Alex Mayer is an LCC supporter and member of the NPF for the Eastern Region
This week saw the first full meeting of the new National Policy Forum in a zoom meeting chaired by Ann Black from the NEC. There were 127 representatives on the call from right across the country, from regions, trade unions, affiliates, and the NEC. We heard from Anneliese Dodds MP on how this is an important time for the Labour Party and that having a road map to get to a successful policy platform is crucial because we need to win to tackle the economic, political and cost of living crises the country faces.
Anneliese stressed the need for Labour to build our credibility showing that we have experience from the last Labour Government and where we are in power right now with the Welsh Labour Government, Metro Mayors, Police and Crime Commissioners and councils (and yes that means town and parish councils too!).
We then split into breakout rooms and I went to “a future where families come first”. We heard from Stephen Morgan MP about Labour’s plans for breakfast clubs, housing and I raised how we can use cultural policy to win, opposing the ideological privatisation plans for Channel 4 and tackling the challenges that seasonal workers who often work in tourism in our coastal communities face.
One of the challenges for Labour Coast and Country is that the issues we care about don’t fit neatly into one NPF “policy commission” or one government department. No, we’re not an off-shoot of Defra, we care about people living in rural and coastal communities who have concerns about transport, housing, skills and more.
This isn’t a new or unique challenge, it’s also something MEPs used to worry about when they were shoe-horned into “foreign affairs”, and it matters as we as a party form policies to face up to the cost of living crisis and the so-called levelling up agenda.
But that’s also a call to arms. It means we need as many Labour Coast and Country members actively engaged in the national policy forum process as possible. So please make sure when issues are discussed at your CLP to feed into the NPF you make sure coast and country concerns make the cut. Plus next year when the policy commissions produce documents for the full, final meeting of the NPF, please do make a point of suggesting amendments to “rural-proof” and “coastal-proof” them.
This is an exciting time for the Labour Party. Government once again seems in touching distance. But we must guard against any complacency. There is still a huge amount of work still to do to gain the trust of voters up and down the country including on the coast and in the countryside. Writing a winning manifesto will involve commitment and compromise, radicalism and reform and crucially listening to all our communities.