1) Will you campaign for open selections (and scrapping the trigger ballot) for all Labour Party public office holders – including Westminster MPs?
2) Will you campaign against the Labour Party adopting the Board of Deputies’ 10 Pledges and for Labour to support the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign?
3) Will you campaign for conference to become the party’s sovereign body, especially when it comes to deciding policy? Will you therefore campaign for the scrapping the National Policy Forum?
4) Will you press for Party complaints and disciplinary procedures that are fit for purpose, that include both the full implementation of the Chakrabarti report, with its principles of fairness and natural justice, and an effective means of addressing members’ complaints related to abuse of procedures and rules?
OPEN SELECTION: From the time I joined Labour in my early 20s I have known that selection to stand for Parliament was a complex and often mysterious process that the majority of us are, in some respects, excluded from simply because the unwritten rules are known only to those who are already within a power circle. If open selections were to be run simply with equal ops criteria that would go some way to improving matters. However other issues should be addressed too such as that of patronage; for years we had the Blair power circle using the system to bring up preferred candidates and now we have a different power circle tempted to do the same. Much as my policy preferences are left wing I have to say that I believe constituency members are perfectly able to judge for themselves who they want to represent them. Our memberships in constituencies like Redcar, Sedgefield, Darlington, Stockton South and Bishop Auckland had something to tell us about our direction in 2016 to 2019 but we didn't always listen, that connection between members and the rest of the Party must be strengthened. Not only will I campaign for open selections, I will also campaign to ensure that constituency members always do the choosing and that there is a fair playing field for applicants.
BOARD OF DEPUTIES 10 PLEDGES: My understanding of BOD is that their President in 2015 actually campaigned against Labour in the election, then their President in 2019 took a similar position. I cannot believe that our Labour rule book would allow a Conservative supporting institution to have an executive role in any of our processes. If we are to rebuild relationships then it must be one of equals and of transparency.
However I am also very disappointed in my own Party in the time it appears to have taken to deal strictly with antisemitism, racism and other issues among members. I believe that the new system under Jennie Formby is effective but I would like to see regular anonymised data reports to members on the complaints system to demonstrate that there are no unnecessary delays. A bit of sunlight would go a long way to helping us heal.
NATIONAL POLICY FORUM: I spent 3 years on the NPF and admit to enjoying every minute! However, while I felt that I had a modest impact in several areas of the economy policies, I had no real doubt that it was really the leadership circle (including NEC and Shadow Cabinet) that made the decisions. I tried very hard to engage CLPs in policy development but the unwieldy nature and scattergun effect of the NPF website and locally held policy forums was a marathon challenge. Something does need to change but simply sweeping away the NPF is not enough on it’s own. Other democratic mechanisms to feed into conference are needed. The new system needs to be streamlined and clarified so that constituencies can genuinely engage and find it easy to input. Both my public service professional experience and that of my voluntary experience on the NPF would be useful in developing an improved system that would culminate at conference.
COMPLAINTS AND DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES: We undoubtedly need a clear and rigorous process in this area that can be measured through carefully considered anonymised data. It is equally important that principles of natural justice are upheld and that the data is sufficiently anonymised so that those principles are not undermined. We did not act swiftly enough to stop antisemitism when it emerged as a problem in the Party and we have also fallen down in other areas such as sexism and abuse of procedures. The Chakrabarti Inquiry report gave us a way forward and I believe it was a mistake not to fully embrace it in 2016. All organisations face having to deal with difficult issues like this but we are uniquely placed to lead by example if we can face our faults and overcome them. The Chakrabarti report is part of that and I don’t hesitate to support it.