Peter Willsman reports from Labour's special executive Print
Sunday, 07 May 2017 14:42

National Executive Committee 3 May 2017

This meeting was called to agree the list of Labour candidates covering every Parliamentary seat in England, Scotland, and Wales. It was a very up-beat meeting. As always, Jeremy, Glenis, and Iain were in fine form.

Leader’s Welcome

Jeremy gave a ‘big picture’ assessment of the Election Campaign so far. He paid tribute to all our members who are out campaigning and putting our message across. Jeremy also highlighted the magnificent effort being made by our staff in every party office. Indeed, only two nights ago a senior staff member came through the door at midnight to do a 10-hour stint.

The opinion polls show there is work to do, but there is room for optimism. For example, among the under-24s Labour has been ahead by an amazing 19-points for the last two weeks; among the under-40s, we are 15-points ahead amongst women, and 1-point ahead for men.

Jeremy commented that already there is a tremendous response to our pledge to abolish zero-hours contracts. This applies to all age groups. Grandparents and parents do not want their young-ones exploited in a way that never existed in their day. Rather than being somewhat exceptional, this dreadful way of treating people, and especially young people, is disgracefully becoming almost the norm. The fact that the Tories (unlike us) are going to remove the Triple Lock from pensions is also having an impact among the middle-aged and above.

The Tory campaign is very lacklustre and their continuous robotic iteration of their contentless mantra is making them look ridiculous – Lynton Crosby is picking up his money under false pretences. [Readers need to be aware that a little of this is less Jeremy and more Peter Willsman.]

T. May’s fear of TV debates and, indeed, of any scrutiny is going down very badly on the doorstep, similarly is her habit at venues, which are first emptied of their usual inhabitants, and are refilled with bussed-in Tory party cheerleaders.

Endorsement of our Party’s candidates for the 2017 General Election

Iain McNicol introduced this Paper. Candidates in Labour held seats had been chosen (after interviews) by panels from the NEC Officers. Non-Labour held seats had been chosen (without interview) by panels comprising two NEC members and the Chair of the appropriate Regional Board. In Scotland and Wales the SEC and WEC made their own arrangements.

Iain highlighted that we now have the highest ever proportion of women, BAME, and disabled PPCs flying the Red Flag.

Iain’s introduction was followed by an in-depth discussion, centred on several issues raised by the Paper. It was noted that at our last meeting the NEC had agreed to give particular attention to increasing the numbers of BAME candidates. Considerable steps have been taken to achieve this aim.

I highlighted the point, which Jeremy had made, concerning our amazing support amongst the under-24s. In my almost 50 years of campaigning, I have never known such commitment amongst young people. Below the surface it is nowhere as simple as our enemies are trying to suggest. For example, having used taxis in London for 40 years, in the last 12 months I have had a dream-like experience on two occasions – having got out of the cab at Labour Party HQ and having told them I’m visiting Jeremy, the drivers refused to accept any money. I had to pinch myself to make sure it was really happening. Finally, I congratulated Iain and the staff on the high quality of their regular Labour Briefing email. These give concrete facts and information (and no waffle). Christine took this opportunity to proudly exhibit the latest glossy edition of the Labour Briefing magazine, produced by her cooperative.

The disloyal behaviour of J. Woodcock during this General Election campaign was discussed at length. It was felt that something had to be done to prevent any further harm to our Party. Glenis (Chair of the NEC) undertook to hold a formal meeting with J. Woodcock and make him fully aware of the NEC’s concerns.

At the last NEC it had been agreed that the case of the Rochdale ‘MP’ (i.e. the MP prior to the calling of the General Election) would be considered in depth by the NEC’s Endorsement Panel. The Party member in question had been referred to the National Constitutional Committee by the NEC on the grounds that there were serious disciplinary issues to be addressed. The Endorsement Panel reported that they had interviewed Simon Danczuk and that, after considering the case in detail, were unanimously recommending that he should not be endorsed as a Labour candidate. The Endorsement Panel’s recommendation was unanimously agreed by the full NEC. It was further agreed that the vacancy in Rochdale will be advertised immediately as a ‘retirement seat’.

The full list of candidates was then endorsed.

It was also agreed that the totally disgusting comments by the pathetic insult to journalism, K. MacKenzie, would be considered by our officers, with a view to a formal complaint being made on behalf of the NEC.

Jeremy then gave the NEC a rousing send-off. Jeremy confirmed he will be writing to every candidate, stressing that this is a historic moment in our Party’s history. If every candidate is totally focussed, totally committed, and works flat-out, then anything is possible. These sentiments were enthusiastically endorsed by the NEC.

The NEC meeting was followed by a meeting of the Joint Policy Committee of the National Policy Forum – the JPC is working on material for the draft Manifesto for the Clause V meeting on 11th May.

Postscript – George says it all

‘Where are the nose-pegs this time? Those who tolerated anything the Labour Party did under Blair, tolerate nothing under Jeremy Corbyn… They proclaimed undying loyalty when the Party stood for the creeping privatisation of the NHS, the abandonment of the biggest corruption case in British history, the collapse of Britain’s social housing programme, bans on peaceful protests, detention without trial, the kidnap of innocent people and an illegal war. Yet they proclaim disenchantment now that the Party calls for the protection of the poor, the containment of the rich and the peaceful resolution of conflict.’ George Monbiot, Guardian 26th April.