Monday, 27 July 2009
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Below, you can read an email from our local NEC contact regarding the 'fall out' following the European and Local elections - some interesting points are raised.
First, thanks to councillors, MEPs, candidates, activists, members
and fellow-travellers for campaigning right through to 4 June in
the face of difficulties beyond your control and which you did not
I’ve received several requests for an extra NEC meeting to
analyse the results, and to ensure that all members are involved
in future policy-making and that the manifesto reflects Labour
This has not proved possible. In fact the original plan was to
postpone the May NEC meeting to June, but a date could not be
found which fitted with union conferences and other
commitments. So the NEC will meet next on Tuesday 21 July for
a full day, to allow extended discussion. This gives time to collect
feedback, and I would be interested in:
1) reasons for Labour losses, both local and European, and
reasons for any good results against the overall trend
2) what the party leadership can do to rebuild towards the
general election, organisationally and politically
3) how members’ views can be taken into account in policy-
making. The national policy forum “Warwick” agreement dates
back to last July, before the recession, and needs reviewing, but
time and resources do not allow another full-scale forum with
thousands of direct amendments. Are members and local parties
happy to work through their NPF representatives, and if not, what
is the alternative within the Partnership in Power framework?
4) what policies represent “Labour values”?
5) whether conference should return to resolutions or stay with
the experiment on “contemporary issues” introduced in 2007
6) anything else I should know.
Second, a number of questions have been asked about the
NEC’s special endorsements panel (the “star chamber”). One of
the problems is that the panel cannot decide who it wishes to
interview. It only investigates MPs referred to it by the chief whip
and the general secretary, and then has to decide whether they
have crossed lines drawn by the Green Book or by what members
and voters would expect. However the criteria for referral are not
clear, and this has led to perceptions of unequal treatment at the
initial stage, which I share.
The national audit office is examining all MPs' expenses for the
last four years, and we expect their report to provide objective
benchmarks, and perhaps lists of "flippers", extravagant
spenders, tax avoiders, and other types of misdemeanour. I
believe it would be preferable, except in extreme cases, for MPs
to come through this process, so that their situation is considered
alongside others where similar issues are involved.
The NEC will be reviewing the process, but conflicting views have
been expressed to me recently. Members want wrongdoers dealt
with through clear evidence-based decisions, which means
waiting for the audit report and further interviews. But they also
want a speedy conclusion so we can get back to policy, which
means either ignoring some transgressions or risking summary
injustice. Again, comments are welcome.
Depending on the number of replies I may not have time to
answer every point individually, but promise to read and take
them all into account for the next NEC.
NEC constituency representative
It was a great opportunity to meet other local activists, and reminded me how important our efforts are in helping to stop the BNP at a local and national level.
Following the main discussion we split into groups to discuss local activism, and I'm delighted to report that I came away feeling enthused and ready for the hard work ahead. I will now be organising activities in my local area,(North Worcestershire), and will do all I can to help out in Birmingham.
Some really great ideas came out of the discussion. I will be working hard, not only to involve the local political parties in my area, but also community groups, students, trade union members and members of the various faith based communities.
We will be organising social events, trying to recruit new helpers and organisers, and looking to mobilise support as and when needed.
This is just the start. We have a huge fight ahead of us; the BNP will be feeling confident after the European elections, and we must do all we can to put a stop to their growth. This is much bigger than party politics - we're talking about the very future of our great country. All that we love and hold dear is at threat if we don't get together and act now - those who still hold the view that the problem is not real need to wake up now before it's too late.
So, how to get involved? If you live in the Birmingham area look out for local events; many of these will probably be organised in some way by Claire Spencer, (@thedancingflea - if you're on Twitter). Claire is an excellent organiser, and I'm sure that things in Birmingham will really move forward due to her hard work. If you live in Worcestershire and want to get involved, please get in touch with me - either leave me a comment, or email me at email@example.com .
Things came to a head a few weeks ago when I almost cancelled my party membership - this has only happened once before, at the start of the Iraq war; and at that time I did in fact leave the party for a year.
Now, before anyone thinks that I might have fallen into bed with one of the other parties, let me assure you, this would never happen.
The core principles of Socialism run through me like the blood in my veins or the marrow in my bones - they are key to who I am as a person, and to how I live my life.
Like any long term relationship, there can be rough times. Times when you lose faith, times when you really wish you could just walk away.
Times when you feel powerless and ignored.
This has been my main problem. The feeling that the ‘powers that be’ disregard the views of those very people who allow them to be in office in the first place. The feeling that no matter what we say or do the heart and soul of the party will be ignored.
I honestly don’t know what to think anymore. Until very recently I would have told you that the prospect of removing Brown at this stage would be crazy. It would force us to call the general election early, which would in effect be suicide.
Now I’m not so sure.
Looking at 2010, what can we really hope for? Can win the general election? Well, in my heart I would still maintain yes; however, my head tells me something different; something I have no wish to even contemplate at this stage.
Yet, I’m still a member of Labour. In spite of all the disappointment, the broken promises, the lack of communication and weakness - I will not walk away this time. Now, more then ever we must unite as a party, as a movement for change and for good - which is what, in my heart I believe we are.
We must be strong, toughen up. Expose the Tories for what they are, opportunist and without policy. We must build on our success and put right our mistakes.
Effective leadership must come from the top; however, now is the time for us to take our party back. For all those hardworking activists to be listened to and appreciated for the hard work they carry out. Most importantly we must listen to the public; people are angry, worried about their jobs and the future for their families and friends. Our key objective must be to regain the trust of the general public, and that includes our core base of voters - the ones who now prefer to stay at home when elections take place.
We have so much to be proud of - the NHS and Minimum Wage to name but two. Now is the time to start fighting for our countries future. It would be a disaster for the UK if the Tories were to win in 2010; I for one don’t want Cameron to be our PM, and for that alone we must do all we can to ensure that doesn’t ever happen...