The last 12 months have been very busy for Labour’s National Executive Committee. The sudden general election meant the years of work that usually go into selecting candidates and writing a manifesto had to be completed in weeks. We were proud of our role in drafting the 2017 manifesto, which showcased some popular policies pioneered by local councils and presenting the country with Labour’s positive vision for Britain to counter Tory negativity and gloom.
The NEC also oversaw a leadership election in Scotland and a deputy leadership election in Wales. We said goodbye to general secretary Iain McNicol, who has always been a good friend to local government, and welcomed new GS Jennie Formby. We voted for Jennie and look forward to working with her to deliver the key priorities for the year ahead.
Priorities for the NEC following the snap general election last June have been:
- Preparing for another snap general election
- Selecting Westminster parliamentary candidates in key marginal seats
- Contesting local elections in May 2018
- Improving campaign infrastructure, including digital campaign and community organising
- Developing policies for national government, building on the 2017 general election manifesto
The NEC also spent time reviewing internal processes and to improve how Labour responds to complaints of sexual harassment, sexism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms or abuse. Jeremy Corbyn and the NEC agreed that is no place for this kind of abuse in the Labour Party.
Jeremy Corbyn also asked Katy Clark to lead a review of party democracy. The democracy review is considering issues such as:
- Party leadership elections
- The composition of the NEC
- The role, accountability and transparency of regional structures
- The functioning of associated bodies including BAME Labour, Young Labour, Disability Labour and LGBT Labour
- Membership engagement and recruitment
- CLP governance
- Strengthening links with trade unions
- Developing the relationship between Labour’s local authority representatives and local parties
- Improving diversity at all levels within the party, harnessing the potential of social media across all aspects of Labour’s democracy and political work
Key asks from local government have included better representation for councillors at all levels of the party, more resources and support for local elections, accountability for the Association of Labour Councillors (ALC) subs and further opportunities to share best practice and promote the good work of Labour in local government.
Katy joined councillors for an excellent session during February’s Labour Local Government Conference. Councillors can make submissions to the democracy review as individuals or as Labour Groups. We are also encouraging councillors to invite Katy to attend your their group meetings. More information about the Democracy Review is available at here.
At the Labour Local Government Conference, the LGA launched 100 Innovations in Power, featuring examples from over 60 Labour local authorities across England and Wales. Despite massive Tory cuts to local government budgets, Labour councils work hard to provide valued public services and opportunities for our communities. Another publication, On Day One, included examples of how a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government could work together with councils to deliver for the many, not the few.
As NEC reps, we have been working with the ALC and LGA to run “Be a Councillor” training sessions across the country. We also worked with trade unions such as the GMB to deliver special training for shop stewards and encourage more trade union reps to become councillors. We have also been working positively cross-party at the LGA with the Fawcett Society to identify and remove barriers that prevent women for standing to be councillors and obtaining leadership positions in local government.
One of our priorities on the NEC is to work to improve diversity of political representation at all levels, including supporting and selecting more candidates who are women, BAME, LGBT, disabled and working class. The 2017 intake of MPs was one of the most diverse ever and we need to work to continue that trend in local and national government.
The next general election could take place any time within the next four years. Whenever it takes place, once thing is for sure: thousands of Labour councillors will be campaigning hard and working with local parties and national representatives to deliver for the many, not the few.
Alice Perry represents local government on Labour’s NEC. Nick Forbes is leader of the Local Government Association Labour group.