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.