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.

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