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!

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