Point of Order

Point of Order

An apology. I was led to believe that Labour’s NCC had been restricted to appeals on procedural grounds only; on a more serious reading of the rules, it would seem this is not so. Appeals can be lodged on the grounds that the NEC exceeded it powers by taking a decision other than one authorised by rules. This includes the constraint below,

There is sufficient evidence in documentary or other recorded form to reasonably conclude that the charge is proven and justify the sanction proposed;

Labour’s Rules 2020 C6.I.b.iii (P.24)

So an appeal can be lodged on the grounds that the evidence does not reasonably support the determined sanction.

Point of Order, Chair! The speaker is talking bollocks. …

Labour’s next council slates

It looks like the Labour Party plan to go ahead with Candidate selections for the 2021 local authority elections and possibly the 2022 whole council elections. This is despite the lockdown, and due to the 2019 Conference Rule changes which planned to change the committee structures that manage this process, the bureaucracy’s response was to suspend the old committees and prohibit their AGMs. For most areas, this wouldn’t have mattered, since AGMs must take place after May and the meetings would have to have been postponed due to lock down although the size of the meetings would have made meeting and voting via video conference possible.

I have written previously about the rule change, in this article, which includes a link to the rule change which should now be incorporated in the current Rule Book.

I am worried about the transition to the college based LGCs and I have written a “principles” document, to highlight some outstanding issues and challenges, which includes the size, the electorate for all 3 colleges, candidate eligibility, counting abstentions, conflict of interest, the nature of the due diligence and that TU & CLP delegates are included in the selection committees and that the Procedures Secretary is not a councillor. However it seems that the selections will be done by the incumbent LCFs, so we can postpone those worries.

One area of concern, irrespective of the committee structure, is that the due diligence of candidates is often onerous and factionally biased, I believe it is necessary that candidate assessments may only withhold an endorsement on the grounds that a candidate is not eligible to stand, fails to meet the Labour Party’s eligibility rules, states that they will not conform to the rules on Group conduct and/or other Labour Party rules or for other good reason; the holding of opinions on policy shall not be a reason for non-endorsement.

Two further issues, which ideally required rule changes are the existence of trigger ballots, which it seems for Councillors are not going to be held, but we are unclear what will happen to the Borough Mayors.

The other issue is about conflicts of interest. At the moment the rules only state that familial or marriage relationships are considered conflicts of interest. We should seek to ensure that business relationships, some other commercial relationship such as a rent agreements, a supervisory/supervised relationship in employment or any other issue which might reasonably deemed to exist are declared and appropriately managed. I have written a rule change on this but it is a direct textual amendment to Appendix 4, and Conference can’t amend the Appendices, and there isn’t going to be one. The rule change can be amended to be valid by amending Chapter 5.

Labour Briefing published a scorecard on the LCF’s and found it wanting, an article called, “Local Government Committees – Has the NEC scored an own-goal?“, it seems we won’t find out. This article was written late last year after Conference changed the rules to introduce the ⅓, ⅓, ⅓ based LGC. …

The problem of the bureaucracy

The problem of the bureaucracy

Sky News and Rowena Mason, in the Guardian, have both run stories about a Labour Party document “The work of the Labour Party’s Governance & Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism 2014-2019”. This would seem to catalogue a conspiracy to subvert the party’s disciplinary process and even the 2017 election campaign to the detriment of the elected party leadership and the aspirations of its membership. There’s probably a lot to say, which I will wait to say, but I prepared this rule change last year as I had observed massive factional manipulation throughout the Labour Party and while this wouldn’t stop it, it would give the membership another avenue to hold Labour’s staff accountable to the values of the party. The document shows it’s needed at the highest levels; it’s a shame that no-one is thinking of those whose lives have been marred by the casual bullying covered up by more junior staff. I think the supporting statement needs to be strengthened. If the CLPD can get it’s act together I’ll ask them to support it, but you don’t need their permission.

Member’s Rights and the Nolan Principles

The Labour Party Rule Book 2019 Chapter 2 Membership rules, Clause II Charter of Members Rights, Section 7 (pg 14) reads as follows:

‘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.’

Amendment

After Party officers, insert ‘, staff and volunteer role holders’

After ‘good faith’, insert ‘in accordance with the Nolan Principles of conduct in public life’

Replace ‘endeavours’ with ‘efforts’.

Supporting argument

All Party Officers, staff and volunteer role holders are to be held to the Nolan Principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty & leadership.

ooOOOoo

Image Credit: Comes from a telegraph article on McNicol’s ‘moving on from the position of GS of the Labour Party. (I would link to it if WordPress allowed featured images to be linked, I have cropped it fit into the blog, i.e. I have not made this image available.) …

Virtuality & the Labour Party

Virtuality & the Labour Party

Somewhere inside my head there’s an article on how businesses weren’t planning for a pandemic as a business continuity risk, most plans were about protecting infrastructure. My most recent linkedin article looks at the under-licensing and data leakage risks exposed by the spontaneous adoption of remote desk top technology but the country has had to adopt a much wider “work from home” practice than previously, stressing those parts of the economy that serve it, including home space and furniture supply. This all leaves unanswered how are democratic decisions being taken? Let’s look at the Labour Party; I wouldn’t want to be the Labour Party apparatchik that allowed 7.IV.H.8 (P41) 2019 to expire. It used to say,

The NEC shall invite CLPs to take part in pilots of staggered meetings, electronic attendance, online voting and other methods of maximising participation. The NEC may immediately give effect to these pilots and may incorporate any resultant rules into this rule book, subject to approval at Annual Conference 2019, when this sub-clause shall expire.

It wasn’t extended at Conference 19, and the rule now no-longer exists and virtual meetings are not permitted to take decisions. Someone’s going to be happy.

If deliberate, it’s another example of the bureaucracy just not giving a shit. …

Card Votes on Demand

The LP platform stitched up Conference over Brexit by refusing a card vote. I think this power needs to be taken away, and so have drafted this rule amendment. It is interesting that the old rule no longer exists and has been transferred to Conference Standing Orders.

C3.III.G

Insert before These standing orders will be presented ……

The Conference Standing orders are to state that voting will be by show of hands except a card vote will be undertaken as decided by the CAC who shall in their report to conference determine which votes must be resolved by a card vote. Card votes may additionally be invoked by the Chair of Conference and shall be so invoked if called for by 30 delegates.

ooOOOoo

One thing to be noted is that Conference still has the last word on the contents of the Programme (C1.V.2). For inclusion, the Programme, it needs to be approved by Conference by a ⅔ majority. Policy cannot be included in the manifesto without this approval, so the Brexit position, free train fares and free broadband would seem to be promises we should not have made. I am equally unclear where the Faith and Culture manifestos came from. (I don’t even know if they were approved by the Clause V meeting.) Policy votes where not overwhelming should be counted by a  card vote to ensure that it is accurately recorded as meeting the necessary thresholds be it ½ or ⅔ majority. …

Fair shares

Fair shares

Crispin Flintoff has started a campaign to ensure that CLPs are properly funded. This is an issue that I looked at during the democracy review but CLPs get something like 5% of the membership fees and its paid as a capitation fee. From this, and by observing the effort that goes into fund rasing, I concluded that the CLPs should get more of the membership fees and am happy to help Crispin.

CLPs spend their money on administration, campaigning and conference. Administration varies from basic member communication, inc. printing via room rentals to in some cases wages and property costs. There are usually three conferences per annum, with annual conference being a significant cost often beyond a CLP, many of whom fail to send delegates. Elections vary but some need to be funded by the CLP, some require a tax to be payed to the district or regional party. Some have to fund an election every year, some only three out of every five years. Some get financial help from the Labour Group, if there is one, and others from Party HQ, but the biggest and safest and the weakest CLPs get little help.

We could describe the current capitation as 5% of the membership fees. In my article “Brass“,  I proposed raising it to 50%, I have changed my mind and today

  1. I propose doubling it (to 10%) and revising the rules around a floor so that small parties get what they need.
  2. and I would transfer the costs of Annual Conference to HQ

When thinking about the minimum grant, maybe there should be an investment fund where CLPs bid for the money to support projects aimed at growing the membership, building infrastructure (at the lower end, web sites/services, at the higher end, property maintenance) or growing internal fundraising efforts.

If so, I need to check out Crispin’s proposed motion and offer amendments.

There are some de-facto footnotes below/overleaf. …

Still arguing about the manifesto

How should Labour’s Manifesto be decided? This is what the rules say!

The NPF propose policy to Conference via their Report. Policy can also be created by passing motions at Conference and there are now 20 motion topics debated at each conference. This is a significant advance, so watch to see if any new leadership seeks to reduce this number. There is a party programme, did you know, and if Conference decides on a ⅔ majority recorded by a card vote then the policy item is included in the Programme.

The election manifesto for all national elections must come from the programme. This is another set of rules not read so often it would seem, because what happens is that an appointee of the Leader writes a draft and the Clause V meeting does what the fuckit wants! (The rules are all detailed in Chapter 1, Clause V.)

To this insight we should also add the contempt with which the NPF is held. I may regret this last statement as I think I might explore a run for one of the positions in London. …

Accepting or rejecting Labour’s members

It’s that time again, people are scrutinising applications to join the Labour Party in great detail. I was asked my advice, and wrote and posted this. I am strongly of the view that we should on the whole take people at face value and believe them if they state they’ve changed their mind. I think we are all agreed that expulsions and exclusions should only be used in exceptional cases; they must not become a tactic of member management as was sought to be done in 2015/2016. Before you read the bollocks below/overleaf, if you want to join the Labour Party, you can do so here. The rest of this article looks at Labour’s membership rules; there are two ways of being expelled from the LP and one way in which membership can be denied. …