East Midlands National Policy Forum reps report
Milton Keynes National Policy Forum, July 2014
This is a report from East Midlands National Policy Forum reps Bex Bailey, Andy Furlong, Mark Glover and Rory Palmer following the Milton Keynes NPF meeting where Labour’s policy platform for 2015 was debated and agreed. Labour’s Annual Conference has since agreed the policy platform that will form the basis of our 2015 manifesto.
The Milton Keynes meeting considered Labour’s policy following two years of consultation and debate through the Your Britain process. This involved policy papers published for consultation and discussion by constituency parties as well as online submissions from individuals and organisations.
The East Midlands team of took forward around forty amendments from CLPs to the Milton Keynes meeting and were successful in securing agreement in the final policy texts reflective of the views of members in the region.
East Midlands reps Bex Bailey, Andy Furlong, Dawn Elliott, Mark Glover, Rory Palmer and Linda Woodings attended the Milton Keynes meeting. Biographies and contact details for all the East Midlands NPF reps can be found at: www.yourbritain.org.uk
You can also find other useful information including the NPF Annual Report and a guide to how the Your Britain policy-making process works at www.yourbritain.org.uk
If you have any questions or would like to invite one of the East Midlands National Policy Forum reps to your CLP meeting please contact us.
If you would like a copy of this report e-mailing to you as a PDF document please contact us.
I took forward amendments from Nottingham South, Gedling, Derby South and Northampton South and argued for a these to be included in the party’s final policy documents. Based on submissions from the East Midlands, I proposed the following amendments:
• Introducing mandatory citizenship education that includes comprehensive sex and relationship education, employment rights and political education. I'm pleased to say that this was adopted in full.
• Introducing measures to increase voter turnout, including registering people to vote in schools, placing ballot boxes in schools and colleges to allow 16-18 year-olds to vote easily when we introduce votes at 16, looking into having polling stations in places such as supermarkets, investigating online voting and removing the restriction that means you are only able to vote in a certain polling station. This was also adopted.
• Giving young people a say in the public services they use - for example giving pupils a say in their schools and students' unions a say in local public health services. This was adopted, with the focus being on schools rather than public health services.
• Providing affordable and effective training for adults looking to re-train and up-skill;
• Introducing a cross-government strategy that puts women’s safety at the heart of policies. The party is looking to put in place an ambassador to oversee the impact of government policy on women.
• Restoring specialist language lessons for immigrant women, some of whom find that language is a barrier to escaping from violent situations. On this, I got a commitment that measures to ensure the safety of immigrant women and women as a whole would be looked into.
• I also supported colleagues’ amendments on a wide variety of issues - from SureStart and higher education to free school meals and exploitative contracts that ignore minimum wage laws.
Thanks so much to everyone who fed into the process. I've spoken to lots of members across the region over the course of the process and have done my best to feed in your views! Please do stay in touch and I'll continue to put your views forward in National Executive Committee meetings, as well as NPF meetings and other forums.
or through my blog www.bexbailey.com
Bex sits on Labour’s National Executive Committee and has served as the East Midlands Youth Rep on the National Policy Forum for the past 4 years. She sits on the Better Politics Policy Commission ans the Stronger, Safer Communities Policy Commission, and has also worked on the Education Policy Commission. Bex also sits on the Labour Women’s Network national committee, leading campaigns. Her regular report are available at www.bexbailey.com
In stark contrast to the bitter internal divisions that presently beset the Tories, Labour’s National Policy Forum meeting was characterised by a powerful sense of unity from the outset. The atmosphere in Milton Keynes was determined, yet realistic, with a powerful focus on creating an election winning manifesto. The need to deliver radical reform and improve living standards for all in the face of scare resources was recognised by an overwhelming majority of the representatives present.
On the opening day, Ed Balls made it clear that millions of people are relying on Labour to make the right calls. He urged us to ‘avoid another Warwick’. I am happy to report that the NPF heeded the call. The leadership received strong support from all sections of the party, including the Trade Unions, Socialist Societies, local government representatives and regional/constituency reps.
Nearly 800 amendments were debated, revised and finessed over the course of three days with give and take on all sides. Genuine consensus was reached across a huge swathe of policy issues. The final day of the meeting dawned with just a single point of contention remaining on agenda. This was a call by a Yorkshire CLP representative for an emergency budget within the first weeks of the next Labour government.
The NPF listened to a compelling statement from Ed Balls in which he argued that any indication that a Labour government might make a commitment to borrow more money would undermine our fiscal credibility and leave us wide open to attack from the Tories and their rightwing allies in business and the media. The leadership view prevailed and was supported by all bar a dozen or so representatives. Along with all of my colleagues from the East Midlands, I voted in support of the front bench position. The consolidated, amended documents are now available on Membersnet for review and will be put before Annual Conference in Manchester in September for approval by the wider party.
Prior to the NPF meeting, the East Midlands delegates agreed to work as a team. We divided the amendments from across the region in order to maximise our input. We supported one another in over 40 meetings with shadow ministers and I would like to thank Rory Palmer, Lind Woodings, Mark Glover, Dawn Elliot and Bex Bailey for their comradeship and hard work. All of the amendments from the region were incorporated into consensus wording and on balance I was pleased at the outcome.
At the request of Loughborough CLP, I engaged in a lengthy argument with the shadow treasury minister, Chris Leslie, regarding the need to recognise both income inequality and wealth inequality in Labour’s approach to the cost of living challenge. Eventually, this was accepted and I look forward to seeing specific measures in the manifesto, beyond a mansion tax, that will address wealth inequality and the profound damage that it causes.
Nuclear disarmament was also the subject of animated debate. In the absence of any CND inspired amendments from the East Midlands, I felt comfortable in arguing for a more nuanced multilateralist position emphasising the view of Charnwood CLP that any replacement for the Trident missile system should be cost-effective. Shadow ministers, including Vernon Coaker, accepted this view and whilst a firm commitment to cutting the number of missiles and warheads was not forthcoming, the consensus position, which received the support of all parties secures a open, inclusive and transparent debate on the UK’s defence and national security issues.
Fairness at work, and in particular increasing the level of the National Minimum wage was a priority in amendments submitted by NE Derbyshire, Broxtowe and Grantham & Stamford CLPs. I seconded Rory Palmer’s call for an increase in the NMW to a level recognised as a ‘Living Wage’ but agreement proved elusive. As a compromise we secured a commitment to delivering significant increases to NMW over the term of a parliament with the objective of bringing it closer to average earnings. The specific right to negotiate workplace issues via a trade union was another request from Loughborough CLP. Somewhat surprisingly, this was not a burning issue for trade union representatives, with UNITE, USDAW and others being happy with a more general commitment to ensure that working people have the capability to address workplace issues ‘more effectively’. I lent my support to the trade union position.
In discussions with the Education team, I took forward NE Derbyshire’s call to restore Sure Start at the heart of Labour’s early intervention policy. This was embraced within the consensus wording.
There was a lengthy debate of the future structure and ownership of Britain’s railways. Outright renationalisation is clearly off limits for political and financial reasons. However, in the face of strong arguments from the rail unions, which I supported, the shadow transport team accepted a position that includes a commitment to legislate to allow a public sector operator to take on lines and challenge private operators on a genuinely level playing field.
Finally, I had agreed to take forward a position from South Leicestershire CLP, which called access to legal advice to be made available to all who need it. The timetabling of amendment meetings dictated that I had to be in three places at one, thus Rory Palmer did the spadework on this one. A commitment to delivering a ‘fair and accessible, efficient and viable, civil and criminal legal aid system was secured’.
This was undoubtedly the most collaborative and effective meeting that I have attended in my time on the NPF. The improvements secured by CLP delegates from across the country were considerable and I was delighted to work with colleagues to produce the list, which is provided as an appendix to this report. The output may be couched in measured terms, but such is the challenge of being in opposition. Nonetheless, I believe that I played my part in delivering a final report that will form the basis of a radical manifesto that restore fairness and improve the lives of millions of ordinary people in Britain. I acted in the best interests of Labour Party members and supporters across our region. The outcome should play a big part in helping us to win our key marginal seats in Northampton, Loughborough, Erewash, Amber Valley, High Peak, Sherwood, Lincoln and maybe a few more besides.
Tel: 07881 92293
First elected in 1998, Andy is the East Midland's most experienced NPF representative. He contributed to the creation of Labour's election winning manifestos in 2001 and 2005. Andy is a seasoned negotiator who believes that constructive engagement provides an effective voice for ordinary party members and supporters.
On the NPF Andy has consistently spoken in favour of investment in public services and has worked to secure better access to affordable social housing. He strongly believes in the need to move to a low carbon economy and played a key role in the debate on the introduction of feed in tariffs, which kick started the UK's solar industry.
Andy says: "Opposition is a frustrating business. We see the damage being inflicted by the Tories on some of the most vulnerable people in the East Midlands. We urgently need credible policies that will bring people back to Labour in marginal seats like Corby, Lincoln, Loughborough and Sherwood. But at the same time, we must not ignore our core supporters.”
Summary of amendments proposed by Mark Glover at National Policy Forum meeting, Milton Keynes, 18-20 July 2014
Policy commission: Stronger, safer Communities
At page 5, line 37, add words:
Labour will set up a fair rent body responsible for setting the parameters for acceptable rents which will include regional variance. In order to improve relationships between tenant and landlord, especially in cases of conflict, Labour will create an advice and conciliatory body similar to ACAS to provide support and information and in cases of disputes decisions are binding upon the parties involved
Consensus wording agreed:
So the next Labour Government will legislate to introduce rights for tenants to have longer term lets with predictable rents to provide affordability, stability and security for private rental tenants. We recognise that many in the private rented sector have been hit hard by the already high rents and cuts to Housing Benefit. We will act to address this and ensure that Housing Benefit claimants are not driven into unsuitable accommodation while measures to stop excessive increases in rents are introduced.
We will raise awareness of the Residential Property Tribunal service and put in place measures to prevent retaliatory evictions.
Notes: A good, detailed discussion took place which also covered rent control. It was strongly argued by many that rent control does not work as it has the effect of slowing down house building.
Policy commission: Living Standards and Sustainability
CLP: None – a generic filling a gap in policy
At page 11, line 47, add words:
The intent of the NPPF to protect and enhance biodiversity will be implemented and enforced and we will create new areas of habitat of national and international conservation concern.
Consensus wording agreed:
Labour recognises the importance of community green spaces. A Labour government will work to improve access to and quality of green spaces, and will encourage greater public participation and civic responsibility in the development and protection of green spaces. Labour will put in place the right institutional and policy framework to ensure that we can meet our climate change and environmental commitments.
A Labour government will consider placing the Natural Capital Committee on a permanent basis.
The intent of the NPPF to protect and enhance biodiversity will be implemented. We will encourage the preservation and creation of habitats to improve biodiversity.
Notes: The agreed wording attempted to combine a number of proposed amendments. This new wording contains the only reference to the need to protect and enhance biodiversity in all of the policy documents.
Policy commission: Health and Care
At page 11, line 19, add words:
Labour recognises the link between unemployment and mental illnesses especially depression. We will commit to providing fast-track access to appropriate mental health services and wellness sessions. Labour also recognises the need to focus on disability and mental health as part of a whole person wellness strategy. As such they commit to a review of existing services such as adult Aspergers Centres to see how these model approaches can be adapted as a template for other areas of mental health and disability
Consensus wording agreed:
Labour recognises the link between unemployment and mental illnesses especially depression. Labour will ensure that mental health patients have equal treatment and resources as patients with physical illnesses. To ensure that mental health patient waiting times are reduced and that the distances travelled to access those services should not be excessive. Labour should take steps to introduce waiting time and access standards for mental health services.
Local Authority Health and Wellbeing Boards should be informed by Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategies ensuring preventative as well as curative services and interventions.
Notes: The Gedling proposed amendment was similar to others put forward in the region but covered more issues and so was selected to go forward to the NPF meeting.
Policy commission: Work and business
CLP: High Peak - amended
At page 6, line 45, add words:
We will examine the possibility of setting a maximum ratio of high to low pay.
Consensus wording agreed:
The introduction of the National Minimum Wage was one of the proudest achievements of the last
Labour government and the ongoing need to tackle the problem of low pay in our economy remains a priority for Labour.
All rates of the minimum wage should rise in real terms to at least catch up the ground it has lost under the current government. To achieve this, Labour will accept the recommendations of the Buckle Review on Low Pay and introduce a new framework or he Low Pay Commission (LPC) with a strengthened role in tackling in-work poverty and raising productivity across the UK. The LPC will be charged with implementing a five-year target, which would mean significantly increasing the National Minimum Wage so that it gets closer to average earnings. Labour will also empower the LPC to create taskforces with employers and employees to boost productivity and wages in low paid sectors and see how those sectors which can afford to pay more do so.
Workers need stronger support to ensure payment at a rate at least equal to the minimum wage. Alongside increased fines and a new role for local authorities in enforcement, HMRC’s remit on enforcement should be expanded to include related non-payment of holiday pay. We will also consider expanding enforcement to include related non-payment of statutory sick pay and statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay.
But we need to go further to ensure more workers are paid a decent wage. Labour will require listed companies to report on whether or not they pay the Living Wage, and we will follow the lead of Labour Councils by using government contracts to spread the payment of the living wage.
Notes: The shadow ministerial team were opposed to the idea of a maximum ratio arguing that the issue was dealt with by other means. This was accepted by the meeting after prolonged discussion and debate.
Policy commission: Work and Business
At page 8, line 24, add words:
Labour will undertake a legal review to explore routes to substantiative contracts for those on zero-hour contracts and establish a framework for those who wish to do so. In this way it will ensure that zero-hour contracts are only used when it is demonstrably mutually beneficial.
Consensus wording agreed:
Labour will increase security in the workplace by acting to end the unfair practices and abuses in the labour market. We will ban the use of unfair employment practices, such as exploitative zero-hours contracts and bogus self-employment hat prevents workers from receiving fair employment rights.
Labour is committed to ensuring that all workers are properly protected in the workplace. Exploitative zero-hours contracts will be abolished with rules introduced to give new rights to employees on zero-hours contracts including the right to receive automatically a fixed-hours contract when they have consistently worked regular hours. We will ban employers from being able to require zero-hours workers to be available on the off-chance that they will be needed and stop employees from being required to work exclusively for one firm if they are on a zero-hours contract. Labour will also ensure that zero-hours employees who have their shifts cancelled at short notice will receive compensation from their employer.
Short hours contracts are already a significant problem for many people who want to be able to work more hours. Labour in government will review the impact of these contracts on working people to ensure that they are not suffering from insecurity of income similar to those on zero-hours contracts, and we will take action to prevent this.
In the social care sector where zero-hours contracts are prevalent Labour will consider whether additional action is required.
Labour also recognises that commission-only jobs can increase insecurity in the workplace.
We will also campaign in Europe to ensure that the unscrupulous employers both in the UK and across the EU cannot exploit their workers through the unjustified use of zero-hours contracts.
Labour believes holiday pay should reflect pay earned and notes that in the recent ECJ rulings on what must be taken into account in calculating holiday pay.
Notes: Zero-hour contracts, not unnaturally, prompted a long and detailed debate. The adopted wording covers most, if not all, of the points raised and underlined how seriously the Party takes the issue.
Policy commission: Living Standards and Sustainability
At page 11, line 33, add words:
Animal welfare is of great concern to the public and One Nation Labour believes that cruelty to animals and unnecessary animal suffering is wrong and should, where possible, be brought to an end. We will bring in a range of robust, effective measures to continue the work of the last Labour government in this important area. These will include:
• Introduction of mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses with independent monitoring of footage
• Ban the sale of young puppies/kittens unless their mothers are present and end the cruel practice of puppy/kitten farming in the UK
• An end to all government funding of wildlife culls
• A ban on the use of cages for pheasant and partridge production • A ban on the use of the whip in horse racing
• A ban on the sale of real fur products with clear labelling as an interim measure
• Introduction of a positive list of species that make suitable pets, ban the keeping of primates as pets and bring in measures to deter impulse buying of pets
• Take concrete steps to reduce the number of animal tests, including an end to tests on cats and dogs •
• End the £17 million police subsidy to gun licence holders by raising the fee for the licences to reflect their true cost.
• Bring in an effective strategy to enforce the ban on hunting with hounds – the current ban is being treated with contempt by many. Breaching the Act should be a notifiable offence.
Consensus wording agreed:
Animal welfare is of great concern to the public and One Nation Labour believes that cruelty to animals and unnecessary animal suffering is wrong and should be brought to an end.
The Labour Party has a proud record on animal welfare. The last Labour government banned fur farming made it illegal to hunt wild mammals with dogs and ended cosmetic testing on animals.
The next Labour government will build on our previous achievements on animal welfare and make it a priority for Defra and across government.
Amongst other measures, Labour will consider reviewing the breeding practices of the pet industry, including introducing measures to address cruelty in the breeding of puppies and kittens. Labour will also explore measures to promote responsible pet ownership including better education about which species would make suitable pets. Labour will review the £17 million subsidy to gun license holders by raising the fee for licenses, with a view to move towards full cost recovery. We will also consider measures to address the trade in exotic pets, and to reduce the testing of household products on animals. When slaughtering animals for food, their welfare must be paramount.
Notes: Once more, the Gedling amendment was representative of others put forward on the same subject. Negotiation led to a satisfactory outcome so long as the promised additional policy leaflet is produced along the lines of New Life for Animals which was so successful in the 1997 election campaign. The commitment to make animal welfare a priority across government was very welcome.
Tel: 07850 768337
I have served as NPF representative for the East Midlands since 2005 and am a member of the Stability and Prosperity Policy Commission. I am also a member of the Joint Policy Committee. I have been a Labour Party member for 31 years. I am Campaigns and Policy officer for Gedling CLP and was Vernon Coaker’s agent for his successful re-election campaign.
My background is in environmental and animal welfare campaigning which has been helpful in presenting views on these popular issues on behalf of party members.
I am of the belief that the Labour Party adopts strong environmental policies to complement its stand for social justice and fairness. Unless we tackle issues such as climate change and loss of biodiversity, the planet we hand on to our successors will be less able to sustain them.
The Your Britain policy process culminated in a busy and productive weekend in Milton Keynes. Almost 800 policy amendments from CLPs and affiliates were debated in roundtable discussions with shadow ministers and NPF reps from the regions, CLPs, trade unions and other affiliates.
In my view the objective of the NPF’s weekend meeting in Milton Keynes was clear: we needed to agree a bold and ambitious policy platform to take to the country next year, responding to the big challenges facing the country and underpinned by credible spending and fiscal plans.
Ed Balls addressed the NPF and was clear in emphasising the importance of fiscal credibility and that this should be at the forefront of our minds in discussing and agreeing policy positions.
There were 36 formal amendments to the NPF policy consultation papers submitted by constituencies in the East Midlands. The East Midlands team in Milton Keynes of myself, Bex Bailey, Andy Furlong, Dawn Elliot, Mark Glover and Linda Woodings worked collectively to ensure attendance at every meeting where one of our region’s amendments was to be discussed. This was no small undertaking and required meticulous timetabling and organisation with excellent support from the policy team at Labour HQ.
Throughout Friday afternoon and late into the evening, and then again through Saturday it was literally a case of rushing from one meeting straight into another to ensure the position of East Midlands CLPs was heard in the relevant discussions with shadow ministers.
I attended eight amendment meetings covering a range of policy areas on behalf of East Midlands CLPs. Each NPF rep was allowed to take forward six amendments. I took my quota plus two extras where I was covering for another East Midlands rep where meetings clashed.
Tackling Low Pay
Broxtowe, Grantham and North East Derbyshire CLPs had submitted amendments in support of strengthening the National Minimum Wage and tackling low pay. As a strong supporter of the Living Wage, I argued that a commitment should be made for the Minimum Wage to align to the Living Wage ‘over time and as economic conditions permit’.
In this discussion with Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna there were powerful cases put by CLP reps and trade unions for the need to have stronger enforcement of the Minimum Wage and the need for a bold approach to tackling the scourge of low pay.
I argued specifically that we ought to look at ways to introduce structural incentives for small and medium sized businesses to pay the Living Wage. Labour’s NPF Annual Report agreed at Conference states:
‘One Nation Labour will strengthen the National Minimum Wage, by better enforcement and by ensuring it rises in real terms, to at least make up the ground it has lost under this Government. The next Labour Government will also encourage more employers to pay a living wage.’
The final agreed position also included a commitment to ‘require listed companies to report on whether or not they pay the living wage, and we will follow the lead of Labour Councils by using government contracts to spread the payment of the living wage.’
This position – together with more recent announcements – clearly underlines our commitment to tackling low pay and encouraging employers to pay the Living Wage.
School standards and local accountability
In a discussion with Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt on the Education & Children Policy Document I argued strongly for a broader role for local government and councillors in the proposals for new Directors of School Standards which had emerged from David Blunkett’s review.
Like many members across the region I am deeply concerned about the lack of proper local oversight and democratic accountability brought about by the fragmentation of the education system with the introduction of free schools and large numbers of new academies. I know that local councillors are specifically concerned about this given the important role that local authorities should be playing in co-ordinating education provision and supporting schools to raise attainment and standards.
This was a useful discussion with Tristram Hunt, who was genuinely receptive to, and very interested in, the views of Labour’s councillors and local government reps. I was joined by colleagues from the LGA Labour Group in pressing the argument for a much stronger role for local authorities around the new, proposed Directors of School Standards.
The final policy position which was put to Conference reflects almost word for word the position I presented to the Tristram; ‘Local authorities would play a key role in appointing and holding to account the Director of School Standards…. Labour would give local authorities the powers to appoint and help to hold to account Directors of School Standards, who will hold all schools to account, regardless of structure…’
Free school meals
In a further discussion with Tristram Hunt and the Shadow Education team I joined regional, CLP and the GMB NPF members to consider amendments on free school meals. I wanted to see a strong position on this given the importance of free school meals in supporting attainment and in relation to growing levels of child poverty. There was a lot of discussion across a number of subsequent meetings on this issue – not because of any disagreement on the importance of free school meals but in how best to support local authorities to provide a universal free school meals programme for infants in primary schools. It was recognised that the responsibility for free school meals could be shared across government with the DfE supported by Local Government and Department of Health supporting local councils to deliver their free school meals programmes.
I am pleased that the final policy wording reflects an ongoing Labour commitment to universal free school meals for infant children in primary schools.
Bolsover and North East Derbyshire CLPs had submitted amendments on the need for more social housing. I was very pleased to take forward these amendments in a lively and positive discussion with Shadow Ministers Hilary Benn and Emma Reynolds.
I argued for a one-for-one building programme to replace houses sold under Right to Buy. I also proposed that the new build replacement should be specifically in the same local area as the home sold via Right to Buy. I am pleased that both of these proposals were agreed and incorporated into the final policy wording:
‘Labour will ensure that social housing stock numbers are protected by genuinely requiring an additional home for social rent to be built for any sold under Right to Buy in the same local area.’
I was pleased that my suggestion that Labour commits to an ongoing monitoring of the impact of Right to Buy on the social housing stock was also accepted by the frontbench team and agreed; ‘We will monitor the operation of Right to Buy in order to assess the impact of the supply on affordable housing and empower local authorities to manage their housing stock better.’
I know that housing is a priority issue for members, councillors and CLPs across the East Midlands. In my view the NPF has agreed a strong position with a clear commitment to build 200,000 homes a year from the beginning of the next Parliament. These homes are desperately needed across the region; they must be affordable and built in the right places.
In the area of public transport I took forward amendments supporting a stronger role for local councils in managing bus services. The discussion with Shadow Transport Ministers Mary Creagh and Nottingham’s Lilian Greenwood agreed strongly on wording for a commitment to legislate to give local authorities more powers to improve bus networks. With colleagues from UNITE I sought specific assurances that this would help protect and improve standards for bus workers. I am pleased that this is also acknowledged in the final policy position. This concern had been raised with me by a UNITE rep in the bus industry at a meeting of Leicester South CLP.
NHS & TTIP
Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire CLPs had put forward amendments making the case for the NHS to be fully exempted from the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP). I fully agree with this position and advocated it during this year’s European election campaign. In Milton Keynes I joined our MEP and EPLP Leader Glenis Willmott, Shadow Europe Minister Gareth Thomas and Shadow FCO Minister John Spellar in agreeing wording on this reflective of the concerns of many party members and trade union colleagues that the NHS and public services should not be included in any TTIP agreement.
In a discussion on Legal Aid (where I was covering for Andy Furlong who was at another meeting) I supported an amendment from South Leicestershire CLP and successfully worked with reps from other regions to develop stronger wording on this important issue; reflecting Labour’s commitment to access to justice.
Police & Crime Commissioners
I attended a small meeting with Shadow Policing Minister Jack Dromey to discuss Labour’s position on the role of Police & Crime Commissioners. We should recognise that across the country Labour PCCs are doing a good job, but overall the position is not commanding strong public enthusiasm. The Stevens Review on Policing put forward alternative models for discussion. I argued that Labour should commit to scrapping the role of Police & Crime Commissioners. In September it was announced that the next Labour government would do this, introducing new ways to secure democratic accountability and leadership of local policing.
The NPF also agreed an overarching equalities statement reflecting Labour’s position as the party of equality. This statement was discussed throughout the Milton Keynes weekend and is designed to ensure that a commitment to equality underpins all of our policy positions and decisions in Government.
The Equalities Statement agreed by the NPF:
Labour is the Party of equality. We believe that no person should suffer discrimination or a lack of opportunity because of their gender, gender identity, age, disability, race, religion or belief, socio-economic status or sexual orientation.
In government, every decision we take will be taken with that in mind. We will ensure the policies across these eight documents and in our manifesto will be implemented ensuring that they further rather than hinder this cause.
Labour has always led the fight for equality, but our fight is not yet won. We will not rest until everyone can live their lives free from hatred, fear and oppression. In government we will work to remove the structural and social barriers that stand in our way.
The weekend had been productive and the final policy wordings captured the discussions that had taken place between shadow ministers and CLP, regional, trade union and affiliate NPF reps.
There is no doubt in my mind the policy programme agreed in Milton Keynes, and subsequently debated and endorsed at Labour’s Annual Conference, gives us a platform for next year’s crucial election that is bold, ambitious and fiscally credible. It addresses the big challenges facing Britain after these four years of damaging Tory/ Lib Dem government.
I want to thank my fellow East Midlands NPF reps – we all worked hard in Milton Keynes to take forward the amendments from CLPs in the region and to amplify the concerns and views of party members. Hundreds of party members across the region have participated in this process through attending CLP meetings or using the Your Britain website.
Thank you all those members who have participated. We have done our best to get your views reflected in Labour’s policy position, and I think the wordings agreed in Milton Keynes show we have done a pretty decent job.
This shows that Your Britain and the changes to Labour’s policy making process agreed a couple of years ago have worked: more members have been engaged and as NPF reps we went to Milton Keynes equipped with amendments from East Midlands CLPs and a clear sense of members’ priorities in the region.
We presented these views in discussions with Shadow Ministers and were successful in getting our region’s positions reflected in the final policy wordings.
Through the course of this policy-making cycle I have attended policy discussions at a number of East Midlands CLPs. If you would like an NPF rep to attend one of your local party meetings please do not hesitate to contact us.
Thank you again to all the members who submitted amendments, ideas and comments. It is now our job to win next year so we can implement our programme to give our communities a better future; see you out on the doorstep.
Rory Palmer joined the National Policy Forum four years ago.
He is a member of the Britain’s Global Role Policy Commission.
He was a candidate for the 2014 European Parliament elections narrowly missing out on securing a second seat for Labour in the East Midlands. Rory is Deputy City Mayor and a City Councillor in Leicester where he chairs the Health & Wellbeing Board and holds executive responsibility for public health and climate change.
If you would like a copy of this report in PDF format please get in touch.