Johanna Baxter joins Labour’s NEC

20th November, 2010 12:47 pm

Johanna BaxterWith Oona King’s elevation to the Lords creating a space on Labour’s NEC, LabourList contributor Johanna Baxter – who missed out on election to the same body by just 172 votes back in September – will now take King’s place. An independent candidate (i.e. one not running as part of a slate) sitting on Labour’s NEC is rare, so we wanted to give Johanna an opportunity to introduce herself to party members. Here’s what she said:

“I want to congratulate Oona King on elevation to the House of Lords. Oona has a fantastic track record of working tirelessly for Labour and I know that she will make an excellent contribution, as a peer, to our opposition of the government’s attack on ordinary working people.

I am deeply honoured and privileged to join Labour’s NEC representing our members in the CLP section. I stood in that election because I believe that Labour Party members are not ordinary, you are extraordinary. As members and activists – the advocates of our democratic socialist values – you deserve a bigger voice.

I will use my position to argue for a clearer, more transparent policy making process that has you at its heart. It’s important that we discuss how that’s delivered in the current review of Partnership in Power. Let me know your views on this and I will make sure they are fed in. It is also important though that CLP’s, and you as individual members, also make submissions to this review. Too many CLP Secretaries I have spoken to are concerned there is no point in making a submission, thinking that their contribution will not matter or be taken into consideration. But we will only achieve a change to the system if the leadership of our party hear the voice of our membership loud and clear. I am happy to help you and your CLPs with this – just let me know if you need any information on the current process or how to draw up your submission.

I will prioritise increasing our membership and argue for a review of the membership rates for members of affiliated organisations. With all the new members we have welcomed to our party since the election I will also seek to ensure there are better ways of providing support to our new activists and party officers. Our foot soldiers are the beating heart of our party and should be cared for as such.

I will seek greater accountability within our democratic structures and lead by example by regularly reporting back to you on the work of the NEC and listening to your feedback on important issues on the agenda.

I will work hard on behalf of all members. I am your advocate and as your only independent representative on the NEC I’m answerable only to you, not any political slate. I want to hear your views and I will proactively seek them in every way I can.

Don’t be shy about asking for a verbal report from me for your CLP – too few CLPs have had a visit from one of their national representatives in past years. I’m happy to talk at your meetings or join you on the campaign trail so just let me know and, whilst I might not be able to see everyone myself, I’ll always do my best to attend.

Independent candidates don’t get on the NEC. They certainly haven’t before. There are usually too many barriers to them reaching their electorate and having their voice heard. So this is a significant moment and we couldn’t have achieved this without working together. I look forward to continuing to work with and for you now.”

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