The National Policy Forum meeting in November 2016 set out a programme of work which will lead to the manifesto for the next general election.
The working assumption is that the election will be held in 2020. Naturally the party is aware of the possibility of an early election and is making preparations in case that happens. The NPF needs to plan its work up to 2020.
The first milestone will be the presentation of documents to the 2017 Annual Conference. Once the eight policy commissions are established each will work on drafting policy on a priority topic. From December to February each commission will prepare a consultation document to be launched in the Spring. CLPs, affiliated bodies, Party members and interested parties will be invited to submit their responses to the consultation. The commissions will meet through the Spring and Summer to discus the submissions and to take evidence resulting in a revised policy statement.
A plenary meeting of the NPF in early summer will finalise the set of documents for transmission to Annual Conference. CLPs will have an opportunity to discuss the documents. Unlike in previous years, where documents were either accepted or rejected by the conference, a rule change means that particular parts of the documents can be referred back for further consideration.
After Annual Conference a new cycle will begin drafting the policies for Annual Conference in 2018. Commissions will begin work on a new set of priority policies in order to launch consultations in Spring 2018. Once again CLPs and others can make submissions to the commissions over the summer months and the NPF completes the work at a plenary in Summer in time to circulate the documents before the conference.
The same cycle is repeated in 2019. The Annual Conference in 2019 will be the last before the General Election and so conference will adopt the party's policy platform which will form the basis of the manifesto.
The process is overseen by a joint policy committee made up of NEC and Shadow Cabinet members and is supported by the hard work of party staff in the policy directorate.
This programme means that the key points for Labour International to influence policy are during the consultation periods (Spring - Summer) each year and the run up to Annual Conference. All the submissions to the commissions will be visible on the policy forum website:
Individual members can make submissions, however we will have greater clout if we can agree on an LI position. As we discussed in Wiesbaden, once the consultation is open we should attempt to draft a submission, consulting LI members and branches to find a consensus.