About CLP affiliate delegates

About CLP affiliate delegates

I was asked on a Facebook Group, if it was normal for Constituency Labour Party affiliates to change their delegate nominees after a Labour Party branch AGM in order to install people that had lost in the election at their branches. I replied, possibly at length, and have decided to reproduce what I said here. I wrote,

Is it normal? Dunno, but in my view it’s indicative of cheating and this isn’t the first time I have heard of this happening. If the certification of the delegates is not signed by the affiliating entity’s secretary, I would doubt that the unit has met or voted to send delegates. The key here, in generating my suspicion is the timing, the affiliate will only have days, and in the other case I have seen, the fact that the individuals named were not active or retired steel workers.

The rules on what may affiliate are named in C7.IV. Trade Union regional committees may not affiliate. New affiliates must be accepted more than 60 days before the AGM. Only socialist society branches may affiliate.

The rules require that all affiliates name the unit affiliating. It would seem normal to expect that the unit’s secretary would be named so that the CLP can fulfil its communication responsibilities, but it is not, most Unions do not inform the CLP of the affiliating branch’s secretary. I have at times sought to disaffiliate those affiliates that will not tell us who their secretary is and whose notification was not signed by the unit secretaries. I did not succeed. The affiliation should be on letterheaded paper (or digital equivalent) and certifiably dated.  

With respect to socialist societies, only local branches may affiliate. Ask for the branch name, the branch secretary and the date of the meeting at which the decisions were taken. I have helped deregister delegates who were nominated other than by local branches and rejected a soc. soc. affiliation on these grounds.  (In fact, I joined two of the socialist societies to ensure they kept to the rules. I approve of those organisations, it wasn’t parasitic entryism. In fact, I am still a member of the LME.)

I recommend that a CLP adopts the policy that any money sent to the party by affiliates without cross referencing a delegate nomination is treated as a donation. i.e. refuse to recognise affiliations without delegate nominations.

However trying this with a Union will probably bring the attention of Regional Office who may seek to ‘persuade’ you that what you’re doing is against the rules and that you or your party will be suspended. Ask for any instructions in writing.

I have previously expressed similar views on this blog in articles entitled, Phantoms, Secretaries and Localism. …

Labour’s 3 year rule

Labour’s 3 year rule

When considering making rule changes in the Labour Party, designers need to take into account the so-called three year rule, and in 2021, need to consider that the rule defines the embargo in terms of conferences and so 2020 will not count. The rule states,

‘When Party conference has made a decision on a constitutional amendment, no resolution to amend the constitution or rules of the Party having the same or similar primary objective shall appear on the agenda of the three following annual party conferences, except such resolutions to amend the constitution and rules that are in the opinion of the NEC of immediate importance.’

Chapter 3, Clause III, 2.H (page 20 of the 2020 Rule Book)

So, let’s dispose of two pieces of pedantry; motions become resolutions on passing. Therefore proposals for change are motions, the use of the word resolution in this rule is legally illiterate.  It’s referred to as the three-year rule, but in effect it’s a five year rule, only rule changes that failed in 2016, or earlier can be considered, and a lot of rules were changed at the 2017-2019 conferences.

Critically, we have the phrase, “the same or similar primary objective”. This is designed to stop factions behaving like children having a tantrum and nagging until they get what they want, but not to prohibit CLP (or affiliate) proposed rule changes designed to review or improve a rule.

The CAC decision as to whether a proposed rule change contravened Rule C3.III.2.H is taken on the recommendation of staff. The CLPs have two representatives, the Unions and other affiliates have five and one member is elected by Conference which seems to mean that the Unions choose them. The fear is that staff will rule out motions that the leadership don’t want and be backed by a compliant CAC majority. Recently we have seen that the Unions will not vote for a rule change not supported by the NEC, on which they have ⅓ of the members. The CAC and staff may well play fast and loose with ‘primary purpose’ and consider any further changes to a specific rule to be ultra-vires.

Careful study of the text suggests that a revoking motion would be in order, as would an orthogonal amendment. I think I might still try my Nolan Principles rule change proposal which seeks to amend C2.II.7 which was introduced in 2018 to see if primary purpose will be interpreted with textual literacy or with factional intent. The ‘open selection’ motion at 2018 was deemed to have fallen because the NEC rule change was carried. Has conference ‘made a decision on a constitutional amendment’? Sadly probably as it carried the trigger ballot reform motion and the CAC report that deemed open selection to fail but the words ‘made a decision’ require conference to have done so, withdrawal means that a decision has not been taken.

It’s a mess but the same as everywhere else, like the sailing the rules are a weapon, unlike sailing, there’s no real independent judge as to what the rules mean. …

Making Policy in the Labour Party

Making Policy in the Labour Party

The Party have asked 10 questions, some of which seem very similar; I have not had time to decode many of them. I have submitted my answers which are based on the CLPD model answers but in some cases mine are shorter because argument is taken out and in some cases I have added new content. It's critical to ensure conference and the membership remain central to policy making and the manifesto. For more, use the 'read more' button ...

Electing the GS? Not such a good idea!

Electing the GS? Not such a good idea!

So Momentum have decided that unlike in their own internal affairs, that the best answer to the crisis in democracy in the Labour Party is to elect its General Secretary.   I think this is wrong, critically, without a recall, this would be worse because the individual elected would have a mandate to do what they wanted. It would be poor even with a realistic recall mechanism. This article summarises my proposals, and republishes the idea of a member’s ombudsperson.

In my article, Labour Leak – Closing the Stable Door , I look at a series of reforms that Ithink would make things better. I argue that the Party needs better “controls”, segregation of duties, and better record keeping. I also argue for a new disciplinary system that needs a segregation of duties between, investigators, prosecutors, judges and a right of appeal and that it conforms to the principles of natural justice guaranteeing the right to a fair trial, innocence until proven guilty, the proportionality of any sanctions and that our rules respect the rights to privacy and free speech. The powers and inclination of the NEC to hold the GS accountable to policy, rules and law needs to be examined, there may be some changes that can be made but this is a cultural change, without a change of culture most of the rest of the reforms will fail. I also argue for a more professional management of money and financial controls, greater transparency on staff management, recognition of Chakrabarti’s comments on staff recruitment and management and accreditation by “Investors in People” and “A great place to work”.

There are a number of roles that should be examined to ensure they are sufficiently independent of the GS and the NEC and accountable to the law or their professional ethics. In this part of the article, I note, that proposals for an Ombudsperson were made to the Democracy Review but didn’t make it to the final report. I have with help retrieved the Ombudsman proposal as I think that it’s worth reviewing and should be part of a reconfiguring of the compliance function where the Head of Compliance is made independent of the NEC & GS and accountable to the rules and law. Compliance should tell organisations what they can’t do, while they retain the right to legal advice.

What’s needed is a renewal of a culture of decency so that the bureaucracy and the elected NEC members behave properly and fulfil their duties of trust. I have argued to change Labour’s rules to incorporate the Nolan principles as duty on all role holders but especially the NEC members, but unless recent wrong doing is punished, it’ll become just another policy to be ignored and circumvented. …

Another stitch in time

Another stitch in time

Duncan Shipley Dalton writes, at the end of an exposition on the impact of the Human Rights Act on the Labour Party’s rules and my proposal to incorporate the ECHR directly into the rule book,

McDonnell is now proposing the left need to have a proper manifesto for Party reform with a clear plan of restructuring and reforming the Party. Would have been nice if that had been done when those like Dave [,that’s me that is,] and CLPD were pointing out these things years ago! Assuming McDonnell means it and is not just trying to divert energy to stop the current boat rocking it is a worthwhile idea. In my view the whole Rule book should be re written. It is a mess. A top to bottom rewrite to democratise the whole thing. Take away the kind of NEC discretion that gets abused , Local Govt selection rules, PPC selections, officers, Regional Officers etc. It means though a movement of ‘real’ democratic power to members. Jeremy and others talked about it but were not very good at giving actual power to members. The current leadership seem to be graduates of the Mussolini/Kim Jong Un school of democracy, so it is hard to see them agreeing to relinquish any real power to members. It is the right thing to do but it is hard to see it happening in the currently circumstances.

@baronvonduncs
 …

Labour and antisemitism, some thoughts

Labour and antisemitism, some thoughts

I have now read the EHRC Report, Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party, and this is what I think needs to be done. I have published some thoughts already and I believe that it is necessary that the Labour rectify its rules and culture to make it a place where discrimination is both absent and shunned, where perpetrators have the opportunity for contrition and that suspensions and expulsions are a last resort applied only after a fair trial. I am particularly incensed to find there has been no policy nor procedures to guide the investigation nor the determination of discrimination complaints because it’s so basic. However, before I look at the specific recommendations, I want to look at some context. The first is Human Rights law, and the second is that the failings are so basic that anyone of good faith will insist that any remedy is applied to all complaints and disciplinary processes and affairs because the failings are systemic, not specific to handling antisemitism complaints. The article then looks at what a fair and independent process might look like and asks that it take account of the ECHR’s Article 6 and 11, the right to a fair trial and freedom of association. It calls for the retention of the NCC and the provision of legal advice to ensure its independence from the Leader and the NEC. It recognises that the Party must be considered institutionally racist and that attempts to fix the problems have been dogged by factionalism. It calls for the adoption of the Nolan Principles. It recognises that things were worse under McNicol until Formby was appointed. It reaffirms that Labour’s policy and rules are made by Conference and not announcements by the Leadership. These issues are explored in greater detail overleaf …

Things improved under Formby

judges gavel

It is clear from reading the EHRC report, Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party that things improved when Jenny Formby became General Secretary in 2018, but the EHRC’s sample data looked back to 2011. The EHRC report states several times that the failure to act on the Royall & Chakrabarti Inquiries is a failing and evidence of Labour’s complicity in the inadequacy of its processes. Much of the failure needs to be placed at the door of the then incumbent General Secretary, Iain McNicol, Formby’s predecessor, and the NEC members that allowed him to act with impunity. Additionally it should be noted, to give an idea of the scale of McNicol and Harman’s ambitions, that over 10,000 complaints were lodged over the summer of 2015, leading to over 5,000 suspension and nearly 4000 investigations, all of them with no policy to guide the investigators and the NEC members making judgement. To expedite the process the NEC set up a wonderfully named Procedures Committee to supervise this purge/examination of eligibility, it consisted of Harriet Harman MP, Margaret Beckett MP, the then general secretary Iain McNicol, Jon Ashworth MP, Keith Birch (Unison), Paddy Lillis (USDAW), Jim Kennedy (Unite), Diana Holland (Unite) and Ann Black (CLP). It’s interesting how some of the names are still around and even more powerful today; the Guardian story exposes how the committee rejected legal advice on using the canvassing records as reasons for exclusion. Canvassing records should only be used for the purpose for which Labour holds them, electoral campaigning, anything else is a likely breach of the electoral secrecy laws. I was advised that I must not use the canvassing records as a source of information when recommending people to be rejected as members or registered supporters during this period.

timeline rules leaders and general secretaries

The Labour Party in an attempt to improve the antisemitism complaints handling process has  changed its rules three times (Conference 2017, 2018 & 2019), the 2017 amendment removed/weakened the free speech defence, the 2018 amendment made breach of codes of conduct disciplinary offences and gave the General Secretary powers to delegate their authority to people other than staff, and 2019 introduced ‘fast track’ process where the NEC and not the NCC heard cases related to discrimination without hearings. These developments show that the Labour Party took the problem seriously but focused on end stages of the process and in doing so, ignored the investigation stage and decision to prosecute which the EHRC has excoriated. The Party also in making these changes created a special class of complaint, that of discriminatory behaviour, which is treated differently to bullying, slander, thuggery and breaches of the rules for factional advantage.

In the LRB review of Jones’ “This Land” and Pogrund & McGuire’s “Left Out”, the James Butler, says, that

His [Jones’s] account is an improvement on the defensive response that the public’s perception of the problem with antisemitism in Labour was distorted, or that positive changes were made to disciplinary procedures after they were taken out of the hands of anti-Corbyn party staff.

James Butler – LRB

This article is not an attempt to say that Labour solved its disciplinary problems under Formby, it clearly didn’t but she inherited a system far distant from what was needed. Its crap etherealness and its then and current inability to address corruption within the bureaucracy are further reasons why the EHRC recommendations should be pursued.  …

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. …