Flexibility required

So wise people have considered my “paper” on the proposed rule changes on Parliamentary selection. The advice is to obtain a flexible mandate for several reasons. The first is that we do not know what the NEC is going to do; it may propose an amendment itself, and it will certainly make recommendations and if they recommend opposition then it’s felt the motion will fall and thus unless the rules change, cannot be debated for five years. Despite the Skwawkbox’s publication of Unite’s position supporting open selection, it is felt that the Unions are more likely to support the Hastings & Rye (et al) motion which reforms and not abolishes the Trigger ballot; it requires an incumbent MP to win ⅔ of the individual members and to win ⅔ of affiliated organisations. Whatever happens, the NEC position will be critical; it will be important to be flexible but there can be no denying that there’s a lot of membership pressure to take control of this decision. …

Trigger ballot reform

I have had a look at the rule change motions amending rule C5.IV.5, Selection of Westminster Parliamentary Candidates, which will be on the agenda for Labour’s Conference 18. They were submitted last year, and thus scheduled for debate this year. I have written up my thoughts in an article/document.

The critical issues are,

  1. the trigger ballot, reform or abolish
  2. the threshold for not requiring a selection,
  3. the privilege given to incumbents,
  4. the role of party units or branches in a nomination process.

By considering the issue of whether to have a trigger ballot process at all as separate from the protection given to incumbents,i.e. the threshold, I think we gain clarity. Another reason for considering them separately, is that the abolition/retention of the trigger ballot is proposed with thresholds, either having an early termination of the reselection process or for avoiding the reselection processes all together respectively.

Here is a summary of how I see it

Rachel Godfrey Wood has also written a summary of how she sees the amendments although she does not consider the West Lancashire amendment which changes the rules such that, if an incumbent loses a trigger ballot, they are not to be included in the subsequent selection. There’s a good reason for this. If the Conference Arrangements Committee rules that only one of these rule changes can be carried, then passing the West Lancs motion means that there is no change to the trigger ballot process, and it can’t be debated for another five years.

The paper also points at two other rules changes, abolishing the rule on auto-exclusion for supporting a non labour organisation, and on CLP finance, where it is proposed that the CLPs get 50% of the membership fees.

permalink: https://wp.me/p9J8FV-1AO …

Contemporary Motions

In rule 3.II.2.C, Labour’s Rules describe a contemporary motion as one

… which is not substantially addressed by reports of the NEC or NPF to Conference

CLPs & Affiliates may only submit “contemporary” motions to conference. Contemporary, as in timeliness,  is taken as an issue, that has arisen since the publication of the NPF report and more controversially that could not have been raised before. In 2016, the CAC ruled motions on austerity and the economy out of order as these had both been in existence in the spring. The words themselves permit the raising of an issue on which the NPF is silent, such as my proposed anti-surveillance motion. Authors of motions need to take these rules into account.

There is a rule change on the order paper to abolish the “contemporary” constraint and the Democracy Review is recommending the abolition of the National Policy Forum. So this could be the last time we need to worry about this stupidity. …

Arrears

As the AGM season for Lewisham’s Labour Parties approaches, I am considering the various deadlines for payments, decisions and record keeping. The first deadline is 60 days before the AGM date for new affiliates. I have had cause to check what the rules say; it would seem that we need to return to our old friend Chapter 7. This says,

IV.1.D all affiliation fees shall be paid by end of the year.

IX.1.B Affiliation fees due to this CLP for the previous year ended 31 December must have been paid to this CLP a clear 35 days before the date of the annual meeting.

IX.1.C. New affiliations accepted at least 60 days prior to the AGM in the current year shall have all rights associated with attendance at the AGM.

The Labour Party’s financial year is the calendar year. If not paid in the year of account, an affiliate falls into arrears on 1st January of the following year. It must pay the arrears by 35 days before the AGM, otherwise it may be treated as a new affiliate and pay 60 days before the AGM. This could  be easier. but it would seem there are two routes for dealing with arrears.

AGMs must now take place in the second half of the year. …

Labour Party, making policy

My submission to Labours Democracy Review on making policy.

CLPs should have an inalienable right to initiate policy, as such CLPs should be allowed to submit motions to Conference on policy as they see fit (i.e. not be constrained by the NPF report and processes).

NEC should publish their minutes so that members know what they are doing.

Appropriate CLP motions should be presented to the NEC and their actions recorded, minutes taken and reported to the authoring CLP.

CLPs should be able to submit a motion + rule change to Conference during the same year and CLP/Affiliate proposed rule changes to conference to should be allowed to be debated at the Conference for which it was proposed.

The NPF to be halved in size, meet more regularly, report to conference, and conference to be extended by a day. This is designed to increase the NPF’s accountability to Conference and provide some form of governance over continuous policy making; Conference should remain sovereign. NPF should be commissioning hearings led by a combination of grassroots activists and members and workers/trade unionists with expertise in specific areas. NPF should function in a more transparent way. This transparency to include its web site.

Conference should be a day longer, it would allow the consideration of more topics.

It should be considered to have a first delegate to conference at 500 members, and additional delegates at 750. More money should be sent to the CLPs and/or the Conference delegates should be funded by HQ. (We are debt free you know). [On drawing the graph/chart, I wonder if it would make much difference, it would make it easier, if it could be afforded, to send a gender balanced conference delegation, which is my purpose, but this would only be so for those CLPs with between 500 & 750 members. It should be noted that larger CLPs are not sending their full delegations because of cost. It should be noted that small and remote CLPs are not sending their delegations at all often because of cost. Perhaps elections at conference should be done as postal votes for non-attendees.]

It has been suggested to me that despite my efforts, many of Labour’s new members lack experience of the motion/debate process. More education is required at branch/member level about the motion process (e.g. what motions should incorporate and the change we hope to bring about). …

Electing Labour’s Leader

My submission to the Democracy Review on Electing the Leader.

Required nominations in the case of a vacancy should be set so that the electorate are given a choice. It should be noted that the higher the threshold required within the PLP, the more likely pressure for reselection will be in cases where MPs no longer represent the views of their membership.

On electing our leader, the Leader should be elected by individual ballot, of individual members, affiliate members and registered supporters.

Registered supporters should be asked to renew their commitment annually (and undergo the same checks that are used for people to become members), charged no more than of the order of £5 per year and be able to attend (but not vote during) branch meetings. If Toby Young seeks to become a registered supporter, we should refer it to the Police for fraud.

Freeze dates for all elections for internal office should be decided according to administrative feasibility. i.e. days or weeks, not the 6 months used in the 2016 leadership elections. …

Labour and local government

I have just made my submission to Labour’s Democracy Review on Local Government. It consists of proposals about candidate selection, labour’s governance (Groups and Labour Committees), Direct Mayors and recalling/dismissing Leaders.  The current local government candidate selection process and Labour Group governance rules gives a massive advantage to incumbents vs. challengers. If we are to meet our aspirations of representing the community and its most disadvantaged, we need to do better. I say more below or overleaf … … …

On Labour’s Leadership, Conference & Policy

My CLP had its meeting to determine what it wanted to say to the Labour Party Democracy Review’s phase three. This seeks views on Electing our Leadership, How we Make Policy and The Way We Work. I’ll write up what we said some time soon, once the notes are complete. We agreed some of the ideas from the CLPD’s recommendations. For the CLPD documents, I have made SURLs, see https://is.gd/vIXAAK or http://bit.ly/2Imi2Xz . The CLPD original is hosted at Grass Roots Labour’s site, here. …

Labour’s rules & PR Lists

As far as I know, we already have proportional voting systems in the UK, in Scotland & Wales for the their Assemblies, in London for the GLA and for the Members of the European Parliament. I have experience of standing for and/or selecting/triggering Labour candidates in the latter positions.

While much focus of late has been on selecting/re-selecting MPs in the House of Commons these positions represent a special case.

Labour’s re-selection processes for “list” based seats in local government in England, currently only the GLA, unless we remain in the EU requires that incumbents are confirmed or otherwise as candidates (via a trigger ballot), and that new candidates are found and approved by panel. All the candidates are then ordered by a member’s vote, with the incumbents guaranteed the highest places.

This protection i.e. the guarantee that incumbents must get the highest ranking places on the list should be removed; the member’s votes should determine the order that incumbents and challengers are placed on the list, subject to the gender quota rules. The members should be offered an additional two candidates, who then become available for call up in the case that any of the selected candidates are unable to run. …

Re-selection goes to Conference

The Young Labour National Committee have submitted a rule change on mandatory reselection to LP National Conference. Sara Doyle posts the text on twitter ….

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