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Questions to NEC candidates - Responses from Luke Akehurst, Claudia Webbe and John Gallagher

Responses from Luke Akehurst, Claudia Webbe and John Gallagher

Reply from Claudia Webbe

1.        Labour International

1.1     If elected to the NEC, will you attend one of our events at Conference and/or come to our LI members' meeting in Germany planned for October?  

Yes, I would be happy to do so

1.2     We have tripled our membership since May 2015, and experienced infighting and tensions between groups within LI. How will you try and bring the Party together?

I would encourage all members to unite around the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn towards power and defeating the Tories in 2020. I would champion the voices of ordinary members, including working with members to ensure the Labour Party rule book can be understood by ordinary people. The Tories are pursuing ruthlessly their austerity agenda; waging an ideological attack on the poor, there is a political imperative for us all to unite around a common goal of winning at every election, by-election, local regional and national election and ultimately winning in 2020. I reject divisive, negative politics. With my strong equalities background, I would encourage all members to concentrate on the issues that matter, which include challenging concentrations of power, inequality and social justice.  There is room for all within the Labour party and we are stronger because of our diversity and different view points.  I believe the National Executive Committee has a crucial role to play enhancing our diversity and difference towards ensuring through listening, challenge and debate that we are fit for purpose and ready for power. I would work to empower members to unite and fight for a more democratic party that can deliver change, victory and ultimately power in 2020. 

  

2.        Voting rights

2.1     Do you support the right of UK citizens living abroad having the right to vote for life and remove the present restriction? 

Yes

2.2     The UK Labour Party thinks that most UK citizens living abroad are Tory voters. How can you help us overcome this prejudice within the Party?

I would seek to ensure that the National Executive Committee develops more opportunities for Labour Party members abroad to have a platform of engagement, networking and constructive dialogue across all aspects of the workings of the Party.

2.3    Do you support the idea of having MPs to represent Britons living abroad i.e. international constituencies, like France?

Yes, I think if the Labour Party is to be truly democratic it must listen to the views of all its members, including those living abroad - having MPs that can represent and articulate those views would be a step in the right direction
 
3. Election of Party Leader

3.1    Should the current Leader of the Labour Party automatically be on the ballot in the event of a leadership election?

Yes, I am backing the rule change proposed by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD)

3.2    Do you support one member one vote (with each vote having the same weight) for future leadership elections? If you don’t why not? 

Yes

 

4. General 

4.1 Do you support the “unfreezing” of the rate of UK state pension paid to pensioners living in many countries abroad? (e.g. Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan) 

Yes

4.2 Do you support public ownership of utilities and the transport system? 

Yes

4.3 Are you in favour of scrapping university/tuition fees? 

Yes

4.4 Are you in favour of repealing the anti trade union laws brought in by various Conservative governments? 

Yes

4.5 Would you be able to represent all current views within the Party, even if you disagree personally?

Yes with your support I would represent all Labour Party values, policies and views even if I disagree personally unless those views are contrary to a just, fair and equal society.

 

Reply from Luke Akehurst   

1.        Labour International 

1.1     If elected to the NEC, will you attend one of our events at Conference and/or come to our LI members' meeting in Germany planned for October? 

Yes I would love to. 

1.2     We have tripled our membership since May 2015, and experienced infighting and tensions between groups within LI. How will you try and bring the Party together?

I would ask to be judged on my previous record. Everyone knows I have robust views which are on the moderate wing of the party and will advocate those tenaciously. But when I was on the NEC from 2010-2012 Ed Miliband commended me to full NEC as a force for unity and in Hackney I transformed the culture of the local party and Labour Group (where I was Chief Whip) from one of infighting and bitterness to one of comradely debate. 

I don't think it is possible to reconcile the different policy positions being advocated on foreign and defence policy between right and left of the party. Questions like Trident renewal (which I support) have to be resolved democratically at Annual Conference. I do think there is plenty of common ground on economic and social policy. What I do think is possible is to debate in an atmosphere of mutual respect - to argue your case for different policies and candidates robustly then accept the results and enjoy the company of and campaigning with the people you may have just debated and voted against, because you recognise their shared values.

 

2.        Voting rights 

2.1     Do you support the right of UK citizens living abroad having the right to vote for life and remove the present restriction?  

Yes

2.2     The UK Labour Party thinks that most UK citizens living abroad are Tory voters. How can you help us overcome this prejudice within the Party?

We need to fund raise to help you get some proper polling done of ex pats to disprove this. I don't see why they wouldn't have similar voting patterns to the rest of UK citizens. 

2.3    Do you support the idea of having MPs to represent Britons living abroad i.e. international constituencies, like France?

Yes

 

3. Election of Party Leader

3.1    Should the current Leader of the Labour Party automatically be on the ballot in the event of a leadership election?

I am happy with the current rules but can't get excited about this as I am convinced Jeremy now has enough nominating MPs in the PLP to put him on the ballot in the event of a challenge. I am more concerned by the proposal to reduce the threshold of nominations required, as I think future leaders ought to be able to demonstrate substantial parliamentary support.

3.2    Do you support one member one vote (with each vote having the same weight) for future leadership elections? If you don’t why not?

No. I think it is ridiculous that a leader can be elected without substantial support of their parliamentary colleagues. The current situation proves this is unsustainable. There are three main stakeholder groups in the party - MPs, trade unions and members. Each should have a share in electing the leader through an electoral college.

 

4. General

4.1 Do you support the “unfreezing” of the rate of UK state pension paid to pensioners living in many countries abroad? (e.g. Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan)

Yes

4.2 Do you support public ownership of utilities and the transport system?

Transport including rail, yes. Utilities function effectively so I would prefer tighter price regulation on gas etc as in our last manifesto, rather than public ownership.

4.3 Are you in favour of scrapping university/tuition fees?

Yes.

4.4 Are you in favour of repealing the anti trade union laws brought in by various Conservative governments?

Not all of them. Is anyone really in favour of scrapping the requirement for proper ballots before strikes? I'm not.

4.5 Would you be able to represent all current views within the Party, even if you disagree personally?

No. I am running on a clear platform that I am on the moderate wing of the party and oppose the current shift to the left and away from the voters who decide General Elections. If elected I will have a mandate to pursue that. It is important that members who share my views have a strong voice on the NEC.

 

Reply from John Gallagher

1.        Labour International 

1.1     If elected to the NEC, will you attend one of our events at Conference and/or come to our LI members' meeting in Germany planned for October?  

Yes I would attend LI events at Conference and I would come to your LI meeting in October as I believe communications are essential and that all members should be heard and represented as we grow the Party. 

1.2     We have tripled our membership since May 2015, and experienced infighting and tensions between groups within LI. How will you try and bring the Party together?

I am not a member of any faction and have noticed that disparate and disparaging voices in these factions are weakening the public's perception of the Party. 

I will speak out and argue for a united Party which shows discipline and cohesion. It is important that we speak with one voice and where we have genuine differences we debate these responsibly and respect the views of others. When we disagree, tolerance and respect is the order of the day.

 

2.        Voting rights 

2.1     Do you support the right of UK citizens living abroad having the right to vote for life and remove the present restriction? 

Yes I support the right of all UK citizens to have the right to vote for life. 

2.2     The UK Labour Party thinks that most UK citizens living abroad are Tory voters. How can you help us overcome this prejudice within the Party?

I am not aware that the Party thinks that UK citizens living abroad are Tories. I never make assumptions about anyone, wealthy or poor, UK-based or overseas, and I make these views known whenever they arise. 

2.3    Do you support the idea of having MPs to represent Britons living abroad i.e. international constituencies, like France?

Yes I think that Britons living abroad should be represented. The current EU referendum is a clear case in point where the interests of our citizens overseas will be affected by the vote on the EU. 

3. Election of Party Leader 

3.1    Should the current Leader of the Labour Party automatically be on the ballot in the event of a leadership election?

Yes the current leader of the Party should automatically be on the ballot in the event of a leadership election. If he or she had lost the support of Party members then it is likely that they would not allow their name to go forward. If, on the other hand, having lost the confidence of members, they were to allow there name to go forward then the outcome of the election would be a clear statement of the wishes of the members. 

3.2    Do you support one member one vote (with each vote having the same weight) for future leadership elections? If you don’t why not?

Yes I support OMOV for leadership elections. 

 

4. General 

4.1 Do you support the “unfreezing” of the rate of UK state pension paid to pensioners living in many countries abroad? (e.g. Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan)

Yes I support the unfreezing of pensions rates for pensioners in countries abroad. 

4.2 Do you support public ownership of utilities and the transport system?

Transport is partially public owned and there is a clear failure in the private ownership of some areas of the transport sector. We should review taking back into public ownership those sectors that have failed.  

Utilities are not in the same category and I would doubt that there are major benefits to be gained by bringing them under public ownership. Regulatory oversight should be strengthened in the utilities sector.

4.3 Are you in favour of scrapping university/tuition fees?

Yes I am in favour of scrapping higher education tuition fees. The education of our young people is an investment in the future and we should avoid putting barriers in the way of their education. 

4.4 Are you in favour of repealing the anti trade union laws brought in by various Conservative governments?

Yes I would repeal the anti-trades union laws brought in by the Conservatives. They have been socially divisive and weakened the rights of workers for fair and safe treatment at work. 

4.5 Would you be able to represent all current views within the Party, even if you disagree personally?

Yes I would represent all current views in the Party fairly even those I disagree with. It is a matter of principle with me that we present a united Party to the country.

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