Chessum on Labour’s Brexit Policy

Michael Chessum charts Labours to & fro-ing on Brexit, the article is entitled, “How Labour Screwed Up On Brexit”” and comes to the conclusion that

  1. Corbyn himself is not a Lexiter
  2. its opportunism and not Lexitism that has led us to where we are
  3. the priority unlike on everything else has been electoralism
  4. the opportunism of rump New Labour and the issue’s weaponisation by Labour First brings out the worst in Corbyn’s supporters in terms of a siege mentality

He makes the point that changing our policy immediately after the European elections doesn’t have the scent of principle.

His criticism that Labour needs to listen to its members and voters, refresh its democracy and put principles first certainly speak to me.

One of the good things in this article is his capture of the history of the policy and its advocates over the last three years. …

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. …

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.

  …

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. … …

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. …

Democratising Momentum, that would be nice

Democratising Momentum, that would be nice

You couldn’t make it up but Momentum have consulted (some of) their membership on new rules for the running of Momentum. It seems they don’t plan to change the bits that they can’t keep to, merely bits they find otherwise difficult for reasons I can’t fathom. Perhaps they’re just embarrassed but given what they’ve put up with, I can’t believe that. Simon Hannah describes the changes and the fig leave of a process by which they’ve done it in this article in the Clarion.

The changes relate to the composition, they plan to increase the number of directly elected members and the number of constituencies and term of office of the central committee, aka the NCG.

Simon expresses some cynicism about the pace of these reforms and forecasts the postponement of the next NCG elections. I think it will depend upon how rapidly they want the eight new members. He also points out they have failed to amend the rules pertaining to the embarrassingly absent, digital decision making platform and the strangely abandoned “Member’s Council”.

To be frank, I was waiting for the next elections but wasn’t hoping for much. Time to stop giving them money I think, although I might put in a DSAR asking if their selection for inclusion in the consultation was data based and what facts they hold on me which were relevant to this decision. …

There’s a reason that votes are secret

I didn’t win again, but in another part of the business a comrade asked for a motion to be voted on via secret ballot. This is what the rules say

C15.I.2.M.ii   Ballot votes shall be held at meetings to select candidates and where otherwise provided for in the Party constitution; and where requested by any member supported by at least two others.

The Chair was advised that the request for a secret ballot required the agreement of the meeting, I have looked and can’t find such a rule. The purpose of this rule is to avoid intimidation and coercion. I did ask where this was defined, but got no answer.

We have now set a precedent that secret ballots can only be agreed by the whole meeting. It’s a charter for bullies. …