The Labour Party (Partially) Explained

All quotes are taken from James Morrison’s book Essential Public Affairs for Journalists (Oxford University Press, 2015).

“Unlike the Conservative Party, which emerged in ‘top-down fashion from one of two principal parliamentary factions that evolved in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Labour was created in a ‘bottom-up’ way – as a membership-led movement formed through a coalition of establishment outsiders campaigning for greater parliamentary representation for the working class.” (p.144)

Presently the main constitutional bodies of the Labour Party are the National Executive Committee, the National Policy Forum, and the Labour Party Conference.

National Executive Committee

The recently elected chair of the NEC is East Midland MEP Glenis Willmott — an individual who is vocally opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. The NEC is “meant to represent all wings [of the party] at national policymaking level, taking delegates from all affiliated groupings.” Tony Blair’s “neuters of NEC followed his predecessors’ run-ins over proposed policy changes, such as party’s abandonment of opposition to Britain’s nuclear weapons and repeated election to its membership of vocal leadership critics, including late left-winger Tony Benn.” (p.148)

National Policy Forum

“Formed by Mr Blair in 1997 under ‘Partnership in Power’ iniative, this draws 184 members from all levels of the party. Meets two or three weekends a year to analyse proposal documents generated by six policy commission, members of which include representatives of leadership, NEC, amd NPF. Recommendations passed to conference for ratification.”

“Introduced officially as means of widening party democracy in Labour’s ranks, but often perceived as leadership’s instrument for quelling dissent.” (p.148)

Leicester’s Deputy City Mayor Rory Palmer has been a member of the NPF since 2007.

Labour Party Conference

“Unlike Conservative conference, this was traditionally less an event than a decision-making body. Presided over by general-secretary – one of Labour Party’s most senior officers.”

“Theoretically, conference still has final say on major policy/constitutional changes. Since 1997, leadership has made clear its willingness to overrule conference decisions.” (p.148)



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