I wrote this for the New Statesman today, as it was confirmed that I had gained enough nominations to be on Labour’s NEC ballot paper.
Today it was announced I will be on the ballot paper for Labour’s National Executive Committee elections so I can fight for a more equal Labour Party.
I’m proud we champion equality at election time but we need to ensure our party reflects those values internally. No one should be held back in the Labour Party because of their background, income, age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality or disability.
I’m standing to ensure young women have more opportunities to get involved, to make selections and meetings more accessible to those from all backgrounds and to fight for regional representation on the NEC so it is not just people in London taking the big decisions.
Truly making our party more equal, however, means not just changing structures but our culture.
As a young woman I know that the culture of the Labour Party at all levels can be intimidating and off-putting. Too often we face unwelcoming meetings, difficulties getting involved and even harassment and bullying. Changing the culture of our party to make it more equal must be a priority for the NEC. We must have a welcoming environment for all, free from bullying and harassment, and better procedures in place to deal with incidents when they do arise.
The culture, cost and length of selections results in a lack of diversity among our candidates. We need more women, BAME, LGBT, disabled and working class candidates so we reflect the country we seek to represent. Fairer selections means shortening the process, reducing the cost, ensuring BAME candidates on every shortlist and changing the culture that too often prevents women getting selected in open shortlists.
All members need to be taken seriously when it comes to our policy-making too. I will fight for a meaningful say in policy for all. Members are more than votes in a leadership election and no one joins the party just to spend their Thursday evenings going through the minutes of the last meeting. We need to harness the expertise and ideas of our growing membership. This means policy events with senior politicians, more opportunities to contribute ideas online and confidence that we members are being listened to by the party.
We also need to get serious about ending the London-centric culture that sees all our decisions taken in the capital and the majority of events there too. I will fight for regional representation on the NEC, so decisions at the top reflect members’ views in our regions and nations, not just London.
As your representative on the NEC, I will fight to make our party the true party of equality, where all members can get involved and no one is held back.