On points of order

On points of order

The platform introduced a new process; points of order need to be justified at the speakers desk, before being allowed to put to conference and the chair. I can understand that; some people are quite irresponsible in the points of order they make, however the rules say,

Point of order – Any delegate may raise a legitimate point of order during a debate. Any such point of order shall be heard at the conclusion of the current speech.

The Chair shall retain the power to rule what is and is not a legitimate point of order, and to instruct a delegate to end an illegitimate point of order.

A point of order will be ruled illegitimate if it does not immediately and directly identify which of these standing orders is in question.

Labour’s Rule Book A9.I.4.C

i.e. the Chair determines if a Point of Order is legitimate not an employee of the party, not even the GS. The power to raise a point of order is an important part of the power relationship between the floor and the platform.

The fact is they aren’t very good; they allowed one point of order on ‘the last speaker was talking rubbish’ and two on ‘the chair is not calling people like me’. They denied me a point of order on the conduct of card vote 13, and they also denied a point of order to a delegate who wanted to remind the chair that delegates have been instructed that they can only indicate they wish to speak if seated and to raising their empty hand. The ‘must be seated rule’ is an accessibility issue and people used to wave the most ridiculous of things, including an inflatable red dragon and in one case their baby. The third point in the rule is in my mind sufficient protection against abuse.

On speaker selection, there is no perfect way, there are more people that want to speak than there are slots and the debate is improved if recognised experts such as TU speakers, or in 2018, Richard Corbett, the leader of the EPLP, and even PPCs. However, in 2018 and I believe 2021, the conference provided accessibility stewards, with uniform tee shirts and great big signs to stand beside disabled speakers who wished to speak. This wasn’t done this year. I have no doubt that more can be done to ensure that, “… speakers are a fair representation of Annual Conference, and that there shall be no discrimination on the grounds of protected personal characteristics.” A9.I.4.E.ii …

The Rules Debate

The Rules Debate

Each year at Labour Conference, there is a rules debate and despite the bleats from supporters of the NEC, that we should be talking to voters and not about ourself, they always bring up rule changes, published the day before conference, thus only available in the first Conference Arrangement Committee report, it comes with a series of recommendations and this year the NEC recommended we passed theirs and rejected everyone else’s.

The debate became one of CLP rights. Last year Conference mandated that where time permitted, selection longlisting committees should be 50% from the CLP; this was ignored by the NEC who came back with a rewrite to allow them to continue to pursue their two donkeys and a lion strategy while in a number of cases, denying popular local left-wing councillors a position on either the long or short lists. The NEC came to conference with a rewrite of this rule, as did the CLP moving the original change. The CLP amendment fell, the result is presented in Table 1 below.

ForAgainst
CLP21.09%28.09%
Affiliate21.13%28.87%
Total43.05%56.95%
Table 1: Result of Card Vote 7, Parliamentary Selection Procedures from CAC2

There was a well supported rule change to permit members of the Party who were currently suspended from the whip to stand in trigger ballots and also a motion banning lobbyists from standing as MPs. The former was designed to allow Jeremy Corbyn to participate in a trigger ballot; as the rules stand, the Chief Whip can ensure that this does not happen. There was an interesting but I think ill-informed contribution from the delegate to Sheffield Hallam who raised the question as to what would have happened to Jared O’Mara if this rule had been in place, she implied that he might have been considered for the 2019 election. He wouldn’t, he resigned and his initial appointment by the NEC shows the danger of not consulting the local party.

My pet amendment, of inserting the ECHR into Labour’s rules was opposed and the NEC asked for remission, which the moving CLP agreed to; unfortunately, the Chair permitted this to be voted upon despite telling conference it had been withdrawn. I sought to move a point of order but they have invented a procedure where one has to justify the point of order to the speakers desk who told me that it was under-control. It wasn’t the point, delegates were being wrongly advised. While I consider a point of order that the speaker is talking rubbish is not a valid point of order, the point that the Chair is talking rubbish and has misguided conference is a valid point of order. It should have been allowed.

The NEC amendments which were carried included placing a 1 year waiting period on affiliate and CLP rule changes, whereas it seems the NEC can make them with under 24 hours notice. This is a disgusting piece of factionalism and control. One consequence of this is that the so-called three year rule is effectively a five year ban on reconsidering rule changes.

Another change is to cap CLP delegation sizes. I wouldn’t mind this if the floor could call a card vote but it can’t. (I need to redo my delegate power chart). Giving the floor the power to call a card vote was one of the changes proposed by CLPD.  I don’t know of any large CLP that sends its full entitlement as they get very large very quickly. CLPs are entitled to one delegate/250 members.

In my notes for a speech, I was not called, I included the slogan, adopted from the open source movement, “clever people with good ideas and work elsewhere”.  Making rule changes harder for CLPs and affiliates fails to recognise this.


This was post dated to the time of occurrence, it was finished on 4th Oct.  …

On Labour’s disciplinary rules

On Labour’s disciplinary rules

As part of the ‘drains up’ undertaken after the 2019 General Election, a coalition calling itself Labour Together undertook a review of what went wrong and as part of that review commissioned an organisation called the "common knowledge co-op" to look at Labour’s IT and its management. They produced a report called “System update required”. (original | mirror ) What did it say? I think this is important, but like so many learning opportunities that challenge power and the bad behaviour of the powerful it seems to me to be dramatically under-valued.

Flow Chart of the LP Complaints process

For more, see overleaf ...

Crime and Punishment (in the Labour Party)

Crime and Punishment (in the Labour Party)

I have not studied all the new rules as passed at 2021 conference, but this is a note on proscribed acts and prohibited acts and how they are dealt with. It notes the powers of the NEC to define prohibited acts in the support of proscribed organisations. It notes the remaining role of the NCC and concludes with a quote from the Forde report expressing concern of the use of admin suspension and the concern that expulsions may be used for factional purposes. For more, use the 'read more' button ...

Labour, me and the Forde Report I

Labour, me and the Forde Report I

The Forde Report commissioned by Labour’s NEC has been published. I have not read it all yet but have discovered the first quote, on the dangers of continued factionalism as it related to the new proscription rules and had the second on the need to conform to A6 of the ECHR pointed out to me.

§A We are also concerned that the provisions which allow for individuals to have membership removed or denied on the grounds they have committed prohibited acts could be exploited for factional purposes.

§F 3.1 We note the new arrangements, approved by the Party at its Conference in 2021, which make provision for various reforms, including the establishment of an IRB in cases involving accusations of discrimination. The Party will need to be vigilant that those new procedures, when combined with the further reforms we recommend in this report, deliver a system which, as far as is practicable, enshrines the core principles of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, ….

The Forde Report

Three things: I’d have preferred a stronger mandate than concern and a need for vigilance, and for me A6 is so last year. I have moved on to A7 “No punishment without law”, which states “ No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed.” Obviously, the scope needs to be changed to be prohibited under rule or law, but the principal is obvious and the NEC is in flagrant breach of this principle.

Finally, the report seems exclusively focused on discriminatory behaviour, it seems to fail to address bullying and cover-ups whether undertaken by staff or senior role holders. …

Equality branch autonomy

Equality branch autonomy

I had a couple of requests to look at the Labour bureaucracy’s refusal to allow equality branches access to the membership lists leaving old men to convene meetings of the women’s branch and young labour. This borrows significantly from the current rules in Appendix 2 and it would be hard for the NEC to argue it was poorly written or badly motivated.Too late now, but here it is …

Proper access to membership lists

Insert New C2.III.6 The NEC shall issue procedural guidelines on issues relating to access to the membership system or systems from time to time.  These guidelines will ensure that the following members/member roles have access to the membership list,

A. For CLP’s: Vice Chair/Membership and CLP Secretary, or other designated CLP officers

B. For Branches: Secretary or other designated branch officer; this is to include Women’s Branch & Young Labour secretaries.

C. For LGC’s: Secretary or other designated LGC officer, where required for selection purposes or other activities in pursuit of its aims and objects

D. MP’s,, members of devolved bodies, elected mayors, councillors, Labour Group leaders on principal authorities, for the area they represent

E. Members of Party staff appointed by the NEC

Officers of relevant Party Units, elected public officials  and staff appointed by the NEC  shall be provided with access to the membership data or relevant party systems for the purpose of informing members of events, meetings and other activities or business relating to that role. It must not be used for the purpose of campaigning in internal elections, candidate selections, promoting personal opinions or collecting information and data for a third party i.e. through surveys/petitions. …

Labour Party rules, women and youth administration autonomy.

Labour Party rules, women and youth administration autonomy.

Another Rule change for Labour Conference; this moves the right of access to the membership list from Appendix 2, to Chapter 2. It clarifies that Women's branch secretaries and secretaries of young labour branches/sections are to be given access to their appropriate membership lists. The guidelines as written state these branch officials should have access to the membership list. These words make it clear that this should be so.

Written for a friend; and the rule text is now below/overleaf ...

CLPD & #lab22

CLPD & #lab22

Labour Hub have publicised the Left Slates for Labour’s internal elections, together with their recommended rule changes, available as word or .pdf. They include mine, the complete list is as follows, although some of the titles need to be changed as I think there is a 10 word limit. The deadline for CLPs to submit a rule change to Annual Labour Conference is 12 noon Friday 17th June.

  1. The Labour Party should be able to decide which Labour MPs can seek re-selection – not the PLP
  2. Calls for card votes from Annual Conference; delegates should not ignored
  3. Members need a Party Ombudsperson
  4. Ban lobbyists and property developers from being selected as local government or Parliamentary candidates
  5. Selection of Westminster parliamentary candidates – longlisting should to return to CLPs
  6. CLPs and affiliates should be allowed to submit a motion and a constitutional amendment to Party Conference
  7. CLPs and affiliates should be allowed to submit motions on organisational issues to Party Conference
  8. Popular rule change proposals should not have to wait three years to be discussed at Conference
  9. Full involvement by party branches and branches of affiliated organisations in the selection of Westminster candidates
  10. The NEC must decide on the powers to be granted to the General Secretary, and Conference take the final decision
  11. Member’s Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights
  12. Labour members should be required to be members of a trade union
  13. Member’s rights to free speech should be restored
  14. The NEC should stop publishing its proposed rule changes at the last minute – members need time to consider such proposals
  15. NEC final decisions and good faith
 …