Sub-committees of Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) met on January 14th to discuss a range of issues including the leadership election, preparation for conference, policy making and improving the disciplinary and complaints process.
The procedures for administering the leadership and deputy leader elections are decided by the procedures committee – a sub-committee of the NEC. There was a discussion about access to and use of membership data, to ensure that all the candidates have a level playing field.
The committee has agreed hustings in every region of the country. It recognised that members across the UK are keen to attend hustings. If people are not able to attend in person, they can hopefully watch via live stream. There will also be a special hustings event for councillors at the local government conference in Nottingham in February.
2020 Labour Party conference
The NEC discussed plans for the 2020 Labour Party conference, which will take place in Liverpool on September 19th to 23rd. The NEC discussed possible ways to improve how delegates can reference back conference reports.
The body also discussed possible options for women’s conference – which was a stand-alone conference last year but could take place before the national conference in September. Members of the committee stressed the importance of women’s conference, which now has policy making powers.
This summer, there will be elections for the NEC and national constitutional committee (NCC). There were also elections scheduled for national policy forum (NPF) representatives. We are now back to year one in the manifesto process, which is likely to run over five years in the run-up to a general election in 2025.
The NPF has not met for some time. I pointed out that the last time the body met in Leeds I was mid-way through a pregnancy, and my daughter is now walking and talking. NEC members noted that the democracy review was supposed to assess Labour’s policy-making process. This could potentially mean changes to the NPF, which everyone agreed could function more effectively and be more engaging. It was agreed that elections to the forum would be deferred until next year and that current members would have their terms extended.
Improving the disciplinary process
New powers were given to the NEC to create small disciplinary panels to hear cases and speed up the time it takes to hear cases. The panels are able to impose a range of sanctions, including excluding members from the Labour Party. These panels have been meeting and working through the backlog of cases.
The general election and the leadership contest have taken up a significant amount of staff time, which can have an impact the speed at which cases can be heard. The committee will continue to work to improve the process. We should also welcome any recommendations from the EHRC investigation currently taking place.
Bullying and harassment
The NEC considered a letter from CLP sectaries about their experiences of bullying and harassment. It is important that people have confidence in the complaints process. Some committee members highlighted the benefits of having more independent reporting or a more independent process.
The important work of CLP officers, who as volunteers make enormous contributions to the party, was highlighted and praised. The NEC discussed what more could be done to foster a culture that is welcoming and inclusive for all members.
Mayoral trigger ballots
There was a discussion about the trigger ballot process for single authority mayors. There was a question about whether the process should be brought into line with that of combined authority mayors and police and crime commissioners. It would be interesting to hear people’s views on this ahead of future discussions. (You can contact me through my blog).