Questions to NEC candidates - Responses from Parmjit Dhanda and Ellie Reeves

Questions to NEC candidates - Response from Parmjit Dhanda and Ellie Reeves

Reply from Parmjit Dhanda
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.


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've got a lot of experience of working with people from a range of backgrounds. In my time I've been accused of being a 'Trotskyite' and a 'Blairite'. If you read my book: 'My Political Race' I think you'll understand me better.
 
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? 
 
That sounds like common sense, I'd need to understand more about the restrictions, but happy to discuss it.


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 should never right off a group of voters. I represented the marginal 'middle-England' seat of Gloucester in Parliament for 9 years. It taught me that you need to be able to talk to and represent everyone, whatever their background and never take them for granted.


2.3    Do you support the idea of having MPs to represent Britons living abroad i.e. international constituencies, like France?
 
I did a lot of casework for Brits based abroad when I was a MP - for example people in prisons, hospitals or involved in attacks. Most diligent MPs will always be happy to do what they can for the families of constituents abroad. Creating a new raft of MPs is not something I'd look to do.

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?
 
All party leaders need to have a coalition of support amongst their colleagues, affiliates, members and voters. The thresholds of support are a matter for debate, but the members should always have the ultimate say.


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?
 
I do support One Member One Vote. 

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)
 
I'd be happy to meet and discuss this, but its important that members understand the remit of NEC members. You are not electing an MP or a Party leader.


4.2 Do you support public ownership of utilities and the transport system?
 
I led the campaign to renationalise British Energy when it was in trouble. I don't believe the state should run everything but on a case by case basis we should consider which rail franchises have let us down and would be better in state 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?
 
I work for a trade union so you'll understand why I would be very keen to see the repeal of many laws that have made it harder for trade unions to improve the lives working people.

4.5 Would you be able to represent all current views within the Party, even if you disagree personally?
 
At one stage I was the only Minister in the Labour government who had rebelled on the Iraq War. I do what I believe is the right thing to do. When I disagree with you I'll still listen to you and explain my position. It would be a boring world if we agreed on everything!

Reply from Ellie Reeves
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?
1.1. I do regularly attend the LI meeting at conference and would continue to do so. I am happy to receive details about the meeting in Germany and will attend if possible. I have also spoken to the Brussels branch of LI in the past.
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?
1.2 I am an independently minded member of the NEC and over the past 10 years I have received widespread support from across the party. The Labour Party has always been a broad church but there is more that unites us than divides us. If re-elected I will continue to work with all within our party to secure a Labour victory.
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? 
2.1 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?
2.2. Why not run some canvassing sessions of UK citizens living abroad in the communities where LI have active branches so that you can provide evidence based statistics to back this up? 
2.3    Do you support the idea of having MPs to represent Britons living abroad i.e. international constituencies, like France?
2.3 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?
3.1. On most fundamental issues like this I survey members using social media and email to canvass their views. If there was a leadership contest (and I hope that there will not be) this is what I would do before taking a view.
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?
3.2 We have an OMOV ballot now for electing the leader. I supported this as part of the Collins reforms and see no case for changing it.
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)
4.1 This is not an issue that I know a great deal about, I would be happy to discuss further with LI.
4.2 Do you support public ownership of utilities and the transport system?
4.2 Rail, yes. Water, probably. Buses need proper regulation.
4.3 Are you in favour of scrapping university/tuition fees?
4.3 I would significantly reduce (and possibly abolish) them for any University student who went to a state, non-fee paying school.
4.4 Are you in favour of repealing the anti trade union laws brought in by various Conservative governments?
4.4 Yes. Having been a trade union lawyer for many years this is something I feel strongly about. 
4.5 Would you be able to represent all current views within the Party, even if you disagree personally?
4.5 See answers to 1.2 & 3.1. I work really hard to represent members as best I can.

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