National Policy Forum elections

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to thank all the local parties who nominated us for re-election to the National Policy Forum to represent SE members.

We have worked hard as a team to represent your views and be a strong voice for the region, with regular reports back to you. We are pleased that we will now be on the postal ballot at the end of the month, when all party members will have a chance to vote, and we hope that you will all support us. Please vote so that we can continue our work, and ask your colleagues to do the same. Here are our election statements.

Thank you for your consideration

SIMON BURGESS

simon@simonburgess.org

Member for 29 years including; 20 as a SE activist, 8 as a local councillor. Member of the GMB, Unison and Co-op Party.

I have been elected Vice-Chair of the National Policy Forum by representatives of our party membership, unions, socialist societies and parliamentarians. I believe strongly we are nothing if we don’t listen to and learn from all parts of the Labour Movement.

We are on the verge of at long last making the policy making processes of our party more inclusive and transparent. As an NPF Vice-Chair I have pushed hard to make sure ordinary party members frustrations and voices are heard at the highest levels. We must build faith, both internally and externally, in how our policy making will operate; from ensuring policy documents are accessible, to giving quality feedback and credit for the ideas you put forward.

I have attended party meetings across the region, hearing your priorities and concerns – taking those views back to our shadow ministers. We need a strong SE team, Labour cannot win nationally unless we win here.

 

DEBORAH GARDINER

debgardiner@iwlabour.fsnet.co.uk

As an active member of the NPF I have always ensured that the views of South East members are represented robustly. I have reported back to members after every meeting and visited constituencies in order to hear members’ views. An active and connected Party is essential and this can only be achieved with a powerful role for members.

We know that for Labour to win, it has to win in the South East.  This region has such a range – from areas of economic affluence to areas of real deprivation. Politically, we are used to fighting Tories, Greens, and, my particular favourite target, Lib Dems. That’s why it is vital that the experience and ideas of SE members are used effectively to help Labour win again.

I have been an active Party member since I was 18 and have experience in campaigning in all kinds of seats, safe Labour, marginal and less winnable. I was a County Councillor for eleven years, am Chair of Isle of Wight CLP, active on the Regional Board and a member of the Co-op Party and Unite.

 

KAREN LANDLES

karen.landles@btopenworld.co.uk

 When we were in government there were so many areas where I believed we needed to do better. Meeting with you then enabled me to represent your views to our ministers, challenging the government position. Now the policy challenge is harder. In damaged communities, struggling families, the opportunities of young lives being squandered and in the threat to our NHS, we see the crucial importance of winning the battle for ideas and defining a vision for the future. This is why I am also working with Labour’s Finance and Industry Group on policies to improve the fairness of our economic system, provide opportunities for young people and grow our economy. I am also a member of the Co-operative Party and the GMB.

The NPF has been far from perfect but as we move to the election and the task of winning, for the first time after just one term out of office, your views are important. I promise to continue visiting your CLPs and branches, to continue representing your views, to campaign alongside you for a Labour victory and to continue along with the other SE NPF reps to report back to you.

 

MARTIN PHILLIPS

Martin.phillips@ntlworld.com

 Before the last election, SE reps took forward your ideas, including a 50% higher tax rate, tougher bank regulation, action on tax dodging and energy prices. Party leaders are now talking about these ideas too, but Labour needs a new policy agenda that tackles the big issues that affect us all. I share the frustration that Labour has not talked about policies since the election.  We need full employment in good jobs. We should kick-start the economy by building council houses and housing owned by co-ops. As a proud Co-op Party member, mutual ownership should be a main plank of Labour policy.

Together with my 4 other CLP colleagues, I have worked hard to represent CLPs. I have reported back through regular newsletters and our website. I’ve visited CLPs in all parts of the region and I have always represented the views of members, not my own. I also run the Southern Comfort weekly emails about SE campaigns. The NPF should be a campaigning body too, giving you information you can use locally.

I want to be re-elected to the NPF again, to help develop the new policies we need to win the next election. Thank you for your support.

 

YOUR NEW SOUTH EAST YOUTH REP IS HELENA DOLLIMORE

I am delighted to be elected as the National Policy Forum Youth Representative position for the South East (unopposed), taking office after annual conference. Thank you very much to all the CLPs who took the trouble to nominate me, it is greatly appreciated and I hope to serve the young people of the South East well!

You can contact me with policy contributions on twitter; @gingersocialist or email me at; helenadollimore@aol.com whenever you like. The elections for the rest of the South East CLP NPF positions are yet to be decided, I hope you will support the candidates that I will be voting for; Simon Burgess, Deb Gardiner Karen Landles and Martin Phillips as I am confident that we will work together as an effective team for you.

 

 

Six new policy discussion documents

Earlier this year we circulated some policy discussion documents. Those documents did not cover all policy areas.
Now each of the party’s policy commissions has issued a draft document that reports on the work done so far and also the issues that have been identified as priorities by party members in their submissions. The documents are drafts and will be finalised at a full meeting of the National Policy Forum on June 16th and 17th. The final documents will then be used as the basis for documents to be issued as our policy cycle starts in the Autumn. But these document contain important questions that can be discussed right now. So we hope that all local parties and members will read the documents. They are much shorter and more focussed than previous documents, as we know many members have complained in the past about long documents. They also focus on the issues set as priorities by members, so not every issue is mentioned at this stage.
You can make submissions to the commissions (details are in the documents) but also please send copies of your comments to us so that we can also follow up on your issues. If you are holding discussions in your local parties, please ask us along so that we can hear form you first-hand.
As mentioned above, there will be a full meeting of the NPF in Birmingham on June 16th and 17th. We know that given the short timescales, not many local parties will be able to discuss these documents before then, but if you do have any comments as a local party or an individual member, please send them to us so that we can include your thoughts in the NPF discussions before the final versions are issued.
Also, the shadow cabinet and Ed Miliband will be at the NPF meeting, so please could you tell us any issues that you would like us to raise with them.
We will report back on the meeting. In the meantime, we look forward to your comments. You can see the six documents by clicking on the links at the top of this post.

New policy documents for debate coming in May

We would like to update you on the start of the Policy Forum cycle.

Six policy papers will be published by the six policy commissions (Prosperity & Work, Britain in the World, Creating Sustainable Communities, Crime & Justice, Education & Skills and Health) for consultation in May. The aim is that they will be sent out immediately after 3rd May but we suggest you allow for some delay.

These papers are short documents that summarise the key issues that each commission is working on as a result of the submissions to the NPF. They are short and to the point, and include questions where the commission would like your views urgently. The timetable is short but it would be good if your CLPs or branches could make submissions in answer to the questions. the timetable is:

  • Early May – brief ‘key issues’ policy documents to be made available via membersnet/party website (we will post them on our south-east website also)
  • Mid-June – NPF meets and discusses documents and submissions – we would like sight of as many of your submissions for then as possible, so please send us copies
  • End of June – submissions deadline.
  • Early July – policy commissions amend documents to reflect submissions
  • Mid/late July – Joint Policy Committee reviews new documents to check they reflect members submissions
  • Early October – Annual Conference debates policy documents

Though this is a compressed version of what will happen in future, leaving only a short time to make submissions this time, it is really important that we demonstrate to the party and leadership that there is an appetite to be involved in policy making. More extensive documents with proper time for debate will be issued later on after Conference. If your local party can’t discuss papers before the deadline, please discuss them and send in submissions to the commissions when you can – we will continue to look at all submissions and make sure that your views are included in the next documents.

We are keen as always to come and help facilitate discussions at your branches and CLP meetings. Some CLPs will be holding policy forums for these documents that are open to members from further afield (e.g. Brighton & Hove are planning one on Sat 26th May). We will do our best to circulate what is happening where, please advise us of any information as soon as possible.

Simon, Deb, Karen and Martin

 

PS Good luck with the elections if you have them.

Lib Dems and Tories vote to destroy the NHS

So despite all the talk of the Lib Dems being a “progressive” party, their peers and Mps have walked through voting lobbies to break up and privatise the NHS. David Cameron said there would be no major shakeups of the NHS, and then privatised it. The Lib Dems said they opposed NHS cuts and would protect the NHS, then voted to cut budgets and privatise the NHS instead. Both parties will pay the price for their lies over the NHS.

And what makes it even worse is that some of the big private companies lining up to carve up the NHS are also using loopholes and offshore companies to dodge tax – using tax havens to pay little or no tax. See more details here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/mar/17/nhs-shakeup-health-firms-tax-havens

 

Coming soon – more toll roads

The day before David Cameron and Nick Clegg privatise and break up the NHS, they drop another bombshell that will cost us all more money and give their business friends huge profits at our expense. David Cameron has said that he wants private companies to improve busy motorways and trunk roads – but he is going to hand the roads over to the companies and allow them to charge tolls.

This incredible move has been condemned by the AA, RAC and transport charities. They all say that it will lead to more tolls on our roads. But there is also doubt that the scheme will work and it may even make congestion worse, as drivers leave motorways to avoid tolls and go on smaller roads instead. And once tolls are charged, they will just go up and up – the M6 toll motorway in the West Midlands has seen eight price rises in the tolls charges in 9 years.

 

Police privatisation

Two police authorities, Surrey and the West Midlands, have called for private sector companies to bid for providing police services. Surrey Police’s new Chief Constable Lynne Owens says that she inherited the plan from her predecessor and only wants to consider “back office” services. But once an idea is floated, there will be pressure to go further – the two police authorities both say that it is the Cameron/Clegg cuts that have led to this move, and so as the deficit is still going up, will there be even greater cuts that could lead to street patrols being done by private companies?

 

Partnership into Power consultation

A further consultation on the party’s policy making process finished on January 31st. With colleagues from all parts of the country we made a joint submission with our views on how policy-making needs to be improved. Here is the submission:

NPF meetings

Current NPF meetings are unsatisfactory. Long speeches by shadow cabinet members in plenary sessions, and long replies by them in workshops, dominate events and leave very little time for discussions and decisions by NPF representatives.

  •  The annual NPF timetable should be predictable and easily understood by party units so that it becomes a regularly timetabled part of local party and affiliate activity.  
  • Whilst NPF meetings can be an important platform for the leader to make a speech there should not be platform speeches by shadow cabinet ministers, if they wish to convey their view on an issue/s they should issue papers to all NPF members in advance of the meetings. There should be a minimum of two NPF meetings each year.
  • NPF agendas and papers are currently issued too late. Workshops are currently little more than members giving long lists of problems, with no discussion on details or priorities.
  • Future NPF meetings should have much more time for workshops, with detailed discussions that record majority and minority positions on key issues. The outcome of any workshop should be for a commission to have an outline of policy ideas or a list of key issues to debate on the subject. 
  • Future ‘Warwick’ style meetings of the NPF should continue to; adopt policy that is agreed by the majority and policy proposals that receive at least 25% support but less than a majority should be forwarded to annual conference. However, in addition the NPF should decide by ballot at the ‘Warwick’ style meeting four policy issues that have received majority support but should nevertheless be forwarded to annual conference for debate and decision so that conference has a chance to debate those 4 key issues that have majority support.  
  • There should be an NPF meeting based at  Annual Conference on the Saturday (not for shadow minister speeches and not to clash with Women’s conference) so that NPF members can ensure adequate provision has been made for them to give their input at conference and so they can question the JPC on how the decisions of that summer’s NPF meeting have been taken forward. Each policy commission should meet at annual conference. 

Commissions

  • all NPF reps to be full members of a policy commission or a cross-cutting group that is exploring an issue like moral capitalism, climate change or the fairness agenda. Commissions and cross-cutting groups need to be encouraged and supported to act more like select committees and to consider priority subjects in more detail (taking evidence from outside experts and organisations, as well as party and affiliates).
  • All work does not need to be undertaken by over-stretched party staff. Reps can and should do more work – submissions could be shared out, with each rep reading some submissions, summarising, listing any actions to be taken, and being responsible for their submissions through the cycle.  However, more ‘Short’ money should be devoted to supporting the process to ensure party officers can act in accordance with the wishes of elected NPF representatives as expressed at NPF, JPC and policy commission meetings.
  • Commissions should prioritise key issues based on surveys of members and conference/NEC decisions. Commissions should consider forwarding relevant policy issues for early debate and recommendations by a separate ‘NPF youth reps commission’, before reaching their own conclusions. NPF youth reps would also continue to sit on policy commissions.
  • Commissions should work on highest priority issues first and try to come to outline decisions earlier. Important assessments against economic, social (including equality and diversity) and environmental priorities, and costings, must not be overlooked when they undergo detailed assessment later in the cycle.
  • All submissions to a commission to be held online in secure directories and links sent to commission members, so all members see submissions monthly.
  • Each commission to have a tracking system for submissions, so that each submission is considered and actioned, as well as responses sent to the submitters 

Reporting, technology and infrastructure

  • The party must enable CLP and Regional NPF to each have the ability to send reports by email to all the groups they represent (CLP reps to be able to report to CLPs, regional reps to CLPs and affiliates).
  • Entire workflow of the NPF needs to be on a secure online platform that is accessible to all members of the NPF. It must contain all submissions, action points from commissions, cross-cutting groups, the JPC and NPF. That platform then needs to be accessible as appropriate to all submitting organisations so they can track their submissions.
  • Each commission, cross-cutting group and JPC meeting needs to be accessible to its members by phone (webcasting in due course) as well in person. Each commission should report 2 or 3 times a year to the JPC on work done. 

Listening

  • Discussion documents need to be more accessible and engaging. Instead of long documents repeating things we all agree with or listing things we have done, they should be more brief and focused: problem, ideas and thoughts on the problem (in outline) and questions for members . More detailed policy statements and historical information should be held on-line for easy access by party members. 
  • We should use online surveys and votes to gather views of members and supporters on behalf of commissions
  • Regularly organised regional debates. These do not need to be grand events at expensive venues, and could be organised at local venues in association with local CLPs. Events should  be held in a variety of seats from Labour held seats to our most challenging areas.
  • Commissions should not just meet in London in private. All commissions should hold some meetings like the Prosperity & Work commission meeting in Birmingham with party members.
  • Policy events should not have long speeches from key speakers or long answers by shadow cabinet/MPs. Emphasis should be on listening rather than preaching to the converted
  • Policy seminars at Annual Conference are well received by members and being in private, discussions are more productive. There should be consideration of expanding these. 

Relationship with PLP, NEC & Shadow Cabinet 

  • Shadow ministers and all other members of the JPC have a duty to regularly attend its meetings. The agenda and minutes (including reports to the JPC from policy commissions) of JPC meetings must be available to all NPF members so that they are well informed and can seek to influence its actions. The JPC must ensure regular newsletters and briefings get out to all NPF reps and annually to all party members.
  • In recent years there has been some confusion as to who makes decisions with regards to the operation of PiP (between NEC and JPC). In future the assumption will be that the JPC makes such decisions, by doing so it will be strengthened which will encourage better attendance across its membership. There will be more emphasis on the JPC having oversight of the PiP process setting its direction and overseeing the performance of policy commissions.
  • Shadow cabinet groups, PLP groups and similar who are discussing policy should feed in their workings and evidence taken to  the JPC and NPF – this will help reduce suspicion but also prevent duplication of work 

Submission from: Simon Burgess, Deborah Gardiner, Jamie Hanley, Joanne Milligan, Martin Phillips, Michael Hassell, Nicky Gavron, Alon Or-Bach, James Valentine, Daniel Zeichner, Libby Lisgo, Sam Goodby, Andy Furlong, Theresa Griffin, Glyn Ford, Fred Grindrod, Claire Moody, Keir Dhillon, Gus Baker, Carol Hayton, Katie Curtis, Karen Landles, Brenda Weston, Dan Chapman, Sandra Samuels & Jane Thomas – all CLP & Regional NPF representatives.


 

700,000 families to lose child benefit

Nearly 700,000 families will lose out if child benefit is cut for high-rate taxpayers, with almost a quarter involving a household with one parent earning a salary, according to a study.

Finance company NFU Mutual said that if the Government goes ahead with the move, every household with a higher-rate taxpayer will be hit from April 2013, losing two-child families £1,750 a year.

Read more: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2090530/700-000-families-risk-losing-child-benefit-bid-cut-cash-high-rate-taxpayers.html#ixzz1lVsWPD24

Police cuts start to bite in SE

Police forces in the SE have (with the exception of Surrey, cut the numbers of police officers, PCSOs and other staff. S0 much for the Tories being the party of law and order! Here are the figures for each force for the change between September 2010 and September 2011:

Hampshire – police officers down 2.9%, PCSOs up 0.6%

Kent – police officers down 4.4%, PCSOs down 7.5%

Surrey – police officers up 5.2%, PCSOs down 2.9%

Sussex – police officers down 4.9%, PCSOs down 8.2%

Thames Valley – police officers down 1.4%, PCSOs up 1.7%

 

Surrey’s figure for this period hides the fact that the force had already cut the numbers of officers 2006-2009, before other forces started to cut, and also that the force is closing almost all its police stations.

NPF consultation documents

Here are the consultation policy documents issued by the party. For each document there is also a discussion guide. Click on the link to open the PDF file.

Towards a new economy discussion guide

Towards a New Economy

Restoring Responsibility, Strengthening Our Communities

Restoring responsibility discussion guide

Fulfilling the promise of Britain

Fulfilling promise of Britain discussion guide

Britain’s role in world discussion guide

Britain’s role in the world