Christine Shawcroft Labour

NEC report back

Report of the NEC meeting held on 17th May 2011, at Portcullis House

New General Secretary

I'm afraid we don't have one yet, but a timetable for recruitment has finally been agreed and the appointment will be made at the July NEC. I don't care about the politics of the person who is finally appointed, as long as they are honest and straightforward.

Election results

Congratulations were offered to everyone involved in the successful Council elections and the by-election in Leicester South. Harriet Harman pointed out that we increased the percentage of people voting for us in all English regions, and the Tories and Lib Dems had a lower percentage, so we now have a bridgehead for the next elections.

However, there is to be a review into the Scottish Party after the not so successful results there. The Scottish Executive had met at the weekend and set up the terms of reference. NEC members felt that it was very important that members in Scotland were fully involved, and that the view of many Scottish members that their Party is run from Westminster should be taken into account. I think that a comparison with the results in Wales where the Party has sought to put “clear red water” between itself and Blairite policies originating in London is very revealing.

Leader's report

Ed Miliband thanked everyone for their work in the local elections. Voters are coming back to us who are horrified by what the Liberal Democrats have done, but Tory voters are still prepared to give the Government a chance. We showed out maturity over AV – we didn't all agree, but we didn't tear lumps out of each other as the Coalition are doing. We proved we are a credible opposition, now we need to show we're a Government in waiting. The attack on people's living standards, with cuts to Sure Start and the EMA for example, show that there is a huge gap between the rich and the rest of us. Party members need to have more say in what happens, and local parties need to reach out into local communities.

I asked about local party democracy, as selections have been overturned in Sunderland, Tower Hamlets and Nottingham, as well as many other places, yet members have no redress. Mr Miliband said he couldn't comment on the details of the cases I raised, but that he wants Party members to have a proper say in selections. (I suggest that members consider sending in a CLPD Rule Change to Party Conference, and send in a response to Hain's organisational review to stop LGCs and Regional parties from overturning local selections – see below)

Partnership into Power Review

Peter Hain reported on the progress of the two reviews. Liam Byrne's policy review has had 12,500 responses on the website, and hundreds of handwritten notes have been sent in. The final report will go to the Joint Policy Committee and then to the National Policy Forum. The Hain paper “Refounding Labour” will go to the next National Policy Forum in July. He hopes to get lots more submissions in by June 24th. Members need to make sure they have an input into both reviews. NEC members expressed concern that submissions from members of the public would have as much weight as those from Party members, and that the organisational review seems to be proposing cutting the Union vote at Conference, and giving registered supporters the same rights as Party members. Mr Hain replied that union membership has been falling (we know this, but so has ordinary membership, so that's hardly a reason for changing the balance of Conference voting) and that he wanted to expand the Party, not sideline anyone.

Future candidates' programme

This was slipped into the financial strategy section, without so much as a mention on the Agenda. It purports to be a programme to improve the range of candidates for selection. 55% of Labour MPs come from backgrounds in Law, the Media, PR or Politics. This comes as no surprise to those of us who have witnessed candidates from just such backgrounds being parachuted into constituencies. Now the Party is proposing to give special training, financial help and mentoring to a more diverse set of people, to be selected by the NEC. These people won't have to be members of the Party, although they will be encouraged to join! The closing date for applications is July 4th, so if you're a member of a group underrepresented in the Parliamentary Party (a socialist?) I suggest you visit the website and apply. However, the current Boundary Review will mean that there will be very few vacancies at the next election, and may well be competition between sitting Labour MPs for seats. I don't know if setting up a Tory-style A list of candidates is really what's needed at present.