The Labour Party simply must win the next general election. I have been a Labour member for 32 years and was elected to the national executive committee (NEC) in April. I want to continue the work we have started to create a united movement behind Keir Starmer, to bring an end the last few years of divisive and factionalism and to elect a Labour government. The Labour Party needs NEC members that understand the importance of, and the scale of, the challenge ahead of us and that will act for members first and foremost.
I joined the party when I was 16 years old. I am a trustee and director of HOPE not hate, secretary of my Unite branch, vice-chair of Sikhs for Labour, a school governor, a member of West Midlands strategic police and crime board and central council member of the Socialist Health Association – I am Labour to my core! When elected to the NEC, I promised to publish regular reports. Since then I’ve published a monthly report detailing my NEC and other activities. I have published reports after scheduled full NEC meetings giving details of the discussions and decisions. I believe transparency and accountability of NEC members is crucial, and I live it!
If re-elected, I will continue to be a critical friend to Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner. I will support the leadership in their efforts to fix the party and make it election-ready. But I will also continue challenging the leadership so that they always act in the interests of our members, so resources are used most effectively and so we stay true to our Labour values.
I understand that changing leadership is not the answer in itself – yes, we lost two general elections under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. But we also lost two general elections before that. There are fundamental challenges developing over time, which go beyond the leader, that we must fix. If re-elected, I will continue my work to fix the party’s governance deficit. I’ve been outspoken about the need for improving governance from the NEC down and have been relentlessly pushing for improvements. We must put our own house in order if we are to show we are a credible party of government.
Transparency and accountability are crucial. Transparency on the NEC is about creating a state of openness in which there is a presumption that information will be made available to our members and affiliates rather than hidden. It is the basis on which communication will be most effective, and it is a fundamental requirement for effective accountability. In a party divided by factionalism in recent years, it is also the basis on which trust and unity will be built.
Improvements to our governance must go hand-in-hand with improvements to our organisation. To rebuild our election-winning party we also need significant change in strategy, organisation and the relationship of power between members and the party. We need to ensure our head office and regional offices are staffed with the best talents in our movement appointed for their knowledge, expertise, experience, dynamism and commitment to helping our candidates win.
We need to refresh our internal democracy and campaigning to take account of Covid conditions, but also so that both are fully accessible to all members, make use of the latest technology and use our resources most effectively. We need an independent complaints process that has clear expectations regarding behaviour and is robust, prompt and fair in its operation. We must ensure zero tolerance of any form of discrimination within our party.
We must also continue improving diversity and representation at all levels of the party. We needs real change to embrace this agenda by all in the party. We must ensure diversity is ingrained and not just seen as an extra with additional structures that sit outside the mainstream, where real power is exercised.
This NEC election is the first to be conducted under the single transferable vote system and is an opportunity for a more diverse NEC reflecting all traditions of the party – the broad-church party that wins elections. It is also an opportunity to build the best organisation, show zero tolerance to discrimination, build an independent complaints system, fix the governance deficit, put members back in charge of policy-making and candidate selections, and rebuild trust with voters who left us.
I hope to have your support, and I would be privileged to have your first preference in this election. I bring with me my background as a long-standing and dedicated party activist, a passionate equalities campaigner and my independent-minded commitment to a member-led democratic Labour Party. I am also supporting Luke Akehurst, Johanna Baxter, Terry Paul, Michael Payne and Shama Tatler.
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