A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Why I'm running for Labour's NEC

After a lot of deliberation I’ve decided to run for the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC). One-Member-One-Vote elections for the six Constituency Labour Party representatives are being held next year and candidates are starting to emerge.

My hesitation has been because my illness and hospitalisation this year has meant that my main goals in life are rather more personal than political at the moment: still being alive in a few years time and watching my son grow up is my number one priority, and learning to walk again comes in a strong second.

However, I think I’ve got experience, skills and judgement to offer the Party as we enter choppy political waters and have therefore decided to throw my hat in the ring for the NEC.


The Party website usefully sets out what the NEC does:
"The National Executive Committee is the governing body of the Labour Party that oversees the overall direction of the party and the policy-making process. It carries out this role by setting strategic objectives on an annual basis and meeting regularly to review the work of the party in these areas.

All members of the NEC are members of the National Policy Forum. This body oversees the development of party policy through a rolling programme of policy development. Throughout the year, NEC members participate with government ministers in Labour Party policy commissions that prepare reports on different areas of policy which are then presented to and consulted on with the party membership before going to annual conference.


This forms the basis of Labour’s general election manifesto. The NEC is also responsible for upholding the rules of the party and propriety of Labour selection processes.”

So what sort of approach would I bring to the NEC?

· Transparency. As a constituency rep on the London Regional Board I report back to CLPs in writing after every meeting. I would want to do the same on the NEC (within the obvious constraints about any confidential agenda items). Too much of what the NEC does is shrouded in byzantine secrecy. Party members need to know what their representatives are doing in their name and what the justifications are for NEC decisions.

·Objectivity and even-handedness. When the NEC takes decisions that affect ordinary members there needs to be confidence that NEC members are taking decisions based on upholding the Rulebook and natural justice, not helping out their mates or political allies. My track record dealing with difficult disciplinary and selection issues as a council Chief Whip for seven years and a regional board member shows that I will do the right thing when confronted with contentious issues, not do what is politically expedient.

· Putting members first. Where-ever possible I would want to put control in the hands of local members and CLPs and maximise local autonomy and democracy – particularly regarding selection of candidates.

· Rebuilding the Party. Whilst there are geographical pockets where CLPs are thriving and there is excellent campaigning best practice, in too much of the country we have let our organisation atrophy. I want to see a priority made of regeneration of branches and CLPs nationwide and building their campaigning capacity. Members are our greatest asset but we haven’t systematically done a recruitment drive for over a decade. I don’t accept that we can’t aspire to be a mass membership organisation. We also need to rebuild our base in local government as there is a direct link between losing councillors and losing our local campaigning base.

· Focussed on campaigning. I’ve got 20 years experience of grassroots campaigning to bring to the table. Whatever the outcome of the General Election, we need to immediately start rebuilding for the electoral challenges that will follow it. What we don’t need is a prolonged period of navel-gazing, infighting and blame. We need to learn the lessons of the 1979-1983 period when Labour spent more time attacking its own record in Government than attacking the Tories.

· Resisting a “lurch to the left”. I’m proud of what Labour has achieved in Government and want to build on it, particularly in the area of tackling poverty and inequality. In the aftermath of the General Election there will be people who want us to veer sharply to the left. I’m not one of them, I want us to align our politics and policies with where ordinary voters are, not wander off into the electoral wilderness.

· Committed to the Trade Union link. I think the current constitutional settlement in the Labour Party, whilst it could be tweaked, broadly works. I’m very wary of radical proposals such as primaries that would sever the union link, which is fundamental to keeping us grounded in the practical concerns of ordinary working people.

· Positivity. My starting point is one of loyalty to the Party leadership and respect for the hard working professional staff of the Party. I’m no pushover but unlike some candidates elected in the past I’m not seeking to get on the NEC to undermine anyone or with a starting point of suspicion and blame. If we lose the General Election we will all need to be united and work as a team to make sure our period in opposition is as short as possible.

19 Comments:

Anonymous Dan said...

Luke, I think that's a great decision - good luck

Dan

12:50 pm, November 04, 2009

 
Blogger kris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:14 pm, November 04, 2009

 
Blogger kris said...

If you get in, the biggest favour you could do for the voters is to stop Ed Balls trying to criminalise parents who lie about their children's address to get a school place.

Firstly, a school place is not "property" of any description. You would need a total re-write of the Theft and Fraud Acts for Ed to pull that off.

Secondly, why doesn't some genius figure out why parents are desperate to get their kids in a particular school?

The truth is, yours is the Party who has been bleating on about "education" for years.

Quote me your stats - but the proof is in the pudding: if schools were indeed shining successes, parents wouldn't feel the need to use grandad's address to get a place somewhere decent.

1:15 pm, November 04, 2009

 
Anonymous Jo-ann said...

you have got my vote. x x

1:57 pm, November 04, 2009

 
Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"Objectivity and even-handedness. When the NEC takes decisions that affect ordinary members there needs to be confidence that NEC members are taking decisions based on upholding the Rulebook and natural justice, not helping out their mates or political allies."

You are joking Luke?

You yourself have admitted that you don't even think paid party employees should be neutral. What hope for elected officers if you get elected?

2:22 pm, November 04, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd keep your support for the Iraq War and Exraordinary Rendition quiet if I were you.

2:26 pm, November 04, 2009

 
Anonymous Stuart said...

'that I will do the right thing when confronted with contentious issues'

More like that I will be right wing when confronted with contentious issues...

3:30 pm, November 04, 2009

 
Anonymous Silke said...

Don't agree with the loyalty to the current (?) party leadership bit- I think that after the next general election, that will need to change- almost as a matter of course. Having said that, I agree with pretty much everything else in your statement and will vote for you. I am fed up with financially supporting a party which does not seem to care about its members!

7:58 pm, November 04, 2009

 
Blogger Mick Swales said...

Good call, Luke. You can count on my vote and support.

8:55 pm, November 04, 2009

 
Blogger Duncan Hall said...

Obviously you won't get my vote - but good luck.

11:35 pm, November 04, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy Moses. A disappeance up a human's colon.

Get real. For the next decade after May of next year you wont be doing anything apart from sitting on your arse every month or so, preaching revolution, pissing on Gordon and getting old.

The best bet is the kid. The rest is bollocks.

1:05 am, November 05, 2009

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

I assume you are standing as part of a slate - I'm no longer a party member but when I was I tended to vote for a diverse selection because I think that's important for the party.

I certainly agree with you about primaries - we have quite enough personality politics as it is and that won't help

2:10 am, November 05, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is good news - I'll vote for you. Sam, Norwich.

8:09 am, November 05, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>I want us to align our politics and >policies with where ordinary voters >are, not wander off into the >electoral wilderness.

And we the Labour Party are presently NOT in the electoral wilderness, then, Mr. Akehurst? Of course, the last 4 years of rudderless, centre right fudge has proved *SO* popular with electors up and down the country where Council after Council has fallen to the Tories and Lib Dems.

I am sure you and your clique in the party will find time and effort to blame what little remains of the left in the party, rather than the elephant in your own living room. And no, I am not a trot or member of some pathetic extremist groupscule, but an ordinary party member that you and your cronies have sidelined in the party, and will reap what you have sown, electorally, I am extremely sad to say.

8:55 pm, November 05, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks but no thanks. I hope the poor beknighted Party will be moving on from you and your ilk in 2010. Anonymous at 8.55 on 5/11 speaks for many.

12:13 pm, November 07, 2009

 
Anonymous Clapton Ali said...

My track record dealing with difficult disciplinary and selection issues as a council Chief Whip for seven years and a regional board member shows that I will do the right (sic) thing when confronted with contentious issues, not do what is politically expedient.

Thanks for that Luke! We needed a good laugh! Your track record on dealing with difficult disciplinary issues as council Chief Whip has been what???

7:17 am, November 08, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why was a post at 12:50 PM deleted eh Luke?

Let me guess someone didn't share your views or those of the Dear Leader.

You should run for this post - your "crush dissent" and control the media approach is absolutely New Labour.

Six months of misery to go and it looks like Clair Short and Tony Benn have now deserted you as well.

10:03 am, November 08, 2009

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

It was deleted by the author not me. If I deleted it it would say it was deleted by the administrator of the blog.

In the nearly 4 years I've had this blog I've only censored about five comments, in each case because a third party who was libelled by the commenter asked for their removal. I leave up all the stuff slagging me off, even if it consists of falsehoods. Hardly the actions of a control-freak.

10:30 pm, November 08, 2009

 
Anonymous Ann Black said...

Luke says: "Too much of what the NEC does is shrouded in byzantine secrecy. Party members need to know what their representatives are doing in their name and what the justifications are for NEC decisions."

Members might want to visit

http://www.labourblogs.com/public-blog/annblack

For ten years I have been lifting the veil as far as is consistent with necessary confidentiality - mail me at

annblack50@btinternet.com

if there's anything else you want to ask me or tell me. In particular the NEC meets Tuesday 17 November to plan the year ahead, all advice welcome.

8:02 am, November 09, 2009

 

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