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Report of the National Policy Forum held on 28 February 2009 Print E-mail
Tuesday, 17 March 2009 12:09
Leader’s Presentation

Gordon Brown outlined the Government’s strategy for confronting the economic crises.  He said he was determined that the London Conference in early April of the leaders of the major industrial countries would agree a united response that involved much tighter international regulation.  He emphasised that there was no contradiction between economic growth on the one hand, and protecting the environment on the other.  The creation of ‘green’ jobs could help us get out of the recession through a low-carbon recovery.  In relation to Royal Mail, Gordon argued that private investment was needed to maintain a six-day service, at a single price.  In response NPF reps made several important points.  It was highlighted that the Post Office closures are massively unpopular and that the amount of financial support required by Royal Mail was peanuts compared to the shed loads of money the Government is shovelling out to the failed banks.  The Royal Mail pension deficit has arisen because the Government allowed the employers to take many years ‘holiday’ in relation to making contributions into the pension fund.

NPF reps from the Unions called for urgent action to protect temporary/agency workers.  NPF reps, who are local councillors reported rising repossessions and stressed the important role of councils in building homes and creating jobs.

Before the Leader’s speech the CWU circulated a document to all NPF reps setting out the reasons for their opposition to Peter Mandelson’s latest proposals in relation to Royal Mail.  The CWU pointed out that the Minister is breaking the Warwick II agreement, signed with the Unions only last July.  This agreement stated – “we have set out a vision of a wholly publicly – owned, integrated Royal Mail Group in good health, providing customers with an excellent service and its employees with rewarding employment.”  In response to the CWU Ministers circulated a Briefing setting out their argument in support of the par privatisation of Royal Mail.
The Government is wrong on Royal Mail Print E-mail
Friday, 13 March 2009 16:15
By Billy Hayes

The publication of the document "The Future of the Universal Postal Service in the UK" by Lord Mandelson represents a serious mistake by the Government.

Not only does it represent a mis-step for the postal industry. It is a terrible blow to the credibility of Labour as a distinct party of Government. Both the Tories and Lib-Dems support the privatisation of Royal Mail,

We must lend every effort to changing the Government's mind before it pulls the trigger on its own head.

The Bill proposes to privatise Royal Mail by an initial instalment of 30%. Along with this minority share will come the effective management of the company by the "partner." Lord Mandelson has already suggested that the "gene pool" of British management talent does not include the ability to manage Royal Mail successfully. With the Bill it is clear, for example in Clause 4.16, that the partner will run the company on a day to day basis.

What is deeply damaging to the Government is to link this issue to the future pensions of postal workers. The employer (ie Conservative and Labour Governments) had a holiday from pension contributions for 13 years. This was undertaken on the understanding that there would be sufficient funding from the scheme without these contributions. Postal workers, of course, continued to contribute throughout this period. The scheme now has a substantial deficit, despite those long forgotten assurances. Instead of the Government simply honouring its contract with postal workers, it has engaged in an exercise of potential extortion. Submit to the Government breaking its commitment on privatisation, or face the loss of half of your pension. Some choice - some policy - fat chance.
Senior Trade Unionist speaks out Print E-mail
Monday, 09 February 2009 14:10
A senior trade unionist spoke to Tribune (9th Jan 2009) about the high level of illegitimate interference into party democracy by regional officials at Annual Conference. He is reported as saying - 'What goes on is really unpleasant. It is a corrupt and scary regime. [Officials] have been reduced to tears under pressure and been made to feel scared about their position or even career in the party. About two-thirds of the regional officials are engaged in what has become to be seen as a routing part of the job......But it is difficult to pin down. They are very good at hiding what they do.'
Peter Willsman News from the NEC Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 February 2009 13:50

A report by Peter Willsman (0208 854 7326) of some of the issues at the January NEC meeting.  Peter is a CLP rep on the NEC and has represented CLPs and members on the Party’s National Committees since 1981.  For more information visit www.clpd.org.uk and www.grassrootslabour.net


·         Leader’s Report

Gordon Brown stressed that since the international banking system had broken down it was vital to have international agreement on a new system of global supervision.  In April the government is hosting a Conference of world leaders to move this agenda forward.  He highlighted that the policies of laissez faire have been completely exposed and that Labour, with its belief in the significance of the role of the state, can work towards a situation where markets and financial systems act much more in the public interest.  Gordon stressed that our government must, above all, seek to protect the general public from the worst effects of the crisis, especially this means combatting unemployment.  Ministers are looking at schemes in Germany and Holland, which subsidise training to avoid redundancies.  There will be a considerable increase in jobs in the construction industry.  Local authorities will be enabled to build houses and give mortgages.  Northern Rock will be renamed and turned into a national lender.  Ann Black said VAT reductions should be targeted rather than blanket.  Dennis Skinner said the message should be that the Government is really only lending money to the banks, whereas it is giving real money to the public.  Peter Willsman said the scandal of the tax havens should be addressed and that pressing local councils to hold down their budgets will mean a reduction is local services and investment, which is exactly the opposite of what is required to combat the crisis.


·         Vote 2009

Harriet Harman and Douglas Alexander presented a detailed paper setting out the Party’s organisational strategy for the 2009 elections.  Many NEC members drew attention to the serious threat from the BNP.  Tom Watson and Peter Willsman deplored the fact that due to the nonsense of proportional representation, the far right can win Euro seats with as little as some 8% of the vote.


·         Partnership in Power Report

The chair of the NPF, Pat McFadden, came under heavy fire from Andy Kerr (cwu) and other union reps. for the latest moves against Royal Mail.  The unions argued that what was being proposed was effectively a form of privatisation and was against the last Manifesto commitment and against NPF policy.  Pat contended that this was not the case.  Mike Griffiths asked about the understanding that there would be a second stage to Warwick II.  Peter Willsman argued that all the CLPs, involved with the remitted Constitutional Issues from last year’s annual conference, should be able to attend the relevant Policy Commissions.  Pat’s answers to both questions were somewhat equivocal.


·         EPLP

Peter Willsman asked Glenis Willmot, the new leader of the EPLP, if the favourable trade agreement between the EU and Israel could be suspended, given that its human rights provisions have been violated.  Glenis confirmed that there is a lot of sympathy with this point and that the agreement has been put on hold.

NEC meeting 27 January 2009 Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 February 2009 13:43

The meeting opened with a discussion about the National Policy Forum (NPF).   Pat McFadden reported that it would meet on 28 February and would review both the most recent Partnership in Power (PiP) cycle and contemporary issues as well as considering the contemporary issues referred by conference this year.   The NEC has previously endorsed the role of CLPs in submitting amendments, new in this PiP cycle, but the NPF could take a different view in its review. The review of contemporary issues (referred by conference to the NPF without a vote) was promised when this procedure replaced contemporary resolutions two years ago.  

Ann Black suggested there was a lack of clarity about what happened to contemporary issues not selected by conference: Pat McFadden suggested at first that they were simply dumped, whilst Diana Holland of Unite (TGWU) argued that they should be taken into the process, albeit without any special working parties like those that had been selected.  Peter Willsman noted that some policy commissioned involved all CLPs submitting those contemporary issues selected by conference to participate – surely an example of ‘best practice’ – whereas others merely invited movers and seconders.

The discussion quickly warmed up when Andy Kerr of the CWU expressed a lack of confidence in the NPF, and in particular in Pat McFadden’s handling, as Chair, of the Royal Mail issue on which he has a conflict of interest being also the Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs.  The Warwick 2 policy statement, endorsed by Annual Conference had specifically stated: “We have set out a vision of a wholly publicly-owned, integrated Royal Mail Group in good health, providing customers with an excellent service and its employees with rewarding employment.” However, the twice-sacked and unelected Lord Mandelson, following the Hooper review, had announced a partial sell-off in violation of this policy and without any consultation.  Pat McFadden replied that the government would retain a majority stake, so it was not privatisation!  And Hooper took precedence over the ‘vision’, which simply described the current Royal Mail set-up and did not imply any commitment for the future!
What Labour's Right Wing really thinks Print E-mail
Monday, 09 February 2009 14:08
Luke Akehurst, reportedly an officer of the hard right organisation, Labour First, sometimes lets on as to just how off the wall the Right Wing are. For example, he has publicly stated that what he has been most proud of in Labour's second term is the invasion of Iraq. In January, he went on record (on his blog), attacking the NEC's Code of Conduct for party officials, stating - 'the daft code of conduct stops Labour staff doing their job. They should not be neutral referees. They should be able to promote the candidates and policies of the elected leadership of the party against their internal critics. Back in Morgan Phillips' day ...... there was none of this nonsense about neutrality, the party staff explicitly had a role in giving the left a kicking.'
How the Grassroots can rebuild Labour Print E-mail
Monday, 05 January 2009 00:00

by Mark Seddon

Future historians may well look back on 2008 as the year in which the free market consensus was finally broken. They may even pin-point the collapse of US Bankers, Lehman Brothers as the tipping point; the point in which all of the received wisdom of the past twenty five years was finally turned on its head.
‘Events! Events!’ former Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan said when asked what shaped his Government. Political parties that can loosely be described as on the Left have not shaped these latter day events. The European social democratic parties have been floundering for the best part of two decades, unsure where to go. Britain’s Labour Party transmogrified into ‘New’ Labour, going much further than the French Socialists or the German Social democrats in embracing de-regulated, privatised free market economics. Peter Mandelson, now Lord Mandelson, the high priest of ‘New’ Labour once famously said that he was ‘seriously relaxed’ about the super-rich, and by extension the massive growth of inequality and insecurity, that has now culminated in the collapse and nationalisation of a number of major banks here and elsewhere, and job losses amongst the middle classes that are beginning to resemble the job losses experienced by the working class as manufacturing industry was allowed to go the wall, since the future, we were told lay in financial services and the retail sector.
Britain is likely to suffer more in this new economic depression than many of its European counterparts. Along with the United States, Britain is more dependent on the collapsed financial sector and collapsing retail sector. For it was turbo charged Anglo American capitalism that was offered as the model to what was disparagingly called ‘Old Europe’, and it is Anglo American capitalism that is at the root of our current crisis.

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