Welcome to local government week 2021 on LabourList. When we did this guest edit by the Local Government Association Labour group last year, the party had just suffered a devastating general election defeat and leadership contests were underway. This year, the new team of Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner is in place and much else has changed, namely the world is battling a pandemic. This LGA conference is naturally being held entirely online, and instead of a weekend it is being run over the whole week, kicking off today. The virtual events are free to attend. You can register here if you are a councillor and here if you are a member.
LGA Labour’s guest edit of the site will explore those things that have changed, particularly Covid and the upcoming local elections, and inevitably those aspects of local government that have stayed the same, such as the need to deliver crucial services despite severe underfunding. Comment pieces will cover themes that coincide with conference events: first the role of councillors, tomorrow the work of councils during the pandemic, on Wednesday the electoral challenge facing Labour, next health and social care, then building back better and finally Starmer’s leadership.
LGA Labour leader Nick Forbes has written an introduction to the week, while Alice Perry has a piece on decision-making in ‘the Zoom where it happens’. Contributors will be looking at which Covid changes we’d like to keep, how councils have innovated due to the crisis and how campaigns are having to adapt. There will also be accounts of how the relationship between the Labour leadership and local government has evolved since April: we already know that Nick Forbes now attends shadow cabinet meetings, for example, and shadow cabinet leads have been paired with councillors to inform policy-making.
While publishing opinion for local government week, Elliot and I will continue to cover party news as usual. In parliament today, Labour has a further two opposition day motions, which aim to highlight urgent issues and embarrass the government by underscoring sources of Tory division as in previous weeks. The first is on dangerous cladding, in particular funding its removal while protecting leaseholders and taxpayers from the cost. The second is on border security measures, as Labour is calling for the hotel quarantine plan to apply to all UK arrivals rather than just those from a ‘red list’ (an approach understood to be backed by Priti Patel but not Boris Johnson). You can rely on LabourList for all the details. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.