Christine Shawcroft Labour

NEC report back

Report of the NEC meeting held on 29 May 2012, at 1 Brewers Green

New Headquarters

This was our first meeting in the new headquarters at Brewers Green, which is a big improvement – and easier to get in to! New members were welcomed: Dave Watts from the PLP and Sadiq Khan who replaces Peter Hain.

Local elections

Tom Watson gave a very thorough report on the results from the various elections around the country. We had 823 net gains, although the low turnouts in many areas give cause for concern. There were 405 Tory losses, 336 Lib Dem losses, and a total of 33 Councils gained for Labour. The SNP seem to have overplayed their hand in Scotland, and the Welsh gains of 237 were also higher than expected. In 2011, there was a massive drop in the Lib Dem vote but some of it went to the Tories. This year, the Tory share of the vote dropped in every region.

Mr Watson said that the London result was much better than it might have been, and the whole meeting paid tribute to Ken’s campaign which ran Boris very close. Boris benefits from a certain “anti-politics” vote and people don’t realise what a hard-right, Tory ideologue he is. Now we have to use the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in November as a springboard for the County Council elections next May.

I said that some local parties are very upset that they have been presented with a PCC candidate selected unopposed, even though other people did put themselves forward. I also raised the matter of Labour Party members in London and elsewhere advising people not to vote for Ken. I was told that only 12 of the 41 PCC candidates were selected on a shortlist of one, and that not many members put themselves forward for selection because they didn’t know what the job entailed. Hopefully there will be more candidates putting themselves forward in future years. The other matter is being looked in to.

Deputy Leader’s report

In the absence of Ed Miliband, who was away, Harriet Harman reported on the improvement in the Party’s prospects. A new group has been identified on the doorstep, those who feel “let down by Dave”. Jon Cruddas will now be working on policy development with the National Policy Forum. At the time of the Deputy Leadership contest he had said how important the issues of housing and agency workers were, and he had been right.

General Secretary’s report

Iain McNicol has re-organised the Party’s structures and integrated the Leader’s office into them. The new Executive Directors were introduced to the meeting, and gave short introductions to their work and priorities. We also discussed an interim report into the Bradford West by election. This was confidential and had to be handed back in afterwards, although I couldn’t see anything very controversial about it. It was mostly about improving our community campaigning. Several very good points were made in the discussion, but no-one disagreed with the general direction of the paper. Clearly, if Galloway hadn’t stood we would have won the by election. Unfortunately he also benefits from a sense that he is outside normal politics, being rather like Boris Johnson in that regard. A Unison delegate pointed out that our current policy of supporting a public sector pay freeze hadn’t done us any favours in Bradford. That policy, of course, is supported by Luke Akehurst, who also supports the retention of Trident and is most proud of the invasion of Iraq during Labour’s second term in government. There will be further reports on Bradford West when the analysis of the marked register is available.

Partnership in Power update

The National Policy Forum is meeting at Aston University on 16-17th June. Angela Eagle is to be elected as Chair, apparently. The meeting will be discussing the six policy documents which have been circulated. Many CLPs have complained about the very short notice which they had to consider these. It was made clear that the NPF will be looking at the submissions made by 8th June, but that submissions will be accepted after that date as well. At the NPF, Grassroots Alliance delegates will be pushing for options to be drawn out from the submissions and added to the documents, for voting on later.

International report

The election of Francois Hollande was welcomed. We have strong links with the Parti Socialiste. Hopefully, the elections in Italy and Germany next year will strengthen the move for jobs and growth across Europe. It being near the end of the meeting, I didn’t have time to mention Greece!