Every month, Gloucester CLP have a GC Meeting. It is a meeting that is open to all Members of Gloucester Labour Party and is an opportunity for all members to find out what is going on and ask any questions, put their views forward and generally get together. This month we were joined by Johanna Baxter, who is a member of the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC), who gave us a very interesting overview on how party policy is determined and just what they are up to at the moment.
I have to be honest, not all GC meetings are that exciting and some are more interesting than others. But Johanna’s talk made this one very interesting. Firstly from a process point of view, I never really truly appreciated just how the policies of the Party came together, and how many stages there are to it, and just how much work goes into it.
This is very relevant right now, on the door step many people are asking what are our alternatives are for the current cuts. While the answer is simple, we are not in power and we don’t need an answer, our role in opposition is to provide robust scrutiny of the work of the Government, at a local level it is the same. But it would be a much stronger message to be able to detail out what changes we would make should the coalition crumble and there is a General Election sooner rather than later. Johanna told us that this is one of the areas they are treating as a priority, but that it is still going to take time (a few months) as they don’t just want to rush something onto the streets, but give us a solid credible answer.
She also highlighted some of the more bizarre yet genius ways that the NEC work. For example, when they meet, everyone sits around the table in alphabetical order. Bizarre? As the NEC is made up of many people from constituency Representatives, to MPs to Lords etc, then using this method ensures no hierarchy and that everyone talks with each other. I think that is pretty cool and a very sensible idea.
Johanna has also embraced Social Media. Her Blog, Putting Members First, gives an ongoing window into her work, I would recommend you have a look, and for those Twitter fans, she can be found at @Johannabaxter
Having guests along to GC like this is a really good thing as it makes it distinctly different from the EC (Executive Committee) meetings as well as proving a much stronger connection to the rest of the Party. I look forward to seeing who our Secretary, Chris Chatterton, can come up with next month, because he has set the bar quite high!