What should Labour’s priorities be over the next two years?

5th August, 2012 1:01 pm

It’s just over a month since the results of the Labour Party National Executive Committee elections were announced and, now the dust has settled, it’s important to look at the party’s priorities over the next two years.

Firstly, though, it’s clear is that the recent ballot was a shambles. Some members didn’t receive ballot papers; some received them after the dead-line for return-even after it had been extended! We pay the balloting company a fair amount to organise these ballots and the NEC needs to ensure that future ballots are properly organised. It’s hard to be a democratic party if we can’t organise an internal election properly!

The next NEC elections will probably be in mid 2014-possibly, but not definitely, less than 12 months from a General Election. An election that Labour quite simply HAS to win. The NEC has a major role to play in ensuring that both politically and organisationally the party is in a position to win.

A key part, in fact a legal necessity, of winning elections is to have a candidate. And candidates need to build a relationship with  people in their constituencies and lead our campaigning. At the last General Election it was clear that where good candidates had time to build that relationship we did better than where candidates, for whatever reason, were picked at the last minute. The Tory boundary proposals and now the potential Lib Dem reaction to yet another “betrayal” (and they should know about those) have caused organisational problems but we need to bite the bullet and get on with the process.

We face some important  electoral challenges with Police and Crime Commissioner elections, which no-one wanted but have to be won now they are here, and County Council Elections in England which, as well as being vital in their own right, will see a real contest in some of the major General Election battle-grounds.

Personally I am keen to see that the NEC better represents our members so I will be continuing with the campaign to ensure we get a stronger  degree of regional and national representation and accountability. To have a position where there are no elected members from Scotland, the North of England, Wales, the midlands, the South West or Eastern England is just wrong and needs to be changed.

There will also be ballots on the future of Trade Union Political Funds and it will be important that these are won and won well if working people are to continue to have a political voice.

Next year will see a real stepping up of theory attacks on the welfare state safety net – watch out next April for the cuts to housing benefit, council tax benefit and the abolition of the Disability Living Allowance – arrears, evictions and homelessness will go through the roof. We need to further develop and campaign for the economic alternative to the current madness.

Ed Miliband has done an excellent job of confounding the naysayers and we are now in a steady opinion poll lead (but can’t take anything for granted ), the coalition is clearly struggling as the Lib Dems will need to move away from the Tories at some point soon and the Tories themselves are being forced to look at Boris Johnson as an alternative to Cameron – the Barbara Streisand option – send in the Clowns.

We need to ensure that by mid 2014 we are in a commanding position to win the election – and as a bonus that in the Euro elections we in the North West and in Yorkshire put the BNP candidates back in the bin.

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  • One of the highest priorities must be to apologise for introducing WCA and develop relevant and supportive policies that give sick and disabled people someone to vote for in 2015. We are currently disenfranchised by the right wing hegemony across the 3 major parties and are looking for Labour to get a backbone and develop policies to end the state-sanctioned abuse of sick and disabled people.

    • treborc1

       You have little chance of that happening, we are told do not know if this is correct, that Labour will be asking employers to do more to employ the sick and the disabled, by having a social conscious, this was Blair take.

      In my area fror example I heard this with my wife, two managers asking what does that disabled person do, the other said sod all waste of money, put him on the tills, well said the other this may put off customers, they would not know what he has.

      It’s a problem, we are seen not as disabled so much  but people who are untouchable, I’ve had people refuse to shake hands including a job provider until she put on b gloves.

      I think Labour and the Tories would be having meetings as they did for the Reforms, apologizes not a hope.

    • Casio

      Christians have been waiting over two thousand years for the Second Coming. We may all well have to wait much longer than that before the Labour Party apologies for the catastrophe of ESA and WCA, let alone do anything about it. It wasn’t long ago that Ed Miliband was praising these reforms with a big cheesy grin plastered across his face. Don’t look to the likes of people like Miliband to defend the sick, disabled and the dying: Miliband and the Labour Party are the architects of our current State system of abuse and cruelty. Help will never come from that quarter.

  • Derek

    Labour have to change from a party trying to align itself with what it thinks the majority want and return to conviction politics where through rationale argument it persuades the electorate of what it needs.
    When we have a buoyant public sector we see good levels of economic activity because a great deal of public spending benefits the private sector either directly or through a paid workforce. At the same time the electorate benefit from good levels of public service.
    Labour have to highlight how the private sector has brought this country to its knees. Not the SME’s but the banks, energy companies, rail companies, and a host of Multi-nationals that abuse their corporate position demanding taxpayer underwriting and consumer pricing that is not justified.

    • ThePurpleBooker

      We need to create the ‘shared’ capitalism where wealth is shared by 100% not 1% of the nation. We need a responsible capitalism too and a co-operative capitalism. That will be the new capitalism. However, an anti-capitalist rant is not the way forward.

      • aracataca

        Sort of vaguely agree but where are the anti-capitalist rants? Derek is only  critical of large corporate capitalism which, let’s be honest, has not covered itself in glory in recent years.

        • ThePurpleBooker

          Attacking companies and attacking bankers is not hte way forward. Saying that our job should be to highlight how the private sector has brought this country to its knees is an anti-capitalist rant and sends the signal that we are an anti-business party. Our job should be to create the ‘new’ model of capitalism and to sell it to the business community. We need to come up with policies to make that happen. I’ve got some policy ideas which Labour should take up if it has not already:

          We will create a National
          Investment Bank to provide support and investment for businesses, entrepreneurs
          and other marketable services which cannot find loans from banks in order to
          provide a return to the Exchequer;

          We will set up an independent
          public judge-led inquiry into the culture and practices of the banking industry
          to get to the core of events such as the recent interest-rate fixing scandal as
          well as other crises, and we will implement the recommendations of that
          judiciary inquiry in full;

          We will introduce tougher regulation
          of the banking sector, by giving the financial regulators more power to
          intervene in the financial sector and to block banks from fixing interest
          rates, such as the LIBOR  scandal, to
          prevent any massive banking scandal or a repeat of the 2008 financial crash;

          We will break up the dominance  the “big five” banks – HSBC, RBS, Lloyds, Barclays
          and Santander – by forcing them to sell 1,000 of their high street branches to
          “challenger banks” especially mutuals, in order to drive up competition in

          We will allow people to change
          which banks they are with and have new accounts in other banks quickly without
          the need of complex bureaucracy in order to make it easier for customers;

          We will create new transparency
          rules whereby banks will have to publish who they are lending to in order to
          see whether banks are discriminating against certain regions or inner-city
          areas against well-off areas;

          We will break up the National
          Savings and Accounts Bank into a chain of regional banks to provide financial
          services for communities and businesses which cannot find money from other
          banks but also so that can have power on their regional bank and can operate as
          a viable alternative to high street banks;

          We will legislate to ensure that
          bankers can only receive their bonuses if their banks have performed well and
          if they have personally performed well, to end the something-for-nothing
          culture that exists in some boardrooms;

          We will create a ‘code of conduct’
          in the banking profession, so that there is a high professional standard that
          bankers will have to abide by otherwise they will face fines or be removed from
          the profession;

          We will set up a Specialist
          Financial Crime Unit, in the Serious Fraud Office, which will have strong
          powers to tackle crime in the financial sector so that those who have been
          guilty of illegal practices will be brought to justice;

          We will create new investment
          allowances and loans for the manufacturing industry in Britain to boost jobs
          and apprenticeships as a well as to boost growth in the manufacturing sector
          which will be funded by a rise in the bank levy;

          We will give all employees in the
          private sector, especially big business, to have the legal right to request a
          share in the company which they work for and financial incentives for
          businesses to accept their request;

          We will create radically reform
          our banking system by creating a firewall between investment banking and retail
          banking but will require directors of financial institutions to post their
          personal bonds and bonuses as additional bank capital;

          We will ensure that financial
          directors are legally held responsible for the actions in their company as well
          as for company losses and for customers losing their savings;

          We will mutualise the Royal Bank
          of Scotland, turning it into a building society, and use the proceeds from the
          mutualisation to fund financial incentives for customers of credit unions,
          building societies and ethical banks to encourage people to move their money to
          these banks;

          We will sell of the remaining 600
          nationalised shares in Lloyds to existing or new mutuals and use the proceeds
          to fund tax incentives to firms that pay the living wage to their workers as
          well as keep their employment levels without pay cuts;

           We will cut red tape for mutuals,
          co-operatives and other democratic models of the firm, especially for mutual
          start-up and spin-outs, in order to encourage businesses to mutualise;

          We will re-introduce the tax
          break given to Employee Benefit Trusts in order to encourage employee ownership
          of firms;

          We will ensure that shareholders
          have an annual binding vote on remuneration in the companies which they own,
          rather than a triannual vote;

          We will ensure that employees are
          represented on remuneration committees of all companies, to ensure that
          employees have a vote on pay packages of high paid executives and encourage
          restraint in executive pay;

          We will legislate that all major
          companies have a ‘code of ethics’ in order to set out their values, vision and
          morals to their clients and staff, and they will be required to abide by it;

          We will reform the UK Corporate
          Governance Code to ensure that all companies publish the pay ratio between the
          highest paid executive and the company median as well as the total figure
          earned by the executive and the top ten executive pay packages outside the
          boardroom, as recommended by the High Pay Commission;

          We will incentivise pay ratios in
          companies through the tax system, so that companies are better off if they have
          fairer pay in their company;

          We will legally enable customers
          to band together and seek redress from a firm they believe they have cheated
          them through class action;

          We will give strengthen the power
          of consumer watchdogs by giving them tougher regulatory powers to prevent
          businesses from ripping off costumers as well as a new independent watchdog to
          deal with banking fees, parking charges, airline costs and pension fees to help
          ordinary costumers;

          We will introduce new rules on
          public procurement so that all companies which receive public procurement will
          have to provide high-quality apprenticeships for young people in order to get
          more young people in training otherwise they will lose their state funding;

          We will regulate the payday loan
          companies by implementing a cap on the amount of credit which they can charge
          their customers but also they will be blocked from advertising and pay a levy
          which will be used to fund debt advice services in the voluntary sector;

          We will provide tax credits to
          banks and big businesses which financially support community projects and
          charities which will be used by the funding from Big Society Capital, as a
          strong financial incentive for the financial sector to work with the ‘big

          We will modernise the Royal Mail
          and Post Office network so that their employees and customers can collectively
          have full control and ownership over their services and we will create a Post
          Bank available in every post office which will provide community banking
          services as well as essential debt advice services to local people;

          We will introduce new Urban
          Development Zones, which will be based on the enterprise zone model,  where businesses will be given financial
          incentives to create jobs and move to urban areas in need of redevelopment as
          well as incentives for the construction industry develop in these Urban
          Development Zones;

          We will refocus the Growth and Innovation
          Fund, by using the currently underused and under focused £60m to boost the
          work of training organizations, in order to create growth in SMEs and boost
          private sector job creation;

          We will promote the best practice on
          ‘buddying’, so that bigger companies will be encouraged from working with
          smaller firms, including those within their own supply chain.  This can generate innovation within business
          and can create apprenticeship places so that more young people can be able to
          get apprenticeships;

          We will give businesses and industry a greater
          role in developing learning and training for young people, as well as a role in
          the reform of qualifications frameworks for apprenticeships and a direct
          involvement in careers guidance;

          We will expand the Group Training
          Associations Network not only to give support to small and medium-sized
          businesses but especially to encourage new co-operative models in business;

          We will give stronger powers
          shareholders over remuneration in the companies that they hold shares with the
          ability to reject pay packages that they think are too high and other forms of power
          in the company that they own;

          We will give legal rights to
          employees to request shares in the company which they work for so that they can
          have more power over the company they work for and will have an interest in the
          profits of the company;

          • Problem is that the current mentality of the financial industry and the bankers would be very unlikely to enable these to succeed. Your faith in the private sector is touching but misplaced

          • ThePurpleBooker

            I think you need to read it again, Mike. I don’t think you quite understand. You clearly have not read it. Read again, then comment rather than make an untrue nonsentical rant.

          • I have read it. I really don’t think you do your case any good by your constant personal attacks.

            The problem with the finance industry is that is has been essentially above the law and hard to regulate. You are far too trusting. Some of those ideas we can all agree with but its those not included which matter – tax evasion and avoidance, and the offshore accounts for a start. Its that sort of thing which has to go, and I think bonuses have to be very clearly controlled with a cap on their amount.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            You want to have a cap on bonuses. Economically that is a bad thing. Government does not control bonuses, but there are things Government can do such as through remuneration without the need for your statism. Tax evasion and tax avoidance is not business policy if you have failed to realise. What do you mean by too trustings? Beefing up the existing regulatory bodies, introducing the Vickers Report IN FULL and forcing big banks to sell to mutuals – how is that too trusting. You just want the Treasury to control the City. You are a Stalinist.

          • Bill Lockhart

             Whereas your faith in the public sector is delusional.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            It is not his faith in the public sector. I have faith in the public sector. It is his faith in the State – it’s Not Labour but Stalinist.

          • Amber Star

            We will bore the voters to death with huge long lists….

          • ThePurpleBooker

            Wrong. The public want know what we’d to. These are what we call policies, it’s how you win elections.

  • Rhodaroberts

    Please restore my faith in labour…help the poor atos victims. Make them a priority. Be brave

  • Hello, Tory Troll here again!
    I think you are going to win the election, actually.
    First of all you have some very attractive beliefs. They are wrong, but they are very attractive. You will offer to return the Blairite years of prosperity for all. To each according to his need, from each according to how much he has got. Most people will believe that because most people (especially the very rich) think they are very poor. Most people will vote for the party that promises to look after them. And that is you.

    Secondly, with the Postal Voting and the boundaries being quite unfair, you stand at a huge advantage before you start.

    Thirdly, because Mr Cameron has split the right into UKIP, Liberals, Conservatives and Cameroons.

    This, for me, will be a disaster as my beloved little England turns into Greece with Scotland playing the part of Portugal and, no doubt, the Welsh playing the part of the Basques.

    • Dick Emerypaper

      Hello, Tory Troll! Nice to see!

  • ThePurpleBooker

    Labour should make the economy it’s priority and set out a clear vision about how he will be stick to our commitment to halve the deficit over 4 years without choking off growth. We also need to develop our own programme of welfare reform as opposed to accepting the cruel benefit cuts that the Coalition is doing.

    • Robertcp

      The commitment to halve the deficit will be out of date by 2015, because it should already be halved by then.  On welfare, I am not clear how welfare reform differs from cruel benefits cuts. 

      My view is that Blairite reforms of welfare, education and health will be irrelevant in 2015, because the Coalition will have done them already.  Labour will need to consider the effects of the Coalition reforms before deciding what to promise in 2015.   

  • Bill Lockhart

    Perhaps Labour could develop some costed policies.

  • A lot of good sense there Peter – I agree about the lack of regional representation. 

    I think we abandon those who most need us at our peril.

  • hp

    Policies with integrity.

    3 major issues of recent history:-
    The state of the UK economy
    War in Iraq
    Sucking up to Murdoch

    Labour:  wrong on all three
    Liberals:  right, right, right!

    The LIBERALS FFS!  When they can get all three right, how hard can it be?
    All it needed was a bit of backbone.  A bit of honesty.  A bit of integrity.

    The difficult part will be being honest about why Labour was wrong on all counts.
    Maybe once Labour is honest about its past mistakes it can be honest about future policies.

    • john p Reid

      the liberals had a policy on the econmoy 3 years ago,
       I’m shocked I never ehard it ,All i heard them say was they’d reduce spending ,yet put more money into the NHS and schools and get rid of Tuition fees,

      I recall One person deface one of thier banners proclaiming this By putting underneath, “and everyone will get free cake and It will be Christmas day everyday!”,  Ithink that somes up the Libdems view on the economy now.

      • hp

        Getting past denial is just the first stage.
        There’s a long way to go yet.

        • John Dore

          Tuition fees, 9k read it and weep, their is no defence.

          • hp

            They got that wrong, I agree.
            But that is small beer compred to the rest.

            Take the beam from your own eye…

  • Wheelerpeter

    Atos clearly should go, local welfare rights service has a 79% success rate at appeals, thousands put through misery for no reason. Surely decisions should be taken by, or at least advised by, medically trained people.
    Economy clearly the priority-as always.
    Corby will be a very important by-election
    Pary needs to build up it’s campaigning base, i am just off out delivering police commission election leaflets.

    • john p Reid

      Sorry but There’s no objective in campaigning for Elected Polcie chiefs form the Labour party, In Northern Ireland the SDLP is the party we should support ,but I know Some labour people prefer Sinn Fein, And When Barbara Castle went to the lords she went their to dismantle it from the inside, As such If laobur is as opposed to Elected police as we say we are ,then we shouldn’t put up candidates he same way we don’t have to campign for SDLP in Norhten Ireland

      • I strongly oppose police commissioners, but we have to contest the election – I do think we should make it clear that it will be a one term job!

        In Northern Ireland people have to make up their own mind. Its not as simple as you say. I have friends there – one would be Labour over here but he lives in East Belfast so votes Alliance party. Another lives in a seat where its between the Unionists or Sinn Fein. 

        I think its really important that Sinn Fein be brought permanently into the political mainstream – they are a socialist party and so many young people in particular do vote for them

    • Peter – why not people’s own GP’s who surely know them best. That’s the way it always used to be.

      I know you have some links to Progress, who take a much harsher view – anything you could do to shift the opinion in that quarter would be welcome

      • GPs and hospital consultants are the best people to decide If someones actually fit enough to work, as you have said Mike it’s also cheaper and fairer and also does not deny people dignity in the process?

        The problem is that the system or should I say the present system has nothing to do with fairness or dignity, it’s all about removing money from some of the most vulnerable in society, very sadly it’s something that the Labour Party introduced and continue to support today.

        I know thousands of people who were Labour supporters of many years but will never ever support them again for their betrayl….

    • Colin Gilbey

      “Last minute candidates” – Yes, the  the poorer  performing constituencies  must be allowed  to have their candidates in place early, like now.  This is vital to keeping the numbers up for the Euro elections.

  • Redshift

    Priority One – Building Grassroots Campaigning Power – Too many CLPs are run by an old guard of members who’ve forgotten how to campaign and obsess about minutes. This means recruitment. It means talking to CLPs and insisting they develop long term plans. It also means talking to unions and talking about how we can get more of their members to become our members and getting a greater proportion that are Labour members actively involved. 

    Priority Two – Flesh out Miliband’s attack on predatory capitalism with a practical campaign strategy. I hear the party is gearing up for getting people to sign up to a project to collectively bargain a better energy price. Great news and should work well on the doorstep, giving us something to talk about outside of election time. 

    Priority Three – Encourage our labour controlled councils to innovate more. Some have Fairness Commissions, others have Living Wages, others have other projects. But a lot of them are just going through the motions ‘managing the council’ at the behest of council officers. This will lead to local issues that will go against us. Perhaps getting some neighbouring councils to adopt some of the same policies. Why not be able to say ‘every Labour council in Greater Manchester has a living wage policy’ – the overall affect on low pay will be quite substantial in itself and will help resist the downward pressure on low pay because of the economic situation. 

    • Redshift

      Also renationalise the railways. Bring welfare management back in house (scrapping work programme) and bring in an expanded Future Jobs Fund. Big investment into Green Manufacturing.  

      • ThePurpleBooker

        Most of that is unrealistic, leftwing drivel.

        • Redshift

          1) Not really. Just wait for the franchises to run out and refuse to renew them. 

          2) We’re currently paying private sector providers more to deliver a worse service. The Future Jobs Fund was a success. Bring it back and expand it. What is your problem with this?
          3) It is just sensible economics to be looking at new industries that will create jobs. I admit we need to look at other areas other than green manufacturing but it is an obvious area when we are going to using an increasing amount of renewables, that we aim to produce as many wind turbines, solar panels, etc domestically and get the benefit jobs-wise. 

          If I’d come up with 20 policies I’d simply ideologically like to see, some of it would be unrealistic. The above three are not.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            No real problem, but I’m  against renationalising the railways. It is not a priority, too expensive and we do not need to do it.

    • ThePurpleBooker

      I agree with all of that but there are more priorities.

  • It appears Labourlist are not keen on my comments appearing as they have not put up my cooments since yesterday, what are the Labour Party affraid of, maybe the truth???

  • They need to stand up for those in society who are being attacked by the supposed middle, stop using the media to stigmatise disabled people on benefits, promise to scrap the work capability assessment to stop the continual abuse of many of the most impoverished and severely disabled folk in the UK, grow some balls Ed, you’d be surprised how it might effect people’s voting ???

  • Lindastal15

    To make the assessment for disabled people fair and to make the descriptors realistic for a working environment . Remove ATOS , and to allow doctors and consultants of the person to have a greater input.

  • how About start speaking up for the sick & disabled instead petty squabbling with tory & libdem parties or are Labour like this govt going to forget about the sick & disabled if so there no point voting 4 u in 2015


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