Democracy for the many

The CLPD has considered for several years the vulnerability to the Left should there be another Leadership election in which the incumbent, Jeremy Corbyn was not able to stand.

The Democracy Review proposed changing the nomination threshold for Leader/Deputy Leader by  reducing the number of PLP/EPLP nominations and introducing effective nominations for affiliates and CLPs. The NEC in its pre-conference meetings rejected the Democracy Review proposal and reduced the PLP threshold to 10% while introducing  additional effective nominations from CLPs and affiliates. Many on the Left think the 10% threshold is too high for a true believer to be on the ballot paper.

Given that the Rule on Leadership nominations, Chapter 4, Clause II.2.B.i.  was changed at Conference 2018, Rule changes to this rule proposed by CLPs and affiliates may not be debated at the next three conferences. R3.III.1.H.

Some people in the CLPD came up with a cunning plan, since the number of motions was to be increased, the Left should use one of its motions to mandate the NEC to bring a rule change to the leadership nomination threshold to Conference 2020. See here.

Max Shanley, partly motivated by the anger felt at Tom Watson has proposed another motion in a similar vein. It is printed in full at the Skwawkbox.

The difference between the two motions are that Shanley’s motion removes the MPs from the nomination process altogether and brings forward the mandate to produce a rule change to this year from the CLPD’s 2020 time-line.

Both these will probably mean that the Unions will vote against it or stitch it up; the work to win the Unions to this has not been done. This was shown last year where the Unions via their reps on the NEC and their votes on Conference floor voted against open selection, against repeal of the three-year rule, and for the current Leadership nomination threshold. i.e. it was the Union votes on the NEC that voted to keep the MPs at 10% of the nomination qualification.

If these two motions are submitted to Conference and if they get through the Union dominated CAC, they may be grouped as a single topic and then subject to a composite meeting. Getting it through the CAC will not be simple as the NEC (or the Office) have been working mightily to keep organisational motions off the Women’s Conference agenda.

I suppose my fear is that the proposal to eliminate MPs from the nomination process will attract the notice and opposition of the Unions who will use their majority on the CAC to bury both.

I would think very carefully before supporting Shanley’s proposal.

Whatever you do on this issue though, you should seek mandates to support the abolition of the 3 year rule which to my knowledge will be on the order paper; you should seek to mandate your Union delegations as well as this will require Union votes to win. …

The role of chairpersons

I have been considering the role of Labour Party committee/Party Unit chairpersons.

In the Labour Party, the role of Branch or other Party Unit Chairs is to chair meetings. While doing so they have certain powers, in the Labour Party they may make rulings on the meaning of the rules and standing orders, as they relate to the conduct of the meeting, they have the duty to determine if motions are emergencies or not, subject to confirmation and challenge. They have the sole power to propose to exclude someone which needs to be confirmed by ⅔rds of the meeting. They have these powers at meetings of an Executive Committee also.

What powers do they have when outside a meeting of which they are chair? None!

Actually, they have the powers of an ordinary member so they can make complaints, they can propose items of business to meetings of which they are members. CLP Chairs are also Deputy Treasurers.

The Chair is not the CEO of a CLP or branch, nor are they the Secretary’s supervisor. It would be wise for them to work together and Secretaries might be grateful for witnesses to their good faith. …

Nobody move or …

Labour announced, not sure how it decided, that it would call for a confirmatory vote on any Tory deal and campaign for Remain. There are some who still argue that preparing for a no-deal is the only way to get a better one. This is wrong but reminds me of this scene from Blazing Saddles.

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Reasons to Remain (again)

Reasons to Remain (again)

I am arguing again with comrades in the Labour Party about Brexit and have looked at two pieces of evidence calling for Labour to become a full on Remain Party. Paul Mason has written another piece, this time in the New Statesman, “Without a transformation on Brexit, Labour’s election chances are dead”, and on statsforlefties, who writes a blog mainly on psephology. They have both changed their mind and argue that Labour must now  support Remain. Mason deals with the politics of Remain and Party unity, calls out the fractures in the Labour Parties internal coalition and the short and long-term electoral issues. statsforlefties argues about short term electoral issues. (I might write a review on Mason’s article, but it’s not long, so I suggest you read it in full; I have mirrored it here.)

I present my argument below, it was in reply to someone who had used deaths in refugee camps and the proposed appointment of Von der Leyden as President of Commission as reasons for sticking with a Leave position. I attempt as I have usually done to distinguish between true believers and those who just think ambiguity is electorally expedient.

We all accept that the EU is not perfect; if we’d done better last month, it’s possible that Timmermans would be candidate for President of the Commission and not Von der Leyen. For those for whom triangulation and winning towns in the North is key, it is getting to the position where neither Leave nor Constructive Ambiguity can enable Labour to win and that pursuing Leave seriously jeopardises our ability to be single largest party. The Party has a choice of pissing off Leavers or Remainers, and we can’t win without the Remainers, in fact it would seem that we can’t be the largest party without the Remainers.

I assume you will vote to Leave in the next referendum dreaming for the ability to build socialism in one country, thus leaving the refugees in Libya and Lesbos to the mercy of an organisation you despise and will no longer be able to influence.

I can think of nothing more I might say that will persuade you of the overwhelming justice and solidarity in the case for Remain. Leaving is a right wing project, there’s no socialism at the end of Johnson & Farage’s project and being seen to support leave looks like it will kill us before the 31st Oct, but if we are seen to facilitate it, it will kill the Labour Party and the Left in this country for a generation.

I am so tired of it, as a Party we must unite to build a better world; I am tired of the dishonesty and fantasy of true believer Lexiters. (I distinguish between those and the triangulators, but they need to make their mind up too.)

There is no economic benefit to leaving, the EU’s democracy and rule of law is superior to ours and citizenship rights inc. freedom of movement are better within the EU and this is all before we talk of building a peaceful and democratic ever closer union of peoples. But whenever we discuss this with you, you counter democracy with economics, you counter the economics with allegations of being anti-refugee, you ignore freedom of movement and migrants’ rights or even argue that migration is not in the interests of the British working class and you ignore the allegation that you are supporting the worst of the right in our country. (I have never accused you or any Lexiters of being Putin’s fools & puppets, but it’s beginning to look that way.) This is not the behaviour of comrades.

Von der Leyden is not appointed the President yet, but if she gets it, it’ll because the racists and enemies of democracy in Eastern Europe & Italy got their revenge on the man and movement that called out their racism and autocracy. He and they/we stood by the first rule of the EU, to belong you must be a democracy, with an independent rule of law. This is a fight that everyone who ignored and subverted our appeal in the European Elections (and I would include those whose behaviour corrupted the selection process) is on the wrong side of history.

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It’s been awhile since I have heard of Carter-Ruck

Gabriel Podgrund, a Times Journalist has been shown a letter sent by Carter-Ruck to Sam Matthews, once Labour’s Head of Disputes and acting Director of Legal & Governance who have written to him pointing out his duties of confidentiality and asking him to ‘fess up and tell the Party what he’s said to journalists and what else he has. The rest of this article, below/overleaf, shares the letter and I comment that leaking is not whistle blowing but that maybe the Party should have dismissed him and others who were permitted to leave with compromise agreements and in one case, a peerage. I also remind Wes Streeting and Tom Watson about what whistle blowing is, and how frequently the Labour Party goes to court to defend its rules. … …

And in Brussels

We may get our first Socialist President of the Commission since Delors who left office in 1995. (Actually, if playing trivial pursuit, you might get bonus points for saying that that Manuel Marin of the PSOE was the last socialist President of the Commission since he played this role after the European Parliament sacked the Santer Commission in 1999.) It’s not something that you get to read about at the moment, that the EP confirms Commissioner appointments and can sack them. …

Trade Unionists oppose Brexit

YouGov have run a poll, on behalf of the People’s Vote Campaign asking Trade Unionists some questions about their opinions on the EU & Brexit, this was done on 20th-23rd June and it reports on the GMB, Unite & Unison, the top three by size. It makes sobering reading for Labour’s “Lexiters”, as all three samples would vote to Remain by significant margins and that ~35% would be more likely to vote Labour if it supported a 2nd referendum, with Remain on the ballot.

69% stated that they would vote remain in a referendum held tomorrow.

Other articles my focus on the General Election implications but I am glad that the GMB adopted this position at their Conference earlier this month. …  …

Another review of Labour’s Rulebook

Worker’s Liberty asked me to write a review of the Rules change debates at Labour Conference ’18 and have just published it in their paper. It’s snappily entitled “The Labour Party’s new rules”. The article is pretty comprehensive although some of it is based on my contemporaneous blogs, especially “The Denouement“.

I talk of the reform of the trigger ballot, the half-cacked reform of the Leadership election nominations, importantly about member’s rights and local structures, national structures such as the reform of BAME and Youth representation and the establishment of the disabled member’s representative. I also talk of the failure to abolish the “three year” rules amendment moratorium, which is actually four years. I talk of the sneaky amendments to the disciplinary rules, the failure to mitigate the auto-exclusion rule,

I sort of summarise as follows,

…. In summary, the trigger ballot reform is a tremendous step forward, and so is the rewriting of the CLP rules. The establishment of a charter of members’ rights is also an important gain.

The NEC reforms must be assessed as a score draw, but if they act as a focus for autonomous organisation of BAME, youth and the disabled, these will be victories. We need to review the leadership election rules. As we make democratic advances, we need to balance the transfer of power to individual members with the ability to take collective decisions.

The article also points at CLPD’s calls for action, on the Leadership nomination threshold and other rule changes. The deadline for the rule changes is this Friday. …