Home Gloucester Johanna Baxter (Labour NEC) visits Gloucester Labour

Johanna Baxter (Labour NEC) visits Gloucester Labour

by Barry
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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!


Eddie March 21, 2011 - 11:54 am

“we are not in power and we don’t need an answer,”

Keep that up Barry and we’ll never see labour in power again. The breathtaking arrogance is amazing. Do you really think it is ok to criticise others when your own cupboard is bare ?

Chris March 21, 2011 - 2:16 pm

I would have thought it was preferable to debate, discuss and develop realistic alternative policies rather than rush out something without thinking it through. Barry is right in that the job of the opposition is to scrutinise the decisions being made and challenge mistakes where they are being made. I think we are all the consequences of rushing into things without thinking of the consequences (whether it be libraries, or getting rid of aircraft carriers just when you need them) and this lot had years to develop alternatives.


I’ll see what I can do!

Joe K March 22, 2011 - 9:01 am

Chris, I get a definite vibe (and I might be wrong, of course) that you could be Chris Chatterton. If you are, then yes, you should see what you can do. As I’ve mentioned before, ‘Gloucester Labour’ are currently leaving it all up to Barry to carry the fight to the Tories, which may end up doing him more harm than good.

This is a start, though. Following up with a new blog post would be good too. Most of Barry’s ‘Gloucester Politics’ links are pretty quiet…

trollhunterx March 21, 2011 - 2:34 pm

‘we don’t need an answer, our role in opposition is to provide robust scrutiny of the work of the Government’

Which must be why, when I asked Parnjit Dhanda if he’d spoken to the Environment Agency about his concerns re incineration, he retorted, ‘No, have *you*?’. He wasn’t very keen on scrutiny. To be fair, I don’t think Richard Graham is, either, but he hasn’t been up in my face yet…

bazkirby March 21, 2011 - 3:52 pm

The problem with having a “credible alternative” in detail, especially right now, is that it is a complete waste of time as it would never see fruition, as we are not in Government. The Parliamentarians need to ensure it critiques the Governments plans and offer amendments, backing and criticism when and where it can. I think we more detail at a local level as in May we could be the controlling Party on the City Council on May 6th, and this is why we are campaigning hard on local issues.

I think there is a difference between a credible alternative and the Party having its act together so the voting public will trust us on a national basis again and why Eddie is right to a certain extent in that we need to have our driving principles in order and deliver that message loud and clear, from the top down.

Eddie March 21, 2011 - 4:04 pm


Labour had 13 years to formulate your policies, so it is not really a rush job. Certainly the opposition should hold the government to account, and I wish Labour would, but you can’t do that with no concrete polices of your own.

I’m not a fan of the coalition, or our local mp, but labour has failed dismally to engage with them or the public which is a great shame.

Who trusts the man who criticizes what you do, but has no alternative ?


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