Brexit, finances and elections – Alice Perry’s latest NEC report

The March meeting of Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) discussed a range of issues including elections, selections, improving processes, and Brexit.

Increasing diversity in local government

March’s organisational committee agreed a range of measures to improve diversity at all levels in local government. Labour will undertake equality monitoring of councillors and candidates standing for election. The party will invest in training and offer more programmes aimed at recruiting candidates, as well as leadership training like the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme and the new Bernie Grant Leadership Programme – to which BAME members are encouraged to apply. Labour will also ensure existing equalities rules, including those relating to selections, are enforced.

Baby leave

Councils and Labour groups around the country are passing baby leave motions. Thank you to Southampton, Sunderland, Islington, Lambeth, Blackpool, Corby, Calderdale, Lincoln, Gloucester, Stevenage, Newcastle, Bristol, Bridgend, Staffordshire, Erewash, North Warwickshire, Lewisham, Basildon, Haringey and Bolsover. More councils are planning to introduce baby leave after May’s elections. You can encourage your local group to pass the LGA model motion.

Brexit

EPLP leader Richard Corbett might have attended his last Labour NEC meeting if Britain leaves the EU before the next meeting in May. Richard presented a written report, which he joked was written nine days ago and was therefore completely out of date.

Jeremy Corbyn introduced the Brexit discussion, updating the NEC about his recent trip to Brussels. Jeremy condemned Theresa May’s failure to build consensus around her deal. Labour will continue to draft amendments and put forward our own vision for Brexit. Jeremy stressed the importance of preventing a chaotic no deal Brexit. The NEC is very aware that the government could collapse at any time, resulting in a general election. Labour would then need to move quickly to produce a manifesto that reflected Labour’s position on Brexit, incorporating last year’s conference motion.

I asked about candidate selections if European parliamentary elections take place late this year. NEC officers will consider options and produce a plan.

Leader and deputy leader reports

As well as a lengthy and thoughtful Brexit update, Jeremy gave his report covering items including countering the rise of the far-right across the world, the Christchurch terror attack, the local elections and the impact of reckless Tory austerity, as well as the importance of a Labour government to restore funding to valued public services.

Tom Watson gave a report covering recent activities, including work relating to his shadow cabinet brief, his meetings with the Jewish Labour Movement ahead of their vote on Labour affiliation, and the formation of the Future Britain Group in response to TIG. A lively Q&A followed.

Labour’s finances

Labour’s finances are healthy, with millions of pounds ring-fenced to fight a general election should one take place.

Local elections

Best of luck to everyone standing for election in May. The NEC asked for CLPs to be made aware of target seats so they can join campaigning. You can find local campaign events at events.labour.org.uk.

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