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

ooOOOoo

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

Shortlisting

New Cross Labour held its Councillor short listing meeting yesterday. This was at noon in the Albany and we were expecting a low turnout from those who work and those with a social life. The meeting was enlivened by being leafleted by supporters of Old Tidemill Gardens and the Save Achilles St campaign.

Because it’s a Labour Party meeting, it started with two points of order, moved by me.

The first was about New Cross’s position in the schedule, the rules, Appendix A.iii.f states that the LCF shall ensure,

the agreed order for selection meetings (i.e. first priority to Labour seats, second to winnable seats and last to other seats)

New Cross should not be in the middle of the schedule, and Brockley which was first is not our safest seat, in fact it should have been last because it has the Green Party Councillor. Ian McKenzie came up with some old bollocks about how they’d considered it properly and the LCF had the right to do what it wanted … I said it didn’t have the right to break the rules, McKenzie denied that the rules mandate the order. (See above).

I then sought to discover whether the Branch Secretary had withheld the start time from the membership.  Notice of the day of the meeting had been available for about a month, but the time and place were only notified 7½ days in advance. Being on a Saturday, many people were not present, due to either work commitments, reasons of religious observance,  or other social commitments. It is almost certain that Ian McKenzie will have proposed the time in his initial circular, so I want to know why Redmond Garvey refused to ask the member that asked him for the start time, and whether he told others. i.e. did he or Ian McKenzie act in a partisan way by releasing the start time to some and not to others.

The candidate applications were distributed and this apart from 30 sec. moving speeches, and in this case the campaigning literature is all members get to go on. The candidate statements in some cases are not written as campaign statements and Ian McKenzie, the Procedures Secretary has prohibited the circulation of alternatives, another cause for complaint.

At this point, one of the attendees walked out. She felt that with the level of information available made any decision was insufficient. I hope she had a good a lunch.

Vicky Foxcroft, the MP and New Cross Ward member then moved that the meeting consider the three incumbents … I moved a point of order that the consideration of the incumbents was mandatory, and that Vicky was just using the opportunity to weaken the challenger’s presence, as to be considered they needed to be moved and their supporters get the chance to speak for them. By moving their candidacy, she with the MPs reputation took the opportunity to neutralise or reduce the impact of challenger’s speeches, and also establish an alibi for what was about to happen to Paul Maslin. Ian Mackenzie, usurping the Chair, stated that incumbent councillors needed to be moved at this stage of the meeting. (I don’t agree!)

I moved that Matt Hanson, an environmental campaigner and housing/planning expert be considered. I then moved that Rebecca Lawrence, an NHS, anti-cuts and tireless Labour campaigner be considered. Rebecca has also seconded motions supporting Forest Hill school at the CLP GC. I pointed out that unless we agreed to re-elect one (or more) of the incumbents then these candidates could not be considered. Ian Taylor nominated Jack Lavery, the CLP’s LGBT Officer and coincidentally, not!, a guest at our last branch meeting.

There are others I might have considered nominating, but they had been asked by Brenda Dacres not to come to New Cross and despite developments have chosen not to go back on their commitments.

So knowing who the alternatives are we then move to the confirmation/trigger ballots for the incumbent councillors. The votes were as follows

Candidate Yes No
Joe Dromey 30 12
Brenda Dacres 34 8
Paul Maslin 20 22

This needs to be studied by those who wish to suggest Maslin has been purged by the Left in the branch. We can assume 10 people who voted to confirm Joe Dromey, switched to vote No for Paul Maslin.

This meant that the meeting now had to construct a short list for Paul Maslin’s place, although he had to be on the list. The Labour Party’s rules state that the short list must consist of 50% women, rounded down, in this case, so much for the absolutism required by the CLP Secretary of Brockley branch. Since Rebecca was the only women nominated, the maximum short list size was three, and Maslin got one place as an incumbent and Rebecca Lawrence got one place as the only woman.

The meeting then had to choose between Matt Hanson and Jack Lavery, and chose Jack Lavery 28 – 12. (1 person had left the room, and one ballot was not returned.)

This means that the short list for one vacancy at the next meeting will be Lavery, Lawrence and Maslin.

We finished the meeting with little spat on how time limits for speech and questions would work. It started with asking where the rule that each candidate got the same questions and segued to where Ian McKenzie got the authority to say that all candidates have to be asked the same questions. He claimed it was on page 72, but opinion be divided.

Shenanigans

Three branches of the local Labour Party elected their GC delegation by placing gender quotas on classes of delegate, Secretary, Open Place & Youth and thus elected a valid delegation under the rules as stated in Chapter 8.

The  training on AGMs issued by the Party makes it clear that meeting the branch gender quotas is a matter for the branch.

There is a Chapter 15 rule that states that efforts should be made to ensure the delegation is gender balanced, but because it’s Chapter 15, this remains a matter for the branch. (These are rules for a meeting.)

The Secretary thus has no standing in determining if the delegation is valid. Nor any authority to order a recount. To attempt by decree to rule that last year’s delegation should be reinstated is arbitrary, capricious, perverse and irrational. It is these things even when backed by Region’s advice. It is also in complete contradiction to Rule Appendix 7.IV.6 which states that a delegates term lasts until the beginning of the next AGM.

Vote for me (again)

I am standing for IT Officer of the CLP. I am part of the Lewisham Deptford for Corbyn Slate. This is an important job as the Labour Party remains on an election footing and moves away from Nationbuilder. We need IT we can use, and that works starting with a trust worthy email system. We need a web site that works for the party and a democratic, engaging and kind social media presence.

I believe the Labour Party needs to turn to the Left and support the current Leadership and the 2017 manifesto. The party needs to be more democratic, and listen to its members, in 2015, while Secretary here, the question I was most asked was how to I contribute my ideas to the Party’s manifesto. I don’t think the current CLP leadership has answered that question.

I voted for Dianne Abbott in 2010, and Jeremey Corbyn in both 2015 & 2016.

I am an exceptionally qualified IT professional, a Chartered Fellow of the BCS and Certified Information Systems Security Professional. I volunteer at New Cross Learning as an IT worker.

Please vote for me and other candidates looking to build a more inclusive and socialist party.

Right to vote

You are a member of the Labour Party where you live/reside. The system of record is the Labour Party’s membership system. Lewisham Deptford’s Vice Chair Membership has posted a reminder on how to ensure this record is up to date.

Ring’em on 0345 092 2299

short links@ http://wp.me/p7KCVW-Lm or https://is.gd/oiP1sh

I am told that you can amend your own address on membersnet.

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Labour Pains

Last night’s General Committee was due to catch up on the motions backlog and receive reports from our Conference delegates. The agenda was packed as usual with the addition of a guest speaker from Unite who spoke mainly about Racism in the SE London NHS.

The meeting got off to a bumpy start when one of the delegates asked Vicky if the Momentum meeting speaker MP, Chris Williamson had asked her permission to speak in the constituency and if she had a view on the fact that a man was supporting Kath Dunbar, the Left candidate for women’s officer at the November AGM. She seemed particularly upset that a man was getting involved in the Women’s Officer election.  My understanding is that Chris did speak to Vicky. Given the incumbent Women’s Officer was imposed by the Centre-Right majority in opposition to the women’s forum nominee at a vote that included the male delegates, this is the last place I’d start.

The delegation reported back, that they’d interpreted their mandate as a requirement to vote to include the Brexit topic in the priorities ballot and had done so, in some cases against their personal inclination. They reported on the rules debate, but not highlighting the Brighton Pavilion’s refusal to remit their motion. The spoke at length about the change in the disciplinary rules, which has been reported elsewhere; basically, acts of racist or discriminatory speech are now against the rules, and will be dealt with under Chapter 6 processes, previously there was an absolute free speech defence.

An important event at conference was the exercising of the procedural motion to refer back paragraphs of the National Policy Forum report, this was new tactic enabled by a rule change in 2016. Conference referred the policy on Welfare cuts because it didn’t promise to reverse the Tory cuts and referred back the section on Education because it was insufficiently strong on democratic control of schools. I missed this but would have particularly enjoyed it as we had proposed this as a central piece of our opposition to Grammar schools and been badly stitched up in the Composite meeting and our words removed.

Rebecca focused on Woman’s Conference; it was the first time that it had been a policy making conference and Rebecca revealed that new rules had been written to enable the delegate to Woman’s Conference to obtain a mandate from female members only. Neither she nor I know why we didn’t do this.

The three of them reported on the fringe events and policy forums; it’s much easier to speak at these. When Maisie Sanders reported that she, like several others in the CLP including me, had attended the Stop the Purge meeting, chaired by Mark Sandell, the excluded ex-Chair of Brighton District Labour Party, she was interrupted by Mel Ward, who accused her of supporting a proscribed organisation i.e. the AWL by attending the meeting and by selling the Clarion which she wrongly alleged was an AWL paper. After about 15 secs of this, Rebecca Lawrence walked from the back of the room, and interrupted Mel Ward’s attack and expressed her disgust at the speech and her determination to stand in solidarity with Maisie; she was joined by Anshu.

The meeting had been advertised as an attempt to catch up on our backlog of Motions; it wasn’t to be. We had two emergency motions both on planning issues. I moved my motion on Tidemill Gardens development. For those following this, you’ll know that the New Cross councillors were split with Cllr Joe Dromey being given the unusual privilege of addressing the Planning Committee where he spoke in favour of the planning application; Councillor Dacres supported the objections. As I moved the motion, Cllr Dromey heckled me twice to the extent where I asked him to stop by pointing out that shouting at people while speaking wasn’t how we did things in the Labour Party; it would seem not everyone agrees as it is the second time he’s done this, although not to me.

A motion opposing the Silver St. development was also moved. In this case, the central reason for opposition is the height of the building and the light pollution i.e. shadows on current resident’s gardens.

It interests me that after Labour Conference, it would seem that support for private sector led regeneration by Labour’s members is on the wane. Councils are going to have to catch up.

ooOOOoo

Anshu’s report has been posted on face book and is mirrored here.

Tidemill

I am proposing the following motion to the Lewisham Deptford Labour Party General Committee.

This CLP resolves to send the following motion to London Regional Conference

“This Conference notes

1. The passing of Composite 5 on Housing at Labour Conference 2017
2. Jeremy Corbyn’s leader’s speech in which he stated “Regeneration under a Labour government will be for the benefit of the local people, not private developers, not property speculators … [&]… councils will have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment scheme can take place.”
3. That Lewisham Council Strategic Planning committee approved planning permission to redevelop the Old Tidemills School site involving the redevelopment (destruction) of 16 council houses and the loss of Tidemills Community Gardens.
4. That further planning permissions involving the loss of council houses in Lewisham Deptford have been prepared.
5. That Councils have a duty to follow the direction of the Mayor’s Housing Plan

This Conference calls on the Mayor of London to call in planning permissions granted which involve the destruction of social housing”

This CLP instructs the Secretary to write to the Mayor of London informing him of this motion calling on him to “call in” the Tidemills Planning Application.

Local Leadership

It will come as no surprise that I am talking about who should stand for office in Lewisham Deptford CLP. The Labour Party publishes a series of useful guides and job descriptions for CLP & Branch Officers on its members site, membersnet, which can/must now be accessed via the single sign on site, my Labour. Having a look at these might help some comrades understand if they have the both the time and recognise that they have the skills required from their everyday life. I am consistently shocked at how much personal admin the paperless world of today requires when dealing with the utility companies, banks and insurance companies. We all  have useful skills in this area.