The Labour Party National Policy Forum met in Birmingham on 22-23 June 2013.
In Tony Blair’s 1997 restructuring of Labour, much of the Labour conference’s policy-making work was supposed to be transferred to this Forum.
In fact the Forum confirmed what has long been clear: that it is a weak consultative body, and real policy-making is concentrated in the party leaders’ offices.
As Jon Lansman has reported on the Labour-left website Left Futures, “Important issues addressed in keynote speeches, like that of Ed Miliband on social security policy, or by Jon Cruddas’s policy review, could... not be discussed, let alone voted on by delegates in Birmingham”.
Ed Miliband said that he “hopes we can repeal the Bedroom Tax”, but fended off all clear commitment with the protest that “our proposals must be credible”.
“We won’t be able to promise now to reverse [Osborne’s cuts] because we can only do so when we can be absolutely crystal clear about where the money is coming from”. From implementing TUC policy to take the banks into public ownership? From taxing the rich?
He said Labour would reduce student fees (how much?) and repeal the Health and Social Care Act (and reverse its effects?)
Christine Shawcroft reports that she and others “put forward the arguments about axing Trident and called for a debate at Conference. The facilitator said that we have no control over the party conference arrangements...”
The unions should use their clout within Labour to get debate on the rule changes demanding more democracy which pour into Labour conference each year, and to get them passed.