Covid-19 has highlighted and exasperated inequality issues in the UK. It has underlined massive structural inequality, in health, education and housing. It exposes the widening gap between the North and South.
We have a system of government that is far too centralised and removed from people’s everyday lives. We have parliament and government that doesn’t look or sound the Britain in 2020. Covid and Brexit lay bare the damage that the Conservatives have done to this country and our communities.
Labour’s councillors and mayors have been at the forefront of Labour’s Covid-19 response – setting the agenda, standing up for communities and holding this disgraceful government to account.
Our councillors and mayors have been absolutely inspirational in recent days, making a powerful case for better support for jobs, lives and livelihoods. It felt like Andy Burnham and Sir Richard Leese were making history on the steps of Manchester Central Library. It is ironic that it has taken a global pandemic for our councillors and mayors to start getting the respect they deserve.
Right now, our councillors – in power and in opposition – are doing amazing work in exceptionally hard circumstances. I am so proud to represent local government on Labour’s NEC. I was elected to the NEC in 2014 and the last six years have certainly been eventful. What have I contributed as an NEC member?
- I have reported back on every meeting (thank you to LabourList for publishing my NEC reports).
- In 2016, I secured important rule changes to support councillors and improve our status within the party. I will continue to work to build on these.
- I co-chair the LGA Women’s Leadership Taskforce, which has produced a best practice guide for increasing female representation and produced a parental leave policy and model motion for councils and Labour groups.
- I’ve lobbied for more protection for councillors from abuse, both online and in person. (Robert Jenrick didn’t even acknowledge, let alone respond, to our last letter.)
- I am co-convener of the justice and home and affairs policy commission, reviewing Labour’s approach to crime and justice, opposing privatisation in the prison and probation service and adopting the recommendations of the Lammy Review.
- I’ve been proud to work on Labour’s general election manifestos in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Like you, I am really disappointed we lost those elections and didn’t get see those fantastic policies in action
- I brought a motion to the NEC to establish an independent complaints process, so members can feel confident that complaints will be dealt with fairly and free of political influence. I wrote the section of the motion that included transphobia alongside the protected characteristics from the Equality Act and stand in solidarity with our trans brothers and sisters.
- I work to improve diversity in local government and to tackle antisemitism.
- I consistently and vocally supporting the full IHRA definition on antisemitism.
- I got Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Jon Trickett to write a letter supporting councils in our budget setting process and opposing those who want councils to set illegal budgets.
- I’ve worked with trade unions, the LGA, the Co-op Party and others to encourage more people to stand to be councillors.
If re-elected, I will:
- Continue providing detailed reports on NEC meetings, so people are aware of what is going on at the top of the party.
- Provide a strong voice for local government, ensuring Labour groups and local parties get the resources we need to fight elections, and have more say over election campaigns.
- Champion local government policy initiatives, like building more affordable housing, tackling climate change, protecting and creating jobs and defending public services.
- Continue the important work to increase diversity in local government, increasing working class, women, BAME, LGBT and disabled representation.
- Fight to restore the local government pension fund.
- Continue to campaign for parental leave and greater flexibility for councillors.
- Stand up for members’ ability to select their MPs, giving people a real choice of talented candidates.
- Support an independent disciplinary process.
- Defend the link between Labour and trade unions, and work closely and constructive with trade union colleagues.
- Champion Labour councillors in opposition and the important work they do.
- And as a veteran of too many eight-hour NEC meetings, if you re-elect me to the NEC, I will propose a motion limiting virtual NEC meetings to six hours.
A big thank you to the 71 Labour groups who nominated me and Nick Forbes to the NEC. The local government NEC ballot will be sent in a separate email ballot to the main NEC election. Please look out for this and re-elect me to the NEC.