Saturday, December 16, 2006

Emergency NEC Meeting - 14/12/06

Got the message on Tuesday that there was an emergency NEC meeting on Thursday evening – mainly to discuss Hayden Phillips and Party funding.

I had to miss the by-election in Lancaster but felt it important to be there in person (sorry Lancaster!)

Two other items of business:

1. There will be a National Policy Forum in February which, amongst other things, means we can discuss Trident

2. Changes to the Annual Conference, venues will now be:

2007 Bournemouth

2008 Manchester

2009 Brighton

2010 Manchester

This means we are back to being away from the English South Coast every other year.

The main business was the party’s approach to an interim report from Sir Hayden Phillips in which, amongst other things, he has come up with proposals which would require the Party to write to every single trade union member every year reminding them they don’t have to affiliate to the Labour Party. This is a more draconian assault on Trade Union political funding then even the Tories managed after the General Strike of 1926!

Hayden Phillips is clearly exceeding his mandate by delving into Trade Union Political Funds and would destroy Political funds and cost the Party millions – a totally partisan attack on the basis of our Party’s funding at a time when finances are tough enough.

We had a very constructive and unified debate in which we reiterated policy agreed at Conference. I made the point that we needed unity and that the Party/Union link was not up for sale. The NEC unanimously agreed a statement along those very lines.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lancaster By-election 14/12/06

The emergency NEC means I'll probably miss the Lancaster By-election so good luck to the party there.

By the way, the Nazi BNP objected to me calling them Nazis in a recent posting.

Apparently the Nazi BNP don't like people reminding them that they are Nazis and the get really upset in a Nazi fashion, so if you want to upset the Nazi BNP you know what to do.

6 times in one sentence - that should really upset them!

Sir Hayden Phillips Review of Party Funding

Things seem to be moving very quickly on the party financing front with rumours that Sir Hayden has published draft recommendations, including a £50,000 donation cap on every organisation and individual, including Trade Unions and severe restrictions on the way trade unions collect their political funds.

I haven't seen the report yet but clearly these proposals are a nonsense and would destroy Labour's link with the trade unions. This must be fiercely resisted.

There is an emergency NEC on Thursday 14th where we will be discussing the issue and its important the Party maintains its unity on this issue.

The changes needed are controls on expenditure and an end to anonymous donations.
I will be arguing strongly against any moves which threaten Trade Union Political Funds or the Trade Union link with the Labour Party - and doing my best to keep the Party united and our fire trained on the opposition.

To make a donation to the Labour Party please visit:

Review of party funding website:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

NEC Report

1. NEC Meetings
At the beginning of November we had the NEC Away Day and NEC meeting.

The Away Day concentrated on the challenges facing the party over the coming year – specifically the forthcoming elections, party renewal, and policy making and improving the NEC’s role in running the party.

The main business of the NEC meeting included the guidelines for any future leadership elections, Annual Conference in Manchester which was felt to have been very successful (although we are aware of the major problems of the accreditation process and are addressing these!) and the arrangements for events to replace Spring Conference. It was also reported by the Chief Whip that Clare Short M.P. having resigned the Labour whip had excluded herself from the party.

Copies of a report from my colleague, Ellie Reeves, which you might find useful, together with the NEC response on party funding are available by emailing

2. Blog
To improve communications I’ve set up a blog. It won’t replace written and e-mail communications but hopefully will complement them. It can access it at

3. Membership 1000 Club
We’ve never needed new members more than we do at the moment and we probably all know people who would join if asked. However, doing so on you own often seems like whistling in the wind.

It occurred to me that a bit of solidarity might help. If 900 of us pledge to get 10 members each that will be an extra 1000, it won’t change the world but will make a real contribution to party membership. More information on my blog but if you’re interested e-mail, writ or ring and we’ll probably have a little prize at the end of next year.

Any members recruited will be able to vote in the leader / deputy elections next year – so get in touch and sign up for the 1000 Club.

4. Warwick
The Party Chair, Hazel Blears has prepared a report on the implementation of our Warwick Manifesto commitments.

The picture seems to be that much progress has been made but we still need urgent action on the outstanding issues – especially delivering on the promised guaranteed bank holidays for all workers. Copies of the report can be received by e-mailing me at this address.

5. Issues
I’ve been pursuing a number of issues on behalf of members including parliamentary selections, trustees for Labour Clubs and ensuring a future for the Local Government Conference. If there are other party related issues you’d like me to take up please let me know.

6. Meetings
If you would like me to attend your GC please contact the above address and I will do my best to get there.

Best wishes for Christmas (and Hanukkah) and the New Year.

Here’s to a good 2007 for the Labour and Trade Union Movement

The museums are getting full - thanks to Labour

I don't know if anyone else noticed but The Guardian had a report last Saturday that since Labour introduced free public admission to museums the attendances have risen by 83%.

It's one of those radical steps our Government took which has been of real benefit to everyone but doesn't get enough publicity.

It's also one of those policies which are genuinely popular and socialist and we need more like this for our next term of Government.
If you are ever up in Salford, try the Lowry, it's a great day out and free.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bradford Ward Quiz Night

Friday night spent at the Bradford Ward Labour Party Quiz Night. This is a strong Labour area of East Manchester and the candidate for next year's election is 23 year old Rosa Battle.

Its great to see parties picking candidates like Rosa and the Quiz Night had around 50 people there with plenty of young people and the pub regulars. Those who say the Labour Party's dead should come to Manchester!
We came second in the quiz and on the raffle I managed to win the 13th prize - 4 energy saving light bulbs - not exactly the bottle of champagne but it will reduce my carbon footprint.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Protect Christmas Day and New Year's Day in Scotland

Congratulations to Usdaw and Karen Whitefield MSP (Labour, Airdrie & Shotts) for their victory at the stage one vote of the Christmas Day and New Year's Day Trading (Scotland) Bill.

In the face of concerted opposition from Liberals, Tories and Nationalists in Committee, Labour MSPs stood firm and delivered an overwhelming endorsement in the Chamber.

Shopworkers have a genuine fear that they could be forced into work on either December 25th or January 1st, which makes this legislation absolutely necessary. Both these days are special and need to be protected.

This is an excellent example of Labour MSPs delivering Conference policy (passed at the Scottish Labour Party Conference in 2005).

However, there are still two more stages to go through in the Parliament before the Bill becomes law. The Tories, Liberals and Nationalists have threatened to strip out New Year's Day by putting in amendments.

So I am delighted that today the Scottish Labour Conference unanimously endorsed an emergency resolution from Usdaw, which calls on Labour MSPs to stand up to such attempts to wreck the Bill.

For more information on Usdaw's Protect Christmas Day & New Year's Day in Scotland Campaign, please visit:

Wyre Forest CLP

Spoke to the GC meeting in Wyre Forest on Thursday 23rd November. There was a good turn out of members and we had a long discussion on what the NEC does and where the party should be going.

The questions covered everything from policy information (not happy with it) to election expenditure, how to save manufacturing and Iraq.

This is a seat we lost to the Independent hospital candidate in 2001 but the party is in good spirit to win it back and are currently selected with good candidates to choose from.

Good luck to the winner!
You can visit Wyre Forest's website at:

Beat the BNP in Lancaster AGAIN

For the second time this year there will be a by-election in the Lancaster ward of Skerton West.
Its due to the sad death of Labour Councillor and the BNP couldn't even wait for the funeral to move the writ.

Its not a great time of year for a by-election - but anyone who can help is asked to contact Roger Sherlock on 01524 35696. Polling day is Thursday 15th December 2006.

Any Labour candidates who face BNP opposition may be interested in Usdaw's "Stop the BNP - vote Labour" leaflets.
Usdaw offers them free of charge in reasonable quantities.
To see a copy of the leaflet please visit:

For further information please e-mail:

Bury South CLP

Spoke at a meeting of the Bury South General Committee. A good meeting with a wide range of views exposed. Bury is one of those areas with a marginal council and both parliamentary seats marginal.

Its good to report that the party is still alive and kicking with a frightening amount of work going on in the run up to the local elections.

Two points that really emerged were how important members feel the environment is and the hostility people felt to the Labour Party magazine. That took me by surprise and if its not just a Bury thing the NEC needs to look at how we communicate.

Went for a pint afterwards with Warren - an ex-Councillor who works for Ivan Lewis MP. Warren has 2 main interests in life - the Party and Bury FC. So he'll have been happy about the replay against Weymouth - Bury won 4-3 after being behind 3 times. I hope City don’t get then in the cup.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Membership - the 1,000 club

I’ve had some good response to the Membership 1000 Club – the idea that 100 of us will pledge to get 10 members each over the next year.

Hazel Blears is very keen to help and the party apparatus is there to support but I’m keen to ensure it remains a member led initiative.

So – here’s the plan:

I’ll circulate an appeal for volunteers in my NEC reports and see if the party will also circulate details.
I’ll collect these details on a circulation list and let people know how it’s going.
We’ll start recruiting seriously as of January - though start now if you want.
There’ll be some sort of prize for the best recruiter – either most or most imaginative.

So, if you want to volunteer just post a comment. My site is linked to the Labour Party site and people can join on-line or you can download forms.
Happy recruiting!

To join online please visit:

Usdaw members can join Labour FREE for the first and thereafter £12 per year (when joining by Direct Debit). For more information please visit:

Thursday, November 09, 2006


The fundraising (and clearing out!) continues. Any bids for the following highly desirable football programmes? All proceeds to Labour Party funds.

Chelsea v Aston Villa 1946 Division 1

Derby v Leeds United 1947 Division 1

Fulham v Sunderland 1950 Division 1

Benfica v Milan 1963 ECF

Arsenal v Brazil 1965 Friendly

Leicester v Liverpool 1966 Division 1

Newcastle v Chelsea 1966 Division 1

Liverpool v Sheffield Wednesday 1966 Division 1

Chelsea v Tottenham 1967 FACUP Final

Southampton v Leicester 1966 Division 1

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland 1968 Division 1

Stoke City v Blackpool 1967 Division 1

Nottingham Forest v Everton 1966 DN1

Burnley v Arsenal 1967 Division 1

Fulham v West Bromwich 1967 Division 1

England v Sweden May 1968

Manchester City v Everton 1969 FACUP (SF)

Alknaar AZ v Ipswich 1981 UEFA Cup Final 2nd leg

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

NEC Away Day and November Meeting

Every year in November the NEC has an Away Day before its November meeting. It’s held at the Amicus Training Centre in Esher, Surrey and was held this year on Monday 6th November 2006.

We discussed the following:

Good Governance:
This refers to how the NEC manages the party on your behalf. There’s a clear will to ensure the NEC works better than it has in the past and links in with the Government, Trade Unions and PLP.

There is a proposal that the NEC Chair and Vice Chair serve for two years which, though it sounds mundane, could have a lot of implications for the way the NEC works.

Elections 2007:
We were informed about prospects in the forthcoming local Government, Scottish and Welsh elections.

In terms of the Scottish local elections the introduction of the single transferable vote will probably cost us 40% of our Councillors and at most we will control one or two Councils.

That’s a high price to pay for keeping the Liberal Democrats happy and a warning to those in England who might be tempted.

In English local elections over 10,400 Councillors are up for election, nearly 50% of the total. Labour are only defending 2401 of these seats and given the other events happening next year it’s important we get a good result.

Party Renewal:
We received a very comprehensive paper about renewing our campaigning and technological developments.

Details should be coming out soon but include:
- an interactive web creator
- personalised websites for members
- Labour Print Creator

A lot of what’s being done went beyond my knowledge but I’m very glad it’s being done – and I am learning.

Policy Development / Partnership Power:
The NEC opened with an outline from Tony Blair on the current political situation. The main theme was that the Tories were being rumbled on policy. He felt it important we hold our nerve and concentrate on the future policy agenda.

There were a number of questions from NEC members on current political issues such as corporate manslaughter and the Post Office Network.

It was good to see Ellie Reeves at her first meeting, questioning the Prime Minister about Adult Education. That’s democracy in action!

The Chief Whip’s report mentioned the fact that Clare Short had excluded herself from the Party by resigning from the PLP.

Hazel Blears gave her Party Chair’s report outlining progress on implementing the Warwick Agreement. Of 111 pledges 37 are completed with 74 in progress. These include much of our bread and butter issues such as ensuring people get their full bank holiday entitlement and implementing family friendly policies.

There was then a lengthy discussion on preparing for next year’s leadership elections. The main new development was that people will be encouraged to join the party to participate, so effectively there will be no freeze date for membership.

The report on Annual Conference in Manchester concluded that it was a big success with 497 CLPs represented. The major problem was with accreditation and the party is investing in new computer facilities to deal with this.

On Finances the staff restructuring is complete – we now have 158 staff and we are budgeting for approximately £1 million surplus – progress is being made!

Things are still difficult for the party but I think we’re approaching the year end in better shape than we entered it!

Friday, November 03, 2006

NEC Sub Committee Day 17/10/06

Down to London on Monday night for the meeting on Tuesday morning and stayed with brother in Greenwich. After an “as much as you can eat breakfast” at Maggies (8 cups of tea, bacon, liver, sausage, black pudding, egg, bubble and beans - £4.50 – about 5000 calories but no need to eat again for the day) up to the Labour Party Headquarters at Westminster for the Women’s, Race and Equality Committee – chaired by Norma Stevenson from Unison

Manchester Conference

We agreed that the Manchester Conference had been a big success. I made the point that more needed to be done on disabled access (no taxi rank near the centre made things difficult for delegates with restricted mobility - venues of functions outside weren’t always DDA compliant) but didn’t want to be negative.


Concerns were expressed that we needed to be firm in resisting any attempts to water down the forthcoming.

The person from Ruth Kelly’s office made it clear that rumours of a split with Alan Johnson’s office were based on fabrications in the Sunday papers. They do seem to get away with just making things up when it suits them.

The Veil

Concern was expressed about how this debate was going. My own view is that any legitimate concerns about employment issues are already addressed by legislation and its best to leave local people to sort the position out. There is a wider position on the veil and I know its one that’s going on in the Islamic community. At the end of the day a woman must be free to make the decision about how she dresses and how she lives her life.

Black Socialist Society

The party and active black members are trying to sort out the position of the Black Socialist Society and how to encourage more black members at every level of the party.


The Labour Students are busy working to build organisation in university seats – the so-called “University Challenge” seats.

At 11.00 a.m. we had the Disputes Committee at which we deal with disciplinary matters and then it was

The Organisation Committee

Again we discussed the recent conference and then discussed the events designed to replace Spring Conference. Final details are being worked out but there will be events all around the UK, including local government and women’s events. The Youth Conference will be held and that’s where the NEC Youth representative will be elected – probably in Scotland by Electoral College.

I made (along with others) a big issue of the fact that Councillors who pay their party subscriptions by means other that direct debit were denied a vote in the recent NEC elections and this mustn’t happen in future elections.

I think we got the point over. We received the news that so far 11 MPs had decided they weren’t standing again – with 15 still to reply and agreed to agreed to start the selection procedure with a Manchester Withington all women shortlist. We are so going to beat the Liberals in Withington.

Anyway sorry if that’s a bit long but that’s my Sub-Committee Day

Back to Manchester and ready for work tomorrow. The full NEC meeting will be held on Tuesday 7th November 2006 after the NEC Away Day – where we talk strategy - on the 6th.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The National Executive Committee

A lot of this blog will be about the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party – so it makes sense to know how it works.

In practice it seems to me thw NEC is one of a number of centres of power in the party but it’s a very important body and it’s a great honour to be elected to it to represent the individual members of the Labour Party.

It’s made up of 32 members:

The Leader
Deputy Leader
6 CLP representatives
12 Trade Union representatives
The Leader of the MEPs
A Young Labour representative
A Socialist Society representative
3 representatives of the MPs / MEPs
2 Government representatives
2 Local Government representatives

The full NEC meets every 2 months – usually in Westminster. The business consists largely of a report from the Leader – Tony Blair and then an opportunity to question him followed by dealing with reports from the various sub-committees of the NEC and from officers of the NEC such as the General Secretary.

The sub-committees are usually held 2 weeks before the main NEC meeting and are where some of the detail gets done. I’m on the Organisation Committee, Disputes Committee and Women’s, Race and Equality Committee – all of which meet on the same day. (Hence only one day in London – hurray!) I’m also on the Pensions Committee.

The Committee chairs and officers meet as a group to take necessary decisions in between meetings which is a welcome development, as it makes the decision making more accountable.

I’ve been on the NEC for 2 years and I’ve been impressed by the commitment, wisdom and friendliness of most of the NEC members.

The election of the CLP section is a concern to all of us. The turnouts have fallen to around 20% in the 1 member 1 vote ballot which is held every 2 years – any ideas for increasing turnout gratefully received.

The elections tend to be contested by the “centre left grassroots alliance” (a traditional leftist coalition with some nice people but not much centre and would have the party back to the seventies quicker than you can say “tank-top”) and various groups of more mainstream Labour candidates – such as myself.

The Chair of the NEC is elected by the NEC for a 1 year period – usually on the basis of seniority (Buggins Turn). I’ve estimated I could be Chair by 2019 if you go on voting for me!

This is distinct from the Chair of the Party – Hazel Blears – who is appointed by the Prime Minister.

Hazel is my Member of Parliament in Salford and a truly wonderful person. (That’s a fiver Hazel!)

Anyway – sorry this has been so long but the idea is to explain how it works so I can refer new readers and so not have to keep repeating it.

For further information please visit:

Saturday, October 21, 2006


As you know the party is strapped for cash and the only people it can really rely on are party members and Trades Unionists.

We’ve all got a part to play if we’re not to be outgunned by the Tories so by hook or by crook I’m going to raise £10,000.

You can help – below is a list of Rugby League programmes / magazines I’ve accumulated over the last 40 years. If you see any you fancy just make me an offer (you’ll also be helping de-clutter my flat.) Football programmes to follow – but not the city ones.

1954 World Cup Official Souvenir Programme

Rugby League Gazette: 19/8/50, 30/9/50, 13/10/50, 10/11/50, 24/11/50, 22/12/50, 5/1/51, 19/1/51, Oct 1949, Nov 1949, Dec 1949, April 1950, July 1950

Rugby League in story and pictures by Frank Edwards: 1950

Wakefield Trinity v Salford Rugby League Cup first round, second leg 1951

Salford v Wigan 10/4/50 Unofficial photographic souvenir programme

Challenge Cup Final 1967: Barrow v Featherstone
Challenge Cup Final 1969: Castleford v Salford

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Campaigning in Manchester

On Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th October 2006 I was out campaigning in Manchester. There’s a by-election in a Liberal Democrat held seat and the Party are working hard to gain the seat.

We had a campaign launch on the Saturday for next May’s elections (like Christmas campaign launches get earlier every year!) Hazel Blears gave a short speech and then 60 plus Labour canvassers were out on the streets.

I managed to recruit a new member but star prize goes to Alastair from Moss Side who knocked on the door of a voter from French Africa – so proceeded to canvass him in French and got him to vote Labour – a touch of real class.

Anyway, the Labour candidate is Julie Read – a local woman and a good campaigner and the election is today so anyone who can get along to help ring Mike Amesby on 07876 032641.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Membership – A New 1000 Club

We need more members, we all know that but we need to actually do something about it.

We all know if every party member recruited another member we'd double our membership but that sort of thing never seems to work in practice.

Yet we know if we actually ask people we know to join they often will.

So here's a plan, why don't 100 of us agree to recruit 10 members over the coming year. 1000 new members won't change the world but it will be a part of rebuilding the party. You don't need to be a mad anorak to do it - just prepared to work out which of the people you know might join or stand your ground for Labour when the discussion moves to politics.

People can join on the party's website at:

If you want to join the 1000 club and agree to recruit 10 members in the next year please leave me a message.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Legend in The Bridgewater!

Being on the NEC occasionally means that you are in demand from the media and I did a couple of interviews for TV and radio. There were two unexpected consequences of this:

1. I was featured, among others, on the Australian Broadcasting Corporations morning radio bulletin, you can hear it by visiting:

2. I became a legend in my own boozer, as I walked in The Bridgewater Hotel, (Patricroft, Eccles) the landlord proclaimed, “Here’s that **** Dave who was on the telly the other day!”

It’s good to know that all this exposure gets me name recognition!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Listening to Labour Party members

As well as attending NEC meetings and sub-committee meetings I also attend meetings around the country and attempt to deal with issues raised by members.

Current issues include Northern Ireland, voting rights for East Europeans and rural post offices.

If there are issues of concern to you or your CLP, please let me know and if you want to invite me to your GC please e-mail at the address below.

Monday, October 09, 2006

National Policy Forum

The first round of the NPF consultation has been launched, leading up to the manifesto for the next election. Whilst the process can at times appear cumbersome, it’s important that party members use it to stimulate political discussion in our communities.

For more information on Labour's policy making process and how you can get involved in shaping Labour next manifesto please visit:

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Spring Conference 2007

The Spring Conference due to be held in Glasgow in February has been replaced in favour of a number of innovative (and cheaper!) events around the country.

More details to follow.

To have your say all year round, please visit:

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Conference - Manchester 06

Most members seem to think Conference in Manchester was a big success. We appear to have come out of it more united then when we went in.

As a Mancunian, it was a pleasure to welcome the Party to our city.

Any views you have on Conference and how it went would be much appreciated.

The problems last year concerning stewarding were not repeated. However we did have major problems concerning accreditation and it’s vital we get that right for Bournemouth next year.

The structure of conference business does need looking at. To debate education and health together can lead to a rambling and unbalanced debate. This year we had eight platform speakers, eight and half health speakers and two and a half education speakers. That needs addressing.

I would also welcome comments on disabled and restricted mobility access and delegates experience this year as well as any other comments you have.

For more information on this year's conference please visit:

Friday, October 06, 2006

September NEC - Finances

The September NEC lasted seven and a half hours and covered a wide range of issues including our submission on Party financing (conference expenditure, keep the Trade Union link, a bit more state support), Clare Short, conference arrangements and crucially our financial position.

Without going into too much detail, we have been basing our expenditure on the anticipated high value donations coupled with borrowing to fight elections and not making provision to repay the loans.

Such a course of action could only end in tears – and it has.

The new General Secretary however, appears to have the situation under control and we are budgeting on the basis of the income we feel we can rely on – membership and Trade Union subscriptions.

Any extra income will obviously be a bonus.

The NEC has had to take steps to get expenditure and income matched and it’s heartbreaking to see so many of our loyal staff have to go on the voluntary severance scheme. Hopefully we now have a stable position to grow from.

If you would like to make a donation to help Labour's campaigning please visit:

Sunday, October 01, 2006


About Peter Wheeler

Chair of Claremont Branch Labour Party.
Born in Manchester, 1956.
Joined Labour Party in 1973.
Worked as Labour Party Organiser 1978 - 1999.
Political Development Officer of Amicus.
Father of two, Michael a graduate, Alice at University.
Re-elected to Labour's National Executive Committee in 2006

My Priorities

The most worrying development for the Party over the past few years has been the collapse in Party membership and the corresponding decline in party activity.

It's a lot easier to keep the party strong in opposition - it's easy to be against things! However we don't achieve anything in opposition. The challenge is to stay in power and deliver the policies, which will improve the lives of the majority in this country and keep the Labour movement together.

To do that we need an active dynamic party and our priorities need to be:

Greater encouragement for young Labour and Labour students. A socialist party without a strong appeal to young people is in trouble - yet not since the 1960's has it been harder for young people to identify with the Labour movement. We need to provide the resources and support our young members need.

Stronger links with the Trade union movement. The Labour Party and the Trade union movement are two sides of the same coin. We are strongest when we campaign jointly on the issues that matter to people. Trade unions need to be integrated into our General Election work - delivering a message at the workplace.

More support for our front line members in the CLP's and branches. These shouldn't be called branches, they should be called roots! Our basic organisation is one of the main ways we keep in touch with our voters and members. We need more support for Branch and CLP officers, encouraging more people to come forward and helping them campaign in the communities.

Re-building support in the Muslim and minority ethnic communities. Some of Labours strongest support has come from Britain's Black and Asian communities. We need to continually work to justify that support - repairing the damage caused by the Iraq war and re-building our links at every level. More Black and Asian MP's are a must but it needs to go further than this, with all our representatives being conscious of the concerns and views of our diverse communities.