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 5%) 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. …

More on Points of Order

More on Points of Order

I missed most of Saturday but bumped into a friend and we discussed the culture around points of order, it seems there had been a few. I wrote about this last year and in that article I observed that “Point of Order: You haven’t called me, or people like me” isn’t a point of order. While talking to my friend, I remembered my transition from CPSA to SCPS; in the former, there were points of order all the time, and in the latter not, in fact, I still remember the strange faces I got when I moved my first point of order at SCPS. In some places it’s done, in others not.

I sort of wonder if the proximity of the average member to the student movement is a factor and the very high number of first time & young delegates. At GMB Congress, this year, there was only one point of order over 5 days, and they gave notice to the President and were called to the rostrum as an emergency agenda item. Also, I was asked if we i.e. London Region should move one on the CEC position on Venezuela. I demurred as the disruption makes one unpopular.

It’s sort of clear that conferences have a high or low point of order rate. It would seem in Parliament, the rate has gone up, much of them nonsense and in Parliament, they have a culture of allowing interruptions, so you don’t need a point of order to make your point. In fact, and it’s very rude to everyone else in the room, it is at times, or even mostly, used to jump the queue to make a point rather than wait to be called to speak.

I should also say, that, “Point of Order: the last speaker is talking bollocks” is unlikely to get you anywhere, as this little clip shows!


In fact, the Labour Party’s rules, at Conference, now make it clear that a point of order must start with a citation as to the rule that has been broken; eventually, they required people that want to make one, to quote their rule to the speaker desk before the point of order would be accepted. Good! People should consider, that all that can happen is that the Chair agrees with you, unlikely, or says that you are wrong and tells you to sit down, at whch point you can challenge the chair’s ruling for which you need a ⅔ majority. 🤔 Wonder if that would force a card vote!

I finish this little note with the observation that the acronym for Point of Order is POO!

Image Credit: Lenin: Right outside the Finland station (Finlyandsky vokzal), sits this statue of Lenin, looking out over the river. He might be raising his hand to catch the Chair’s eye to make a point of order. From flickr CC 2008 Stephen D Strowes BY-SA …

Reform of Labours Candidate Selection

Reform of Labours Candidate Selection

On Saturday, Labour Conference changed the rules as it pertained to the Local Campaign Forums now named Local Govt. Committees, the Rule changes were published in CAC 1 and I have made a copy that exclusively refers to Chapter 12, LCF Rule Proposal extract from CAC1

The key reforms are,

  1. Voting power on the LGC will be ⅓ for the Council Group, ⅓ for the CLP Reps, and ⅓ for delegates from Trade Unions. This is voting power it is not dependent on the number of delegates.
  2. Councillors may only sit in the Council Group class of delegates
  3. The Leader/Deputy Leader are to sit on the LGC Executive.
  4. There are strong, or maybe weak, but at least some rules to constrain Councillors from impacting seats they are interested in, but obviously not swapping favours.
  5. CLP’s delegate numbers will be representative of the number of wards represented in the LA area.
  6. The authority for the manifesto remains unclear.

This does not increase the accountability of the Labour Group.

Have a look and make a comment if I have missed anything. …

Member’s rule change proposals

Member’s rule change proposals

I met up with some people who had seen Labour’s Conference Agenda items and they said that the following rule amendments were to be debated, or at least rules on the following topics. N.B. I have not yet read these, so my comments may be a bit off.

  1. A proposal to amend the so-called three year rule on rule changes, allowing popular changes to be debated within the current three year moratorium.
  2. There will be a rule change about OMOV for Executive Mayor’s and Council Leaders (& Deputies).
  3. An amendment to re-establish Clause IV, the rule not the group
  4. A proposal to permit amendments to motions at Conference.
  5. A rule change to clarify the rules on access to membership data lists.
  6. A rule change to permit BAME only shortlists; I have not read this rule change but am aware that this is likely to require legislation.
  7. A rule change on democratising the LCF, barring councillors and increasing the size, and having 25% of delegates as TU delegates.
  8. A proposal to submit  both a rule change & a motion. Again I have not read this so I don’t know if it changes the number to be submitted beyond one of each.
  9. A motion changing the rules to ensure the transparency of public official’s/candidate’s finances
  10. A proposal to revise revision of disciplinary rule, C2.I.8. (I have not read this, but it’s a clue to search it out and read it.)
  11. A proposal on greater diversity in CLPs.

It seems the NEC will be proposing to amend the disciplinary process. The desire is to create a fast track process but the fear is that they are proposing to fatally weaken the legally necessary separation of powers/segregation of duties between the NEC and the NCC. Obviously one needs to read it, but this sounds like one to oppose.

Rules are currently proposed to be debated on Saturday afternoon. Delegates will need all their credentials, including their card vote books which are *not* sent by post. …

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. …

The role of chairpersons

I have been considering the role of Labour Party committee/Party Unit chairpersons.

In the Labour Party, the role of Branch or other Party Unit Chairs is to chair meetings. While doing so they have certain powers, in the Labour Party they may make rulings on the meaning of the rules and standing orders, as they relate to the conduct of the meeting, they have the duty to determine if motions are emergencies or not, subject to confirmation and challenge. They have the sole power to propose to exclude someone which needs to be confirmed by ⅔rds of the meeting. They have these powers at meetings of an Executive Committee also.

What powers do they have when outside a meeting of which they are chair? None!

Actually, they have the powers of an ordinary member so they can make complaints, they can propose items of business to meetings of which they are members. CLP Chairs are also Deputy Treasurers.

The Chair is not the CEO of a CLP or branch, nor are they the Secretary’s supervisor. It would be wise for them to work together and Secretaries might be grateful for witnesses to their good faith. …