2021 elections, conferences and party complaints – Alice Perry’s NEC report

Alice Perry

Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) equalities committee took place on November 5th, while the disputes committee and organisational committee meetings were on November 10th.

2021 elections

The NEC heard a presentation about the 2021 elections covering the context of the election, organisation, messaging and strategy. Next year, there will be elections for 5,000 councillors, 40 police and crime commissioners, the Scottish and Welsh parliamentary elections, seven metro mayors, the Mayor of London and London Assembly and five local authority mayors. There will also be over 100 ward by-elections.

Almost 40 Labour councils are in locations where Labour lost parliamentary seats to the Tories in the 2019 general election. The seats are likely to be highly contested. There are a number of council elections and metro mayor elections in key 2024 target seats. Labour was very close to winning the Tees Valley, West of England and West Midlands mayoral elections and have a great chance of taking these from the Conservatives. The new West Yorkshire mayoral election is also going to be competitive. 

The NEC considered how campaigning will need to be adapted during the pandemic. Labour will encourage our supporters to sign-up for postal votes and take part in early voting.

Labour conference 2021

Labour Party conference is planned to go ahead as usual. Different options are being considered. The NEC agreed the timetable for conference delegate elections and motions. More information about conference delegate elections will be shared soon. If conference goes ahead in person as usual, staff are looking about how online elements can be incorporated to make events accessible to a wider audience.

Women’s conference 2021

The 2021 Labour women’s conference will be a democratic, online summer conference. This policy conference will give people the opportunities to vote for motions. Staff are currently looking into different options for delivering the conference and will send a paper with proposals to the NEC meeting on November 24th.

Online democracy

Constituency Labour Party (CLP) and branch meetings are taking place online. Some CLPs are in the process of holding their annual general meetings online. Some areas are piloting proxy voting in CLP meetings. The NEC will be updated on progress. 

Equalities reports

Various stakeholder groups give reports to the equalities committees. LGBT Labour updated the meeting about efforts to promote trans rights and combat transphobia within the party and public life. They discussed issues of online trolling and harassment.

Disability Labour gave an update on the election of the new NEC disabled rep, their recent training event for members and offered feedback on Labour Connected and how to make online meetings and conference accessible to all. The disability rep highlighted the benefits of online meetings and encouraged people to be mindful of the length of the meetings they hold and to include regular breaks. (After a seven-and-a-half-hour Zoom NEC meeting, I definitely second this!)

Labour Women’s Network talked about their work on the campaign to “keep the good stuff” and give members some access to online meetings post-pandemic. These online meetings have had real benefits to parents wanting to join meetings and participate in democracy. They talked about recent events to encourage more women to stand. They also responded to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report and talked about the need for an independent process for complaints, including sexual harassment complaints.

Christians on the Left spoke about their recent events and efforts to ensure they are inclusive to all members, including BAME members. They talked about work to build links between Black Christians, churches and the labour movement.

Jewish Labour Movement responded to the EHRC report. As an NEC member, it was moving and humbling to listen to their report. NEC members and stakeholders expressed solidarity with JLM and thanked them for all their work and welcomed Keir and Angela’s response to the EHRC response.

Labour Muslim Network spoke about their work around Islamophobia awareness month. They have been consulting with Muslim members about their experiences of racism within the party and will be launching a report shortly.

I gave the Local Government Stakeholder Report, updating on the work to encourage a diverse range of candidates to stand to be councillors. Angela Rayner has led a series of online “Be a Councillor” events. I talked about the campaign to encourage councils and Labour groups to adopt parental leave policies for councillors. You can view the model motion and other resources on the LGA Labour Group website.

New complaints process

Keir Starmer will be expanding on plans to introduce a new, more independent complaints process in December. The NEC disputes committee discussed transitional arrangements. NEC disciplinary sub-panels have been meeting throughout October and November and are processing a large number of cases. So far there have been 25 sub-panels since May 21st. 20 focused on cases involving protected characteristics, two were membership appeals and three involved complaints not relating to protected characteristics. I have sat on a number of panels, and in my experience they are balanced and fair.

Party organisation

General secretary David Evans gave a presentation on the recent Labour Party organisational review. The aim is to make Labour a voter- and election-centric organisation. The review will address culture, staff wellbeing, international communications, leadership, electronic data interchange and strategy.

Policy making

The NEC had an update about Labour’s national policy forum (NPF) and policy-making process. The joint policy commission (JPC) is due to meet in November for the first time this year. Information about this year’s policy consultations is available at policyforum.labour.org.uk.

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