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Christine Shawcroft reports back on Labour’s September executive

NEC Report CSReport of the national executive committee (NEC) meeting held on 17 September 2013

The NEC before Conference is usually dominated by conference arrangements, arguing about constitutional amendments, and so on, but this meeting was overshadowed by the Collins review of party “reform”. Not that anyone’s seen it yet. What I find hard to take is the sheer disingenuousness of those who support the proposed changes. During the debate, speaker after speaker waxed lyrical about the need to have a mass membership party, and how important it is to get working class people into the Party and selected as representatives. I don’t know anyone who would disagree with these aims, but how is getting rid of the vast majority of our affiliated members going to achieve it? I said that if we wanted to increase membership we should reduce the membership fees. Years ago, Tony Blair was allowed to run a trial of cut price membership in Sedgefield, and (surprise, surprise) the CLP’s membership shot up. I said that for the last three years, we have been congratulated on being united and not tearing ourselves apart with internal wrangling as supposedly happened in previous periods of opposition. Yet now we do have an internal row, and who started it? Finally, I pointed out that on the doorstep, people say that all the political parties are the same. We need clear red water between us and the Tories, we need to oppose austerity, particularly the bedroom tax, and we need to stop going on about how a Labour Government will have to make cuts, which is losing us voters and members. In the end, the proposals to hold a special spring conference in March was passed overwhelmingly, with only myself, Ann Black, Dennis Skinner, Andy Kerr (of the communication workers union), Jim Kennedy (of the construction workers) and Mary Turner (of the GMB) voting against. We did have a report from conference arrangements committee chair Harry Donaldson.  Yet again, vast numbers of contemporary motions have been ruled out of order, including all the housing ones, and there are only seven topics in the priorities ballot at Conference — so much for the 4 + 4 supposed to be chose by constituency parties and affiliates respectively! The NEC did discuss constitutional amendments, and felt that there is a good case for looking again at the length of party suspensions pending investigation/charges (arising from a proposed rule change from Northampton CLP to limit them to one year’s duration), so there will be discussions. This had also come up earlier, and I pointed out that if they had agreed with the proposal for a Party Ombudsman when it came to Conference, a lot of these problems would have been sorted out (not to mention the Falkirk debacle). I also asked if card votes were going to be allowed at Conference, at which several officers carefully examined their fingernails before mumbling that it depends on the strength of feeling on each issue. So if you want a card vote this year, make sure you call for it really, really strongly!


  1. Rob the cripple says:

    Interesting but you make the same mistake, I left labour because Labour no longer speaks for me.

    I’m waiting for one of the parties it may well be labour that talks about large work camps for the disabled, you go in one door happy and your then turned into fertilizer at the other end, sell the fertilizer to cover the cost of the gas.

    No answer on the bed room so called tax.

    No answer on disability or welfare except hammering down on it.

    Oh yes and the unemployed, lazy workshy.

    No answer really on free schools.

    What does affordable housing mean and why is it labour cannot talk about council houses.

    The fact is I’m not hard working or squeezed or middle class so labour’s not really talking for me or to me.

    The labour membership fee is not the problem it’s that red water and it looks like the labour red water will be the people ATOS kills.

    Labour does not stand for the working class, it despises the working class especially if it’s not hard working or not middle class.

    The GMB was talking about what it would do to get working class people into position to help the people, so what did they do they went looking at interns to train up for these positions, if you go to university and then do not work,, how does that make you working class, well it seems if your parents or grand parents or great grandparent worked in coal mines your ok, people like lets see ah yes Miliband an intern speech writer and leader of the labour party..

    Working class to me is somebody who has worked in a job which are working class.

    Today it’s not working class, it’s hard working.

    Labour mantra is if your hard working and middle class labour’s the party for you.

    Labour party site…

    “During these local elections, Labour are showing how we can tackle rip-off prices like gas and electricity bills, showing how we can create real jobs for our young people and how we can change our economy so it works for all working people – not just a few millionaires”.

    But then look back at what Labour did in those three terms in power, for gas and electricity not for getting water, nothing.

    And how we can change our economy so it works for all working people – not just a few millionaires.

    A few Millionaires how many are well off millionaire within Labour, just in homes owned by the leader would make him a Millionaire and he has not done to much to make it has he.

    work class is now hard working.

    That why the people are saying your all the same you are.

  2. Matty says:

    “Yet again, vast numbers of contemporary motions have been ruled out of order”
    Even more reason to vote for the excellent Katy Clark MP and Pete Willsman for the Conference Arrangements Committee.

  3. John p Reid says:

    The biggest myth the union bosses, ever tried to get us too swallow in 1979′ was that Thatchers union reforms were bd for their members, she got the union vote in 79 and kept it, where leaders only Interested in themselves tried to undermine the reforms, to the point they actually thought they were speaking for Nion members, by peddling myths that they new best, to the point they left in droves,

  4. Jon Williams says:

    “All political parties are the same” and “we need clear red water between us and the Tories”

    I suspect this means moving away from the centre ground of opinion where the majority of elections are won – hoping this isn’t what is implied and perhaps that’s why political parties at the moment all seem to be the same i.e. they’re all occupying the centre ground…

  5. Mike says:

    On Jon Williams’ point, it’s a myth that elections are necessarily won in the centre ground. In 2010, Labour held up among centrist voters but couldn’t mobilise core class D and E voters who felt betrayed by 13 years of policies that did too little to improve their lot – so yes, clear red water is precisely what’s needed.

  6. Marion Lock says:

    How democratic is our Party if numbers of ‘contemporary motions’ are being left out of the debate? These are just the topics which are engaging grassroots members of the party, and the general public in general. Half a million people having to go to food banks in Britain where we have one of the biggest and wealthiest financial sectors in the world? 50,000 people falling behind with their rent because of the bedroom tax, which they can’t avoid because there are not enough smaller houses and flats for them to move into? A proposal to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on replacing nuclear submarines whose only purpose is to ‘nuke’ thousands of civilians, and invite similar retaliation on British civilians? Why can’t we spend this money on, say, developing our industries, building a million houses, building more schools, relieving the NHS of strangulation cuts? As Ed Balls said – a long time ago – Cuts are damaging our economy and causing our people to despair. These are the issues ordinary people are concerned about, not that the TU’s – who helped form the Labour Party in the first place to allow working people to have a voice in the governance of the country – do their best to support said Party. Who supports the Conservatives – how are their finances obtained?
    Through dinner parties at No.10? Trade Unionists have the right to opt out of the levy – what could be more democratic? More power to your elbow, Ann

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