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. …

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. …

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. …