This Executive Committee has been the first for our new Hove and Portslade Constituency. We started in March 2017, and what an eventful 9 months it has been: a General Election – with a landslide victory in our constituency for Labour and Peter Kyle – and conference this year in our fair city! We are proud of our achievements in a very short nine months and would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the members and delegates who have supported the EC in delivering on its promises – without you, none of this would have been possible. Thank you!
Here, each of the members of the EC talk about their experiences in the past nice months and the things they are most proud of…
Anne Pissaridou – Chair
The role of the chair of the CLP Executive Committee is wide and varied, but principally it is to lead and build on the strategic direction of the CLP.
While strategy and a clear direction is important, its value is strengthened when it is co-created by members (rather than just the leadership) enabling all to use it to guide their actions. Methods for allowing a free flowing exchange of views and ideas across the membership are a critical pre-requisite. Such forums must be online and offline, allowing people to choose how to engage in the way that makes them feel most comfortable. They must be conducted and moderated with a spirit of respect, of sensitivity and of the shared values of a community.
We have created a structure whereby more members can, and indeed do, have an input into the strategic direction of the CLP. We have done this through the creation of forums, strengthening of branches, active liaison with Trades Unions and, vitally, through talking, and listening to our members on the doorstep on street stalls at community events. We use social media and any other methods we can employ to make our vastly increased membership feel that their contribution is vital.
I am most proud of the was we have democratised the local party and the way in which we have made clear that inclusivity and diversity is the life-blood of everything we do.
James Ellis – Secretary
As Hove CLP Secretary, it has been a privilege to work with our EC for the last nine months. We had not been in post long before a General Election was called. Going into that election we were about to run a series of workshops on Labour’s policy review, now largely superseded of course by the excellent, transformative election manifesto. Of course, the election took priority. Other than those fantastic results in our city, we did take some other valuable lessons from the General Election, not least the safety of our canvassers, with our Women’s Forum, led by Danielle Spencer, doing some great work formulating this into policy and guidance.
The EC have all worked extremely hard since the election to make our party democratic and inclusive. The first few General Committee meetings were good., Danielle, our Women’s Officer delivered a powerful message at our first meeting for Mother’s Day. And yet, I felt we were not yet firing on all cylinders. The EC had organised a meeting schedule, in consultation with Branch Officers, in order to ensure the smooth transition of business from other party units but it was not yet functioning as well as it could have done.
In July I ran a session at our GC called ‘Getting the best from our GC meetings.’ I thought it was important for delegates to understand their role and that of their branches in a delegate structure like ours. This structure was new to us after all, but to make sure we were democratically representing our members it was important for our delegates to understand how to move party business through their branches and affiliate groups.
Following this, in September after the summer break, things really picked up. At the GC meeting that month we had three excellent motions including one on Private Renters which became the first policy motion passed by the CLP. Then things really clicked. In October, we had a deluge of resolutions, which meant the EC was having to prioritise and balance these with speakers and updates from our elected representatives. This was a great problem to have! Our October GC meeting was full of political debate and engagement. Debates that had their roots in our branches – things were now functioning as they should, with the participation of our membership in our policy formation.
The CLP has now set policy positions on housing, the NHS, the situation in Catalonia, Immigration, and on our forthcoming local election campaign in 2019.
It’s exciting to be part of a team that is putting democracy and inclusivity at the heart of our work. I believe we have left strong foundations for the new EC to build on this, and take our CLP on to its next chapter in 2018, for the many, not the few!
Kate Knight – Vice Chair Membership
So with the upcoming AGM, I’ve been asked to reflect on my time as Vice Chair (membership). I was absolutely delighted to be elected and determined to operate in an open and inclusive way from the outset. I knew very little about the job, but got a lot of support from the outgoing vice chair.
There was an urgent need to create membership packs for new members and so I was determined to allow other members a say in how they looked and what content would be useful. Using the skills and experiences of comrades we created really useful, informative packs and I am really proud of the results of that team effort. These packs now go out every fortnight to new members – all of whom are also put straight in touch with their own branch secretary. This was, though, a really big piece of work and took up a lot of time at the beginning.
I have attended all the branch forum meetings that James has set up and feel that there is now a good ethos of collective working and sharing of ideas across the constituency. For example, all branches have committed to contacting – face to face – all those that have joined in the last year and in this way we hope to strengthen the branches and draw more people into activism, in time for the local and general elections. There is still work to do, which has just been started with Danielle and the Women’s forum, to increase the participation of women across the constituency – particularly in branches where women are under represented.
It’s been a busy, but really exciting first few months and been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn new skills, to try to do my bit for a Labour victory and to be part of a supportive, inclusive and friendly team.
Carolyne McKinlay – Vice Chair Campaigns
The campaign focus this year was, of course, the General Election which was sprung on us at very short notice.
In such circumstances it was all hands on deck to do whatever was required and I found myself doing everything from delivering posters, collecting leaflets from the printers, stuffing envelopes and of course canvassing.
The whole CLP was door knocked twice during the campaign and 650 members and supporters turned out on 8 June to GOTV.
This all paid off with our MP Peter Kyle increasing his majority from 1200 to nearly 19,000. A huge achievement as I am sure all will agree.
Very many thanks go to all those members and supporters who were involved in this success, in whatever capacity.
Going into the new year there are a number of things which the new EC and VC campaigns will need to focus on, including ensuring that we are ready for both another General Election and the Council elections in 2019.
We need to develop a campaign strategy for branches and the CLP and participate in the development and delivery of a City wide one via the Local Campaign Forum. It’s great to have the support of the national Labour Party who provide us with all of the resources for National Campaign Days.
The next step is to try and get more members taking part in campaigning by providing support and training.
Ideally we want another GE soon so that we can get a Labour Government elected on a socialist manifesto. This will be a big challenge for us but one I am sure that we are ready for – both locally and nationally.
Becky Massey – Treasurer
The finances of the CLP have been kept on a sound footing. As we move into the next year I hope that the Treasurer will fundraise to support the Local Government campaign and, let’s hope, another General Election. We have the wonderful inaugural Christmas social coming up on the 7 December at The Old Market with many exciting guests, speakers and entertainers. Together with enjoying ourselves, we can give our local funds a boost. I have asked Peter Kyle MP for a donation to the CLP, with which we plan to buy a ‘Labour’ gazebo, so that we can have really visible stalls for Campaign Days – and keep dry!
We invested well by sending our full delegation to Labour Conference this year. We heard from the delegates how valuable it was to work as a team, on our behalf. I also believe that Hove must have the best written Conference report back from any CLP.
Paying the bills isn’t the most exciting task but I have been mindful that it is members’ money and I have enjoyed being Hove CLP Treasurer. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.
Danielle Spencer – Women’s Officer
I’m so proud of the Women’s Forum and although it has been hard work, it has been incredibly satisfying to see the forum go from strength-to-strength. I made the decision early on to share the power and the responsibility of the forum with other enthusiastic sisters. The forum now has a secretary, treasurer, BAME women’s inclusion officer, LGBT women’s inclusion officer, older women’s inclusion officer, younger women’s inclusion officer and a disabilities women’s inclusion officer, a social secretary, a communications officer and two delegates to the GC. Together we have designed a great strategy for 2018 – to bring more diversity to the the membership of the party. The position of low-income women’s inclusion officer is vacant at the moment, and I hope that the forum will fill that position again soon, as it is a very important role.
The forums themselves are always interesting and I’ve worked hard to ensure that we discuss policy and provide information to women’s members on ways that they themselves can create and influence policy through motions. At the first women’s forum meeting, just after the general election, members raised a concern about the safety and security of canvassers. A member felt comfortable enough to propose a motion and guidelines within the forum, it was voted in unanimously and has since become GC policy. I hope that this engagement with party policy will continue and that the women’s forum continues to provide a platform for women to have their say in the way the party works, as well as influencing and changing issues within our national party’s manifesto – to better incorporate the issues of 51% of the population. Our first policy group is being set up at the moment, to work on a motion drafted together on foreign and aid policy and the need for women’s rights to run through that – I hope this is the first of many.
In the run up to conference, a task force of members worked together to produce a special evening event. The event brought together members of Momentum, the Fabians and Labour Women’s Network – with diverse political outlooks. However, the evening aimed to bring women together with diverse political views to talk about women’s rights in the party, and to discuss ways in which we can support each other, as sisters, despite our political differences. It was a powerful beginning to a fantastic conference – one which I was incredibly proud to attend on behalf of the CLP. The Women’s Forum also developed a map for women delegates and this was a huge hit. In a couple of years, when conference is held in our city again, we hope to be able to reuse this map and print even more!
Lastly, as Women’s Officer, I recognise that there is a lot more to do to address issues of gender, power and privilege in our local party. I hope that you will join me on the 25th November for a training on this: https://tinyurl.com/genderLPtraining
I’ve been proud of being on an EC that has supported the work of the Women’s Officer 100%.
Anne Mitchell – Trade Union Liaison Officer
The newly organised Trade Union Forum has now met twice with another meeting arranged for January. The forum is represented by members from a range of unions including, Unite, UNISON, GMB, NUT, RMT and the CWU. Within the forum we’ve been looking at ways the trade unions and the Labour Party can work more closely together to the mutual benefit of both. In particular, how we can mobilise support for local campaigns against the continuing spiral of Tory cuts.
Contacts have been made with local unions with a focus on ensuring TU delegates to the CLP are in place. Unions do not have to be affiliated to the LP to participate in the forum. The next development is to extend the forum citywide to encompass more unions, branches and activists and I’m looking forward to the challenge of making that happen. Trade unions, with others, have a key role to play in developing our grassroots Labour movement and in creating a culture of solidarity that can inspire people to action.
The next meeting is on Monday 15th January at 7pm, at the GMB Office, 49 Church Road BN32BE. Speakers will be invited. All welcome.
Jack Bidmead – Youth Liaison Officer
Although I have only been on the EC for a relatively short time, I have been incredibly proud to be a part of such a hard-working and inclusive committee. On a personal note, it has been fantastic to learn from the other EC members, whose backgrounds and experiences both within the Labour party and wider social movements give them each a unique expertise that they have been able to share parts of with me. This culture of listening and learning is something that the EC holds dear, and I believe has played a role in the way the GC meetings are conducted; with interesting and engaging speakers leading to open and honest debates. I continue to enjoy GC meetings more and more and find them increasingly inclusive, comradely and engaging, and I am proud to have been part of an EC that has played its role in developing this positive environment. As a new addition to the EC, I have been honoured to contribute to the planning and prioritising of GC meetings which see increased engagement from branches through more and more motions.
I am pleased to say that the Youth forum is well on its way and I am excited to continue to develop this into the future to ensure that our young voices in Hove and Portslade are being heard. I’m proud to be a young Labour member, and am pleased to see more and more of my peers getting involved. Now is the time to fully open the doors to this group of members, and think of new and innovative ways to increase engagement with our party and our city.
Thank you for letting me be a part of this committee, and I hope to continue to learn and to play my part in building the Labour party both locally and nationally.
Alexandrina Braithwaite – BAME Liaison Officer
As the BAME Liason Officer on the EC, I came on board very late in the year. In future, I hope that two issues are addressed: targets for nomination to the GC & EC, and targets for permanent positions for BAME delegates for conference. The difficulty I found with raising the issues was timing, having only attended 2 Exec meetings and the apparent wide disparity between all 3 CLPs. Once the AGMs are done and dusted, our aim is to achieve consistency towards BAME nominations within the 3 CLPs which will enable us to better represent the BAME members within our city.
Åsa Jansson – Former Political Education Officer (relocated out of constituency)
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to serve on the Executive Committee of Hove and Portslade CLP. During my time on the EC I started a local reading group in political economy together with another party activist. The reading group attracted a large number of participants, in particular students and young people, and continues to meet on a monthly basis. Anyone who is interested in participating in future meetings can request to join the reading group’s Loomio page [link: https://www.loomio.org/g/3WRbsmfL/brighton-hove-political-economy-reading-group]
I stepped down from my role in the CLP as I had to relocate to the North-East for work, where I’ve continued work actively in the local party as a branch representative on Durham City CLP’s Business Committee. I’ve also started up a new reading group in Durham as part of our strategy to engage more young people in the local party.
I learnt a lot from working with my comrades on the EC and in the wider activist network in Brighton and Hove. Brighton and Hove is such a vibrant city, but also one where the profound inequalities of British society are very prominent. I hope that the City Council will work more closely with the three CLPs in the future to address issues such as homelessness and discrimination of traveler communities.
Daniel Harris – Former Diversity and Inclusion Officer (relocated out of constituency)
I have always maintained that the voices of those with lived experience should be heard by those taking decisions and have worked hard to ensure that the most vulnerable in society have a strong voice. When I was elected to the CLP, with your support, I contributed this perspective the the EC. I’m sorry to have left the EC, I was rehoused in a neighbouring CLP, but I hope that in 2018 the voices of the most vulnerable continue to be heard on the EC and in the CLP in general. See you soon comrades! Let’s take this city nd paint it red – Corbyn red – in 2019. Solidarity.