I'm struggling with what to say, beyond the usual welcome and signposting, to all those people who have just joined the Labour Party,. They have now been assigned to a local Labour Party branch based on their postcode. I wonder how many of them knew that when they filled in the application form and paid their membership fee? I have a dual responsibility as local branch secretary, as well as secretary of the constituency labour party (CLP) - all the detested aspects of 'Old Labour' rolled up in an official function - booking rooms, drawing up agendas, assembling papers, finding speakers, writing minutes.
I'm already drowning. How do I explain a branch? Ditto a constituency? My branch is City of London. It covers 25 electoral wards. Elsewhere some are contiguous with a local government electoral ward from which councillors are elected to the local councils and so I could go on.
My experience of Labour Party life is that the majority of members pay their subscriptions as an expression of civic engagement and that's it. They have lots of entitlements such as choosing candidates for balloting, whether for public office or internal positions, like currently that of Leader, and helping shape policy. On the other hand the vast majority of staff who work for the Labour Party believe members are for delivering leaflets, and knocking on doors - fullstop. According to one apocryphal tale - the Labour Party should be 'massive, but passive'. Their latest wheeze is not even to send out nomination papers for Deputy Leader, when Rule 4.2.D.i says:
When the PLP is in opposition in the House of Commons, the election of the leader and deputy leader shall take place at each annual session of party conference.
I know it came as a bit of shock to some people that we might not win the 2010 General Election. But we are where we are - in Opposition. So given my tasks this morning, assembling all the information cascading in about elections - Leader, Deputy Leader, National Executive Committee - Division III CLPs, Party Treasurer, Auditors, Conference Arrangements Committee, National Constitutional Committee, National Policy Forum Division 1 CLP section, London Mayor, not forgetting the CLP Chair's report, 2010 General Election Report, Westminster City Council 2010 Election Report, Treasurer' Report - you may discern my dilemma. Mark my words, if I omit any prospective candidate's statement for any one of the offices cited above, I run the risk of being accused of a 'stitchup' by someone in the Labour Party who does not share my views either about governance or policy.
In the meantime, those eager new or returning members are awaiting encouragement (or, perhaps, not). So it's time to hit the eMail/telephone and find out. I think that should be my first priority. But.... the paperwork. Procrastination, yeah. But it's all in a good cause. I just hope my initial contact is warmly welcomed. Our branch has what I like to think of as a healthy blend of campaigning, debate, fundraising and socialising. There's a risk. The idea of meeting with an agenda could provoke glazing over, and bewilderment. It just that the campaigning, debate, fundraising and socialising don't just happen - they require organisation. We could revert to the leitmotif of new Labour - sofa government - no written agendas, no minutes. That worked didn't it? Oh, stop it, Kenyon, get on the blower.
Posted at 09:53 AM in accountability, Branch Labour Party, City of London, CLPs, Governance, Labour own goals, Leadership, local government candidates, London Mayor, National Constitutional Committee, National Executive Committee, National Policy Forum, party democracy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
It's not often that representatives of the Labour Party's different ginger groups/thinktank/bloggers get their act together. So hats off to Andrew Fisher of the (far) left Labour Representation Committee for getting the following to sign up to a joint letter: Sunder Katwala (general secretary of the Fabian Society, albeit in a personal capacity), Neal Lawson - chair of the centre left campaigning think tank Compass, Alex Smith editor of Labourlist - the leading independent Labour Party blogsite, and myself - chair of Save the Labour Party - focussed on mass-membership, party democracy, ethical conduct and financial solvency.
The letter to the Guardian is here.
In the meantime, some Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) are thinking about the issues too. Greenwich and Woolwich Executive Committee (EC) agreed to table an emergency resolution last week for its General Committee (GC) tonight. Cities of London and Westminster GC debated the issues and agreed to submit its own emergency motion when it met on Tuesday.
Its resolution (still in draft) awaiting approval by eMail procedure says:
"This CLP notes the decisions of the NEC on 18 May 2010 and its Procedures Committee on 20 May 2010 that:
a) PLP nominations for the post of Leader shall close on 9th June 2010;
b) CLP nominations for the post of Leader shall be regarded as supporting nominations only and shall close on 26th July 2010.
c) The threshold for Leader nominations will remain unchanged at 12.5% of the PLP
d) Nomination papers for the Deputy Leadership of the party will not be issued and no contingency plans made for a Deputy Leadership election.
This CLP believes that these procedures are contrary to the rules of the party and as a matter of urgency respectfully requests that in the interests of an open, democratic and transparent debate about the future Leader, all declared candidates are enabled to take part, and on terms which respect the rights of all constituent sections of the electoral college, namely MPs/ MEPs, CLP members and affiliated organisations (TUs and socialist societies), both to nominate and vote."
That may not read easily if you are not familiar with the Labour Party Rule Book. But that's no different from your lack of familiarity with the Road Traffic Acts until you get your first parking ticket. The point is that, as in any organisation, there are Rules and in this instance Rules 4.2.B.i thru iv apply to the nomination process, Rule 4.2.D applies to timing.
I provided a write through the nomination process on this blog here last week. Rule 4.2.D.i just caps the argument.
When the PLP is in opposition in the House of Commons, the election of the leader and deputy leader shall take place at each annual session of party conference.
So I say to the Labour Party's general secretary Ray Collins: "Think about the future. Forget about the dubious practices of your predecessors. Concentrate on how (as Save the Labour Party has been campaigning for seven years) you guide the building of a mass-membership, democratically-run, ethical, solvent political party whose new Leader can depend on to deliver election victories - locally and national for the foreseeable future and beyond."
Of course, it is possible that all the current six declared Leadership candidates and more could get on the ballot paper with a little 'arm-twisting' in the PLP. Or may be even the brotherly love of nominated candidates will do the trick by asking surplus supporters to 'lend' their nomination rights to other candidates to assure them a place on the ballot paper, which I wrote about here even BEFORE the NEC met.
Personally, I find neither 'arm-twisting' nor 'patronage' appropriate devices to remedy flaws in the Labour Party's constitution, and misinterpretation of the Rules as set out.
It is the Geneal Secretary's job to smooth the way and that requires:
1. the reconvening of the NEC Procedures Committee
2. an honest account of the legal advice refered to on 18 May and its relevance in the circumstances the Labour Party now faces (NB there wasn't any sought)
3. revised proposals to put the Leader/Deputy nomination/election process back in line with the Rules governing when the Party is in opposition
4. an appraisal of the likelihood of either Diane Abbott and John McDonnell, and possibly Andy Burnham getting on the ballot paper without arm-twisting or the use of patronage by nominated candidates 'lending' their own supporters to get other contenders on the ballot paper
5. appropriate remedies to 4. above.
Here the Party has to be careful. Yes, the threshold could be cut. But would the Party want to invite the risk of a frivolous contest every year? I think that the vast majority of the Party would be against that. So there may be a case when there is a vacancy for Leader/Deputy for a lower nomination threshold to stimulate debate. That would not detract from the retention of the higher 20% threshold when there is no vacancy to underpin stability. Nor from the need for accountability as provided for in the Rule Book by the annual issue of nomination papers, whether in government or opposition. That practice MUST be restored now to prevent a repeat of the Blair years of an unchecked trampling of Labour values. That is until the coup to force Blair's protracted resignation in 2006/07. Though Blair himself was forced from office as Prime Minster his policies and influence lingered on until purged by electoral defeat on 6 May.
Now is our opportunity to learn those lessons. We need to do so quickly to regroup and return to winning ways quickly.
Nominations for the constituency section of Labour's National Executive Committee are now formally open and CLP secretaries have been sent the papers. Having secured a nomination from my own Constituency Labour Party (Cities of London and Westminster - Membership No: A458146), I am now writing to other CLPs to ask if they too will nominate me for re-election.
There are six places in the Constituency Section on the 33-member NEC. Every member of the Labour Party has an opportunity to vote in a ballot expected to start in mid-August with a closing date of 24 September 2010.
I am hoping to get on the ballot paper as a Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance slate candidate as I did in 2008. That could depend on how many CLP nominations I get to stand. It has been an eventful period for the Labour Party. The 2010 General Election was lost in the face of a hostile media, epoch-making developments in the world economy and lots more besides. Your work keeping Labour alive locally is inspiring.
What did I do in my first term on the NEC?
As readers of this blog will know, I focus on the importance of members and rebuilding a mass membership party, through establishing party democracy, ethical conduct and financial solvency. This is vital if Labour wants to get re-elected with policies grounded in Labour Values. Most NEC members have been repeatedly denied access to the most basic information to help address these fundamental issues. Attempts have even been made to prevent me speaking openly about how Labour Party governance must be strengthened. So I hope I will secure support to continue to fight for improved accountability to members, to help rebuild the party and win more public support for Labour.
What am I proposing?
Little attention has been paid by the centre-left to the Treasurer post. I think this is now a key to how the NEC operates, and funds its activities.
I am currently campaigning for the nomination of a suitably qualified member from the centre-left of the Party to stand as Treasurer. This post has increased importance since the creation of a Business Board. It comprises NEC officers, of which the Treasurer is one, and arguably the first among equals, after Leader and Deputy, plus a past chair. Finding a suitable candidate depends on the willingness of the Trade Union section, which in recent years has filled this post, to take a strategic view about rebuilding up from the grass-roots in partnership with constituencies.
Membership and branches
I've been an activist since 1971 when I first canvassed in Leeds. I am secretary of City of London branch and Cities of London and Westminster CLP. Formerly, I was a branch chair and election organizer, constituency agent and CLP treasurer in Hackney North and Stoke Newington. I founded the LabOUR Commission whose Interim Report on Labour Party Renewal was published in May 2007. That work was inspired by Save the Labour Party (STLP), which I joined in 2003. I was elected to its first national committee and has been re-elected annually both to the STLP committee and as its Chair. Branches and members having a say are vital to the future of the Party.
Lessons from Operation Toehold
Electoral wards are the basic unit of organisation for local campaigning. That is where candidates stand for elected office for Labour in local government. Labour councillors should complement Labour MPs. Labour's landslide victory in 1997 was not an accident. It resulted from creating a toe-hold for Labour in local government throughout Tory middle England. The 2010 election results for the House of Commons and in local government showed the power of local organisation to knock on doors over money used by the Tories' in a bid to buy the 'right to rule'. The Tories also failed to win the 2010 election and were forced into coalition with the other losers, the Lib-Dems. Our campaigning enabled us to minimise losses and hold enough seats to have a chance of winning the next general election. Rebuilding is the lesson of 2010.
Members having a say
NEC members are also on the National Policy Forum (NPF). It only met once since I was elected. It proved to be more of a rally for government ministers. The NEC needs to act now to give CLPs and members a say in time for Conference 2010. I will be campaigning for a return of resolutions to Conference to help shape policy making better, without losing the opportunity for ongoing debate through the NPF. This year all members will also have an opportunity to elect NPF regional representatives directly. That is thanks to the rule change agreed at Conference 2009 with trade union support and encouraged by Young Labour activism.
I use this (we)blog, Twitter, as well as articles in Tribune, Chartist and Labour Briefing to provide a running commentary on my NEC work. This enables me to publicise issues you have a right to know about on an 'as and when' basis. During the run up to the general election, I wrote about 'Selections in the Spotlight', to protest about parachuting, parliamentary seat engineering and the rigging of shortlists for PPCs.
Seeking re-election, steeled by experience
So I seek re-election to the NEC to strengthen the voice of members - and promote Labour values. This time I am less-starry eyed. The latest battles are over how to offer choice on the ballot papers for a new Leader to replace Gordon Brown, and the issue of nomination papers for the post of Deputy Leader, plus womens' and BAME representation in the Shadow Cabinet.
My background is in political and financial journalism, mainly for the international news agency, Reuters (1977 –1993). I have been a member of the National Union of Journalists since 1974. I was a London Borough of Hackney Councillor (1994-2002). This included a period as Chief Whip (1995-98) when local party members, regional and national party officers worked to improve standards in local government. Over the past 5 years I have also been active as a trustee of asset-based social enterprises.
If you are a member of the Labour Party, please copy this to your branch and CLP colleagues, and feel free contact me to check my credentials for nomination from your CLP to the NEC.
Ask yourself, how do we know about the declared Labour leadership contenders in the first place? Four of them who achieved cabinet status in the governments of previous Labour leaders are without doubt talented people, but they are the creatures of patronage. Those who know me will appreciate that in drawing attention to this I am not seeking to get personal. But it is a fact that Labour in government adopts the constitutional conventions of the state, and not democratic socialism. The Labour leader selects a government. The Queen gives them their seals of office. The practice of electing a shadow cabinet, required when Labour is in opposition, is abandoned. And indeed it has been throughout the last 13 years.
I have already highlighted the Rules of the Labour Party that ought to have been followed by the General Secretary, Ray Collins, and the National Executive Committee (of which I am a member) when it set the timetable and the codes to apply to the Leadership election to replace Gordon Brown last Tuesday. Within two days the 9-day nomination timetable plan was in tatters. The deadline was extended by nearly a fortnight in the face of opposition particularly from MPs and TUs. It is still too short.
If there is one lesson that ought to have been learned by Labour in the wake of our defeat on 6 May, it is that the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) lost its exclusive nomination rights for the Leadership in crowning Gordon Brown leader in 2007. The absence of debate within the Party following the resignation of Tony Blair left everyone struggling to make sense of what Labour stood for. So it proved on 6 May.
Labour MPs should now be under no pressure whatsoever to secure the necessary 33 nominations from their colleagues in the PLP. As was pointed out to beleaguered General Secretary Ray Collins the proposed nine-day deadline left no opportunity to consult local members. Astonishingly, Collins told then they had no obligation to do so. So much for promoting the widest possible discussion in the Labour Party of how it lost power, and what it must do to make itself re-electable across the whole of the United Kingdom.
What the Labour Party needs is the widest possible debate. There are now six declared candidates - gender, ethnic and political diversity has been added at a stroke by Diane Abbott, and the political spectrum of views has been extended to the left of the Party by John McDonnell. They and any other Labour MP should all be encouraged to take part in hustings between now and the second half of July.
CLPs and affiliated bodies are entitled under Rule to nominate whom they want. It is then beholden on such nominees to obtain the necessary PLP support two clear weeks before the ballot. Just imagine the uproar that is going to befall the Labour Party come Wednesday 9 June if Diane Abbott fails to achieve the necessary 33 nominations as required under the current NEC ruling. How can it hope to continue to recruit new members and encourage former members back if the Labour Party elite shuts out the candidates that had the political courage to oppose the Iraq War in the first place? In the meantime, the patronage candidates are waging a war of words about how it was wrong to go to war against Saddam Hussein. Sorry, which lobby did they go into. (Apologies Miliband E - I know you were studying in the US at the time. But you did not speak out then.)
The present timetable is not sustainable. My NEC colleagues all heard Collins claim on Tuesday that the proposals were legally sound. They all heard him cite the name of the lawyer concerned. I have asked Collins to produce the written opinion or dated office note to support that claim. If he can't produce it by first thing Monday morning, there should be an emergency NEC Procedures Committee, if not an emergency NEC to review the situation.
I sought to amend the Rules on Tuesday my intention was to remove all references to the fictitious 'supporting nominations' provisions. There is still time to overturn the constitutional coup staged by the Party's elite. The future of the Party depends on it.
In the annals of hopeless causes Save the Labour Party might feature as a footnote. Alternatively, with the right skill set, we might succeed. As I write the Labour Party's Procedures Committee is reviewing 'blue touch paper' issues concerning the Leadership contest, triggered by Gordon Brown's resignation both as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party with immeidate effect last Tuesday.
They are the timetable for nominations, and a ban on endorsements by affiliated unions and MPs for candidates other that supporting nominations.
An extention of the nomination deadline until 9 June from 27 May has just been announced. But it still has no constitutional basis.
I spoke to the Labour friendly lawyer who has previously advised the Party about constitutional issues this morning, though he is better known in his professional as a property lawyer - and indeed the Party leadership is once again eyeing the property portfolio of Constituency and Branch Labour Parties to bolster the national Party's balance sheet - so such expertise is not unwelcome. However, I digress.
The central issue for me as a member of the NEC is that legal advice was cited and the lawyer named to support the proposals, which my own understanding of the Rule Book tells me is fundamentally flawed.
The lawyer concerned told me this morning that he had NOT been consulted about the proposals presented to the NEC, nor had he been approached in the recent past. I am convinced that the advice he has tendered previously to the Party on the conduct of Leadership elections relates exclusively to when Labour was in government, and not opposition as is the case today.
So those of us committed to party democracy are left with the need for the requisite number of MPs to nominate both Leader before the hustings have barely started. As for the Deputy Leader nomination papers, it is a case of DIY nominations, make the case, and hope that a candidate is forthcoming from the PLP with the necessary 52 nominations to force a contest.
If there happens to be a constitutional lawyer out there with a Party Card and readiness to work pro bono, please get in touch.
Diane Abbott has transformed Labour's Leadership election into a proper contest. Her declaration on BBC Radio 4 galvanised the listening public and rendered her interviewer momentarily speechless. I had the privilege in 1987 of helping organise her campaign in the Brownswood Ward of Hackney North and Stoke Newington - a modest contribution to the election of Britain's first black woman MP.
She has a rare political talent - an ability to connect to people, understand their concerns and articulate them as their elected representative. I applauded the Miliband brothers for agreeing to differ and both run for election - guaranteeing an election, not a coronation. So I applaud Diane for electrifying the debate with the promise of diversity - both gender and ethnicity. Left-winger John McDonnell's declaration earlier this week brought the promise of a wider range of political views. How long that lasts may depend on the race for the necessary 33 nominations.
The Labour Party's Procedures Committee meets today to reconsider the rules including a controversial decision (opposed at the NEC by Christine Shawcoft and myself from the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance) to impose a 27 May deadline for nominations by Labour MPs. Pressure is mounting for an extension. My reading of the Rules is that should be until end July enabling any declared candidate to take part in hustings.
Yesterday, I attended the 33-member Labour's National Executive Committee to consider and decide on the rules for the forthcoming Leadership election. No papers had been circulated in advance. A not uncommon occurrence, but an understandable one in the immediate aftermath of Labour's General Election defeat.
Sadly, as I expected following prior discussions with colleagues, there was no reference in the laid-round papers to the issue of nomination papers for deputy leader, or even a contingency plan in the event of a valid nomination requiring 52 Labour MPs' signatures on a Deputy Leader nomination paper. I had blogged last week inviting interim Leader Harriet Harman to make sure that the said papers were issued. All to no avail.
Worse the NEC papers contained a recommended time and date for the closure of Leader nominations by the Parliamentary Labour Party of 12.30 pm on Thursday 27May - just 9 days away. Leadership contenders only require 33 signatories as there is a vacancy following the resignation of former Leader and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
It was an audacious constitutional coup for the retention of power and influence by the ruling elite inside the Labour Party. It could cost the Party dearly in terms of recruitment potential, future electoral prospects and possibly threaten its future financial viability.
In contention are the Rules governing Leader/Deputy elections. The key ones are set out in Chapter 4. Paragraph 2, which I have reproduced in order below.B. Nomination
i. In the case of a vacancy for leader or deputy leader, each nomination must be supported by 12.5 per cent of the Commons members of the PLP. Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.
This applies to the vacancy that has arisen.
The Rule Book goes on, and states:
ii. Where there is no vacancy, nominations shall be sought each year prior to the annual session of party conference. In this case any nomination must be supported by 20 per cent of the Commons members of the PLP. Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.
This would appear to apply to the position of Deputy Leader where, indeed, there is no vacancy. Ray Collins, Labour's General Secretary cited a Labour friendly lawyer's opinion to insist that nomination papers should not be issued and that the only way that a contest could be triggered would be if 52 Labour MPs signed a nomination paper for someone other that Harriet Harman.
That in itself begs the question of whether nomination papers are being issued to the PLP. But that is a side issue. The key question is WHEN should the PLP nomination threshold should be achieved?
The Rule Book goes on further, and states:
iii. Affiliated organisations, CLPs and Labour Members of the European Parliament may also nominate for each of the offices of leader and deputy leader. All nominees must be Commons members of the PLP.
The Rule Book makes no reference to such nominations having to have reached a threshold BEFORE being decided by either affiliated organisations, CLPs and Labour member of the European Parliament.
Let's suppose my understanding of the Rule is correct. It is clearly incumbent on any Party unit seeking to nominate to lobby and secure enough PLP support in time to get that person's name on the ballot paper. That would apply to both the Leader election and the possibility of a contest for Deputy.
So when might that be? Very helpfully, the Rule Book states in the next sub-section:
iv. Nominees shall inform the General Secretary in writing of the acceptance or otherwise of their nomination at least two clear weeks before the commencement of the procedures for voting laid out in rule C below. Unless written consent to nomination is received, nominations shall be rendered
null and void.
Under the timetable agreed by the NEC, which I sought to amend, but was disallowed by the Chair, the ballot papers are not due to be issued until 16 August. A strict interpretation of the Rule would imply 30 July for the filing of valid nominations.
So what are we to conclude from this?
1) Debate and the possibility of a campaign to identify a reluctant, but popular candidate by affiliated unions, CLPs and even Labour MEPs has been denied by the Party's ruling elite, having set a deadline of 27 May, not 30 July for valid nominations.
2) The refusal of the NEC to agreed to the issue of Deputy Leadership nomination papers is to abandon accountability and contrary to Rule
Toryboysnevergrowup commenting on my earlier posting mocked me:
Of course the Labour Party NEC may not have anything better to do than send out nomination papers to CLPs
If only s/he had just taken the trouble to read the section as a whole. Just the like the rest of the NEC. All I ask is that the Labour Party Procedures Committee, which is now charged with the conduct of the election(s), reflects and challenges the advice tendered on Tuesday. I would hope that my colleagues accept that:
1) any Commons member of the PLP seeking nomination should take part in the hustings from now until a new close of nominations in two months time.
20 nomination papers for Deputy Leader should be issued. Just imagine if any CLP chair told the AGM: no elections this year, there's no vacancy. Monsterous.
Both changes would underline the Party's resolute commitment to openness and accountability, and the widest possible debate ahead of the election(s) in the run up to our 2010 Conference in late September.
They would have a measurable impact on the Party's capacity to recruit new members, not just from among disaffected Liberal-Democrats, but the hundreds of thousands of members, who resigned or lapsed in protest against New Labour and potentially many more too young to remember Thatcher, but who yearn for a new politics, which only Labour can offer.
Let's do it.
Oh, BTW the NEC papers are littered with references to "supporting nominations". They are a fiction in this context. There are only two references to the term in the Rule Book, and both are in the context of CLPs supporting nominations in NEC elections.
1815 UPDATE Just been tipped off that the Procedures Committee which meets tomorrow will discuss the timetable, and is in listening mode!!!!
Last night I attended the first 'business' meeting of my local Constituency Labour Party since the election. I hope my brief account doesn't put off any of those 13,000 new recruits since Tory/Lib-Dem nuptials were consummated. On the contrary, this is the stuff of democratic politics - deeply steeped in the need for accountability, opportunities to let off steam, learn lessons and kindle new ideas - all focussed on winning more votes next time.
It was our Executive Committee comprising the CLP officers, and delegates from each of the local party adminstrative branches (not to be confused with electoral wards). In the first place, a week earlier, as secretary of the CLP following consultation with the chair, I had assembled an Agenda - a list of the issues to be tackled. Requests for reports from the agents for the local and general elections were requested, the Treasurer offered to update on finance now the election spend has been totalled, as Secretary I flagged up forthcoming national Party elections.
The reports duly arrived, too late for some to have had time to print off between work and meeting. But copies were shared as each item arose. Frustrations over the inevitable election-tide cock-ups were aired. Then the moment arrived for deciding what was to be said to the CLP's General Committee - a larger gathering which ultimately governs the affairs of the Labour Party locally. So, I asked is it to be recriminations or recommendations?
Sanity prevailed - so I had better get on with the minutes, and assemble the agenda for the GC before events bowl me over. That evidence-based blog whirling round my brain on why the General Secretary of the Labour Party misdirected the NEC about the conduct of the Labour Party leadership elections yesterday will just have to wait until after lunch.
Newly launched hub for forward thinking for the democratic Left - Left Futures today carries a timely reminder about the 'other' elections inside the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) written by Jon Lansman titled, " 'Democracy' returns to the PLP". Dates have not been set, but the PLP shadow cabinet elections should take place well before those for the Labour Leadership.
What the PLP standing orders either on timing or the conduct of the elections themselves, I don't know. Getting information about how the Labour really functions remains a challenge. But it occurred to me on Saturday listening to Ed Miliband, unable to give a crisp answer to a question about diversity, that the PLP as early as tonight (Monday, assuming it's meeting tonight) has a wonderful opportunity to transform the diversity agenda inside the Party overnight.
There are 19 places for the Shadow Cabinet on the Parliamentary Committee when in Opposition if my sources are correct. If it isn't already embedded in the Standing Orders (SOs) I hope that the PLP brothers and sisters will propose and vote for the Shadow Cabinet places to be subject to the following quotas: 9 places for women, 8 places for men and two places for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority candidates (one woman, one man) - these would be extra to any places secured by BAME candidates in either the female or male 'colleges' getting enough votes to secure a shadow cabinet place anyway.
I'm sure the NEC would not have any problem agreeing to such a change tomorrow without further ado.
I promise an update as soon as I can get confirmation about the current SOs and hopefully a proposer for the quotas, if necessary.
I wonder how many toes will be trodden on and careers launched, if such modest changes were adopted.