Labour’s rules & PR Lists

As far as I know, we already have proportional voting systems in the UK, in Scotland & Wales for the their Assemblies, in London for the GLA and for the Members of the European Parliament. I have experience of standing for and/or selecting/triggering Labour candidates in the latter positions.

While much focus of late has been on selecting/re-selecting MPs in the House of Commons these positions represent a special case.

Labour’s re-selection processes for “list” based seats in local government in England, currently only the GLA, unless we remain in the EU requires that incumbents are confirmed or otherwise as candidates (via a trigger ballot), and that new candidates are found and approved by panel. All the candidates are then ordered by a member’s vote, with the incumbents guaranteed the highest places.

This protection i.e. the guarantee that incumbents must get the highest ranking places on the list should be removed; the member’s votes should determine the order that incumbents and challengers are placed on the list, subject to the gender quota rules. The members should be offered an additional two candidates, who then become available for call up in the case that any of the selected candidates are unable to run.

Re-selection goes to Conference

The Young Labour National Committee have submitted a rule change on mandatory reselection to LP National Conference. Sara Doyle posts the text on twitter ….

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.

ooOOOoo

Ensuring a democratic choice in Labour Leadership elections – when there is a vacancy

The supporting arguments starts, “There is a growing consensus in the Labour Party that members should have a stronger role in Party decision-making, and that they should not be denied a democratic choice in Labour leadership elections…”

The rule proposes that a candidate for leader needs the support of either 10% of the PLP/EPLP or 10% of the Unions or 10% of the CLPs.

Reform of the ‘trigger mechanism’ for sitting MPs

The supporting arguments starts, “Many Party members are now of the view that some Labour MPs take insufficient account of the views of their CLP and of Annual Conference, our Party’s sovereign body. One reason for this is that adequate mechanisms of accountability are non-existent in our Party

It proposes that MP trigger ballots require a ⅔ affirmative vote of both party units and separately affiliates i.e. trade unions to avoid an open selection. i.e. where an MP is popular with both their local activists and the affiliated Unions, then an open selection can be avoided.

A new Local Government Committee structure (instead of existing Local Campaign Forum)

The supporting argument is, “The introduction of Local Campaign Forums, following the ‘Refounding Labour’ process in 2011, has not been a success. In many parts of the country LCFs meet irregularly, do not provide an adequate forum for consultation and debate on local government policy, and do not organise sufficient campaigning activity. Reinstating Local Government Committees, with defined representation for CLPs and affiliates, and regular meetings, would improve on this situation.”

The rule proposes that the LCF’s are renamed and consist of delegates from the constituent CLPs and affiliates, mainly Unions. It also mandates that they meet 4 times/year, which would be an improvement in many cases.

Election of the National Constitutional Committee (constituency section) by OMOV

This one is obvious, although one interesting part of the supporting argument is that since it is currently elected at conference, those members of CLPs too poor to send a conference delegation don’t participate in this important election.

Abolish the obsolete one year’s delay re rule changes from CLPs

Another obvious one, the supporting statement starts, “The NEC can (and does!) agree rule changes one week and have them voted on by Annual Conference the following week. But for CLPs and trade unions it is an entirely different process. A rule change from CLPs/TUs submitted before the June closing date in one year has to wait well over a year (until the Annual Conference the following year) before it is timetabled for debate. ..”.

This rule change mandates that CLP/Affiliate rule changes are debated at the Conference following their submission.

A democratic Young Labour

The supporting statement starts, “The rule would clarify how Young Labour works, increase its autonomy and stop the organisation being beholden to Labour Party staff’s interpretation of the rulebook.”

The change allows the rules to be set by the Young Labour AGM.

Greater flexibility on time period to elapse before a person can apply for re-admission to the Party following an expulsion.

The supporting statement notes that in theory readmissions cannot occur before five years, it says, “This is contrary to the principals of natural justice and equitable practice. A more flexible readmission policy will result in specifying a minimum time lapse proportionate to the reasons for expulsion. The time lapse will still never exceed five years.”

The new rule requires the NEC/NCC to state the minimum length of the penalty, which must be under five years, when making the judgement.

Standing orders for the democratic and inclusive running of Party Conference

The supporting statement starts, “Annual conference is the supreme policy making body of the Labour Party. Therefore it is essential that it is conducted according to democratic principles. Unfortunately this has not proved to be the case in recent years….”

The new rule mandates the establishment of standing orders to be approved by Conference itself.

To establish the position of a Labour Party Ombudsperson

The supporting statement starts, “Our Party’s Rule Book sets out the duties and restrictions on members of the Party. CLPs and members have long argued that, in addition, there needs to be an independent arbiter, particularly in very contentious cases and where a member/members feel they have not been treated in a fair and just manner…”

Charter of Members’ Rights

This rule change is necessary to ensure that our Party is structurally and culturally coherent with democratic socialist principles. Given the massive potential of the expansion of the Party membership in recent years, it is necessary to ensure that the talent, creativity and commitment of members is fully harnessed. This requires the active promotion of members’ rights in order to empower Party members – as well as a clarification of the responsibilities of all those holding positions in the Party – to be outlined in a Code of Ethics. This Charter includes but is not limited to key relevant recommendations made by the Chakrabarti Report.

The charter constrains the party in how it treats members.

The rule change is quite long, it inserts a new appendix, but exceptionally necessary.

Labour Party Code of Ethics

The supporting statement says, “Building the Labour Party, so that it can improve the lives of millions of people, will be enhanced if there is a cultural change instigated throughout the Party. This cultural change needs to be built on commitments by all in the Party to mutual respect, engagement and participation, transparency and accountability. That is the objective of this Code of Ethics.

The code places duties on members and staff.

This also is quite long and inserts a new appendix.

Popular rule change proposals should not have to wait three years to be discussed at Conference

The supporting statement starts, “The ‘three-year rule’ restricts Conference from debating important rule change proposals which could significantly improve the party’s functioning. It is repeatedly used to prevent important rule change debates regardless of how much the changes are desired by the members or trade union affiliates. This rule change would allow constitutional amendments which can demonstrate they have support from five CLPs/affiliates to be debated in the year they are submitted.”

This would be best passed with the rule change allowing rule changes to be debated immediately. These two rule changes would undo the current compounded decision that rule changes cannot be debated more frequently than every 5 years.

Submission of motions and amendments to Party conference

This rule change deletes the word “contemporary” as a qualifier of CLP/Affiliate motions and introduces an amendment stage for conference submissions.

The qualification of a motion as contemporary is and was designed to inhibit activists from making policy at conference.

Reducing the disabling effects of our internal culture, policy and practice

Introducing disabled members’ forums & Introducing an annual disabled members’ conference

This is two rule changes, one for forums and one for the conference.

The supporting statement states, “Disabled people make up approximately 20 per cent of the working population, yet have less than 1 per cent representation in the House of Commons with similar levels in local government…. These issues and examples underline the need for disabled members to have separate safe spaces to selforganise.

Ensuring at least one of the Leader and Deputy Leader is a woman

The supporting statement starts, “This rule change would makes the rules around leadership consistent with other rules which require gender balance in governance posts. It is also about ensuring that the Labour Party applies the same values to its internal governance and leadership as it seeks to achieve through the equalities policies that we have championed…”

Formal Complaint

How to complain to the Labour Party

Dear General Secretary

I witnessed the following actions.

<Describe the events which are in breach of the rules>

I believe this to be in breach of the following Laws, Rules, Procedural Guides and/or Code of Conduct*.

<List the Laws, rules or other policies that have been broken>

I am/am not* a member of the Labour Party. Please treat this as a complaint under Rule 6.I.1.

* List and or delete as appropriate

Double bonus if you can quote the European Convention on Human Rights

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.

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.

Secretaries

More bloody rules – Chapter 7.IX.6 states that notices to affiliates must be delivered to the Secretary.

Any notice required to be given under these rules shall be in writing which may include electronic communication. Notices to be sent to affiliated organisations and Party units shall be addressed to the secretary thereof.

Chairing of AGMs

Have I done this before? On chairing AGMs in the Labour Party

Chapter 15.I.F.iii At the annual meeting the chair shall preside until a successor is elected, except where the chair is not a duly appointed delegate to the meeting; in which case the election of chair shall be taken as the first item on the agenda. The new chair shall take over the conduct of the meeting forthwith and proceed to the election of other officers and further business.

Brass

A proposed rule change on the CLP capitation fee.

Fair capitations for CLPs

Chapter 2 Clause III Sub Clause 6

Insert between “member” and “and”, “a minimum payment of 50% of the standard rate for each standard rate paying member and 100% of the standard rate for each elected representative rate paying member”