Congratulations to Jim McMahon MP for his resounding victory in the Oldham West and Royton by-election. Jim increased Labour's share of the vote and the Tories were pushed into third place. The press had been reporting for weeks that Labour would only narrowly win. We proved them wrong and the result shows that the party is in a much stronger position electorally than many would have us believe.
I chaired the NEC shortlisting panel for the by-election and I am absolutely confident that Jim will be a huge asset to Labour in Parliament. Jim represented Local Government on the NEC and will now be replaced by Ann Lucas.
Members of Parliament had to make an extremely difficult decision as to whether to extend airstrikes to Syria. Jeremy gave MPs a free vote and I believe that this was the right decision as it was a matter of conscience in my view.
As an NEC member Jeremy also asked me for my views on military intervention. I am not sure that decisions of that nature fall within the NEC terms of reference and unlike MPs I did not have access to high level policy briefings. However, as I was asked I felt bound to give my view.
I told Jeremy that personally I was against the airstrikes. I felt that there was not a clear long term strategy for Syria beyond the airstrikes, that they were likely to lead to civilian loss of life and that I thought airstrikes would make our streets less safe rather than more safe, as well as leading to further radicalisation.
NEC Meeting 17th November 2015
Jeremy spoke about the Paris attacks and said he was shocked and appalled by them. He said that he would not tolerate a racist response and allow Muslims to be blamed for the attacks. He also noted that in the wake of the increased terrorist threat, the Tories were pushing through enormous police cuts.
Jeremy also talked about the refugee crisis and that allowing in 20,000 refugees over the course of four and a half years, when Germany had already let in 800,000, simply wasn't enough.
Jeremy also talked about the huge cuts that are being made to local government budgets. He made clear that Labour Councils could not make illegal budgets, however when making budgets they should indicate how much has been cut and the impact of that.
I raised two issues with Jeremy. The first was about setting up a code of conduct for members using social media in order to make clear that abusive insults from anywhere in the party would not be tolerated.
Jeremy said that he considered abuse of this nature to be wrong and appalling. He had been subjected himself to foul and abusive comments online. He said we should have discussion and debate but not call people names.
Since the meeting an email has been sent out by Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson that makes clear that personal insults have no place in politics or indeed our Party.
The second issue I raised was about what we are doing to counter the Tory attacks on workers rights. Jeremy stated that too often we oppose things without putting forward an alternative. Therefore he wants to put forward a positive rights agenda and has commissioned Ian Lavery MP to set up a working group.
We received a report about the upcoming elections.
The political landscape in Scotland is bleak with the SNP leading by 29%. In Wales we will be fighting to retain our overall majority.
In London however, latest polling puts Labour a couple of points ahead in the Mayoral elections.
In the local elections in 2012 we gained 823 seats and had 38% of the national equivalent vote share, compared to the Tories 31%. We will need to replicate this in 2016 to retain all our seats. Particular battlegrounds for control of the Council will be Crawley, Southampton, Cannock Chase, Dudley, Redditch and Rosendale.
Obviously we need to work really hard in next year's elections and I hope that our new members will join our longstanding members in campaigning for Labour successes.
National Policy Forum
The NEC has commissioned the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) to launch a review of the NPF. The review will call for submissions from stakeholders before the end of the year and will report to conference 2016.
Alongside the review there will be a consultation on the following areas: Building a productive economy, security and defence, housing, transport, mental health, early years, crime and policing. I will be co-convening the Home Affairs policy commission which will lead the crime and policing review.
There will be an NPF meeting spring/summer 2016.
The Labour Party is now finally debt free. This is a massive achievement. Our funding is significantly under threat from the Trade Union Bill so it is absolutely vital that we are now in a sound financial position.
We are also moving premises imminently and should be in the new offices in Victoria after Christmas.
Get in Touch
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Vice Chair, National Executive Committee