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.