What is to be done by Labour on Brexit

Back to Brexit, I had reason to write this somewhere else, and decided to share it here.

There is not a consensus within the Labour Party on remain because some who seem to want to leave on any terms will not accept that within the party they are in a tiny minority. The agreed position of the Labour Party is Composite 5/18, which says we reject any deal that does not meet the 6 tests. We seek to bring down the government and win a general election and otherwise all options including a public vote which offers remain are on the table. Despite the attempts of some to smear the supporters of a 2nd mandate as rump new Labour, there were over 100 motions at conference calling for a people’s vote. That is the popular will of the masses, not the result of a tiny caucus’s manipulation.

It would be easily possible to argue as an election manifesto promise that we would seek to negotiate a better deal and then put that to the people i.e. repeat Harold Wilson strategy. This would unite us all except those who want to leave on any terms and hide behind a bogus loyalty to the leadership; most of whom seem unwilling to use a 2nd mandate as a means of escaping the shitstorm we’re in. They are going to look pretty stupid when the Party finally decides that remain is better than the deal on the table.

It is unacceptable that a tiny minority of the party, many of whom have no elected mandate seek to capture it and hold it hostage to a so-called Lexit position and collude with the Tory Government in running the clock down.

There is no principle in arguing that we should remain ambiguous on this issue for reasons of electoral strategy, examined here at statsforlefties; I’d have thought that we have all learnt that we need to take a principled stand by Labour’s actions on the 2014 immigration act where most of the PLP followed a whip to abstain FFS. 😣

ooOOOoo …

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 …  …

Freedom from Want!

I went to the internal relaunch/kickoff of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights last night. I am a member and wish them well. Long term fans will know I have been struggling for a while in getting the Party, with a few honourable exceptions, and its MPs interested in Digital Liberty and its Human Rights dimension; I sum up their attitude as “You can’t eat Human Rights”. I spoke to Matt Turner, the new Chair of their Committee and considered their next campaigns but our conversation moved on to Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights report on the UK. I had missed the fact that this was a Human Rights report, reported on briefly by the Guardian and at more length there too,  and that Article 25 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the following:

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

The UNDHR was agreed as the Cold War descended to its depths but for each important individual liberty written in by the UK & US, the Soviet Union insisted (possibly with Roosevelt’s support) for the establishment of collective rights of solidarity which still remain today reflected in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights as I discovered last week. Article 25 is a pretty comprehensive underwriting of the Social Democratic agenda which exercised hegemony in Northern Europe from 1945 to 1979.

We should note the appalling Tory reaction to the report, in the light of the fact that one of their Brexit Red Lines is the exclusion of the CJEU in Human Rights cases, and their disdain for the European Court of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.

Perhaps we should take this into the Labour Party and destroy the image possibly more settled in my generation, that Human Rights are a bourgeois/middle class diversion. …

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.

  …

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; 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. …

Power in Momentum

I wrote a piece on Momentum, kindly published by the Clarion, which they finally published early in October.

Momentum democracy: how the organisation ignore its own flawed rules

It looks at the untrammelled powers of the National Coordinating Committee, the lack of the on-line voting portal promised, the lack of clarity on whether non-members of the Labour Party were grandfathered into membership, the necessity for a national conference (with no powers), the unlimited delegation powers of the NCG to officers and committees and the constraints its aims, objects and ethics place upon it. I also talk about the lack of transparency in its IT and finances.

I hope you find it useful. …