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.

ooOOOoo

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 entity’s 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.

  …

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; https://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. …

And the rest of the rule changes

On Tuesday, we considered the remaining rule changes, which originally will have been passed by their proposing CLPs in 2017, over 18 months ago. This article summarises the debate, looking at rule changes designed to improve the auto-exclusion process and to allow CLPs to ask for permission not to run a candidate. It should be noted that rule changes to remove the “contemporary” constraint on motions at conference and to ensure that CLP rule changes re debated at the conference following their submission were passed.

Two rule changes proposed changes to Rule 2.I.4.B, the rule under which many members have been expelled/auto-excluded, two rule changes on the Deputy Leadership, (one proposing a 2nd Deputy, who must be female), a rule proposing Conference Standing orders, a rule proposing the abolition of the one year waiting period for CLP rule changes, a rule change proposing that motions need not be contemporary and a rule change proposing that CLPs could ask the NEC for permission not to run a candidate in parliamentary elections. The final rule change proposed was to change back from small, councillor dominated Local Campaign Forum’s to broader and more representative Local Government Committees; this is an issue that the NEC want’s to think about and recommended remission, which is what the CLP did.

The NEC makes recommendations on what to do, i.e. for, against or remit and rarely loses. The same was the case today. Our delegation voted with the NEC with one exception, which was the first.

The rule change proposing a change to Rule 4.I.2.B proposed changes in two way. Firstly it proposed qualifying the type of organisation that might lead to expulsion as one that conflicted with Labour’s aims and values and secondly, placed the process by which such exclusion would be undertaken under auspices of the disciplinary process. (I have written a lot on the weaknesses of the Party’s disciplinary processes much of this in this blog.) The current rule allows a secret decision and no appeal. The disciplinary process is marginally more visible than that. We have debated these rules and exclusions in our CLP and believe them to be factionally motivated and contrary to the rules of natural justice. Interestingly the CLP had allowed the rule change to be called, “Membership of other parties” which isn’t what the rule is about; it’s current words make “support for organisations other than official Labour organisations” an act that renders one liable for exclusion.

This rule is usually used against small groups in the party which leads one to ask, why not Progress, Labour First or Momentum. It was also used against three long term activists in NW Surrey who had wanted to explore running a “progressive alliance” candidate against Jeremy Hunt. It was also used against Moishe Machover although the decision was revoked as it was considered that writing an article for a newspaper couldn’t be considered “support for an organisation other than …”. This shows one of the problems with the rule; there is no certainty.

I note that if a Councillor or an MP and you wish to “cross the floor” we greet you with alacrity. We should welcome all new members with a campaigning records.

This was defeated.

The rule change on a second deputy leader was withdrawn despite NEC backing. Skwawkbox explains why!

Richmond Park, the CLP for Zac Goldsmith’s seat proposed that CLPs should be able to ask the NEC for permission not to stand a candidate. When Goldsmith forced his vanity bye-election, I suspect that the CLP considered not running a candidate and even when they did, the unfortunate Christian Woolmar, received less votes than there are members of the local Party and the LibDem’s Sarah Olney won by 1,872 votes, removing a racist, arch-brexiteer, silver spoon Tory from Parliament although Olney was a flag bearer for the orange book and it must be recognised that joining the coalition led nearly all those supporters of the social democratic tradition not in Parliament to leave. This now makes the LibDems unattractive allies in an anti-tory alliance.

We should also consider the events in North West Surrey CLP where leading activists considered supporting the National Health Action Party if the Lib Dems withdrew against Jeremy Hunt and were expelled. In NW Surrey, they donated their campaign funds and campaigners to the nearest marginal (which they should do help anyway, but it was quite a journey.) For all the virtue expressed, the Labour Party has on occasion, not run candidates in seats, in Tatton in 1997 where we supported Martin Bell as an independent and in Heltemprice & Howton (2008), we did not run a candidate in David Davies’s vanity bye-election and hinted at the Liberal there. The danger is that people get used to and like voting for a party other than Labour, and some will feel let down by not having a candidate. There were just under 1,500 who couldn’t support Olney in Richmond Park. I didn’t know about the Davies case during the delegation meeting where we voted to oppose the amendment and Conference agreed with us. …

The denoument

The denoument

… of the Democracy Review

This is a report on the debate at the Democracy Review. It is best read in conjunction with Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) Report 1, pages 28 to 55. This article describes the proposals, the debate and how I voted. The packages covered member’s rights, local structures, regional structures, national structures, Leadership elections, the National Constitutional Committee (structure and remit) and Westminster selections. The rest of this blog is below/overleaf …  …

And we’re off

Voting at Labour’s conference is by weighted vote, each delegate gets a book of voting slips and some votes are decided by collecting the voting slips and counting them. Each vote is worth the number of members in the affiliate divided by the number of delegates. For instance my card vote this year was worth about 380, about 3800 members, divided by 10 delegates. This is known as the card or block vote. These booklets of votes are not sent by post but must be picked up in person at a “Regional Briefing” starting at 9:00. In previous years this meeting has been used by regional staff to influence new delegates. Two things happened at our briefing; the lack of clarity of the regional staff was not good although they almost made it clear that delegations were dispersed amongst the London block and not sitting together which makes consulting other delegates in the delegation harder than it should be.

More importantly, they had failed to have card votes printed for four of our delegates inc. me and did not have the IT available to make new ones. We were told to go to the balloting office, but the queue was immense and we would have missed the start of conference. (It’s obvious why they distribute the cards in regional briefings as they can have nine queues as opposed to one.) Anyway, I entered the Conference Hall without a card vote book. Since the first item of business is the acceptance of the CAC Report which includes the agenda, timings, the inclusion and exclusion of contemporary & emergency motions and includes any rulings on consequential changes on the agenda. i.e. if the democracy review packages pass, which of the other rule changes fall without debate. This is always controversial and this year the Chair announced that any vote would be taken by show of hands, and if unclear, by hand in parts (i.e. Unions & Affiliates separately from CLPs) and then if it remains unclear a card vote would be taken.

The CAC had proposed that the Democracy Review would be taken on the Sunday, and that the other rule changes taken on the Tuesday; they also recommended that all the rule changes on the subject of Parliamentary Candidate Selection proposed by CLPs would fall if the NEC proposal on the same subject passed. The NEC were proposing a variation of the trigger ballot reform which meant that the two rule changes proposing its abolition, i.e. open selection would fall without debate, or more accurately fall without being moved. It’s hard to predict what would happen, but it was expected that nearly all the Unions (50% of he vote) would vote with the CAC so the question was how many of the CLP would vote against them and here we were, with a bunch of London delegates without their card vote books.

As the card vote was called, I tried to move a point of order to explain some of us could not vote as we didn’t have our card votes; I was told that the chair wasn’t taking a point of order during a vote, I called out that my point of order related to the conduct of the vote but was still told to sit down; on my way back to my seat Len McCluscky asked me what the problem was, and when I explained, said “That’s not right!”. At our seats, those of us without votes made voting slips, but without much hope of them being counted. The Chair then announced that the Ballot Office now had London’s missing card votes and that the ballot boxes would be kept open for another 15 minutes, so we got our votes in.

When the results were announced the CAC Report was approved by 53.63% to 46.37%, with 36,516  (~10%) CLP votes in favour, and 41,004 (~2%) Affiliate votes against. …

Flexibility required

So wise people have considered my “paper” on the proposed rule changes on Parliamentary selection. The advice is to obtain a flexible mandate for several reasons. The first is that we do not know what the NEC is going to do; it may propose an amendment itself, and it will certainly make recommendations and if they recommend opposition then it’s felt the motion will fall and thus unless the rules change, cannot be debated for five years. Despite the Skwawkbox’s publication of Unite’s position supporting open selection, it is felt that the Unions are more likely to support the Hastings & Rye (et al) motion which reforms and not abolishes the Trigger ballot; it requires an incumbent MP to win ⅔ of the individual members and to win ⅔ of affiliated organisations. Whatever happens, the NEC position will be critical; it will be important to be flexible but there can be no denying that there’s a lot of membership pressure to take control of this decision. …