Labour and local government

I have just made my submission to Labour’s Democracy Review on Local Government. It consists of proposals about candidate selection, labour’s governance (Groups and Labour Committees), Direct Mayors and recalling/dismissing Leaders.  The current local government candidate selection process and Labour Group governance rules gives a massive advantage to incumbents vs. challengers. If we are to meet our aspirations of representing the community and its most disadvantaged, we need to do better. I say more below or overleaf … … …

Some new rules for Labour

The CLPD have some recommended rule changes, they are published on their web site and in this document.

They include allowing the membership a say in the candidates for the Leader and ensuring either the Leader or Deputy is female, reform of the trigger ballot process, democratising the Local Campaign Forums, election of the CLP NCC reps by OMOV, changes to the way in which rule changes are dealt with (2), a democratic Young Labour, introducing proportionality in the length of disciplinary penalties, establishing Conference standing orders, establishing an Ombudsman, a Charter of Member Rights, a Code of Ethics for members, representatives and staff, amendments to motions at Conference, organising disabled members and a conference for disabled members.

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The deadline has passed; I have inserted an excerpt delimiter, for what was said, use the “read more” button. …  …

At the GC again

Reporting on the Lewisham Deptford General Committee is still not happening so here is a report from me, about what happened yesterday.

The Executive Committee had agreed to hear a guest speaker, Natasha Kennedy who came to speak about Trans-rights. If you’ve missed it, this is a debate centred on self-id occurring within the country as the Tory Government had proposed to change the law to permit a form of self-id, allowing trans-sexuals to choose their own gender identity as opposed to the current law which requires the agreement of a Doctor. The Tories, I believe, have changed their mind, but the Labour Party has agreed, as we do with membership of our BAME forums, to allow self-identifying trans-women to benefit from the positive discrimination measures that exist within the party. This is not without some controversy. Anyway, Natasha presented one side of the argument and shared her experiences.

Another thing you might have heard about is Labour’s Democracy Review. This is being conducted in three phases and the current phase is about local parties. Ammar, our Chair, summarised the problems as follows,

  1. How can the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) better reflect the local community?
  2. What changes (if any) are needed to the way we work at Constituency level?
  3. How do we get our increased membership more involved in the Party?
  4. How do we get more people into the Party?

He then asked people to call our their answers, with between a 15 sec and 30 sec comment? While not “in the traditions of the movement”, this worked very well. Many more people were able to speak and to comment on what they wanted. In retrospect, it worked well. Because of Ammar’s framing questions, we did not speak about the Socialist Societies, but I have documented on this blog, what I think and submitted my ideas to the Democracy Review.

Here is my complete matrix

Question solution 1 solution 2 solution 3
How can the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) better reflect the local community? Reduce the membership fees Listen to the membership & engage with community organisations.
What changes (if any) are needed to the way we work at Constituency level? Adopt the Nolan Principles[1] Increase the share of membership fees remitted to CLPs Develop forums for Disability and LGBT
How do we get our increased membership more involved in the Party? Listen to them & share power i.e. show how their ideas can change Labour Do more Politics Stop shaming people about doorstep work
How do we get more people into the Party? Make our public officials accountable, i.e. make member’s voices count inside the Labour Party Stop Expelling them and refusing membership to people with campaigning history

I managed to get the Nolan Principles into the CLP submission, and when someone else raised a criticism of the Stakhanovite doorstep warriors, they were politely cheered. The CLP also agreed to ask for much more money from the subs and to reduce the membership fees.

We then turned to the motions, many of which are still left from last year.

We passed emergency motions supporting the UCU strike, and calling on the London Region rule changes to be implemented for this year’s conference.

[1] Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty & Leadership

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These are personal notes taken from the meeting and not to be taken as a formal record. i.e. all opinions are my own etc …

Rules

Another submission to the democracy review

The rules are only available as a complex .pdf document. It is not easy (or possible) to reverse engineer it. It is not possible to index them or without reverse engineering develop collaboration tools/discussions about the rules.

The rules are incomplete in particular missing the template model rules for Local Government Groups which are an important part of holding Labour Councillors to account.  They also do not have a usable citation i.e. a URL to the Co-op Interparty agreement. Procedure Guidelines for selections are also often kept secret from the members. .

The classification of rules as rules and appendixes is strange. Why do appendices exist? It’s not explained. Also it creates the need to check rules against appendix for each issue for which an appendix exists.

This all leads to uncertainty and is probably designed to make it hard for ordinary members to exercise their rights and duties.

  1. The rules document should be complete. Any cross references should be to available.
  2. The rules should be available on the internet without the use of a password.
  3. The rules should be published in a form of .pdf, together with a checksum to guarentee integrity, that allows annotation and 3rd party indexation  of the rules document. (N.B. This can be done with the hard copy today.) The master rules .pdf must have a usable index i.e. active hyperlinks.
  4. The rules should be additionally available in an editable form to allow members to develop collaboration tools.
  5. The interpretative order, if any, between rules and appendices must be stated.
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Labour’s Socialist Societies

I decided to have another go at a Socialist Societies submission to the Democracy Review

I wrote about the socialist societies and have been researching how they work and would like to add some supplementary evidence.

I believe that real and effective special interest groups will add to the Labour Party’s policy making and campaigning capability. They are also a recognition of Labour’s federal history. I believe they should be retained.

They are also subject to abuse as the stories about the Labour Party Irish society show.

I recommend that,

  1. There needs to be a minimum level of activity and democracy in a socialist society before it is allowed to affiliate to the Labour Party and its CLPs. This minimum activity to include an AGM, the election of a secretary & committee, the possession of a bank account from which affiliation payments can be made and in the case of affiliation to CLP, the branch affiliating must be greater than 10 members and should be ‘locally’ defined, i.e. the SocSoc’s regional structures are not to be permitted to affiliate to CLPs.
  2. two tier affiliations should be permitted, possibly based on size with the lower tier excluded from CLP affiliation, but permitted national & regional conference representation.
  3. That CLP affiliations should be only made by local branches and that the allocation of delegates be based upon one per 25 members resident in the CLP. (Possibly plus the secretary, if a member of the CLP.)
  4. That those socialist societies, mirroring Labour’s ‘forum’ structures be disaffiliated.
  5. Phantom affiliations, i.e. those without delegates should not be permitted.

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Labour’s Democracy Review

People in the Labour Party are beginning to wake up to the Democracy Review. A correspondent found the following documents on the Labour Party site and I have mirrored them here.

The review is being conducted in stages, and the next stage for which the call for evidence ends on the 23rd March is about local organisation and membership engagement. The third phase will be about National structures and the call for evidence closes on June 29th. I was invited to speak to one of our branches and used this slide set, which talks about its governance, its timetable and topics, and details the links to be used to submit evidence.

The Labour Party documents found for me are,

  1. Party Democracy Review, Terms of Reference v2
  2. Party Democracy Review Leaflet v3
  3. Running a consultation event in your local party

Submissions are best made by email, or via a web form hidden in the party site.

I have written previously about this here and also on my other blog, but this article is meant to be anchor for things that help others make their mind up as to what changes they want. …

Labour’s Democracy Review

When Jeremy Corbyn announced that he was planning an NEC away day to review Labour’s rules, I made some notes on my blog, which I have updated via comments, I plan to work them into a submission and submit them it’s successor and hope others will support them. The other blog has comments disabled after 7 days, so if you have something to add, please comment here.

Submissions are best made by email, or via a web form hidden in the party site. …

Labour’s Democracy Review

Labour’s Democracy Review

Labour List reports the initialisation of the Labour Party’s “Democracy Review, together with some snide comments about its pace, suggesting that it is designed to  cement Corbyn’s leadership and succession rather than ensure it reports to the membership in time to debate the changes before conference.  They also publish the document passed at the OrgSub, also available as a mirror from this site.

The review will work in three phases, liberation organisation and autonomy, organisation & structure.

The first phase, about the Liberation Groups is planned to end by 12th Jan. One of the drivers for this is almost certainly the need to have new systems in place when the NEC Youth Rep is to be elected, and the need to rerun the election for the BAME representative on the NEC. From my conversations though I know that our BAME members have more to say.

The paper says there will be a hub, presumably a wiki at which members, CLPs and affiliates will be able to access the consultation questions and respond, there will also be an email address, (presumably for those without a browser) which is less satisfactory as any contributions become secret. The paranoid amongst us, assume that by not having a closed membership open wiki, where members can set the agenda, they are building a means of control. …