Report by Local Government Representatives Jim McMahon and Alice Perry
Acting Leader’s report and general discussions
Acting Leader Harriet Harman’s report sparked a lively debate on a number of issues including welfare reform, Syria, the leadership contest and the importance of party unity and collective responsibility. Harriet Harman explained that to avoid pre-empting the new Leader and the new policies they may want to adopt, her approach has been to continue with the policies in Labour’s 2015 election manifesto and as outlined in the Your Britain policy documents. It was Harriet Harman’s last NEC meeting and she received heartfelt thanks for all that she has done for the Labour party and for the country, including her work on equality, social justice, human rights and international development.
The NEC was unanimous in our opposition to the Conservative Government’s disgraceful attacks on trade unions and our rights at work. Strong trade unions are essential for strong civil society.
Along with the right to vote, the right to strike is a fundamental human right that underpins democracy.
We also discussed the important role Labour Councillors play in leading the fightback against this government. Councillors are the backbone of the party. Despite massive cuts to our funding we have demonstrated the positive difference voting Labour makes and have championed progressive policies that make a real difference to people, such as building new affordable housing, paying workers the living wage, promoting green energy, helping people back to work, tackling payday lending and promoting the use of credit unions, regenerating communities and supporting local businesses, using ethical procurement policies and challenging companies guilty of blacklisting.
Local Government response to the Emergency Budget
The Emergency Budget of 8 July included details of devolution deals with combined authorities including the announcement of elected mayors in Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield. Cllr Jim McMahon responded that meaningful devolution is needed for all areas, without strings attached. The Budget confirmed cuts of £200m in public health funding to councils (equivalent of 7 per cent) but no in-year cuts to core budgets – and councils now await details of future funding in the Spending Review in the Autumn.
We highlighted the need for good communication between local government and the frontbench team which has improved over the past year but still needed commitment as announcements and policy positions are taken which have a direct impact on councils, such as the decision to support the 1% public pay cap. We discussed the impact of low pay in local government and the effect on recruitment and retention in areas such as social work and safeguarding. We continue to work with colleagues from across the Labour movement to oppose the reckless cuts to Council budgets and continued attacks on local democracy.
Labour’s Election Taskforce
In her capacity as the local government representative on the Lessons Learned Taskforce, Cllr Alice Perry has been attending the meetings and gathering feedback from Labour councillors about their views and experience. A good discussion was held with 200 councillors at the LGA Conference. Councillors can feedback individually or as Labour Groups. A big thank you to the 600 plus Councillors who responded to the recent LGA Labour Group survey and to everyone who has sent in their feedback. The experience and feedback of Labour Councillors is a vital part of understanding what went wrong for Labour nationally in the General Election and the lessons we need to learn for the future. If you haven’t already done so, please send your feedback to [email protected].
LGA Conference, Harrogate
The LGA Labour Group held a number of meetings for Labour councillors at LGA Conference in Harrogate. A Leadership hustings with all four candidates took place during the conference. You can watch the hustings online.
Individual Electoral Registration
Government changes to Individual Electoral Registration have resulted in millions of people falling off the electoral register. In light of the serious concerns over the impact of IER and the forthcoming boundary review potentially disenfranchising people, we will work with colleagues across the Labour movement to address this key issue. Labour Councillors can play an important role in ensuring as many eligible voters as possible are registered to vote. Labour Party materials and resources to support this are available online.
The LGA Labour Group held elections for Group Officer and Regional Representative positions on the Executive Team. The full results are available online. The ALC and Councillors NPF elections will take place alongside the other internal election ballots and will be announced on the 14th of September.
LGA Labour Group Annual Report and Review 2015
The LGA Labour Group has published its annual Report & Review 2015 which includes a message from the Acting Leader, the Shadow Communities Secretary and details of the past year of activity.
Special Reception for Councillors
A special reception for Councillors is taking place at One Brewer’s Green, the Labour Party HQ in London on the 29th of July. This event is to thank Councillors for everything we do for the party. All the Leadership and Deputy Leadership candidates have been invited to attend to give Councillors from around the country an opportunity to meet them in person. Tickets are still available for this event – you can sign-up online here.
Financial Report (and a big thank you to Councillors!)
Labour Party General Secretary Iain McNicol delivered the financial report. The Labour Party is in good financial shape. Iain McNicol personally thanked Councillors for all their contributions. Councillors’ subs are used to fund election campaigning across the country, rebuild the party and fighting the 2016 elections, as well as training and support for Councillors and local government. Iain McNicol plans to send a personal thank you note to all UK Labour Groups.
Labour Party Membership
Over 55,000 people have joined the Labour Party since May’s elections. Most of the new members joined online as a result of social media campaigns. New members are from all age groups and from all parts of the country. The Membership team are working hard to engage new members, find out what motivated them to join, and encourage them to get involved in the upcoming elections. People can join online at https://join.labour.org.uk/ and be part of the fightback!
If you have any questions for us please get in touch with us via email at [email protected] and [email protected]. You can also follow us on twitter at @CllrJimMcMahon and @AlicePerryUK. You can also sign-up to receive regular emails and updates.