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.

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moving CLP agreed to; unfortunately, the Chair permitted this to be voted upon despite telling conference it had been withdrawn.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.

The Rules Debate
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