Christine Shawcroft Labour

NEC report back

Report of the NEC meeting held on 25th January 2011, at Portcullis House.

No to AV

There were thanks and congratulations all round over the victory in Oldham East and Saddleworth. I pointed out later that under AV we would have lost to the Liberals, but was reassured that, due to campaigning on Council elections in much of the country, campaigning for AV won’t be a priority. So thank goodness for that.

Another dodgy dossier

As part of the Disputes Sub committee minutes, we had the long awaited report into membership irregularities in Tower Hamlets. This was long on supposition and short on facts. The upshot seems to be that, out of a qualified membership of 1200, there may have been 16 people who voted when they shouldn’t have done. This would not have been enough to swing the result, even if anyone knew who they had voted for. I pointed out that longstanding members have been expelled in the borough for supporting a Labour candidate, and that if there were problems with the membership surely that was down to regional office who controlled the membership. Also, for months prospective Mayoral candidates were canvassing the membership, if there were so many inaccuracies in the list why didn’t any of them say anything at the time?

Ken Livingstone was very helpful, pointing out that when he stood as an independent not a single member who supported him was expelled, not even his agent. The day after his election, Tony Blair gave permission to Labour Assembly members to work with him. We now have to bring the Party back together.

The General Secretary told me off for raising the issue and said I would prejudice the report coming to the NEC. He told me to raise issues through the NEC officers. I have done, asking a great many questions about the matter including: who gave the report of the Labour Group meeting which was completely untrue; and who gave authorisation to collect nomination papers for Abbas when the NEC hadn’t even met? I have been told to wait for the investigation. If it’s anything like the report into membership, it won’t be worth the paper it’s written on.

Leader’s report

Ed Miliband thanked everyone for their help in Oldham and Saddleworth. He thanked Alan Johnson for all his work, and said the circumstances of his resignation were very sad. He said the Tories can’t get away with blaming Labour for the economy. They are engaged in a very big, risky experiment, and when the financial figures are bad they try and blame the weather! The Coalition is not new politics. Both Cameron and Clegg are breaking promises, and we want as many Lib Dems as possible to come over to us.

During discussion, it was pointed out that the NHS cuts are very worrying and that attacks on local government pensions are unfair and unjust. We should be making the point that the pension scheme is in the black by a huge amount.

Threat of boundary review

Greg Cooke gave a verbal report of the plan to cut the number of constituencies, leading to redrawing of boundaries for every seat. This will obviously have an impact on selections, and there may be seats with two Labour MPs up against each other. There will be a big cut in seats in Wales. A Party working group is putting forward amendments, and we may also have to fight local public inquiries. The number of seats cut has been carefully chosen to hit Labour seats – a larger number would hit the Tories as well. We need to be working hard on voter registration.

Partnership into Power Review

Peter Hain reported on the November NPF and said he had circulated notes from the workshops which NPF members can discuss online. He reported on the review so far, and asked everyone to encourage members to send in submissions. He said that in the review, nothing had been ruled in and nothing had been ruled out, but that he would prefer to see shorter reports with recommendations at Conference, with votes if there was a problem. NEC members raised questions of cynicism about the process amongst Party members, the need to simplify the process, the problem of set questions on the website that are not necessarily the right ones with no space for what you want to add, and the lack of a role for NPF members who didn’t get elected onto Policy Commissions. Hain said he would take all these points on board. The policy officer said they wanted to involve NPF members who weren’t elected onto Policy Commissions.

Presentation to outgoing member

The meeting concluded with a presentation to Stephanie Peacock, the outgoing Youth rep on the NEC who was thanked for all her hard work.