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NEC ON THE LINE: Labour’s National Executive Committee has made a remarkable intervention in Britain’s biggest council, after a scathing report seen by LabourList alleged a “dysfunctional climate”. An NEC-appointed Birmingham campaign improvement board claimed personality-driven factionalism and industrial disputes caused “immeasurable damage” to Labour’s reputation and its relationship with unions. Senior leaders are being ordered to re-apply for their own jobs via an NEC and regional panel, and do so annually. That went down like cold sick with Ian Ward, elected leader last year, who told us he retained group confidence and warned annual contests risked the party turning “inwards” and undermining Labour’s electoral prospects. He’ll likely be ousted or re-appointed as early as Tuesday.
TILL WE HAVE BUILT JERUSALEM: Keir Starmer has said he will back “builders not blockers”, and is reportedly thinking about revamping green belt building rules to fix the housing crisis. The leader even said housebuilding will bring down prices – busting another political taboo. Don’t mention Labour’s attack on the Tory “developers’ charter” last year. Starmer appears increasingly, surprisingly bold on the issue, one many politicians shirk for fear of the NIMBY/homeowner backlash. Perhaps he’s also increasingly at ease with losing some would-be Labour voters in Tory shires to the Lib Dems…?
My Labour government will build more houses to help working people achieve the dream of owning a home. pic.twitter.com/Bmo0ahWvtu
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) May 17, 2023
EU-TURN? Starmer has told The Times EU nationals voting in general elections “isn’t policy”, and said none of his five missions “involve electoral change”. It appears the furthest Labour has gone yet in talking down the plan after the Tory and media backlash. He has ruled out another referendum as PM on Times Radio today too. Meanwhile LabourList eyes another potential retreat on a radical plan to boost workers’ rights, with the draft NPF programme revealing “many parts of our economy‘ won’t get new sector-wide collective bargaining rules.
LIKE THE TORIES BUT BETTER: Labour has a tricky one today handling seemingly positive Tory announcements on a renters’ reform bill and extra cash for buses. Shadow Housing Secretary Lisa Nandy says its “far from clear this government can deliver” versus Labour’s renters’ charter, while Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh released smart analysis suggesting hundreds of bus services remain at risk.
BOLTON TURNS RED, BURNHAM SEES RED: Local media report Bolton Labour leader Nick Peel is taking charge at the council, which the party failed to win back in the local elections but returned as the biggest party. He replaces a Tory leader. Remember Labour lost traditional marginal Bolton North East to the Tories in 2019, but they have just a 378-seat majority. Meanwhile Greater Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham tells Times Radio it would be “nice to have some support from a national level”, telling young “unelected” Westminster advisers who apparently brief against him: “Leave me alone.”
“Leave me alone”
Andy Burnham responds to reports he is the only person Keir Starmer is reliably rude about
More on @TimesRadio
— Matt Chorley (@MattChorley) May 17, 2023
ANGELA STEPS UP: It’s Angela Rayner’s turn at the despatch box today against Oliver Dowden for the first time at 12. The deputy leaders take centre stage as Rishi Sunak’s in Japan for a G7 summit.
Top stories on LabourList
- Labour NEC tightens grip on Birmingham council as report slams “dysfunctional climate
The NEC is set to make the leader of Britain’s biggest council re-apply for his own job annually – and will sit on the panel.
- Has Labour watered down plans to boost union rights via sector-wide collective bargaining?
Revealed: One of Labour’s most radical policies to empower trade unions will not include “many parts of our economy”.
- Loyalty to the SNP means Labour cannot yet rely on Scottish gains
Polling company JL Partners research associate Joe Alder writes…
Other recent stories
- Rachel Hopkins MP: The Tories are letting down veterans – Labour stands with them
- Paul Lindley: Employee ownership, child bonds, start-up help: Ideas for a Labour economy
- Stewart Lansley: Will a Keir Starmer government bring continuity or change?
Round-up: Labour in the media
The centre left is on the up around the world. Here’s what Keir Starmer can learn from it
“Anthony Albanese was the voice of hopeful, safe change for Australia, carrying a positive message in the run-up to the campaign, with practical, deliverable promises on the people’s priorities. Similarly the Social Democratic party in Germany made four big simple pledges to back its grander missions for government. These successful sister parties have modelled a steady and unifying leadership in contrast to the divisive politics of their opponents, backed by solid social democratic platforms on wages, pensions and public services that resonate with people’s need for security and prosperity after the pandemic.” Claire Ainsley, The Guardian.
- Labour MPs are impatient for Michael Gove’s rental reforms –Tom Scotson, PoliticsHome.
- Keir Starmer: I’ll allow more homes on the green belt – Steven Swinford and Henry Zeffman, The Times.
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