Friday, July 09, 2010

NEC Sub-committees-Tuesday July 6th

Tuesday was sub-committee day in London. It started with the Womens, Race and Equality committee in the morning. We had another in a series of detailed and very useful reviews of the General Election. As we know we did well in some areas of traditional Labour Strength-Scotland, Merseyside, inner London and other metropolitan, multi-ethnic areas. We did badly in others-Midlands industial areas, some of the former coal-field areas (Yorkshire, Mid-Glamorgan) Shire Towns and the industrial corridors and dormitory towns along the M4 and in North Kent. Our biggest loss of support was amongst the C1/C2 voters- skilled and semi-slilled private sector workers in non-metroplitan areas. We need urgently to assess the reasons for this.
We also discussed the implications of the Tories gerrymandering of Parliamentary Boundaries. We don't have all the details yet but they are proposing to cut the number of seats from 650 to 600, raise the average electorate to75,000 with no more than a 5% deviation (apart from Orkney and Shetland and the Scottish islands) which will lead to a widespread disregard for county and local authority boundaries (and possibly ward boundaries) and to rush these changes through by 2013-before an anticipated election.
The estimated seat reductions are as follows:
Wales Down 10 to 30
Scotland Down 7 to 52
England Down 30 to 507
Its not clear if Northern Ireland will lose 3 seats or stay as it is.

In England the seat losses will be concentrated in the North and Midlands and the nett effect of these changes could cost Labour 25-30 seats.
We then had a discussion about access to the political system for people with disabilities. I have been charged with preparing a report on this-working with our affiliated unions and the Labour Party members disabled group.
At Mid-day we had the Disputes Committee. Very much a working committee where we try to resolve disciplinary issues.
Then in the afternoon we had the Organisation Committee. The big issue was the procedure we use for Selections. We considered the role of postal votes, the length of time it takes and the possibility of caps on expenditure. A paper will be coming back to us.
I made the point that we need to move very swiftly on this as this Coalition could well collapse next year-I am not saying it will only that it could! If it does we need to be in a position to fight it and that means having candidates in the field. The longer candidates have to build a relationship with the electorate the better and we don't want to have a rushed procedure or impositions at the last minute. It's better to be ready for an election that doesn't happen than not ready for one that does.
We also agreed that NEC nominations be published on the members website-so CLP's can check when they arrive.
Two hour wait for the off peak train means I can catch up with a couple of pints before the train.

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