NEC Report from Ann Black Labour Party

NEC-Report-AB-e1343650631395Many Thanks to Ann Black who is elected to the NEC of Labour Party and kindly asked me to share this information. 
Hi all
Below and attached is a report on the NEC meeting held on 4/5
November 2013, including key dates in the policy-making process
through to the general election and deadlines for annual conference
A reminder that consultation on Ray Collins’ ideas for party reform
closes on 24 December, with proposals going to a special
conference on 1 March 2014 in London.  Responses can be e-
mailed to
or uploaded to
and please copy me in, as otherwise I may not see them.
image002As usual, questions and comments are welcome, and feel free to
circulate onwards.
With best wishes
National Executive Committee, 4/5 November 2013
The Chair Angela Eagle welcomed members to the first meeting
after conference, an opportunity to review our aims, objectives and
strategies for the year ahead.  Deputy leader Harriet Harman
stressed that the 2014 local and European elections were important
in their own right.  Looking forward to 2015 she emphasised the key
role of MPs and contrasted the difference in resources between the
north-west, with 14 Westminster target seats and 45 Labour MPs,
and the eastern region, with 13 targets but only two Labour MPs. 
With the Scottish referendum in the autumn she argued that the
NEC needed strong voices from Scotland and Wales.  I reminded
members that the Scottish and Welsh leaders can already attend,
and that the NEC had previously rejected rule changes which would
add Scottish and Welsh constituency representatives.  All we have
to do is change our attitude. 
Harriet Harman also wondered how the women’s conference, which
this year attracted 1,000 women,  could feed into policy-making
structures while keeping the free-flowing vibrancy of an event
without formalities or a conference arrangements committee. 
Appropriate rule changes could perhaps be put to the special
conference on 1 March.  Overall members were in a positive mood
after conference, buoyed by new policies to take out on the
doorstep.  However there was concern about a diversity deficit at
the top of the party, with a five-man general election team, only one
woman among the executive directors, and only one out of 18
shadow cabinet review groups led by a woman (on care policy). 
We were promised that Douglas Alexander, Chair of general
election strategy, and campaigns director Spencer Livermore would
come to the NEC in January. 
Leader’s Q-and-A
Ed Miliband said, to general assent, that the party should continue
the pace and mood of the last six weeks through the next 18
months.  Debate was now taking place on our terms:  the cost of
living, energy prices, a living wage, apprenticeships, banking
reform, the NHS, tackling vested interests and ensuring that
unscrupulous employers did not undercut pay and conditions by
recruiting from certain groups.  Labour would run an economy
which created wealth, but where the proceeds of growth were
shared fairly and did not go only to the rich and powerful.  Voters
must also be warned of the risks of five more Tory years.  He
added that the handling of Ray Collins’ report on party reform
showed our ability to keep focused on the real enemy, and I hope
that this can be maintained through 2014, when the special
conference will give the media reasons to keep running anti-union
and anti-Labour stories. 
NEC members praised his conference speech and drew attention
to Tory attacks on employment rights including access to tribunals,
the paradox under which British railways can be run by states as
long as they are foreign states, the need for good jobs not just any
jobs, further cuts in public service pay, the threat of a new
European / United States trade agreement, excessive warmth
towards free schools, and expansion of food banks and payday
loans into mainstream society.  Members argued that the minimum
wage would only be enforced when unions could take cases on
behalf of members, as individuals who complain can simply be
disappeared.  Ed Miliband suggested that councils could play a part
Executive Reports
This was followed by presentations on communication, strategy and
planning, elections, governance and party services, and policy and
rebuttal.  Labour was operating effectively in showcasing new
shadow ministers after the reshuffle and in responding to attacks,
including the Daily Mail’s disgraceful slurs on Ed Miliband’s father. 
Every household would receive a freepost mailing for the Euro-
elections, and seven of the 11 regions reported specific Euro-
campaign activities.  Most Westminster target seats had selected
their candidates and voter ID was running well ahead of the last
cycle, with incentives for constituencies which met targets.  Trigger
ballots were underway for MPs seeking to stand again. 
Labour now has lots of policies:  on payday lenders, childcare,
energy bills, housing, fairer taxes, making work pay, whole-person
care.  However I am still concerned by constant banging on about
toughness:  Labour will make tough choices, be tough on welfare,
tough on immigration, and so on.  It distresses our core supporters
and fails to convince floating voters.  Many of the same arguments
could be couched in terms of fairness instead, and used to unite
rather than to divide.  
General secretary Iain McNicol gave a financial update.  The
situation this year was good, with income running ahead of budget
and expenditure controlled.  Future years have become more
unpredictable with possible changes to the system of affiliation. 
However the financial strategy, including paying off outstanding
debts through to 2016, is sacrosanct, even if it means savage cuts
in spending.  On the positive side, membership has increased since
December:  people are more likely to join and less likely to leave if
they are contacted by their local party, so there is a role for every
activist to play. 
The Road to the Manifesto
Angela Eagle and Jon Cruddas outlined the next stages of policy
development.  Key dates are:
February 2014:  final year consultation documents published on the
Your Britain website
February – June 2014: amendments and submissions accepted. 
Jon Cruddas’s policy reviews and shadow cabinet and external
reviews will also be fed through the policy commissions – these may
amount to 60 separate pieces of work, unless I’m double-counting
June 2014:  NPF representatives meet in regional groups to decide
which amendments to take forward
18-20 July 2014:  national policy forum meets to finalise documents
September 2014: annual conference votes on NPF documents
October 2014 – March 2015:  manifesto development based on
policy programme
Spring 2015:  Clause V meeting agrees manifesto
This means that the consultation runs alongside election
campaigning through to 22 May 2014, but perhaps local parties can
organise policy discussions followed by door-knocking sessions. 
Conference Round-Up
This year’s conference was attended by 611 constituency
delegates representing 488 local parties, slightly up on 2012.  All
considered it successful, though there were the usual concerns
about lack of time for ordinary delegates, and the waving of bizarre
objects to attract the Chair’s attention.  I asked, again, for the
timetable and papers to be published on the website, so that
supporters watching at home could follow proceedings.  It was
clarified that motions passed with more than two-thirds support
become part of the policy programme and are considered for, but
not necessarily included in, the manifesto 
Some NEC members suggested that new delegates needed more
briefing from regional officers.  Others, from both unions and
constituencies, reported complaints about too much regional
briefing around elections to the conference arrangements
committee.  Iain McNicol is investigating. 
The 2014 conference will be held from Sunday 21 to Wednesday
24 September in Manchester, preceded by the women’s
conference on Saturday 20 September.  The deadline for
contemporary motions will be noon on Thursday 11 September and
for emergency motions, noon on Friday 19 September.  The six
constituency places on the NEC will be up for election next year,
with nominations closing on 20 June 2014, and it was agreed to
defer elections to the national policy forum until 2015 so that
current members could complete the policy cycle.
Home and Abroad
A report from the European party highlighted engagement on e-
cigarettes, zero-hours contracts, food labelling, flight safety, air
quality and many other areas, with Labour MEPs instrumental in
securing stronger protection from blacklisting.  David Sparks
reported on the desperate situation faced by many councils:  while
Labour fights to minimise the impact on vulnerable people, our
constant message must be that these cuts are Tory government-
imposed, and they are unjustified, unnecessary and unfair.
The NEC also received the minutes of sub-committees.  The
organisation committee had decided that Leeds East should select
from an open list, where I was one of two members voting against,
and launched a review of procedures for suspension and auto-
exclusion.  The equalities committee noted that there would be a
young members’ conference on 21/23 February 2014 in Bradford. 
Other issues included the importance of diversity within black,
Asian and minority ethnic minority representation so that all
communities felt they had a voice, and concerns about the
deselection of councillors.   
The NEC congratulated everyone involved in the Scottish
parliamentary by-election victory in Dunfermline, and noted that
Falkirk would select their Westminster candidate on 8 December.
John Denham MP closed the meeting with a thoughtful
presentation on winning back the south.  Though seen as
prosperous, parts of the south had lower wages but higher living
costs than the national average, and resented being lumped in with
London.  However, many voters shared Labour values, and One
Nation messages, translated into the local context, could appeal
just as strongly as elsewhere.
Questions and comments are welcome, and I am happy for this to
be circulated to members as a personal account, not an official
record.  Reports of meetings from July 2008 onwards are at

 See Youtube to give you a idea of where is coming from:

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