The first full NEC meeting of the year took place at the Party’s new location in Southwark. The Blackfriars offices are open plan with amazing views to Westminster and to the south. We were treated to a brief tour and had the chance to talk to many staff teams – the place was buzzing.
The NEC set some sort of record, for recent times, with Chair Johanna Baxter getting through the business in a little over three hours.
We remembered two famous names who had recently passed. Brenda Etchells – a former NEC Chair and Alice Mahon, the former MP for Halifax.
The General Secretary reported that membership is now 407k. There was an update on recruitment, particularly on the new trainee organisers and the quality of these new entrants was genuinely thrilling.
Keir Starmer gave a report in which he laid out Labour’s promise of a decade of national renewal. We are, he said, the Party of the future. I asked if the Shadow Cabinet was aware of the pressure on Local Government – most if not all Departments touch Councils in some way.
Angela Rayner joined us online, and gave an upbeat report of the state of the conservatives and the case Labour was making to the country.
We had an interesting update on Parliamentary selections in the Nations and Regions report, which is compiled from Regional Directors’ contributions.. An astonishing amount of work has already been done, with so many candidates already in place. The timing of the general election could yet play a part in organisational challenges, but we are ready for all scenarios.
Morgan McSweeney advised members that complacency was the biggest enemy. Hard work on the doorsteps, and agility in campaigning were vital to victory. . Last time these seats were up, Labour was on 28% Tories on 28% and LibDems on 19%.
This set of local elections is big in terms of numbers of seats, and progress in selecting in target councils is good. The Local Government report focussed on the workstreams, with the Party and ALC, LGA Labour Group, and the LLGCC all working well together, with clear responsibilities, target audiences, online work and in-person events.
Members of the NEC are members of the National Policy Forum too. The NPF has just released 6 consultation documents – it’s important that Labour Groups take a look at these and advise Nesil and I as to the impacts on local government.
We rounded the meeting off with a copy of the updated NEC terms of reference, and a hard copy of the 2023 Rule Book.