Phantoms

It’s that time of year when the large unions send out their affiliation cheques to the Labour Party for 2019. This raises questions in the minds of many Labour Party activists.  I have written about this a couple of times, Most importantly, on organisational eligibility and on communication with the affiliating entity. Bit back by popular demand …

  1. Only national committees and branches of Trade Unions may affiliate to a CLP, although most Unions will send a cheque (or on-line transfer) from a regionally administered political fund. (Affiliation payments must come from the political fund.) Regional bodies may not affiliate.
  2. Each affiliating entity must pay 6p/member resident in the constituency subject to a minimum payment of £6.00 and is entitled to 5 delegates unless local rules with an adjustment to the blank rule in Appendix 7 ((Ap 7.III.1)) change this or the affiliating entity has over 1000 members living in the constituency when a delegate entitlement for that entity may be negotiated between the Union, the CLP and RD/GS. This limit would also apply to National Committees of Trade Unions, only five delegates/affiliation.
  3. Only branches of socialist societies may affiliate to CLPs. (C7.III.1.c). Most don’t seem to have them.
  4. All communication between the CLP and the affiliating entity must be to the affiliating entities Secretary (C7.IX.6); without this fact the CLP cannot send notices of business nor validate that any proposals for business such as motions or requisitions for emergency meetings are validly authorised. i.e. an affiliation must include documentation detailing the entity’s secretary’s contact details.

Some organisations seem exceptionally casual at best in conforming to some of these rules.

Delegates must be LP members of the CLP and members of the affiliating entity (or full time employees).

A CLP has the duty to ensure the affiliation is valid, and thus it needs to have the branch name(s), the branch secretary’s contact details, the delegate names and the date of the meeting at which the delegates were appointed/elected.

CLPs should adopt rules that any money sent by Unions or Socialist Societies not accompanied by valid affiliation documentation is to be treated as a donation.

You may find that some members of LP regional staff will have some difficulty with the views expressed here. …

Norway+

Not so sure where this has come from, but it seems to have a small level of support in both the Labour & Tory parliamentary parties. It would seem that Norway is not in the Customs Union, which is why we want a plus deal but also it does not incorporate the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the CJEU’s rights of enforcement. That won’t do for me and shouldn’t do for the PLP as we require the same levels of protection for work, consumers and the environment as we have today. It seems to unite both left and right of the Labour Party against it, here’s Jim Denham and here’s MIke Gapes MP.

And here’s what one senior Norwegian politician has to say,

 …

Brexit, the end parliamentary end-game

Earlier this week, Theresa May’s Government lost three votes in the House of Commons on Brexit. It was held in contempt for withholding its legal advice on the Brexit Treaty. A couple of hours later, the House voted to ensure it would have a further say if it rejected the Government’s Brexit Deal.

This changes things in Parliament and has created a maelstrom in Westminster and on social media.

I have thought since July 2016, that Brexit must be negotiated in good faith by people who want to leave but then the people[1] should be asked if the deal was what they wanted and still want.

At Labour’s Conference in Liverpool earlier this year, the Party voted to oppose a Tory Brexit, recognizing that it failed to meet the six tests; the Party resolved to attempt to bring down the Government and force a General Election and should this not happen that all options including a public vote would be considered. This composite was based on primarily two views but it can’t be seriously suggested that rump New Labour could have got over 100 motions to Labour Conference. Also the supposed suggestion that wanting a general election is somehow in opposition to a second mandate is childish. Labour’s position is clear, if May is defeated, we want a general election, if we can’t get that, then all options including a 2nd referendum are to be considered.

It should be considered that this is a development of Labour’s policy, first stated at Conference 16, which is should the terms be unsatisfactory, Labour will campaign to remain.

It’s important that all wings of Labour hold their nerve, the Lexiter’s may get their chance to define exit terms, but our short terms goals are clear. They should note that some of us have been biting our lips and holding our nerve. It’s your turn.

  • Vote down May’s deal!
  • Vote down the Government!

Maybe Corbyn can “do a Wilson”, renegotiate the Tories terms and then put them to the people; that’s what happened in the seventies, but more and more Cameron’s deal is seeming more and more attractive, but if we stay we need to build alliances in Europe to reform the EU.

Now is not the time for freelancing, whether in the PLP, Union Leaderships or in Party in the country.

ooOOOoo

[1] Including EU citizens resident in the UK, and UK Citizens abroad who have lost their votes through absence. …

The People’s Commissars

I couldn’t find this on google; to be sung to tune of the Bold Gendarmes, originally shared with me in 1976.


We are the People’s Commissariat,
The guardians of the workers’ state,
The vanguard of the proletariat,
We teach them who they ought to hate.
But when it comes to fellow travellers,
Who ride in Yankee motor cars
We run them in, we run them in,
We run them in, we run them in,
We are the People’s Commissars.

We’re on our guard for deviations,
And anti-party groups we fight,
We are mentors of the nation,
We teach them that the left is right,
And when it comes to Trots and Bolshevics,
They’re better kept behind steel bars
We run them in, we run them in,
We run them in, we run them in,
We are the People’s Commissars.

And when we meet with delegations
Of Bosses from the western states,
We strive for cordial relations
We all get drunk and call them mates.
We drink in peaceful co-existence,
We rather like their fat cigars
We drink their gin, we drink their gin,
We drink their gin, we drink their gin,
We are the People’s Commissars.

In our position life gets dangerous,
When they decide to change the line,
But we have friends who arrange for us,
To be let off with just a fine,
But if our friends are liquidated,
Our fate will be just like the Czars,
They’ll rub us out, they’ll rub us out,
They’ll rub us out, they’ll rub us out,
The bloody People’s Commissars. …

20th century transportation

I had forgotten about these cases; I first came across the issue when one of my children performed in a very sad play about them. Another scandal. Poor children were split from their families and transported to the Commonwealth countries, mainly in the Southern hemisphere. As the Guardian article identifies, while compensation and apologies have been agreed, many of the victims will be dying.

A film was made about it, called “Oranges & Sunshine”. …

Delegates & Democracy

One of the reforms made at #Lab18 was to make the adoption of All Member Meetings (AMM) as the Governance structure of a CLP easier. We tried this in Lewisham Deptford in 2012 for six months. I wrote about the debate at which we chose to revert to Branch & Delegate structures in Feb. 2013. It’s another of these ironies that it was originally pushed by Progress and the Blair’s leadership as a means of side-lining local leaderships, but it is seen today as a tool of Momentum to re-engineer the Party in its own image.

Have my views changed? I have reproduced an updated version of my balance sheet below, but most importantly,

All Member Meetings kill branches, organizationally, politically and socially.

All Member Meetings kill branches, organizationally, politically and socially. They may exacerbate the stridency of factional dispute as the factions do not even unite in the branches around common tasks such as election campaigning and fund raising. Most members given a choice between one of two meetings will choose the CLP level AMM where policy and politics are discussed. Furthermore, my experience is that where branches do policy development and political education, they are more active and vibrant and more likely to grow.

It’s most powerful argument is that the delegate based system is elitist and excludes people. Our experience, we trialled it for 6 months, is that the chief beneficiaries of the move to AMM was those councillors not on the General Committee. We were a party of 750 and about to win every council seat in the constituency bar one. There were few ordinary members that took advantage of the right to attend AMMs although the party is much larger now and circumstances might be different.

We also should recognise that some people may for many reasons not wish to attend meetings, and are happy to elect delegates to represent them. (This may be influenced by the geographic size of the constituency, East Hampshire, not the largest by a long way, is nearly 200 sq. miles, while Lewisham Deptford, where I live now, is 14.)

Gender Quotas cannot be applied to AMMs.

Some people argued that AMMs are easier to pack, but my experience over the last three years that while the left may seek to win meetings by recruiting members[1] and talking politics, there are others who have strong networks and use Trade Union links and the Socialist Societies to win places on delegate based GCs which at times are of questionable existence or compliance with the rules.

On the other hand, when the Trade Union link works genuinely, it’s a tremendous asset to the Labour Party as the good relationships between our CLP and the local Trades Council goes to show, but aggressive or corrupt manipulation of the rules damages the link, and is part of[2] what led to the booing of the Trade Union delegates at #Lab18.

All member meetings will be administratively more expensive both in terms of room rental and real mail, although you can’t claim that it won’t benefit many people and that it will be more expensive. Brighton District CLP had over 600 people at their 2015 AGM (about 10%) and had to circulate people through the room, recent Parliamentary selections across the country have attracted from 35% to 50% of the membership. Some CLPs now have over 2000 members and booking a room large enough to accommodate a high turnout AMM is challenging.

All member’s meetings diminish the Trade Union link as Unions cannot appoint additional voting members. As I have said, so does fraudulent behaviour as obviously occurred in the Newham Mayoral trigger ballot albeit by a socialist society and we all know of CLPs where the affiliate delegates outnumber those appointed by the membership branches. I also know of CLPs where the number of branch delegates is capped[3], but where it works well, it is a massive asset to the Labour Party.  The Socialist Society’s relationship with AMM led CLPs is also weakened but the value of the Socialist Societies to the Labour Party is in their policy development and campaigning and as stated here and elsewhere their affiliations in some cases are used to block the will of the individual membership.

We should bear in mind that AMM governance model wasn’t designed to be effective, it was designed to weaken the voice of activists against the leadership.

AMMs increases accountability of the management meeting to the membership because there’s no waiting period for new members to participate in the management of the local party, they need neither wait for a branch AGM nor wait for a space in the GC delegations. I think that the Branch and Delegate GC’s have taken longer to become representative of the current membership because of this built in delay. The competition for places in my local party, means that good people have not been elected to the GC and their contribution to the Party’s management will be missed.

Finally, I think constituency geography counts, I am not sure how but it would seem to me compelling that large rural constituencies might benefit from a branch and delegate structure to maximise the administrative simplicity and minimize the cost of the meetings but I am basically of the view that the arguments to adopt AMM is not compelling.

I would also add that the case that AMM is more democratic is far from proven; I am not sure how you measure the democracyness of a governance structure although I have looked at means in this article and this article.

ooOOOoo

[1] Although it all turned to shit in Falkirk; http://davelevy.info/the-end-of-the-road-from-falkirk/

[2] Another part is the naivete and self-entitlement of the supporters of open selection.

[3] This  has the effect in large parties of reducing the proportion of delegates representing and elected by individual members. …