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Peter Willsman reports from Labour’s July executive

National Executive Committee 18 July 2017

There was a very positive and constructive attitude all around the table. Everyone was fully aware that Labour had had a bigger increase in our vote share since 1945. Also everyone was fully aware that Jeremy was the key to our success. As of course were all of our members and staff. The doom-mongers and naysayers had been swept from the field. What also made the meeting very special was the presence of our two dynamic election coordinators, Ian Lavery MP and Andrew Gwynne MP. The phrase ‘dynamic duo’ was coined with these two in mind. Ian gives powerful and uplifting speeches of which Henry V would have been proud (albeit Henry was not of the cream of working class stock, like our Ian). In Oxford, we would call Andrew a bit of an egg-head, given the assiduous analytical rigour with which he approaches every problem. In the meeting, both Ian and Andrew gave us an insight into the effectiveness of our campaign and paid tribute to the quality of the staff throughout the country. Jeremy of course shared all these views, and he is already focusing on the next stage. This is a message for all of us. In Oxford on the 9th June, we all received an email setting out the four canvassing sessions for the following week.

Leader’s Report

Jeremy paid tribute to everyone in the party who contributed to our humiliation of the establishment. Several senior officers had prepared very detailed reports of the General Election and Jeremy didn’t want to steal their thunder. The basic point Jeremy wanted to make was that our party had totally changed the terms of the debate. Our manifesto and campaign had destroyed the case for neo-liberalism and austerity that dates from the dark days of Thatcher. It had exposed the depths of the inequality and injustice under a Tory-led government. It had also revealed the enthusiasm for democratic socialist policies, especially amongst the youth and BAME communities. Jeremy emphasised that it was the political establishment that had given up on the youth, rather than the other way around – as is portrayed in the hostile press.

Jeremy focussed on the response of our party and himself to the atrocities in Manchester, London Bridge, and Finsbury Park. The party suspended campaigning and Jeremy had spent time at each of these sites, sharing the grief of the local people. Jeremy said that it is important to record that at all three places members from all diverse communities were there. For example, in Finsbury Park the local mosque invited all communities to a gathering at the mosque. It was uplifting to be able to report that all communities responded.

Jeremy then turned to the terrible tragedy of Grenfell tower, what David Lammy describes as “corporate manslaughter”. Jeremy’s report of this tragic incident was complemented by Nick Forbes, on behalf of Labour councils. Nick highlighted the extent to which the response of a Labour council would be in total contrast to the disgrace of the Tories in Kensington and Chelsea. Jeremy is pressing for the broadening of the inquiry team looking into the tragedy. He wants a more diverse panel, involving local people including firefighters. Perhaps, similar to the panel-type arrangements used in the 1999 MacPherson Inquiry. Jeremy added that he is pressing for a two-stage inquiry, with an urgent section on how and why the horror spread so quickly. And a second inquiry focussing on the wider issues surrounding the tragedy, particularly the neglect of social housing.

Finally, Jeremy took the NEC through the party’s negotiation position in relation to the Brexit imbroglio. Jeremy especially emphasised the defence of workers’ rights, environmental protections, and consumer rights.

Deputy Leader’s Report

Tommy was not able to attend the meeting, so we were deprived of his words of wisdom.

General Election Campaign Report and Analysis 

Ian and Andrew gave us many insights into the ebbs and flows of the campaign. Of course, in the final two weeks the flows were almost all in our direction. Andrew emphasised that we now need to use Parliament in an effective and sophisticated way, to keep the Tories constantly under pressure. He added that we need selections in the key marginal as early as possible and that we must all get out on the doorstep. Jeremy is visiting all of the Tory marginals, to motivate our supporters and to keep the Tories under pressure. Jeremy, Andrew, and Ian emphasised that we must expose the toxicity of the Tories.

Ian and Andrew’s presentation was complemented by Iain McNicol, General Secretary, who outlined the very comradely and effective way in which the leaders’ office interrelated with the rest of the staff. Then we were treated to a detailed analysis by several of our very able senior officers. These presentations highlighted the extent of the grassroots campaigning, with 3 million VID contacts and £5 million raised in small donations. We also made considerable use of social media, with 7.8 million views on Snapchat in the week before polling day.

It was emphasised that two-party politics, as experienced between 1945 and the late 70s, has returned. A complete list of all the results was presented. Bristol West holds pride of place, with the largest swing to Labour. There are clearly issues to address in the East Midlands – at the very bottom of the list, with an almost 9% swing to the Tories, was Ashfield.

Many NEC members contributed their observations and recommendations arising out of their personal experience of the campaign. I supported others in arguing that the SNP have passed their peak. I pointed out that canny Scots are not called canny for nothing. When they had the oil money, they may have toyed with the idea of independence. Now that has gone, but they are still benefiting from the Barnett Formula. There is no way that they would want the English to have the last laugh.

Of course, I could not resist pointing out that from an early stage I had argued that if we get Corbyn-mania, anything could happen. Indeed, I told JC a week before the election day, that we were heading for a landslide in Oxford (which of course we got).

Local and Mayoral Elections 2017

A detailed breakdown of these elections were provided to the NEC. These showed we faced a challenging situation, with us receiving 27% of the vote share nationally. The NEC congratulated the former NEC member, Steve Rotherham, for his overwhelming victory in Liverpool, and similar congratulations were extended to Andy Burnham. Our amazing result in the West of England was also highlighted. The final totals were Tories: 51.6%, Labour: 48.4%. So much for the nonsense that is talked that the West of England is Liberal and not Labour.

Local Government Report

Nick and Alice gave a detailed report. As I have said, Nick covered the Grenfell tragedy in detail. Nick also highlighted the successful Local Government Association conference. Also the results of the ALC Executive elections were noted. It was highlighted and agreed that as well as equal gender representation, more attention must be paid to BAME representation.

EPLP Leader’s Report

Glenis reported that the EPLP had welcomed two new members to their team, Wajid Khan and John Howarth, who replaced MEPs who had now become MPs. Glenis spent considerable time outlining the implications of the Brexit negotiations. For example, the EU-Japan trade deal shows how the UK must secure the fullest possible access post-Brexit. Nor must Britain turn its back on EU anti-tax avoidance measures after Brexit. Glenis highlighted that the latest Tory offer to EU nationals is both too late and too vague. Finally, Glenis confirmed that she will be standing down as leader of the EPLP and as an MEP in October. This information disappointed many of us because Glenis has played an outstanding role in Brussels and elsewhere. The NEC gave Glenis their appreciation and it was emphasised that Glenis will be very hard to replace.

International Report

Our senior international officer gave a report of the work our party is undertaking. Jeremy highlighted the action we are taking in Parliament in relation to human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and in Yemen. It was agreed that we should develop our links with our sister party, the Yemeni Socialist Party. Jeremy also reported that the issue of human rights in Turkey is also being pursued in Parliament. Trade union reps raised the effects of the embargo against Qatar – particularly that the non-Qatari workers in Qatar are increasingly vulnerable.

Ann Black (NEC link person to Labour International) gave a short report of the work of our Labour International Branch. It has had a significant increase in membership.

General Secretary’s Report

  • Iain and our senior policy officer detailed the work that had been undertaken in the lead up to the Clause V meeting. Every effort had been made to involve all of our NPF members. I added that the Clause V meeting was especially noteworthy. A large number of amendments had been made, which had considerably increased the attraction of manifesto.
  • A report was given of the steps being taken to restart the policy discussion process throughout the party, involving consultation documents from the various Policy Commissions. Ann Black and I pressed for a full NPF to be booked for a weekend in the early Autumn. This was agreed.
  • Jeremy emphasised that we need to enhance the representation and consultation culture throughout our party.
  • Iain presented detailed papers covering Westminster selections, events at Annual Conference, and the party’s finance strategy (including the 2016 audited accounts and a report from the Business Board). Many NEC members made proposals for improving the Westminster selections process and most of these were taken on board. An updated paper will be brought to the September meeting. As stressed by Andrew earlier, every effort will be made to get the Parliamentary selections under way in the Tory marginal.
  • Constitutional Amendments from CLPs and Affiliates (including those at the 2017 Annual Conference and those for the 2018 Annual Conference).

The NEC considered a detailed 23-page paper. I am pleased to be able to report that the number of rule changes submitted before the 7th July deadline was from some 80-odd CLPs. This is the most rule changes from CLPs for 35 years. Attention was given to those rule changes that will be on the agenda in Brighton. The NEC was asked to make recommendations for each of these rule changes. A very valid point was made by one of the trade union reps, namely that it is perhaps not such a good idea to make piecemeal changes to the Rule Book, rather the NEC should have its own review of rule change proposals. This idea was discussed in detail and it was suggested that perhaps a review of the whole Collins proposals should be undertaken. It was agreed that a detailed remit for such a review would be brought to the NEC meeting. The whole paper was then referred to the September meeting.

  • National Youth Policy Conference 14th/15th October.

A paper was presented which outlined that the delegates to this youth policy conference must be under the age 27 at the beginning of the conference, with the sole exception of serving members of the Young Labour National Committee. All delegations must be gender balanced. There are 303 delegate seats to allocate. There were various proposals for how the seats allocated to the young members’ section should be chosen. For example, ballot of all young members within regions and nations, or alternatively first-come-first-served. It was felt that this issue needed further consideration and also further discussion within the Young Labour National Committee. In view of the shortness of time it was agreed that the NEC officers would make the necessary decisions.

  • Other matters:

I raised the issue of the OMOV ballot for the two places on the CAC, which is currently underway. I pointed out that the OMOV ballot book does not show how many nominations each candidate has received from CLPs. This is contrary to the practice of all previous OMOV elections. Iain undertook to urgently sort this issue.

Postscript

The CLPD website has lots of useful information for CLPs, especially the Guide for New Members.

Post-Postscript

From the following letter in The Guardian, there does seem to have been one rule for Lucy, and no law for Tony.

“In 2005, after having been an active member of the Labour Party for 25 years – 12 years as a Labour councillor in Haringey – I was expelled. My crime? – I had a letter published in The Guardian, just before the 2005 General Election, urging Labour members to vote tactically. I urged supporters to visit a Labour-supporting website… I did not – as Tony Blair has just done – urge members to vote Lib Dem or Tory.” Lucy Craig, The Guardian 26th April 2017.

 

31 Comments

  1. Re Labour International: 2 years ago we had 600 members, now we have 3 500. We are treated as the equivalent of a CLP and will be sending a contingent of 12 delegates and our exec to Labour Party Conference.

    Maybe see you there
    Colin O Driscoll Co-Chair Labour International

  2. C MacMackin says:

    Thanks for the report Peter. A few points and questions:

    1) I’m glad to hear that the party is planning selections for marginal constituencies. It was a disgrace that all candidates were imposed by the NEC last time. However, why only marginal constituencies? Surely all non-Labour constituencies should have a selection process as soon as possible.

    2) You say that Jeremy “emphasised the defence of workers’ rights, environmental protections, and consumer rights” in our Brexit negotiating position. Is this for negotiating with/pressuring the Tories or for if Labour is in government and negotiating with the EU? All of those things can be accomplished through British law—we don’t need the EU’s permission for any of it. So what is it Labour actually wants to get from the EU?

    3) A bit pedantic, but it was only in Oxford East that we won by a landslide. In Oxford West Labour was firmly in third place. I think actual support was probably much higher than the election would suggest, though, as there was quite a lot of strategic voting to oust the Tory.

    4) On the local election result, it must be said that people were not given the chance to vote for anything like the manifesto from the general election. Developing policies for local government continues to be a challenge for Labour, given how castrated it is. This is something members will need to address, be it through council rebellions (not that we have the popular support for that yet), creative approaches to local economic development, or something else.

    5) Will the membership ever get to see this “23 page paper” fromthe general secretary?

    6) You say that the NEC will be proposing a comprehensive package of rule reforms. Will this be in place of those submitted by CLPs? Given that there is a right wing majority on the NEC, I’m concerned conference won’t get a chance to vote on some of the changes proposed by the left. The bundling of rule changes also makes it more difficult to reject bad ones (e.g. more seats for councillors on the NEC).

    7) I’m glad to hear that the policy discussion process will be restarted. However, will the basis of discussion be the pre-election policy papers or the manifesto? The latter bears little resemblence to the former. While the manifesto was better than I expected based on the NPF papers, we shouldn’t fool ourselves that it is sufficient. It remained vague in many areas including economic policy, environmental/energy policy, the challenges of elder care, etc. We need to ensure that policy discussions address these and there seems to be little chance of that if we are just going off of the NPF reports.

    1. peter willsman says:

      C,
      1 under discussion
      2 consult Kier Starmer
      5 yes
      6 no
      7 as 1
      P.

      1. C MacMackin says:

        Thanks for the information.

  3. Tommy was not able to attend the meeting, so we were deprived of his words of wisdom.

    Shame!

    Was McNichol asked about the investigation into the leaked manifesto?

    Surely this was nothing to do with Tommy being missing, was it?

  4. Verity says:

    This reports are definitely worth having. However I would like to see more comment on what the Left would liked to have achieved but failed to do so in order that ordinary members van get a better grasp on the sense of direction and far we are from achieving it. The absence of assessment tends to lead to a self congratulation tone whatever the meeting, whatever the issues/non issues without ever educating potential supporters about the political battles that do go on. The other problem it that it never gives sufficient insight for potential supporter to take up argument with others about how important the work of the Left on this and others committees is. An other possibility I have to accept is that it is just London informed (long term) members cluster who think that everyone knows the significance of outcome.

    1. peter willsman says:

      V,join CLPD and all will be revealed.P.

  5. Giles Wynne says:

    Too many unexplained abbreviations, too little decisions and far too few “for action” by committee

  6. Paul Dias says:

    From the article:

    “For example, the EU-Japan trade deal shows how the UK must secure the fullest possible access post-Brexit.”

    What the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement means is that it will make increasingly more sense for Japanese carmakers to export cars directly from Japan to the EU (tariffs will be eliminated within 10 years) than to manufacture them in the UK (which will be outside the Customs Union) for exporting to the EU market.

    It would be interesting to hear armchair “socialists” of the nazional variety explain to workers in Swindon and Sunderland how this is actually a great thing for their jobs and their their communities.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Paul Dias:

      What do you mean by:

      “…armchair ‘socialists’ of the nazional variety…”

      Are you talking about British nazis?

      If so, why would you want to engage nazis in debate?

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        ..and while Paul Dias is working out exactly what he ears by his odd comment, perhaps pro-EU neoliberals could remind us all how many people were employed in auto manufacturing in the UK before we joined the EU and how many people are employed in the same sector today?

        Has this number increased or decreased during the period of our EU membership?

        1. JohnP says:

          Karl, from his previous crass comments , Paul Dias appears to believe that radical socialists who support leaving the EU and Single Market because it is a neoliberal capitalist enforcement vehicle that , via its core “Four Freedoms” supports the privatisation agenda ,and the wage lowering, trades union weakening, and destruction of the Welfare State, agendas of the last 30 years , and would block the implementation of a Left-oriented economic programme, are in some bizarre way, actually “Nazis”.

          Whilst he himself , as an uncritical EU enthusiast, apparently fails to see himself as merely a sad dupe of the neoliberal agendas of the EU component of globalised capitalism.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            But no response from him…

            Anyway, I think Corbyn’s playing this one right. Patiently putting the consistent position that of course leaving the EU means leaving the Single Market, and the logic of this is gradually.working it’s way through the Labour Party.

            We all need to keep consistently putting this forward and, eventually, Labour will solidify around this sensible and common sense policy.

  7. Peter Rowlands says:

    Karl.JC’s view is not Labour’s, and if pushed will inevitably split the party. A recent survey showed that two thirds of memberswant to stay in the single market, and a further fifth would incline that way. Only 4.2% want to leave.
    Labour cannot win an electionon a hard brexit basis. The ambiguity in Labour’s position has been electorally beneficial, but that can no longer last, and Labour’s position must be clarified.
    We either stick with the official position, giving us a good chance of winning the next election, or we go down the road being advocated by JC, splitting the party and delivering a large chunk of the Remain vote to Vince ‘Macron’ Cable and the Lib-Dems. Those are now the choices.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Oh come on Peter, these “surveys” are just the views of a small (and dwindling) group of Blairites.

      They get a disproportionate amount of publicity for their whining because they have a lot of friends in the liberal mainstream media.

      They can always get a John Rentoul type to promote their narrow agenda.

      The Corbyn position has the advantage of being intellectually sustainable and logically robust and therefore, it will prevail.

      The Blairite position is already held by a lot fewer people than it was just a few months ago. And its essential illogicality will send it’s support continue its inexorable decline.

      Ummuma’s Blairism is an idealistic nostalgia for a world that has gone my friend.

    2. C MacMackin says:

      I’m somewhat confused by your response, Peter. Corbyn has said that he wants “tarriff-free trade access” to the single market. You’ve previously indicated that, if this proves possible, you’d would accept it and that you think the rest of the party would too.

      1. JohnP says:

        Yes indeed, C Mack, Peter Rowlands has for some time now been simply ignoring the facts, and bogusly claiming that “Labour’s official position” is identical to his own, ie, to stay in the Single Market at all costs. Whereas Labour’s Manifesto position AND Jeremy and John’s are the SAME, but utterly different to Peter’s claim, ie, to recognise we are leaving the EU AND its neoliberal Single Market structure , BUT seek the best possible tariff free access to this huge market.

        I think what Peter really means in his heart of hearts is that if Labour continue with its actual quite clear position HE will have to decamp to the EU fanatics of the “Macronist” Lib Dems under the ghastly old neoliberal, Vince Cable.

        As Karl correctly says, the “evidence” of supposed mass Labour member attachment to staying in the Single Market is just yet another utterly laughable example of Blairite sourced dodgy “weaponised” polling.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          Perhaps worth pointing out that the “recent survey” being referred to was commissioned by the rather grandly named “Economic and Social Research Council” which reports to the Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy Department of the Tory Government as part of its “Party Members Project”.

          Clearly.part of the Tory/Blairite agenda to try to undermine the current party leadership, along with the recent invented non-story about the non-policy Labour never had to pay back every student who ever paid tuition fees in the past.

          Utter nonsense, and to be treated with the Utter contempt it deserves.

          We’ll see what the Labour Party decides at its properly convened Annual Conference.

          That’s where party policy is decided, not by some shady Blairite “research council” and not in the pages of the Daily Mail.

        2. Peter Rowlands says:

          JohnP knows that there is an increasing rift between Labour’s position , of ‘ fresh negotiating priorities which have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the single market and the customs union, which are essential’, and that of JC and JM. This needs resolving, but as you say Karl let’s see what conference has to say about the issue.
          JohnP knows perfectly well that I am a supporter of a radically reformed EU, along with Varoufakis and most of the organised left in the EU, andsee this as the only viable way forward, as opposed to the hard left brexit you would undoubtedly advocate if a free trade deal was not on offer, and which would be doomed to failure.
          On the survey I mention, while there is much in our society that is corrupt, at the level of polling things are probably fairly straight – or is that only when what they show coincides with your own beliefs, John and Karl.So the polls up to April were the product of corrupt fixers who showed Labour way behind, but in May some honest people managed to take over and give some accurate results.Perhaps these people could look at the survey I cite and expose it as bogus, because it couldn’t possibly be right, could it?

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            Peter,
            You’re not comparing like with like.
            The general election opinion polls, where they were wrong it was due to their adjustment turnout method, which disproportionately reduced the choices of younger voters on the assumption (based, not unreasonably, on past elections).

            The polling companies who didn’t use that same adjustment method – notably Survation, for example – projected the final result more accurately.

            Right, so that’s a smart of my view on the general elections opinion polls.

            Now, the survey you refer to is not an “opinion poll” as such, it is a survey carried out by a research company linked to the Tory Party and staffed with Blairites.

            They do not explain their methods, their sampling size, or their sampling selection, or when and where the “field work” took place.

            We have no way of knowing who the Department for Business, Innovation, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy decided to speak to and why.

            We also have no way of knowing why they chose this week to release their “results” – which just “happened” to be the same week that the establishment media is trying a new line of attack on Corby over their own invented policy that Labour never had.

            It’s all extremely dodgy to me – and I’m frankly surprised that anyone on the left gives this “survey” any credibility at all.

            Labour makes policy at conference – that’s where we can accurately judge Labour Party opinion.

            The Labour leaderships position is robustly logical and intellectually sustainable – and therefore, it will prevail.

            The position of the Blairites makes no sense, and therefore, whatever very short-term division they may cause with their self-indulgent tantrum, their position is utterly unsustainable.

      2. Peter Rowlands says:

        Yes, there is such a possibility, as we have discussed, and of course it would be acceptable, although I still think it unlikely, but if agreed would entail much of the operation of the single market, although technically we would be outside it.

        1. C MacMackin says:

          Well, it is Corbyn’s position to pursue such an agreement, so you can’t say he is at odds with the party. He has not said what he would do if such an agreement is impossible, so we don’t know whether that would put him at odds with the party.

          As I have pointed out in the past, you are exaggerating the support of the European Left for the EU. I agree that a majority support it, but there is a substantial minority which opposes it. This includes those around Melanchon (France—they say they will leave if they can not successfully reform the EU), Populary Unity (Greece), Antarsya (Greece), the KKE (Greece—they are horrible Stalinists but they are still a very organised part of the Left), IDS (Slovenia), Red-Green Alliance (Denmark), Socialist Left Party (Norway), Left Party (Sweden), Socialist Party (Ireland), People Before Profit Alliance (Ireland), a wing of the Left Alliance (Finland), Left Bloc (Portugal), Portuguese Communist Party, Italian Left, Communist Party of Portugal (as a long-term goal), and Left-Green Movement (Iceland—I think, but Google wouldn’t translate the website). Don’t erase these voices.

          1. Peter Rowlands says:

            I think that in ruling out an EEA arrangement he probably is, although Gardiner has taken a harder position.
            On EU left parties you have omitted from your list the Dutch Socialists, one of the larger parties, which makes your case stronger, but you do concede, and this is all I was saying, that the majority of left parties in the EU are not exiteers.

  8. Bill says:

    It has still not been accepted that we have a very different Labour Party. We have a mass membership part and the benefit of modern methods of democracy and communication. The existing party structures are completely outdated.

    The NEC should be elected by the entire membership. Apart from the Leader & Deputy Leader there should be no special or reserved places. Most members are prepared to vote for Trades Union candidates. Scottish & Welsh members likewise.

    Party Conference. Should discuss and debate any propositions submitted by CLPs and the only duty of the Conference arrangements committee and NEC should be to facilitate this.

    If necessary more decision making conferences should be held.

    Anything that 20% of delegates want decided or the Conference arrangements Committee think there is not time to discuss should be sent to members to vote on.

    At the moment it seems that members wishes are inconvenient or unimportant. The old structures prevail and the NEC knows best.

  9. David Pavett says:

    Thanks to Peter for the report. It is good that we get these after every NEC meeting. I wonder why Left Futures has stopped publishing Ann Black’s reports as well. Her reports are also worth reading.

    Like Chris MacMackin I have some questions prompted by Peter’s report.

    (1) “The doom-mongers and naysayers had been swept from the field.”

    Whatever the atmosphere on national committees, things look different to me at a local level. My Labour MP is keen to limit the credit to be given to Corbyn as is the MP in one of the neighbouring constituencies. We should not underestimate the opposition to a left turn for Labour. It is still deeply entrenched at local, regional and national level. Is the claim of naysayers being swept from the field not premature triumphalism?

    (2) “The basic point Jeremy wanted to make was that our party had totally changed the terms of the debate.”

    If only. Does that mean that we can now assume that all the assumptions generated by capitalist society have evaporated?

    (3) “Our manifesto and campaign had destroyed the case for neo-liberalism …”.

    If only. Does it mean that the case that the argument for ‘driving up standards’ by diversity of provision and consumer choice is now a thing of the past? I somehow doubt that.

    (4) “It had also revealed the enthusiasm for democratic socialist policies”.

    That works only if you consider the Manifesto to have been a socialist programme. Was it? Or does socialism mean no more than a nicer form of capitalism?

    (5) “Finally, Jeremy took the NEC through the party’s negotiation position in relation to the Brexit imbroglio. Jeremy especially emphasised the defence of workers’ rights, environmental protections, and consumer rights.”

    Yes, we are all in favour of environmental protection and workers’ rights but where is the analysis that shows that Britain’s best way of protecting these is by staying outside the single market (Corbyn’s position) and arranging free-trade deals with Japan the US etc? Such an analysis might be valid but we can’t say until we see it.

    (6) “Andrew emphasised that we now need to use Parliament in an effective and sophisticated way, to keep the Tories constantly under pressure.”

    How exactly do we do that when it remains that the great majority of Labour MPs are out of sympathy with the members’ choice of leader? What we currently have is an uneasy peace in the PLP.

    (7) “It was emphasised that two-party politics, as experienced between 1945 and the late 70s, has returned.”

    A rather premature conclusion given the new volatility of UK politics. Also it doesn’t look like that in Scotland which is, remember, part of the UK. Isn’t saying that the Scots are “canny” and that their desire for independence will be over-ridden by their desire for Barnet money not a little insulting?

    (8) “Ann Black and I pressed for a full NPF to be booked for a weekend in the early Autumn. This was agreed.”

    It is not a “full NPF” meeting that is needed but a fundamental restructuring of the way it conducts its business. At present it worse than useless being a thinly veiled way of pretending that policy is decided democratically. Do we not need something other than more of the same?

    (9) “Jeremy emphasised that we need to enhance the representation and consultation culture throughout our party.”

    Good, but does he understand that meaningful consultation means providing members with quality information and a presentation of the differing viewpoints? This basic requirements is something that Labour has, to date, found impossible to grasp. Can we take it that this is about to change?

    Like Chris M I would like to ask why the members do not have access to the non-confidential papers presented to the NEC. I have asked this loads of times and have never yet had an answer. Would it not be reasonable to take the ability to give a reasonable answer to this question as a measure of the sincerity of talk of enhancing the representational and consultation culture throughout the party?

    1. P Willsman says:

      D, it is custom and practice over nearly 100 years and hard to change. I am focusing on things that I can change.Best P.

      1. David Pavett says:

        Peter, I asked a number of questions and I don’t think that “it is custom and practice over nearly 100 years” can possibly be an answer to them all.

        Besides “custom and practice” was always the labour movement’s expression of conservatism and opposition to radical thinking.

        I would be interested to know for example, if anyone has actually proposed that the NEC makes its agendas and non-confidential materials available to the members. If not, why not and if so what were the arguments against. “Custom and practice” would sound pretty stupid as a response and I can hardly imagine it being used.

        Without that the higher committees of the party are able to shroud themselves in secrecy (to which your reports and those of Ann Black are a partial light in the darkness). The same goes for the deliberations of the Policy Commissions. If we want to democratise the party then is this not an issue of front rank importance? Why would you assume that this is something that cannot be changed?

        1. Bill says:

          You are completely right about this. I see the various institutions of the party as outdated and impediment to any progress by the large membership we now have.

        2. peter willsman says:

          DP,it has been raised on and off for years and for a short time in 80s the NEC’s mins.were sent to CLP Secs and other office holders on request.I am not saying it can’t ever be changed.I am saying CLPD has much more pressing issues to address,as laid down at CLPD’s AGM.In 44 years I can’t remember a res.at our AGM prioritising this issue.You are now a CLPD member,bring such a res.to the next AGM.If our AGM consider it a priority then it will be treated as such.Best,P.

          1. David Pavett says:

            Thanks Peter, I think this issue is symptomatic of Labour’s cliqey and undemocratic culture and that it is therefore not a secondary matter. It concerns not only the NEC but a whole range of committee at various levels. It is also connected with the ‘political omerta’ that operates throughout the party which means that official and elected representatives feel they have the right to ignore correspondence.

            Yes, I will work up something for the CLPD on this which I will run past you in draft form.

          2. Bill says:

            Sorry but I cannot see what a huge hurdle to members (any fully paid up members) seeing what any institutions of the party are discussing. OF COURSE there are things that are confidential and these could be omitted BUT the reason given in the minutes and notes.
            The fact that Peter sees it as such a hurdle to obtain this makes David’s case perfectly I think.

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