As a longstanding Labour Party member in the west Midlands from a BAME background I’m writing to let you know why I’m standing for Labour’s national executive committee (NEC); to tell you who I am and what drives me.
The increase in member representatives on the NEC gives the Labour Party a unique opportunity to improve the diversity and representation of ordinary members on Labour’s most important decision-making body. This comes at a time of a massively increased membership and in the wake of an incredible general election result in which Labour’s manifesto and the approach of our leadership saw an unprecedented rise in the share of the Labour vote.
I’ve been a Labour Party member since I was 16 years old. I’m a trustee and director of anti-racism/anti-fascism campaign HOPE not Hate, a school governor, secretary of my Unite the Union branch, a founder and vice-chair of Sikhs for Labour, a board member of West Midlands Police strategic police and crime board appointed by the Labour PCC, central council member of the Socialist Health Association and treasurer of the West Midlands SHA.
My commitment to Labour runs in my blood. My dad was a trade union activist at work in the POEU and NCU (now the CWU). He was a longstanding Labour Party member and served as a Labour councillor for many years. My mum has been a Labour Party member for over 40 years, my wife and our two children are members and are my greatest supporters (and strongest critics). Previously I was active in student politics in Labour Students; I’ve served as a councillor in Sandwell; I’ve held a variety of positions at branch and CLP; and I’ve attended and spoken at regional and national conferences. I’m a proud and committed campaigner – I’m Labour through and through.
I’m standing for the NEC because I believe Labour needs to improve diversity and representation on its most important decision-making body. Often when people think about “diversity”, they think of it simply in terms of race or ethnicity. There is no doubt that there needs to be better representation from our diverse ethnic and faith communities on the NEC. If elected, I would be the first ever Sikh to be elected to Labour’s NEC and would, of course, do my upmost to represent all minority faith communities and BAME members. It is vital that the NEC looks more like the communities we represent and the country we aspire to govern.
However, there is another kind of diversity that has fallen tragically by the wayside in recent years, and that is the regional diversity of representatives on the NEC. Currently four of the six NEC members elected under the CLP section are from London and the south east. There is not a single representative from any of the five regions in the midlands and north of England. Furthermore, there hasn’t been a CLP representative from the west Midlands since the Partnership in Power reforms of 1997.
I’m an active part of the Labour and trade union family in the West Midlands. The Labour Party is a national party, we rely on party members across all our regions to form a government and our member representatives on the NEC should reflect that geographical diversity and not be London-dominated.
We rely on Labour members and supporters as branch or CLP officers for functioning local parties, campaigning and fundraising. But our members and supporters are often also running the fabric of our local communities often as volunteers – school governors, at food banks, youth clubs, community centres, serving on committees, boards and charities, running campaigns to make crucial differences in local communities – the real work of delivering Labour values in our communities.
I will ensure our NEC is focussed on understanding the concerns and delivering for our members and supporters so that Labour is not just a party but a vibrant social movement.
Our party is strongest when we are united and concentrated on winning. Our members and supporters devote themselves to maintaining a strong Labour presence across the country and winning elections. The NEC needs to ensure all our members are able to participate fully in our internal democracy but that we are focussed on being an outward facing party, delivering our Labour values where we can, providing real alternatives and winning people over to Labour.
My campaign is for better diversity, representation and focus on our NEC. I hope I can rely on your support.
Gurinder Singh Josan is vice-chair of Sikhs for Labour is standing for Labour’s NEC on a platform of increasing diversity and regional representation.