Michael Payne: Why I’m standing to represent local parties on Labour’s NEC

Michael Payne

People cannot afford to wait for us any longer. The cost paid for the last decade is already beyond measure. Over four million children living in poverty, hate crime rates doubled, the environment slipping down the agenda, the gap between rich and poor widening, public services destroyed or sold off. A decade of failure, capped with the tragic and bungled response to Covid-19. Crashing out of the European Union without a deal might be the final postscript to the tragic farce that is Tory government. Our country stands poised on the threshold of a decade more divided within itself, more uncertain of the future than perhaps in any other period in our history.

We know as a party what we have to do: win power for the many whilst keeping true to our radical values. I was proud to support Keir for leader because he understood just that. Week in, week out, he has been forensically pulling apart flimsy Tory excuses to reveal almost criminal incompetence during a period of national emergency. At the same time, he is right to say that our prospectus for the country needs to both reflect our principles and be grounded in the reality of people’s lives. As the deputy leader of Labour in local government in England and Wales – representing over 6,000 councillors nationally – I know the reality of fighting for those principles on the frontline across our country. I’ve known what it’s like to be in the glare of national media when with the support of the FBU, GMB, UNISON and Usdaw, I fought the 2014 Newark by-election.

I’ve been fighting for our values all my adult life. How could I not? Coming from a working-class family in Nottinghamshire, Labour’s values have always been my values. Often that has meant battling for them within our own party, campaigning relentlessly for more representation of BAME, LGBT+, disabled and women members at all levels of our organisation and in wider public life. The hardest thing can be to call out abuse, hatred and discrimination in our own ranks – but we can, we must and I will, to ensure that our party lives up to the values we stand for. But we need action, not just words, which is why I worked with LGBT+ Labour to establish the LGBT+ Labour Councillors Network, of which I am the inaugural chair – proudly organising the first ever ‘be a councillor’ training session specifically for the trans and non-binary community.

I want to bring that same commitment and passion to being your representative on Labour’s national executive committee (NEC). Helping to keep us true to our principles, whilst supporting our tireless pursuit of what really matters: electing a radical Labour government to transform this country for the better, and more Labour councillors in every corner of the country. I will stand up for the rights of members and workers, hold national officers to account, visit Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) nationwide and report back after every NEC meeting. I will give all members from all traditions a voice in how we put Labour back on a winning path towards government and Keir in No 10. And as your voice in the NEC, I will use the role to continue campaigning for greater representation for women, BAME, disabled and LGBT+ members at all levels in our party.

75 years ago, Clement Attlee led Labour to a watershed victory. He had warned of the calamity of a Tory government, and was clear that Labour needed “political power to enable us to give practical effect in parliament to our great forward-looking policies”. By winning power for a purpose Attlee’s radically transformative 1945 Labour government created our NHS – a powerful reminder to this day that the labour movement is the single most effective vehicle for social progress our country has ever seen. There are no bounds to what we can achieve for this country when we turn our minds to it. But people cannot afford to wait for us any longer. If you put your faith in me, I pledge to serve you and the party we love, to do everything I can to help put Keir Starmer in Downing Street and deliver the radically transformative Labour government that our country so desperately needs.

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