Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) held an emergency meeting today to discuss plans for internal elections in 2020. The NEC welcomed David Evans to his first NEC meeting.
Keir Starmer gave the leader’s report. The focus continues to be on responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. Labour have been pushing government on their poor response. Keir talked about how the Tory government were slow to lockdown, slow on testing and contact tracing and slow on protective equipment. They have secured U-turns.
The health crisis is leading to an economic crisis. There is a risk of millions of people becoming unemployed at a scale not seem for generations. Labour is pressing the government on jobs.
Keir highlighted the impact of the Tories’ lost decade of investment in parts of the country that will now be particularly hard hit. Keir spoke about how the pandemic, and its impact on health and the economy, highlights and increases every inequality.
Keir has been doing virtual visits around the country and made his first in-person visit to Stevenage. Keir also addressed concerns about Rebecca Long-Bailey leaving the shadow cabinet.
NEC members asked questions on local government, constitutional issues and devolution, Labour unity, tackling antisemitism, racism, sexism and other forms of hate, Black Lives Matter, Tory corruption and cash for access, post-Brexit trade deals, improving Labour’s disciplinary processes, preparations for a second wave of the pandemic, support for key workers, getting children back to school, Palestine, the job retention scheme, the Green New Deal, recent opinion polls and election strategy.
Deputy leader’s report
Angela Rayner gave the deputy leader’s report. She updated the NEC on action taken resulting from the leaked report. The general secretary (and not the Labour leadership) is responsible for investigating allegations and taking disciplinary actions. Angela clarified the processes for the NEC and gave a confidential update into a variety of issues and actions. She reassured the NEC how seriously this is being taken and will report back at future NEC meetings. Angela also talked about the ongoing work to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in the Labour Party.
General secretary’s report
David gave his first report to the NEC on his second day in the job. He talked about how is he looking forward to working constructively with everyone. He sees reducing factionalism as a priority and ensuring the Labour Party is an inclusive, broad church. David spoke about election strategy and the importance of winning back power and voters’ trust. David suggested that a future NEC meeting could consider the Labour Together general election review and discuss how Labour can rebuild.
NPF policy consultations
I and other NEC members asked to extend the deadline for the policy consultations of Labour’s national policy forum. Local parties, labour groups, trade unions and socialist societies are holding more virtual meetings and want to be able to discuss and debate policy. It was agreed that the deadline for the consultation will be extended until July 20th. Further information about the consultation is available at policyforum.labour.org.uk.
The NEC agreed a plan for a virtual policy conference in the autumn to replace annual conference. Members suggested it could take place at the evening or weekend to make it accessible to more members.
Virtual meetings are now being made possible via software on Microsoft Teams, which includes facilities for secret online ballots. This technology has been used by Labour groups to hold AGMs. Members will be able to hold meetings for internal elections and selections. David Evans will bring a paper to the NEC in July outlining plans to expand this, allowing CLPs and branches to resume all business online.
The NEC agreed the processes for elections for the CLP reps, disabled rep, local government representatives and the Parliamentary Labour Party representatives. The NEC agreed that the election in the CLP section would take place using STV rather than FPTP. This is in keeping with commitment made by both Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer in the leadership election.
Labour now has around 580,000 members. This may be the highest membership has been in modern times.