David Blackburn

Ed Balls’ contract with the Labour Party

Ed Balls’ contract with the Labour Party
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Ed Balls has produced a contract with the Labour party. Three things strike me about it. First, he emphasizes broader consultation and promises a greater role for activists and local representatives. These political impulses are championed by the coalition – an indication that Cameron and Clegg’s partnership is beginning to change Britain party political landscape. Second, Balls is a proud friend of the trade unions and wants to restore the link between Labour and the unions, perhaps to redress Labour’s chronic financial position. Third, like Ed Miliband, he has adopted Harriet Harman’s goal of having women as 50 percent of the shadow cabinet. Here are his pledges:   

‘These are my pledges to every party member –  if I’m elected hold me to account for them:

I will lead a responsible but effective opposition to the Tories and Lib Dems. I will lead from the front and ensure the whole party from the shadow cabinet and PLP to every councillor and party member plays their part in shortening the life of this coalition and exposing the unfair decisions they are taking.

I will increase party membership and strengthen Labour’s link with the trade unions – not just nationally but in every constituency and union branch. We should extend the £1 youth membership rate to every affiliated union member joining Labour for the first time. And as the first Co-op MP to stand for Labour leader, I would build a closer relationship with the co-operative movement too.

I will give Party Conference back to members. Our Conference must be reinvigorated as the debating chamber for working people in our country. We must not go back to the 1980s, but nor should we repeat the mistakes of the second term when the Labour government neglected its base and often sounded like it was attacking trade unions and the public sector.

I will reform our party’s policy-making process by consulting members on how our National Policy Forum needs to change. On some policy areas –   Iraq, tuition fees, agency workers, housing, and fair migration – we lost touch   and lost our way. That cost us the trust of voters. I will listen to members about what we got wrong and what needs to change for the future.

I will drive a culture change in our party to support greater representation of women at every level. I support the goal of having at least 50% women in the shadow cabinet and in Parliament too. But we will only achieve this with greater representation of women in local government and our party structures.

I will set up the party’s first-ever Diversity Fund to help all those who are under-represented get selected, including BAME groups, disabled people and those from ordinary backgrounds.

I will end undemocratic imposed selections and start the selection of candidates much earlier. We must start campaigning now in the seats we need to win – and be ready for a general election whenever the coalition falls apart.

I will support all our candidates, councillors and CLPs to win again. Labour faces crucial elections in the next two years, where we must take on the Tories, Lib Dems, nationalists and the BNP. They’re not simply a platform for winning again at the next general election – we need Labour in local government, the Scottish and European Parliaments and the Welsh and London Assemblies to deliver for our constituents.

I will nurture talent in our party and help our youth and student movement grow by giving Young Labour a full time member of staff and keeping all three Labour Students sabbaticals.

I will bring our party closer together by including our leaders in local government and the European Parliament in the shadow cabinet and giving our leaders in Scotland and Wales a place on the NEC.’