That was a whopper of a Labour national executive committee meeting. It started at noon yesterday and more than nine sweaty hours passed before the almost record-breaking session came to an end. In the last gathering before September, when conference will mean many more news-worthy NEC meetings, members of the party’s ruling body covered a wide range of internal issues – including the Labour Liverpool report, the proscription of four groups, the new complaints process and a code of conduct on Islamophobia.
Before the NEC, general secretary David Evans held a meeting with Labour staff. It had been brought forward by a day due to The Guardian’s scoop on the party cutting at least 90 jobs due to its terrible financial situation. Evans provided more detail yesterday. According to LabourList sources, he said the party’s poor financial state is due to lost members and dealing with antisemitism cases, and is so bad that reserves are now down to one month’s payroll. Voluntary severance has been offered to all NEC-funded staff, with an offer of three weeks’ pay for every year served. There was real anger among workers about the lack of Q&A at the end of their meeting and no mention of staff welfare. Both of these came later instead, in the form of documents, which also confirmed that senior staff will not be taking a pay cut despite the redundancies. Get the full story here and here.
After a discussion of the job cuts, the NEC came to the Liverpool review led by ex-minister David Hanson, the conclusions of which had already been exclusively revealed by LabourList overnight. Its findings were less about corruption in the city and more about internal party culture. All recommendations made by the report were approved by the NEC: not only will the party nationally take over Liverpool candidate selections until June 2026; there are also consequences for Labour across the country. In particular, the NEC has agreed to put forward a rule change at conference that will see antisemitism training made compulsory for all those seeking office – from councillors and MPs to constituency and branch party officers. It was pointed out to me that this mirrors the Equality and Human Rights Commission definition of an “agent of the party”.
Next, Labour proscribed four groups: Socialist Appeal, Labour in Exile Network, Labour Against the Witchhunt and Resist. The paper passed with an amendment: the panel being set up to look at potentially proscribing other organisations (the one that made many on the party’s left nervous) will need to have its decisions ratified by the whole NEC. Left members were not completely united on these votes. Nine opposed the proscription of Chris Williamson’s Resist, which intends to register as a political party anyway, ten opposed the banning of LIEN and LATW, and 12 voted against the Socialist Appeal ban. One of those on the left who did not vote against them all, Lara McNeill, tweeted to explain her decisions. Full story here.
Finally, Labour’s NEC looked at proposals for a new complaints process, as legally mandated by the EHRC in its antisemitism report last year. The NEC approved the ‘skeleton’ plan yesterday, but crucially conference must approve the final rule change in September for Labour to meet its obligations. The new system is not wholly external as some had expected, but instead introduces independence after an initial NEC panel considers a case. It will apply not only to antisemitism complaints but all those related to protected characteristics. I went through how the process will work and why it had been developed in this way here.
Then the NEC passed a code of conduct on Islamophobia, with a definition of it that includes the following examples:
- Suggesting that Muslims, individually or as a group, pose a threat to British or European society, civilisation or values
- Requiring Muslims to act in a way not expected or demanded of any other group
- Requiring Muslims to criticise or apologise for terrorist acts more vociferously than other people
- Accusing Muslims of being a ‘fifth column’ and/or implying Muslim people in general are inherently antisemitic, homophobic and/or misogynist
Party chair Anneliese Dodds has written about both the new complaints system and the code of conduct in a piece for LabourList, where she also covers some of the other measures Labour is looking to implement to make the party “a safe space for everyone”. Still, some of you will be wondering, what about the Forde report? NEC member Nadia Jama revealed last night that she had secured a promise from David Evans: parts of the report – those not relating to the leak being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office – will be “released by the autumn”.
And breathe… That was a lot of internal party news in 24 hours. In other announcements, Labour is taking the opportunity today to reiterate its call for a maximum working temperature. Hear, hear.Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.