Emergencies

Emergencies

More on emergency motions, mainly about the Labour Party’s rules, but may apply to other Labour movement organisations.

An emergency motion can be accepted after the convening notice for a meeting has been published. This means that attendees or potential attendees will not know that a motion is planned, especially if the relevant officers do not formally or informally publicise receipt of a proposed emergency motion. In both AMM and Branch & Delegate (B&D), an emergency motion can be proposed by one member. Emergency motions permit the weakening of the notice rules.

To be deemed an emergency there is a two part test; basically is it late for good reason, and can it wait?

To be deemed an emergency, it must prove that it is relevant to an event that occurred after the convening notice was published otherwise the proposer should/must have given the membership notice of their motion via the Secretary. i.e. the proposer needs to justify why no notice could be given. This is worse in a B&D GC;  an emergency motion can be proposed by a delegate without reference to their nominating organisation and other delegates cannot get mandates for the emergency motion, particularly if no notice has been given.

None of the above addresses the second part of the test which is to qualify as an emergency, the motion must be such that being delayed to a meeting at which notice can be given and mandates issued would nullify the impact of the motion.

This is why organisations need a test as to the bona fide nature of the “emergency” requiring the passage of a motion.

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It should be noted that the very low threshold required to place an emergency motion on the order paper can lead to abuse. Because emergency motions are taken before motions that have been submitted in good time, a small minority can hijack the agenda of meetings by persistently submitting emergency motions. This denies those that have behaved well the opportunity to see their motions and ideas debated. (My local GC has motions that have been waiting for nearly two years, and it took months to discuss abolishing the Mayor and even longer to vote to oppose blacklist and for the council to embargo companies that use them.

A final thought, since motions of no-confidence, be it in an MP or a CLP EC have no effect in the rules, can they ever be considered emergencies? They will always fail the 2nd test. …

Sovereignty

While I suspect that Labour’s Democracy Review team changed the sovereignty relationship between CLP ECs and GC/AMMs for good reasons, the number of stories of ECs suppressing the membership’s ability to make policy and run their parties being legion and in some places it seems not to have stopped but making it work will be difficult as the amount of time required to hold the new officers and committee to account is significant. My last EC spent hours discussing the Facebook usage policy 🤔, and since everything is factional, stuff gets discussed at detail twice.

I almost wonder if it was deliberate; the GC/AMMs will spend so long discussing administration that they won’t have time to discuss policy or hold the leadership and the PLP to account. …

Member’s Rights (in the Labour Party)

Fabulous, I found this in the new Rules, the new C2.II Individual Membership Rights

7.   Members have the right to dignity and respect, and to be treated fairly by the Labour Party. Party officers at every level shall exercise their powers in good faith and use their best endeavours to ensure procedural fairness for members.

I shall be seeking to amend this to include a mandate to abide by the Nolan Principals. …

Rescind

Labour’s rules for Party Unit’s have a three month moratorium on “rescinding” a decision.

Using Google, I find this definition

rescind /rɪˈsɪnd/ verb
revoke, cancel, or repeal (a law, order, or agreement).

This would mean to me that changed circumstances and the review of a position that was not carried or made, would be permitted. …  …

Do what we like!

I can’t believe I didn’t write this up during the Lewisham East by-election. I am looking at Chapter 5 Selections, rights and responsibilities of candidates for elected public office, the rules say,

Chapter 5.I.2

Party units shall act in accordance with guidance that shall be issued by the NEC in the application of these rules. The NEC has the authority to modify these rules and any procedural rules and guidelines as required to meet particular circumstances or to further the stated objectives and principles of these rules. Further the NEC has the power to impose candidates where it deems this is required by the circumstances.

Seems clear, although it conflicts with C1.X Scope. Also the preamble to the rule, states that it is equivalent in authority to the appendices i.e. they are to be read in conjunction with selection procedures set out in the appendices to these rules.

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So Scope C1.X says they can’t vary selection rules, & C5 says they can, what would a judge say? …

How long does Labour’s candidate panels last?

Some times I wish I hadn’t started this, but I was looking up teh Labour Party’s rules for someone else and came across this gem in Appendix 4 NEC Procedures for the selection of local government Candidates, which as I discuss at length cannot be varied by the NEC, although maybe it can!

Rule Appendix 4.A.iv

The panel remains in existence following an election until a new panel is nominated and endorsed. The panel is therefore available for any by-elections in this period. This later date (iii.g above) is so that LCFs can plan for a period without new endorsements whilst high priority selections are taking place. The panel cannot be closed as such so all nominations must be dealt with at an appropriate time.

This is about the panel list and its existence. It is created in the run up to an authority election and those not selected remain on the panel until the list is dissolved. …

CLP Governance 2018

This is long, it’s a rule by rule analysis of the rule changes made to CLP rules by the Democracy Review and #lab18. It deals with GC sovereignty, Executive Committee membership, Branch & Delegate vs. All Member Meeting (AMM), equalities representation and organisation, meeting frequency, job shares and IT & participation. For completeness, I also mention Special Measures & Multi Constituency CLPs. The original text is held in Conference 18 CAC Report 1, which is on member’s net and mirrored here on my wiki. It should be noted that Conference determined these rules came into force on September 27. 2018. I reported on the debate in an article, on this blog, called The Denoument. For more see below/overleaf …  …

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. …

Once a year

Labour List reports that the NEC have placed a frequency limit, of 12 months on the convening of meetings to determine a CLPs governance model. I would have linked, but the comments section has really has gone down the toilet; I strongly recommend they adopt a karma system. The Labour List article repeats the tired trope that the Left want AMM and the right want to keep B&D. It’s quite an amusing turn around since AMM were introduced under the New Labour supremacy. I take a more detailed yet unfinished look at the arguments for and against; I believe that AMM kills branches.

The new rule states that a party unit or affiliate may requisition a special all members meeting (irrespective of the current governance model) to decide to change the model from Branch & Delegate to All Member’s Meeting, or vice versa.

The NEC state this may only be done once every 12 months but they should have prohibited them from happening once the AGM convening process has started, which is 60 days before for a Branch & Delegate AGM (the deadline for new affiliates) and 35 days (the deadline for affiliate arrears) for an All Members Meeting managed CLP.

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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.

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[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. …