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, September 27, 2023

NEC Report – 26 September 2023

The September NEC met in Glasgow, and before the meeting we went out canvassing for Labour in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.


We welcomed Ellie Reeves MP back onto the NEC after a seven-year absence, in her new role as Deputy National Campaign Co-ordinator.


Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) Chair Harry Donaldson gave the CAC report.  The CAC had met on Monday to make rulings on the validity of the 323 motions submitted to Annual Conference, and group them into topics for the Priority Ballot. Appeals regarding motions would be held by the CAC on Thursday. The deadline for submission of emergency motions was noon on 29th September. 1,012 CLP delegates and 280 union and socialist society delegates had registered. Total attendance at Annual Conference including visitors would be 16,177. The party was receiving £1m in income from fringe events, of which there will be 850. There were 237 exhibition stands, generating a further £1.85m in income. For the first time there would be SME Sunday, as well as the business forum held on the Monday of Conference. The Conference charity would be the Glioblastoma Research Group at the UCL Cancer Institute, in memory of Margaret McDonagh.


We then received the draft grid of what would happen in each session of Conference. It was noted that no “reference backs” had been received on the National Policy Forum (NPF) reports.


The following were appointed as Assistant Chairs of Conference: Luke Akehurst, Nesil Caliskan, Abdi Duale, Wendy Nichols, Ellie Reeves, Gavin Sibthorpe.


We then considered constitutional amendments (rule changes). Those agreed included the following:


·         To define clearly that “supporting the campaign of an individual that stands in opposition to, or declares an intention to stand in opposition to, a Labour Party candidate in a public election” is a prohibited act leading to expulsion.

·         To abolish the rights of CLPs to initiate disciplinary action, as this contradicts our national, independent processes and can lead to inconsistent or unfair decisions or vexatious cases.

·         To return to the pre-2018 system whereby the only motions that can be submitted directly to Annual Conference are “contemporary” ones relating to issues “not substantially addressed in the reports of the NEC and NPF to Annual Conference”. This is because policy motions should be sent direct to the NPF for consideration as part of its policy making cycle. This was taken to a vote and passed by 19 votes to 7.

·         To clarify that the default structure of a CLP is delegate-based, with All Member Meetings (AMMs) as an alternative where there are geographical or other reasons why a delegate-structure would not work.

·         That changing from a delegate-structure to AMM or vice-versa can only happen by a two-thirds vote at a CLP AGM.

·         To clarify that a CLP Trade Union Liaison Officer (TULO) must be a member of a Labour Party-affiliated union and elected by and from union delegates to the CLP, where they exist.

·         To reduce the number of voting officers on a CLP Executive Committee from a minimum of 14 to a minimum of 6 (Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Women’s Officer, TULO and Vice-Chair, Campaigns & Membership). The other posts are not being deleted; they revert to the status they historically had of being “Functional Officers” without voting rights. Larger CLPs that want to can get approval to keep them as full voting Officers. This will hopefully make it less onerous for CLPs to fill such a large number of roles, produce a streamlined EC that can take decisions faster, and de-factionalise elections for practical roles like fundraising and social media, and equalities roles, by removing them from the “numbers game” around factional control of the EC. We agreed an amendment from Unison to the effect that if none of the six Officers self-identifies as BAME, the BAME Officer becomes a 7th voting member of the EC. The amended proposal was agreed with only Ann Black abstaining.

·         That vacancies on the National Women’s Committee should be filled in the same way as vacancies in the equivalent section of the NEC are.


David Evans then gave his report as General Secretary. He thanked Pat McFadden and Ellie Reeves for making a flying start in their new roles as National Campaign Co-ordinator and Deputy, and paid tribute to everything Shabana Mahmood had achieved in the National Campaign Co-ordinator role. He thanked field staff for the superb work they were doing in the three parliamentary by-elections. We were more than in play in all three. The Scottish result could be defining. The Tories will do anything to stay in power, including voter suppression measures such as the introduction of ID requirements and more complicated postal vote application forms. Next, they will bring forward statutory instruments to raise the election expenditure limit from £19m to £30m.


David reported Annual Conference will bring in £5.2m in commercial income, not including the business day. There are already 200 delegates registered for Labour’s Business Conference on 1 February 2024, which has secured £600,000 in sponsorship. Membership of the Rose Network (donors of over £1,000 a year) was now 614, of whom 147 are in the Chair’s Circle because they give over £5,000 a year. A lottery licence has been acquired and the first draw will be on 3 November. The lottery has 1,400 members and £150,000 of annual income before it has been hard launched.


The Party HQ will move 500m to the new premises on 20 October and be operational the following week. The East Midlands, North West, Scotland, South East, and Yorkshire & The Humber offices are also moving to better premises.


The Party now has 379,543 members, of which only 11,760 are in arrears. At 3% this is the lowest arrears rate for a decade. An Autumn recruitment campaign is being launched. Membership rates for 14-19 year olds, students and members of the armed forces, are being raised to £12 a year, as £1 a month is the minimum direct debit the party system can draw.


Following the work of the Forde Working Party, the new enhanced code of conduct was being circulated to all members.


A diverse intake of eight interns identified by Patchwork, which recruits interns from underrepresented groups in the workplace, had been with the party during the summer.


Staff were being send on leadership training provided by the Civil Service College, and management training provided by ACAS.


An Away Day was being held with all the Labour Metro Mayors and the priority councils for the May elections were being brought together.


In memory of Margaret McDonagh, a Leadership Academy in her name was being set up to foster excellent staff leadership.


Angela Rayner then gave her Deputy Leader’s Report. She said our policies on the Future of Work are polling well. She has now been appointed as Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. There had immediately been some very tough issues to deal with, such as the Government intervention in Birmingham City Council and Sunak’s announcement he would scrap the nutrient neutrality planning rule. Local government as a sector was reeling from 13 years of cuts and dwindling reserves. Angela’s team were working with the LGA Labour Group to support the worst affected councils, including Birmingham. We had opposed Sunak’s u-turn on landlord energy efficiency regulations, as this will lead to tenants facing higher energy bills. Angela was preparing for Women’s Conference and Annual Conference as she will give the opening speech at both. Her “Rayner on the Road” camper van tour was visiting marginal constituencies.


Ellie Reeves gave a detailed and confidential report on strategy and progress in the three parliamentary by-elections of Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth. Hundreds of members were being mobilised in each of them, and we had very strong candidates. New campaign techniques are being piloted with great success, especially in Mid Bedfordshire which is very rural so requires a different model of campaigning to urban areas.


Morgan McSweeney reported as Campaign Director. He repeated David’s concerns that the Tories will ask the Electoral Commission to raise the General Election spending limit to £30m. This shows they have that much of a war chest, they are in the final run-in to calling the election, and they don’t view it as a lost cause. The electorate remains very volatile – swing voters can swing back. Rutherglen and Hamilton West on 5 October will be a seminal moment which could set Scotland on a new course. The Scottish Labour Party has been transformed organisationally and politically. Annual Conference is hugely important as it is almost certainly the last one before the General Election. We are taking no votes for granted. The two by-elections on 19 October are in very stretching seats for Labour. Winning Tamworth would imply the Tories would only hold 47 seats. It is their safest by-election defence in this Parliament. Mid Bedfordshire is now a three-way marginal but has been Tory since time immemorial, any result is possible there.


We have to be ready for a May General Election. The Tories will be saying “net zero will cost you” and behavioural economics suggests that is a powerful message as a loss is twice as painful as any countering gain offered. We have to highlight the opportunities decarbonisation presents in terms of cutting bills, creating jobs and providing energy security.


Blogger Keith Macdonald said...

Thanks for a very full report. Sounds a serious and purposeful meeting, which of course is what we need on the verge of a vital General Election, hopefully followed by a period in government which, to put it mildly, will not be short of challenges.

5:25 pm, September 27, 2023


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