of very bitter conflict the report covers. I spoke during the debate. I urged more time be taken to fully digest the report. I said I expected there would be a lot of useful recommendations around internal cultural change and tackling racism, but we shouldn’t revisit the changes the EHRC had already mandated us to make to the disciplinary system, which was working well. Some specific proposals would actually be detrimental, e.g. Forde’s idea of shrinking dramatically the number of NEC members who can serve on disciplinary panels would slow down the hearing of cases due to non-availability and conflicts of interest, mean many NEC members would have no active stake in and hence confidence in the process, and remove a forum which is actually the one where NEC members across the spectrum work best together in a quazi-judicial setting, and where we have developed a more trusting and consensual culture. I rejected the “both sides” tone of the report – you can’t make a moral equivalence between factionalism to try to fight antisemitism and factionalism to whitewash it. Rebuilding a healthier, more trusting culture was essential but would take time because the divisions in 2015-2019 were real. They were about widely different ideological perspectives. One wing of the party genuinely felt the other was connected to antisemitism and a threat to national security, and the other felt we were blocking the achievement of socialism. We had to understand that genuine political conflict does happen, but at the same time ensure there is professionalism in how our staff deal with that and comradeliness in how members resolve political differences. I was pleased that the report debunks the conspiracy theory that Labour staff had deliberately sabotaged the 2017 General Election campaign, but angry that such an obviously ridiculous idea had been given credence by being included in issues referred to an expensive inquiry, rather than us having had the political confidence just to laugh at it in 2020.

 

After this, Morgan McSweeney reported as Elections Director. We were trying to plan for a General Election without knowing who the Tory PM would be, what the date of the election would be, or whether it would be fought on the old or new boundaries. But we will be ready whenever it comes. Our candidates tell voters who we are. If we get candidate selection right it inspires people to vote for us, if we get it wrong it undoes all our work. Boris Johnson had been brought down by lack of due diligence on Tory candidates. The early investment in training 475 candidates through the Future Candidates Programme had already seen 7 of them selected. The process had been made more accessible by reducing it to 5 weeks, giving candidates access to Labour Print templates, and spending caps. There was a bursary scheme for candidates from two categories; working class or low income background and disability support. It was agreed that the Labour Party would run an online fundraiser for MotherRED, the scheme that gives funding to mums seeking selection. We are open to doing the same for other schemes that support candidates from categories who find it difficult to access the selection process.

 

We agreed some minor amendments to the selection process, including giving 48 hours notice of due diligence and long-listing interviews, clarifying the criteria for due diligence and allowing shorter longlists (4 minimum) and shortlists (2 minimum) as there had been cases where a strong local frontrunner meant there were not many applicants.

 

Morgan said we had a moral challenge to maintain women’s representation in the PLP despite being legally unable to run All Women Shortlists this time because the PLP is already over 50% women. Of the 20 candidates selected so far, 9 were women, 2 were BAME, and 15 lived in the constituency they were standing in.

 

Turnout in the selections so far was between 30% and 40% of members, which is consistent with the previous round in 2019.

 

Morgan rejected a claim that some candidates had been rejected at longlisting on “spurious” grounds and urged the NEC to trust the judgement of colleagues on the panels.

 

Finally, we took an update on the National Policy Forum, the draft timetable for Annual Conference, and the Equalities Report from Vidhya Alakeson, Director of External Relations. There were a number of questions to Vidhya asking for clarity about when the first BAME and Disabled Members conferences would take place, and she agreed to come back to the September NEC with a plan for 2023 in this regard. Under AOB there was further discussion about getting the party’s staffing focussed on the organisational front-line in the nations and regions.

 

Since the previous NEC meeting on 24th May, I have also participated in the following other meetings:

·         Organisation Committee

·         Equalities Committee

·         Complaints and Disciplinary Sub-Committee

·         2 meetings of the NPF Public Services that Work from the Start Policy Commission

·         3 disciplinary panels

·         A number of parliamentary selection long-listing panels

by Luke Akehurst (noreply@blogger.com) at July 21, 2022 07:13 AM

July 17, 2022

CLGA Nec Report from CLPD

NEC report

Labour NEC report – Meetings held 5th July 2022

Ann Henderson (CLP Section)

The NEC Complaints and Disciplinary Committee, and the NEC Organisation Committee, both met on Tuesday 5th July. These Committees have specific remits and are composed of all NEC members.

The Complaints and Disciplinary Committee takes updates on numbers of cases coming through the complaints process; information on appeals, on the new complaints procedure, the new Independent Review Board and the new Independent Complaints Board; suspensions; the work of the NCC; and any updates on CLPSD currently in special measures.

The meeting heard that the backlog of unresolved complaints received before May 2021 (total 7,090 cases) had been cleared by 22nd June, with special teams of staff allocated to do so; 99% had now been concluded. I asked for information about the numbers of cases which had closed because the complainant or the alleged perpetrator had left the Party prior to the case being looked into. This will be provided to the NEC. I am aware of a number of examples where members have left the party citing lack of response to their complaints as a reason and am keen that this be taken seriously. With regard to suspensions, some of which have been in place for over 18 months, staff assured the NEC that arranging these appeal hearings would now be a priority.

The new Complaints procedure, incorporating changes made at last year’s Party conference, and addressing some of the recommendations from the EHRC, is now operational. There are changes being made in how complaints are triaged and recorded, and it was noted that there had been an increase in complaints up to May 2022, a number of which related to the local elections.

The Party website has now been updated and the current Complaints guidance is here:  https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Complaint-Handling-Handbook-6-July-2022-FINAL.pdf

This includes the revised sexual harassment complaints procedures, the remit of the Independent Complaints Board, and some of the latest NEC statements including on Islamophobia.

NEC Panels continue to consider complaints, with over 70% reported since March 2022 as being related to antisemitism; and some cases (for further investigation and decision) are passed to the NCC (National Constitutional Committee). These elected lay members of the Party work hard to examine all cases fairly, and for the NCC, note that new member elections are due this year by delegates at Annual Conference.  NEC Panel decisions are now reviewed by the IRB (Independent Review Board) and to date only one of those NEC Panel decisions was referred back. This review process arose from the Party’s response to the EHRC Report and we were advised that the EHRC is happy with progress and has moved to quarterly monitoring.

NEC members have asked repeatedly for equality monitoring of the complaints process, to better understand if particular sections of the membership are disproportionately impacted (or disproportionately responsible) but we have now been advised this is not possible. At the most recent meeting it was eventually agreed that a working group should look at what might be possible. Leaving aside the difficulties still facing the Party following the cyber incident with membership systems, I do believe it is important to find a way of collecting this information. During the worst of the pandemic there were concerns, for example, that older members may be making unintentional mistakes with social media – or that illness and disability and isolation was not being assessed. I also believe that sexual harassment and racism are under-reported  if patterns of behaviour amongst certain groups of members are not being tracked and linked to equality monitoring.

With the completion of the appointment of the members of the Independent Review Board and of the Independent Complaints Board, effective from 1st April 2022, the Party is now committed to meeting the costs of these new bodies (members are paid £350 a day) and servicing their work. A Secretary is being appointed shortly, employed by the Party. NEC members asked if the names of those appointed to these Boards could be shared, and also asked for more information on the budget allocated to this new process. The appointments are for three years in the first instance. We were advised that no names will be shared for security and confidentiality reasons, and that costs were being monitored carefully.  In due course, with robust internal complaints processes in place and the EHRC satisfied, it may be possible to put those resources back into campaign work. I think this may require further discussion at future NEC meetings, as there are obvious transparency and budget implications.

Then we moved onto the NEC Organisation Committee meeting.  This Committee considered an update on Westminster selections; impact of the Parliamentary Boundary Review on CLPs and Regional Offices; a report on local government elections selections, including limited equality monitoring; extension of provisional membership periods; and motions from CLPs.

The meeting opened with Wendy Nichols as Chair, welcoming Tony Woodhouse (Unite) who has now joined the NEC following Amy Jackson stepping down, and conveying the NEC’s thanks to Diana Holland (Unite) who has indicated she is standing down as Party Treasurer in September 2022. Congratulations were conveyed to Ellen Morrison who has been returned unopposed as the Disabled Members rep on the NEC.

NEC members asked for the Officers’ decision on the NEC and Regional EC taking over the Brighton and Hove selections, to be reviewed, on which there was some discussion, but it was confirmed the decision would not be reviewed.  Although not on the agenda, I asked if there was any news on the timetable for the Annual Women’s Conference 2023 (in the past this sometimes comes to NEC Org) – there was no information to be shared. This will be raised again at the NEC on 19th July.

A sub Committee had been looking at how to manage the forthcoming Review of Westminster parliamentary constituency boundaries in England.  Although the final proposals for change will not be presented to Parliament until summer 2023, the revised proposals following the recent public consultation will be published in October 2022, and the Party expects little to change thereafter, based on previous experience.

The Party claims to be seeking to minimise impact on membership organisation and delegation sizes for 2023 Annual conference. It is therefore proposed to write to all CLPs in England in October, with interim officers being appointed to oversee the establishment of new branches and committees. CLP reorganisation would begin on 1st January 2023, to be completed by July 2023, with all AGMs held by then and new officers appointed. The start date for the new financial year for CLPs would be 1st January 2023, and membership would be reallocated by postcodes centrally from that date.

From 1st January 2023 the new CLPs would have interim officers appointed by Regional Directors, before moving to hold AGMs. In some areas where local government campaigning could be affected, the new CLP AGMs could be delayed until May or June. All the inaugural meetings would need to be signed off by the Regional Director.

The paper presented to us was discussed and noted, with a number of points raised by members. Reassurances were sought (and given) that staff in the Regional offices would not face redundancies, as the boundaries for regional responsibilities would be redrawn as a consequence of the Boundary Commission recommendations. NEC members noted that without a functioning membership system, which is not expected to be completely fit for purpose until January 2023, any reorganisation was going to be very difficult to manage for CLP Secretaries. AGMs would be required to be held on the new boundaries, and accurate membership information was needed. It is already very difficult to be sure of information on membership transfers between CLPs.

Closing down existing and effective CLPS, and replacing with interim officers not chosen by the members, could have a serious negative effect on morale locally and I believe more consideration will be needed to the process and the timing.

I flagged up that the emerging Labour Women’s Organisation, with Branches based on CLP and multi-CLP boundaries, would also need to be changed in England. This would require new AGMs, reliable contact with all women members in the area, and will impact on delegations and motions for a spring 2023 Annual Women’s Conference. It was agreed to incorporate this into the guidance to CLPs.

The agenda item on local government selections reported on some data collected on over 4,700 Labour candidates across all regions and nations. However, the equality monitoring tool has not been operational since the October 2021 cyber incident. And it was noted that only around 20% of candidates had completed an equality form, compared to 47% of Labour’s candidates in 2021. The data collected on sex is the most complete, and does show a reduction in the number of female candidates (42% in 2022, 47% in 2021).  There is work to do with each area to improve and increase the information that we have on our councillors and Labour groups.

With regard to Westminster selections, it was noted that 36 selection procedures were underway at that date, (5th July)  and 68 procedures had been completed.

A number of NEC members raised concerns about lack of clarity over trigger ballot procedures when an MP is off work sick. This should be reviewed in the future.

The NEC Organisation Committee did not vote on any change to current processes, nor were any votes taken with regard to intervention into any specific local selections. The staff and officers gave assurances that support was being offered to MPs throughout the process, the stress of which had also been raised by MPs in the Parliamentary Group meetings, and that complaints made during any selections were being triaged quickly.

Unanswered questions remain about how best to apply any exemptions or interventions if it became clear that this was necessary. Questions with regard to provision for reasonable adjustment for disability, (Equality Act protections), and how to address the impact of domestic violence, also went unanswered.

The NEC meeting on 19 July will be discussing a paper on a review of the selection process to date. Along with other members of the NEC, and of the National Women’s Committee, I signed an open letter about the treatment of Apsana Begum MP. We are still waiting for a reply to that letter.

Other matters discussed included – agreement that the Party needs to look at, and improve, our equality monitoring systems; noting that the NEC would be getting an update on the new membership system; delays in taking CLPs out of Special Measures; and from the CLP motions submitted (for noting not for discussion) some were highlighted, such as the proposals for dual CLP membership for students, at home and during term time. This of course will require the CLP records to be accurate in the first place, but is likely to be included in rule changes coming forward for Annual Conference.

Ann Henderson
NEC CLP section
July 2022

 

by Rachel Garnham at July 17, 2022 02:38 PM

July 08, 2022

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Update, July 2022

NEC Update, July 2022 A week is indeed a long time in politics.  When two NEC subcommittees met on 5 July we had no idea that within 48 hours Boris Johnson would be out, and I was already heading home when the implosions began.  Otherwise the day would have been much more exciting than the […]

by Ann Black at July 08, 2022 02:03 PM

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 27, 2022

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Meeting, 24 May 2022

The NEC met in the Labour borough of Westminster, the first time anyone has been able to say that.  The election results featured throughout, and we are trying to re-learn habits of optimism and common purpose after years of strife and depression. Deputy leader Angela Rayner thanked everyone for solidarity against the misogynistic Daily Mail […]

by Ann Black at May 27, 2022 10:00 AM

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

April 01, 2022

Ann Black on the Record

NEC Meeting, 29 March 2022

National Executive Committee, 29 March 2022 This meeting was in hybrid mode, so I went to London and enjoyed face-to-face conversation and Wendy Nichols’ excellent home-made cakes.   Members paid tribute to Margaret Beckett who has announced that she will not stand at the next election, though she crisply pointed out that she has not yet […]

by Ann Black at April 01, 2022 02:59 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