As well as electing a new Labour leader and deputy leader, members have elected two new constituency reps to the national executive committee. BAME members and trade unionists also elected a new BAME rep to the NEC.
Labour’s NEC is made up of representatives from different stakeholder groups – including members, trade unions, the shadow cabinet, backbench MPs, local government, socialist societies, Scotland and Wales, as well as the leader, deputy leader and treasurer of the Labour Party. The NEC is the governing body of the Labour Party. So, what does it do?
NEC members hold an important role in holding the general secretary and party leadership to account. This can lead to uncomfortable and difficult conversations in meetings that can be tense (and long!). Recently the mood on the NEC has been constructive and collaborative, with the scrutiny function remaining important. Typical areas of discussion include strategy, campaigning, messaging and resource allocation.
The NEC plays a role in selecting candidates for elections. Selection panels can include NEC members along with representatives from regional executives and local parties. There have been times when NEC members have had to impose candidates, but this is not ideal. Where possible, it is always better to let members select candidates and to give them a good choice of well-qualified, local candidates.
I had the surreal experience of selecting parliamentary candidates for the East of England in 2017. The snap election meant we had to impose candidates, and we did our best in a very short time frame. Given the size of the current conservative majority, I would expect there is enough time for local parties to select their own candidates for the next general election.
Labour Party policy is developed by the shadow cabinet, who work with the national policy forum (NPF) and joint policy commission, including NEC members. Labour is reviewing its policy-making process with a view to making it more inclusive.
Electing a general secretary
The NEC elects Labour’s general secretary. The election is made by secret ballot. Members of the NEC also sit on the interview panel to select the shortlist of candidates.
The Organisational Committee of the NEC is responsible for overseeing a variety of rules and processes. This includes processes for combined authority mayoral selections and police and crime commissioners, local parties in special measures and regional executive committees.
The NEC equalities committee works to make Labour more inclusive, with representatives across the party that reflect the diversity of the communities they come from.
The NEC has an important role in Labour’s disciplinary process. The NEC disputes committee decides whether to progress serious cases to the NCC, a quasi-judicial body that will then hear and judge those cases. The NEC also has new powers to expel members guilty of antisemitism and other offences relating to protected characteristics. During the leadership election, all three leadership candidates signed up to a pledge to introduce a more politically independent process. I support this, and look forward to working with colleagues to deliver it.
Labour Party conference
Labour Party conference is organised by the conference arrangements committee (CAC), with input from the NEC. NEC members chair conference. The NEC can also bring rule changes to Labour Party conference. This makes the September NEC meeting very important (and long!).
The next NEC meeting is scheduled for May. I will continue to report back on all NEC meetings.