What do with the registered supporters?

What do with the registered supporters?

Ann Black reports on the September, pre-conference National Executive Committee at Left Futures. These are clearly hard things to write since getting a balance between hope for the future and a description of what’s happening can be hard. I felt the need to comment. on the running of the election where the point needs to be made that barely legal is not good enough. The coming exclusion of registered supporters is a mistake, and the party has changed; most MPs mandate to speak for the Labour Party has expired as has the utility of the National Policy Forum.  …

Cleaning Up Labour’s Politics II

Cleaning Up Labour’s Politics II

I have just published and backdated my first thoughts in response to Ed Miliband’s speech on “Cleaning Up” politics. This has been written over a six month period. It was started as I shaped my thoughts and was originally written as a contribution to what became the Collins Review but I decided it was insufficiently focused and made no proposals. It merely expressed my anger. The final version of the article was published today and backdated to near the point I started it. It was thus published after the closure of the Collins Review deadline, and before the publication of the Special Conference agenda.  …

Having our say

Yesterday evening, Brockley Labour passed the following motion in response to the Labour Party’s review on rules and democracy. This review is being undertaken by Ray Collins, an ex-General Secretary of the Labour Party and an interim report was presented to Labour’s Conference, Collins Review Interim Report Sep 2013. I commented on the debate at conference on this blog in an article called Labour’s Rules considered by those that can change them. …

Labour’s Rules considered by those that can change them

Labour’s Rules considered by those that can change them

I got there in time to hear the debate on the Collins Review Interim Report Sep 2013.  There was only time for five speeches from the floor of conference, one general secretary, two MPs, and one prospective Mayor, but then there are few newly joined activists on the floor of conference. The platform had made it clear that this was an interim report and an interim debate and Ed Miliband joined the platform to listen to the it. …

Reforming Labour’s Rules

Reforming Labour’s Rules

Ellie Reeves, one of Labour’s NEC member’s representatives and an ex-Lewisham Deptford Party member came to the Lewisham Deptford CLP General Meeting to bring us up to date on the proposals to reform Labour’s membership rules and its relationship with the Trade Unions.

DEHQ Card Vote

As a result of some alleged improper behaviour in the Falkirk selection, Ed Miliband proposed to change both Labour’s rules and the Law to “Clean Up” politics. I commented on the proposals as they stood in an article on this blog called “Clean Politics, a bit of Ed, a bit of me” which lists the proposals as I see them. …

Cleaning up politics

Cleaning up politics

Dear Ed,

Thank you very much for announcing that you were going to ignore the “Refounding Labour” consultation by writing to me from a “no reply” address. I always appreciate those. I’d also like to thank you for when you got round to it, allowing me to submit my views by posting them to what is becoming a classic one nation labour’s web property, the  ‘consulting bit bucket’. I shall be putting this on my blog, and posting a summary to my member’s net bog. …

Clean Politics, a bit of Ed, a bit of me

Ed Miliband makes his speech; the autocue is here at Labour List. This speech more than most, one must read his words, everyone else will add their spin. So, here’s mine, by my reading, the key points for change are,

  • Affiliation Memberships by Trade Unions are to be based on consent.
  • A new code of conduct for candidates in internal elections and selections, (we have one now; so who’s fault is it that it isn’t good enough?)
  • Limiting expenditure  including  gifts in kind and 3rd party expenditure internal elections and selections (Good idea, the devil’s in the detail).
  • Regulation of CLP/TU teaming agreements (again an incremental reform; I’d like to see the evidence that the current agreements are being abused.)
  • He proposes that MP’s should be prohibited from having second jobs, (Yes please,  and include the Mayor of London in this proposal.)
  • He proposes that unspecified measures should be taken to clean up lobbying and conflicts of interests in Parliament (Perhaps the Labour Party should expel the worst offenders, and include Peers in the list.)
  • He proposes that Labour’s candidate for London Mayor is to be chosen by supporters, not members. (Why would we want the advice of people who won’t join?)

He also refers to the opening out of policy making since his election as Leader. This is delusional, moving policy initiation to a ‘bit bucket’ on the web is not extending policy making. …

Real (Labour) Party democracy

Paul Cotterill came out of his self imposed blogging retirement to write about the Falkirk affair at his blog, “Though Cowards Flinch”. I am glad to see him back and hope it’s  not a one off.

He argues that the secretive and exclusive way in which these decisions were taken, so soon after the Refounding Labour members’ consultation is not really a harbinger of a new politics.

Most of his article relates to the issues surrounding the management of Unions’ political funds. It was written before Ed Miliband’s speech and so most comments at this time were based on presumably embargoed press releases and interested spin. Paul finishes with,

He’s done the easy bit, challenging the affiliated unions to accept the virtues of opt-in engagement.   The question is: does he have the guts to take on the PLP’s power base in the interest of real party democracy and growth.

While Paul’s journey to the obstructionism and downright destructive activities of some members of the PLP is fairly gentle, I have little doubt we’ll be hearing more. …

Does the Labour Party want “all member” management meetings?

When the Labour Party was founded, for various reasons, it adopted throughout it’s structures the ability for its supporters to act as an individual full member or as part of an affiliate, or both. This is happens at Conference, the UK Labour Party’s supreme decision making body, and on the National Executive Committee by the representation of the Trade Unions and other affiliated societies. It is also represented at the Constituency level where the General Committee (GC) is made of delegates from individual membership branches, trade unions and other socialist societies, who serve for one year. Constituencies also have a smaller, executive committee, known as the EC, the officer members of the EC are elected by the delegates on the GC from amongst themselves, and the remainder is appointed by individual membership branches.

One of the proposals emanating from the Labour Party’s review, “Refounding Labour” is to convert these delegate bodies into all members meetings. This proposal was debated in the Lewisham Deptford party. On Thursday night, the delegate GC instructed its executive to prepare rule changes to replace the GC with all members meetings.

The main argument in favour of all members meetings are that it will increase membership involvement and reduce the elitism of local leaderships. I am curious as to where the evidence that this will happen is, but I do accept voting to exclude ordinary members is a bit shit, and I have come to the conclusion, as a result of the debate that the year long term of office of the GC inhibits new members become politically active in the management of the Party quickly. People need to wait for the next AGM and build the record of activity and trust to win election to the GC.

However in my mind, the first beneficiaries of a move to members meetings will be those elected borough councillors who are not currently elected delegates because they attend the meetings anyway. In some ways, this is potentially bad, as it may increase the power of the political leadership, rather than increase its accountability.

One of the delegates, from one of the smaller branches raised the question, that if members’ most powerful expression of their politics within the Labour Party was at GC, what would happen to the Branches. He suggested that there is a risk that the activism within the Branches might be diminished. (In CLPs with serious branch viability issues, it may be that all members meetings would be more effective form of governance.) It was suggested that Branches could/should focus on Councillor accountability. This isn’t easy in a London Borough with an executive Mayor since the Councillors have few powers and taking register is not political activism.

Another delegate, stated that he opposed the move from delegate meetings because gender quotas apply to the delegate election, but can’t be applied to all member’s meetings.

A third delegate stated that all member’s meetings would be easier to caucus and pack.

It was suggested that the expense would be higher as we would need to pay for postage for members without email, and room rentals would  be higher if we needed bigger rooms. Mind you, that latter problem would be a nice one to have.

Moving to all members meetings will also exclude supporters of the Labour Party in the Trade Unions and socialist societies. I am unclear how real the local affiliations are these days. I have seen it operated very effectively; it was a while ago. Where it works, it strengthens and broadens the Labour Party’s connection with the community.

So I make it one unproven plus, one piece of guilt and five minuses, I understand that it’s not proved that popular, but I changed my mind three times during the debate. In the end I followed my branches mandate, and voted for the transition, but I would be delighted if anyone, particularly Labour Party members would comment on their experiences. I have also posted this to the member’s net blog, which you can use if you prefer to reply or comment inside a Labour Party firewall. Taking the mandate is another minus, not everyone wants or can do these meetings, the use of mandated delegates allows them to influence the decisions without fetishising meeting attendance.

I have also posted this to the Labour Party’s linkedin group. …