Re-selection goes to Conference

The Young Labour National Committee have submitted a rule change on mandatory reselection to LP National Conference. Sara Doyle posts the text on twitter ….

Time in the Garden

My mind turns to Gardening Leave, not because I have any outstanding disputes with any of my ex-employers but because there seems to be a lack of clarity as to when and why one might use it if one was an employer.

If someone is on Gardening Leave they remain an employee and may not work for anyone else, although this also depends on the terms of the employment contract. In a world of zero hours contracts, this maybe a part of the law that will be re-examined.

For full time workers though, more and more companies are placing terms in their contracts that if one should, say, invent a new cheese in one’s back garden, then the company claims the exploitation rights. All inventions belong to your employer. It’s unclear if another month, or three months would make much difference though, but protecting the company’s intellectual property remains a motive for delaying people leaving as does getting them off site and off the IT systems.

Another key advantage is that the employee cannot work for a competitor, again, employers often via employment contracts try and restrain people’s ability to compete with them on quitting, but this is fraught with legal risk; keeping them on the books is legally much safer. Many sales staff may find themselves constrained in this way and the strengthened data protection laws will make it harder for them to take their address books with them.

A specific and unusual example of this is where staff of regulatory, political policy or law enforcement organisations leave their job to work for regulated entities. In fact, the public sector has constraints on this, but they have been weakened in time over the decades. The public sector employment contracts nearly all have clauses similar to private sector non-compete clauses but restraining public servants from working with organisations that they had regulatory or procurement relationships with. Despite this many lobbying organisations employ ex-politicians, civil servants and police. (In some ways, the movement in the other direction is more corrupt.)

The final example is where someone has financial or judicially regulated authority within the organisation. It’s usually inappropriate to leave such senior staff in place once they have resigned, and certainly of there are question marks on their remaining commitment. This of course is compounded where a compromise agreement has been signed to avoid the need to undertake disciplinary or redundancy processes. Management need to ensure that they are acting in the interests of the organisation’s stakeholders and protect themselves against a class action.

That’s where the Labour Party finds itself. A huge swath of its senior staff have put in their notice, they remain able to exercise their authority and for some reason are being permitted to work their notice, in some cases it would seem an extended notice.

It should be noted that for the ex-employee, if someone with a full time job, one or three months gardening leave can be a welcome gift.

Some new rules for Labour

The CLPD have some recommended rule changes, they are published on their web site and in this document.

They include allowing the membership a say in the candidates for the Leader and ensuring either the Leader or Deputy is female, reform of the trigger ballot process, democratising the Local Campaign Forums, election of the CLP NCC reps by OMOV, changes to the way in which rule changes are dealt with (2), a democratic Young Labour, introducing proportionality in the length of disciplinary penalties, establishing Conference standing orders, establishing an Ombudsman, a Charter of Member Rights, a Code of Ethics for members, representatives and staff, amendments to motions at Conference, organising disabled members and a conference for disabled members.

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Ensuring a democratic choice in Labour Leadership elections – when there is a vacancy

The supporting arguments starts, “There is a growing consensus in the Labour Party that members should have a stronger role in Party decision-making, and that they should not be denied a democratic choice in Labour leadership elections…”

The rule proposes that a candidate for leader needs the support of either 10% of the PLP/EPLP or 10% of the Unions or 10% of the CLPs.

Reform of the ‘trigger mechanism’ for sitting MPs

The supporting arguments starts, “Many Party members are now of the view that some Labour MPs take insufficient account of the views of their CLP and of Annual Conference, our Party’s sovereign body. One reason for this is that adequate mechanisms of accountability are non-existent in our Party

It proposes that MP trigger ballots require a ⅔ affirmative vote of both party units and separately affiliates i.e. trade unions to avoid an open selection. i.e. where an MP is popular with both their local activists and the affiliated Unions, then an open selection can be avoided.

A new Local Government Committee structure (instead of existing Local Campaign Forum)

The supporting argument is, “The introduction of Local Campaign Forums, following the ‘Refounding Labour’ process in 2011, has not been a success. In many parts of the country LCFs meet irregularly, do not provide an adequate forum for consultation and debate on local government policy, and do not organise sufficient campaigning activity. Reinstating Local Government Committees, with defined representation for CLPs and affiliates, and regular meetings, would improve on this situation.”

The rule proposes that the LCF’s are renamed and consist of delegates from the constituent CLPs and affiliates, mainly Unions. It also mandates that they meet 4 times/year, which would be an improvement in many cases.

Election of the National Constitutional Committee (constituency section) by OMOV

This one is obvious, although one interesting part of the supporting argument is that since it is currently elected at conference, those members of CLPs too poor to send a conference delegation don’t participate in this important election.

Abolish the obsolete one year’s delay re rule changes from CLPs

Another obvious one, the supporting statement starts, “The NEC can (and does!) agree rule changes one week and have them voted on by Annual Conference the following week. But for CLPs and trade unions it is an entirely different process. A rule change from CLPs/TUs submitted before the June closing date in one year has to wait well over a year (until the Annual Conference the following year) before it is timetabled for debate. ..”.

This rule change mandates that CLP/Affiliate rule changes are debated at the Conference following their submission.

A democratic Young Labour

The supporting statement starts, “The rule would clarify how Young Labour works, increase its autonomy and stop the organisation being beholden to Labour Party staff’s interpretation of the rulebook.”

The change allows the rules to be set by the Young Labour AGM.

Greater flexibility on time period to elapse before a person can apply for re-admission to the Party following an expulsion.

The supporting statement notes that in theory readmissions cannot occur before five years, it says, “This is contrary to the principals of natural justice and equitable practice. A more flexible readmission policy will result in specifying a minimum time lapse proportionate to the reasons for expulsion. The time lapse will still never exceed five years.”

The new rule requires the NEC/NCC to state the minimum length of the penalty, which must be under five years, when making the judgement.

Standing orders for the democratic and inclusive running of Party Conference

The supporting statement starts, “Annual conference is the supreme policy making body of the Labour Party. Therefore it is essential that it is conducted according to democratic principles. Unfortunately this has not proved to be the case in recent years….”

The new rule mandates the establishment of standing orders to be approved by Conference itself.

To establish the position of a Labour Party Ombudsperson

The supporting statement starts, “Our Party’s Rule Book sets out the duties and restrictions on members of the Party. CLPs and members have long argued that, in addition, there needs to be an independent arbiter, particularly in very contentious cases and where a member/members feel they have not been treated in a fair and just manner…”

Charter of Members’ Rights

This rule change is necessary to ensure that our Party is structurally and culturally coherent with democratic socialist principles. Given the massive potential of the expansion of the Party membership in recent years, it is necessary to ensure that the talent, creativity and commitment of members is fully harnessed. This requires the active promotion of members’ rights in order to empower Party members – as well as a clarification of the responsibilities of all those holding positions in the Party – to be outlined in a Code of Ethics. This Charter includes but is not limited to key relevant recommendations made by the Chakrabarti Report.

The charter constrains the party in how it treats members.

The rule change is quite long, it inserts a new appendix, but exceptionally necessary.

Labour Party Code of Ethics

The supporting statement says, “Building the Labour Party, so that it can improve the lives of millions of people, will be enhanced if there is a cultural change instigated throughout the Party. This cultural change needs to be built on commitments by all in the Party to mutual respect, engagement and participation, transparency and accountability. That is the objective of this Code of Ethics.

The code places duties on members and staff.

This also is quite long and inserts a new appendix.

Popular rule change proposals should not have to wait three years to be discussed at Conference

The supporting statement starts, “The ‘three-year rule’ restricts Conference from debating important rule change proposals which could significantly improve the party’s functioning. It is repeatedly used to prevent important rule change debates regardless of how much the changes are desired by the members or trade union affiliates. This rule change would allow constitutional amendments which can demonstrate they have support from five CLPs/affiliates to be debated in the year they are submitted.”

This would be best passed with the rule change allowing rule changes to be debated immediately. These two rule changes would undo the current compounded decision that rule changes cannot be debated more frequently than every 5 years.

Submission of motions and amendments to Party conference

This rule change deletes the word “contemporary” as a qualifier of CLP/Affiliate motions and introduces an amendment stage for conference submissions.

The qualification of a motion as contemporary is and was designed to inhibit activists from making policy at conference.

Reducing the disabling effects of our internal culture, policy and practice

Introducing disabled members’ forums & Introducing an annual disabled members’ conference

This is two rule changes, one for forums and one for the conference.

The supporting statement states, “Disabled people make up approximately 20 per cent of the working population, yet have less than 1 per cent representation in the House of Commons with similar levels in local government…. These issues and examples underline the need for disabled members to have separate safe spaces to selforganise.

Ensuring at least one of the Leader and Deputy Leader is a woman

The supporting statement starts, “This rule change would makes the rules around leadership consistent with other rules which require gender balance in governance posts. It is also about ensuring that the Labour Party applies the same values to its internal governance and leadership as it seeks to achieve through the equalities policies that we have championed…”

Formal Complaint

How to complain to the Labour Party

Dear General Secretary

I witnessed the following actions.

<Describe the events which are in breach of the rules>

I believe this to be in breach of the following Laws, Rules, Procedural Guides and/or Code of Conduct*.

<List the Laws, rules or other policies that have been broken>

I am/am not* a member of the Labour Party. Please treat this as a complaint under Rule 6.I.1.

* List and or delete as appropriate

Double bonus if you can quote the European Convention on Human Rights

Local Elections

I  usually comment on the elections I campaign in. The Lewisham results are in, or at least called by the BBC, we have a new Labour Mayor, Damien Egan, and every single councillor is also Labour. Now we need to learn how to listen beyond the Party, and how to scrutinise ourselves. It’s an honour and a responsibility. I hope we live up to it.

I campaigned in Deptford, Mottingham (Bromley) and Bromley North, which surprised me by being in Tower Hamlets. The Labour vote has gone up in London. I found little interest in politics, it’s become very tribal. The only exception is the issue of Housing. We’ve done well in Deptford, missed by 21 votes in Mottingham and I am still waiting for the Bromley North results.

Wadsworth’s Out

It’s not been a good week for Labour, in Lewisham, the Momentum branch split, my local Labour Party’s consideration of the antisemitism issues have been smeared in the Times, and today, it has been announced that Marc Wadsworth, one of Britain’s leading black activists, with a life time history of fighting racism has been expelled for conduct “prejudicial or grossly detrimental”. We’ll have to see what people including Marc’s lawyers say, but yet again, the case of antisemitism has not been made and the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth is a disgrace, a vengeful last throw of the dice by the New Labour rump.

On the Chakrabarti Inquiry

I had reason to have another look at the Chakrabarti report, you can imagine why. It saddens me deeply, that a such a well thought out & evidenced response to the allegations of antisemitic behaviour has not become the benchmark by which the Labour Party judges itself.

When I first read this, to me the implied allegation that the disciplinary process was unsafe because of the lack of professional legal time and latterly the exposure of the fact that the NCC (Judges & Jury) received little or no independent legal advice from the prosecution seemed to me to be possible the most important finding. After the last week, I am of the view that the gentle yet robust definition of unacceptable behaviour in terms of racism and the Party’s response is equally if not more important

However, for various reasons[1] the then NEC, decided not to bring the recommendations to conference in 2016. This was recognised as a partial mistake by both sides of the argument i.e. those that wanted harsher rules and those who wanted vanilla Chakrabarti since the rules were changed at Conference 17 to delete the “free speech” defence which would have previously prohibited disciplinary actions against any racists or misogynists. Successful prosecutions will remain difficult as the decisions to “do” Livingstone & Greenstein on “bringing the party into disrepute” and not on antisemitism or use of abusive language in the case of Greenstein prove because, despite having changed its rules at Conference 2017 any decisions are still potentially subject to judicial review.

We i.e. the Labour Party badly need the rest of the Chakrabarti Inquiry recommendations to offer certainty around behavioural acceptability, ensure proportionality in terms of penalty and guarantee a fair trial if things require it. In this, the intra-party sectarian delay, has served it poorly.

The benchmark by which we i.e. Labour judge ourselves should be the Chakrabarti report, not the IHRA definition.

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In this case, there is more to read …..