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I want to be the members’ champion

AngelaEagle1It was one of the proudest days of my life when I was elected Chair of Labour’s National Executive Committee at Conference in September 2014. Accepting the role I recalled to those present that I shared this privilege with only eleven women MPs In over 100 years of Labour history including Ellen Wilkinson and the indomitable Barbara Castle.

I believe our party is stronger because of its democratic structures and that is why being Chair that year meant so much to me. I had already been able to chair national conference where I called speakers without fear or favour and no pre debate fixes either! I even moved a CLP rule change from the chair which would’ve fallen because the delegate had been unable to attend on time due to an accident. When I had been asked by Ed Miliband to guide the National Policy forum Process as it’s chair a couple of years earlier, I took the view that the entire process had to be opened up. Our policy making was in theory very democratic but in practice it had developed into anything but.

It is essential that all the Party’s affiliates be they CLP reps, unions or socialist societies are respected and given voice in our policymaking structures. The wisdom and insight they bring is invaluable and anchors us in the real life experience of millions of people in workplaces and communities up and down the country. That is something we should treasure and build on.

‘Warwick 2’ leading up to the 2010 general election had ended in all night meetings, rancour and over 100 votes on the final morning. This had left our members of the NPF and party staff sleep deprived and alienated. It simply wasn’t fit for purpose and I was determined to improve it. I believe I did so by creating the online policy hub and endeavouring to engage meaningfully with all parts of the NFP. I tried to do this with openness and respect.

In consequence at Milton Keynes the only all night meetings necessary were for purely social reasons. There was consensus and compromise causing changes to be made in many policy areas. We only required one vote on the final morning. I hope those attending remember that I allowed the shadow chancellor exactly the same time to reply to the debate as the mover of the motion was allowed to propose it. The meeting reached genuine compromise and there was real give and take on the part of NPF members and the shadow cabinet representatives too.

Was this NPF process an improvement?  Yes

Was it perfect? No

Should it be improved further? Definitely

I believe we have to make our party more outward looking. We have to trust the members more. anyone who has read Ann Black’s admirable summary of the member’s analysis of why we lost in May could not doubt the wisdom of our members’ insight. We need to respect it more and listen to it more. And I promise that if I am elected as Deputy Leader I will.

Angela Eagle is a candidate in the election for Labour’s Deputy Leadership

21 Comments

  1. swatantra says:

    Surely its the Chair of the Party who should be the Members Champion, and directly elected by the Membership. The Leader and the Deputy Leader should be the Country’s Champion, as Liz Kendal might say, particularly so when they assume the great offices of State.
    I’m still voting for Caroline.

  2. john P Reid says:

    although i dont agree Swatatra about anything you’ve just put, i have to querstion members, as Co-op and fabians being affilaiated aren’t really memebers

  3. James Martin says:

    Absolute insult of an article from someone who should not be given space on this site – Eagle was remember the chair in the Collins report stitch up conference and a leading figure in pushing forward this attack on union influence before it. It was Eagle who deliberately and unfairly stage managed the speakers with a deliberate bias to those in support of Collins and it was Eagle who mislead the conference and stopped debate on the conference arrangements committee failings.

    And now someone thinks it a good idea to give her free publicity here? Unbelievable decision in my opinion and it makes her pleas that she is a wonderful supporter of Party democracy stick in the throat even more. No way will I be voting for her and I would suggest no other socialist does either.

    1. Robert says:

      I doubt to many people care these days, hence labour is where it should be.

      1. John says:

        I agree ,but surely membership has been going up in the last 18 months
        .

  4. David Pavett says:

    I agree with James Martin. I speaks volumes about the state of the Labour Party that some people on the left can entertain the idea that Anna Eagle left candidate. If they had not decided to support her then they would be reminding us that she not only supported the Iraq war but also opposed having an inquiry into it. How does that work for someone on the left?

    Anna E’s main claim to fame seems to be based on her claimed fairness as a chairperson. I have to say that ensuring fairness is about a lot more than calling people to speak without trying to surpress certain voices. What matters most is what goes on before the meeting in preparation for it. On that basis, however nice she is as a chairperson, Anne E presided over two massive stitch-ups namely the Collins report conference and last July’s NPF. If she thinks that represented real democracy then it would be necessary to explain how it reached so many results which we all know are contrary to what the majority of Labour members believe in (on railways, schools, trident ….). So I don’t buy this chairpersonship argument.

    Anna Eagle sees herself in the line of past women labour notables. She mentions Ellen Wilkenson the post war education minister and sturdy defender of the grammar school/secondary modern division. She also refers to Barbara Castle who, if I remember rightly was responsible for the first major attempt at Government regulation of trade unions with her “In place of strife” White Paper. It was eventually withdrawn, after massive protests, but it set the scene for later inroads into trade union freedoms.

    And finally, what is so awful about this article is that it is like so much of the current leadership campaign which consists largely of people telling us what great experiences they have had and determined but decent they while tellng us nothing about their political views. I tried searching for examples of expression of views about political issues by Anna E. I could find practically nothing. A political party in which people can be considered for top jobs on that sort of basis needs to take rather a long look at itself.

    1. John says:

      Dave, in place of strife offered things like balloting members too strike, by post, plus extra laws to give unions powers, on negotiating and getting things legal, if in place of strife had been introduced ,there wouldn’t have been the need for Thatcher to take so many powers away,that the public eventually wanted,and labour had to settle for the idea ,If we wanted to win,we had to keep them
      You refer to taking away union freedoms,it was Union brains calling strikes without consulting members that went hardly. Freedoms for the workers,that the union bosses did this,

      As for Iraq,I have to say she was mislead,and be,iced Blairs lies, Charles Kennedy, never felt Blair was lying but felt that a weapons inspector could decide if this was true, as if no other politician has ever made a mistake, it wasn’t no inquiry,it was not having the inquiry at that time,

      The NPF, is questionable,I like Katy Clark, and she’s standing again, as is Gloria De Pero ,who is To, Watson biggest fan for deputy, I note Tom Harris backed Katy Clark over Jim Murphy for Scottish labour,so all this different wings,malarkey,is twaddle

      1. David Pavett says:

        Thanks for the response.

        My point was not that everything unions did was perfect or even acceptable. Rather it was that it is not an appropriate role for government to dictate how unions should work. Castle started us on that course and had she been successful i would simply have enabled the Tories to take it further (like so much that Labour does when in government).

        If she was mislead over Iraq then it has to be said that she is easily mislead – not a good qualification for a potential political leader. Was Blair lying? I think that operators like him at that level of politics no longer have the same concept of lying that most of us would recognise. On the Inquiry you are wrong. In 2009 and UK involvement was rapidly being wound down a commons motion said that given the reduction of UK troops to around 400 it was time for an inquiry to be held. She still voted against it.

        I don’t understand your last paragraph but I will repeat that the July NPF was a massive spad/apparatchik manipulated even and Angela Eagle presided over the whole show.

        1. John P Reid says:

          Wasn’t the NPF relating to Hedi Alexander rather than Katy Clark hosting conference 2 years ago?

  5. Billericaydickie says:

    Jeremy Corbyn is calling for the right of private tenants to buy the property they live in. What does Michael Meacher think or will this be deleted like the one I posted about he being a landlord?

      1. Billericaydickie says:

        Why? He is a black market landlord.

        1. john says:

          i’m laughing because you’re right

  6. Barry Ewart says:

    Funny I want members to be their own champions and we should start by scrapping these policy forums and giving power back to Conference re policy.
    Plus power back to ClLPs to choose own shortlists and candidates and to run own parliamentary campaigns.
    Of course we may still need NEC checks and counter balances against potential opportunism in constituencies (by ambitious and usually non- democratic socialist individuals) but overall power to the grassroots!
    I’m not really enthused by any of the deputy candidates (but then again I am only enthused by Corbyn for Leader) but do wonder if we should have 2 – one female and one male like Labour does on Leeds Council?

    1. John P Reid says:

      Not sure about shortlist so, maybe region can suggest who can be various people,then the CLP picks, a few to go through, we are labour and should still have AWS or BME lists, and yes start having working class lists, none of this jack Dromey,or a Tony Benn pretending to be working class though.

    2. John P Reid says:

      Come to think. Angela ,points out about more LGBT, would she be backing Ben Bradshaw for her second choice, I am, but not for LGBT reasons, but because I think they’re the two best,

      http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/23/labour-deputy-leadership-race-angela-eagle-bme-lgbt-people

  7. Sandra Crawford says:

    At a Birmingham pre election rally that I attended, I heard Angela answer a question about the cuts. She was told, quite rightly, that cutting the deficit at the moment would increase personal debt, shri k the economy and increase unemployment.
    Her incompetent,Tory line was that deficits are not progressive, and that we need to cut the deficit and balance the books.
    All the evidence from economists who understand SECTORIAL BALANCES know that this would cause another crisis by creating unsustainable personal debt and business failures.
    Angela does not pass the grey scrutiny for looking after members or the peoples interests, nevermind the red.
    !

    1. John P Reid says:

      I’m personally backing her for my second choice after Ben Bradshaw,he’s the only one who understands the south, Wayson (who I like, will probably win in the 1st round anyway)

    2. Rod says:

      Sandra: “Her incompetent,Tory line was that deficits are not progressive, and that we need to cut the deficit and balance the books.”

      And now, like many in the PLP, she’ll be saying Labour lost because it was too left wing…

      1. john says:

        but will ,it wash with the electorate, if Corbyn wins, he’ll push it otherwise it’ll be like when Benn lost to Kinnock in 1988,if we get a new leader of Bunrham Cooper or Kendall,we could be on course for being back in power 2020

        1. Rod says:

          “[with] Burnham, Cooper or Kendall… we could beon course for being back in power 2020”

          How on earth do you arrive at that expectation?

          Labour are finished in Scotland and there is a real possibility that the tide of disillusionment will sweep south.

          I can’t see that Labour’s spin doctors will be able to mask the Tory, pro-market inclinations of the Blairite trio.

          And if Corbyn wins the PLP will fight, fight and fight again to defeat Corbyn – while ignoring the Tories.

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