Summer of 15

From the summer of 2015, through to the summer of 2016, with time off for winter ski trips[1], the Labour Party Head Office ran a purge of the Party’s membership which otherwise grew from about 180,000 to 550,00, a growth of 206%.

This note describes the impact of the purge. These numbers do not include the 125,000 (about 25%) excluded from the leadership election in 2016 by the imposition of a freeze date, nor the tens of thousands rejected as registered supporters.

These numbers have been constructed using Christine Shawcroft’s data (see here on the CLPD site)  and survey techniques[2],[3]. The data values have been normalised[4] between those categories where data is available and those where the values have been derived via survey.

We should bear in mind, that the guilty have been deemed so by the bureaucracy with some oversight from the leadership of the NEC Disputes panel; no hearing, no defence and no appeal.

 


[1] I dunno, I made it up, I have no idea how many of Labour’s Compliance team ski.

[2] The survey work was conducted by someone else.

[3] The sample was constructed via advertisement and opt-in. It is possible that it under-estimates those whose investigation was terminated or finished with no further action.

[4] My stats professor will be turning in is his grave. …

The denoument

The denoument

… of the Democracy Review

This is a report on the debate at the Democracy Review. It is best read in conjunction with Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) Report 1, pages 28 to 55. The Democracy Review was grouped into eight packages, these covered,

  1. Member’s Rights, which basically codifies the longevity requirements for [s]election as a candidate or to internal office, restates the need to belong to a Union, reduces the longevity required to stand as a delegate to conference. It also introduces a right to dignity and respect and a duty for all party officers to behave fairly. (Not quite Nolan though!)
  2. Local Structures (CLPs & Branches), defines the means of changing from branch & delegate to all member’s meeting governance, reduces the quorum and places further variations in the hands of the Regional Boards not the Director, requires the NEC to define its criteria by which it puts CLPs into special measures, mandates equalities branches inc. youth, reconstitutes the CLP ECs, mandates branch women’s officers, permits job shares, and proposes a new rule on meeting cadence.  The legal authority of the EC is reduced placing it under the authority of the GC/AMM. The package also authorises multi-constituency parties and talks about using IT to maximise participation. All constituency documents, are to be available to all members via a clockwork platform, sorry, I made it up, an electronic platform, “provided by the Party”; I hope that’s the national party as I have thought hard about this and creating a shared disk is not hard, managing the ACL is.
  3. Regional Structures, they are reverting the name of the elected body back to Regional Executive Committee, Regional Rules are to be now owned by the NEC and published in the rule book, Regional Conference is to have rulebook approved standing orders, equalities committees and similar bodies to be responsible to the Regional Executive Committee not the NEC and appropriate rules to be developed to ensue that candidates and Labour officials most appropriately accountable through Regional Executive Committees are managed as such
  4. National Structures: NEC, creates rules for the representation of Young, BAME, & disabled members using an electoral college of 50% members expressed through OMOV and 50% via affiliates, Scottish and Welsh represetation with rules passed to the Scottish and Welsh Conferences and the European Parliamentary Party representation on the NEC. It establishes the rule that NEC vacancies will be filled by bye-elections and critically that the rule changes at Conference 2018 will be current from the day following Conference.
  5. National Conference, establishes an additional disabled member of CAC, deltes the requirement that motions be contemporary, increases the motions to be debated to 20, new woman’s, youth , BAME & disabled members conferences and other representational structures
  6. Leadership Elections, changes the nomination threshold where a vacancy occurs (this now requires 10% of the PLP and 5% of the Unions or 5% of the CLPs), requires CLPs to hold all members meetings to make leadership nominations, we might need a fucking big room, and some statement which I can’t understand about the freeze date; I hope its an improvement, They aslo propose to constrain the acting leaders role in cases where one one occurs.
  7. the National Constitutional Committee (NCC), proposes to increase the size of the NCC, sets a 3 month deadline for hearings, establishes a broader list of penalties inc. reprimands & warnings, leaking of confidential information is to be considered conduct prejudicial etc., as is breach of codes of conduct, the power to suspend and investigate may be delegated (possibly to 3rd parties) and the rules on CLP disciplinary procedures are to be reviewed and amended subject to conference 2019 approval.
  8. and, finally, Westminster Selections where the NEC proposed to reform the trigger ballot by placing a threshold of 70% on the vote required to avoid a selection and counting the votes of affiliates separately from the party branches and requiring 70% in both classes. (This means that a 30% vote for a selection in either branches or affiliates will ensure that the selection takes place.) NB There is space for the application of Demorgan’s Law here,

See 1 – The new rule says, “Members have the right to dignity and respect, and to be treated fairly by the Labour Party. Party officers at every level shall exercise their powers in good faith and use their best endeavours to ensure procedural fairness for members.” Not exactly the Nolan Principles but a step forward.

See 2 – Some of these rule changes are problematic and to my mind not well written, it is an area where having more that 16 hours notice and the ability to amend the rule changes would have been good.

See 4 – C1.X.4.6.F All bodies subject to this rule book shall without delay bring their rules and standing orders into compliance with rules created in order to give effect to the Democracy Review, and their rules and standing orders shall immediately be read as if such amendments as are therefore necessary have been made. Oops! What about inflight AGMs? Also some activists opposed the electoral college for elections of the BAME & disabled representatives.

See 6 – Leadership nominations must be by all member meetings and not by delegate based General Committees.

I note that with package 7, the NEC have sneaked in changes to the disciplinary process, although we can assume that since they excluded this from the remit of the disciplinary review it will not be based on grass roots submissions, although I made my views clear. Some people are worried that the power to suspend and investigate complaints can be outsourced but we have started this process with the Code on Sexual Harassment, where the investigatory process is to be undertaken by a 3rd party with a proven track record of victim care; there is also an argument that the Labour Party needs a greater segregation of duties in its disciplinary code.

Other areas of concern that Conference has given the NEC powers to change some of the Rules subject to confirmation by next years Conference. This is a breach of the Rules’ separation of powers, where Conference makes the rules and the NEC interpret and enforce them although there are plenty of rules in place that say the detailed implementation of the rule are to be defined in an NEC procedural guidelines, often secret or distributed on a need to know.

The failure to circulate these rule changes until Sunday morning is a problem. I am sure the quality and maybe even some of the direction might have been different if delegates had had time to properly digest these proposed rule changes. (There may be a conflict in the rules carried over the issue of membership longevity in order to stand for the NCC.

The debate focused on packages 6 & 8. In particular supporters of trigger ballot abolition were arguing to vote against proposal 8 which is a trigger ballot reform in order to permit a debate on their proposal which was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, but only if package 8 fell. Momentum changed their mind, from supporting the CAC reference back earlier in the day, in order to debate Open Selection, to support package 8 which would reform the trigger ballot. One could assume that that the best the open selection supporters could get in the vote is the 46% they’d won earlier in the day and voting down proposal 8 might have jeopardised any reform for the next 4 or 5 years.

Some argued against package 6, Leadership Nominations which has the effect of making it harder to get on the ballot paper than the current rules.

On social media, some argued that package 7’s delegation clause i.e. permitting the delegation of investigations would be used factionally.

We had agreed to vote individually after listening to the debate, I voted against the CLP reforms (P2) and against the Leadership Nomination proposal (P6) and voted for the Trigger Ballot reform proposal (P8) as well as voting for all the other packages.

It all passed! …

Power in Momentum I

I have been preparing a little blog article on “Power in Momentum” which has been overtaken by yesterday’s decision by the “Officers” of Momentum to withdraw support from Pete Willsman as a candidate for Labour’s NEC. The article, among other issues, examined the power structures and came to conclusion that with the exception of the powers allocated to OMOV ballots, for which the rules mandated IT still does not exist, every decision and power is granted to the National Co-ordinating Group which meets in secret, doesn’t publish it decisions or its membership and has unlimited delegation powers although it doesn’t publish its instruments of delegation either. (I begin to question if it is genuinely a membership organisation.) One has to wonder why they decided to delegate the decision to the Officers rather than the Chair alone, but it’s a sign of hope that they couldn’t trust the whole NCG even after they purged the remainder of the democratic opposition in the last round of elections.

I have already voted for the #JC9 but do not consider Pete Willsman’s comments to be anti-semitic, and I am not alone, and consider that the Left needs all nine of its slate to be elected. I would urge anyone that has not yet voted that supports the Corbyn leadership to vote for all of the #JC9. …

Labour & antisemitism

On July 5th, Labour’s NEC voted to approve a new guideline defining antisemitism and codifying how Labour should deal with incidents of Antisemitism. Jon Lansman, in an article in the Guardian describes it as a gold standard, however some inside and outside the Labour Party object in that the Labour Party has followed the advice of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee on antisemitism in that while confirming its commitment to the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, it has ensured both that free speech rights on Israel and Palestine are defended and that the Macpherson principle is correctly adopted. This has involved the modification of four of the IHRA examples. Brian Klug, again in the Guardian, examines the Code in detail and concludes that, “Labour’s code in fact enhances the IHRA document.”

The Jewish Labour Movement supported by several/many of Labour’s MPs consider the failure to adopt all 11 examples as failure of commitment and are considering legal action. It is reported that  Louise Ellman & Ruth Smeeth plan to move a motion at the PLP meeting tonight calling on Labour to adopt the IHRA definition in full, including the 11 examples several of which are felt by many, including the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee to inhibit legitimate political discussion of the Israeli Government’s actions, and the wider issues of justice in Palestine.

Ealing Momentum, as reported in the Swawkbox have written an open letter to their MPs calling on them to support the NEC and not to support such an emergency motion.

I have written to my MP asking her to do the same, and I have reproduced the Ealing Momentum words immediately below/overleaf. …

On Labour’s Leadership, Conference & Policy

My CLP had its meeting to determine what it wanted to say to the Labour Party Democracy Review’s phase three. This seeks views on Electing our Leadership, How we Make Policy and The Way We Work. I’ll write up what we said some time soon, once the notes are complete. We agreed some of the ideas from the CLPD’s recommendations. For the CLPD documents, I have made SURLs, see https://is.gd/vIXAAK or http://bit.ly/2Imi2Xz . The CLPD original is hosted at Grass Roots Labour’s site, here. …

Stop the Tory Brexit

And now I discover a reason for staying in Momentum, here’s a petition calling on Momentum to consult its members on the subject of Brexit.

Alena says,

We are proud members of Momentum and consistent supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party and of the 2017 election manifesto. We deplore the persistent attacks of the right-wing of the Labour Party and their attempts to weaponise the issue of Brexit against our party leadership.

But we are equally opposed to the Tory Brexit now on offer. It is a disaster for working class people, public services, peace in Ireland, migrants, the environment, human rights, jobs and our children’s futures – the complete opposite of everything a socialist government would do. The so-called soft Brexit being pushed by neo-liberal “centrists” is hardly better: it threatens to turn us into a vassal state of Europe, making us rule takers not rule makers.

We call for a vote of all Momentum members this summer to decide whether to oppose Tory Brexit, and whether to campaign for Labour to hold a vote at Annual Conference in September on giving the people the final say on the Brexit deal.

We are a democratic socialist movement, and under Momentum’s constitution we can trigger a vote of all members with signatures from around 4000 Momentum members – please add your name today, and spread the word!

The petition form is also posted below the fold, to see it, Read More ….

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