We suggest you try and mandate your CLP delegates to conference to vote for the following candidates and motions:
A) National Constitutional Committee (dealing with disciplinary matters, expulsions etc): Vote for Emine Ibrahim and Anna Dyer
B) These following progressive rule change motions
These were passed by CLPs in 2016 and therefore will go forward to conference this year. Please note however that they might not all make it onto the agenda at conference – it all depends on the composition of the Conference Arrangements Committee (all the more important you vote for Seema Chandwani and Billy Hayes in the forthcoming online ballot). Contemporary and emergency motions are still being discussed.
- Ensuring a democratic choice in Labour Leadership elections – when there is a vacancy (‘McDonnell amendment’)
- Abolish the obsolete one year’s delay re rule changes from CLPs
- Remove the arbitrary criterion of ‘contemporary’ in relation to annual conference motions
- A new Local Government Committee structure (instead of the existing Local Campaign Forum)
- A democratic Young Labour
Motions in full:
1. Ensuring a democratic choice in Labour Leadership elections – when there is a vacancy (‘McDonnell amendment’)
The Labour Party Rule Book 2016 Chapter 4 Elections of national officers of the Party and national committees, Clause II Procedural rules for elections for national officers of the Party, Section 2 Election of leader and deputy leader, Subsection B Nominations, (i) (Page 14) reads as follows:
‘In the case of a vacancy for leader or deputy leader, each nomination must be supported by 15 per cent of the combined Commons members of the PLP and members of the EPLP. Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.’
Replace the words ‘15 per cent’ with the words ‘5 per cent’
Prior to 1988 the threshold required for a valid nomination to stand for Leader or Deputy Leader was 5 per cent of Labour MPs, whether there was a vacancy or an incumbent in post. The current requirement, when there is a vacancy that a candidate has to be nominated by 15 per cent of the PLP plus EPLP, allows for an undemocratic restriction in the choice of candidates that can be voted on in a leadership ballot.
When there was a vacancy for Leader In both 2010 and 2015 some MPs got around the current rule and ensured a representative field of candidates by nominating a candidate they did not intend to vote for. This allowed Diane Abbott MP in 2010 and Jeremy Corbyn MP in 2015 to be included in the respective ballots. It was widely believed neither would win a leadership election. Since Jeremy’s election as Leader several MPs have indicated they will not again nominate to help widen the party’s choice.
That potentially means, under the current rule, that a candidate who perhaps has the support of 5 per cent of MPs and MEPs, but also would be the choice of 60 per cent of Labour Party members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters, could be denied a place on the ballot paper.
It is undemocratic for MPs and MEPs to have powers to so tightly restrict the range of candidates running in a leadership election. When there is a leadership vacancy the party should be free to consider a representative choice of candidates.
The purpose of this rule change is to re-instate the previous nomination threshold of 5 per cent, for when there is a vacancy for Leader or Deputy Leader. (This rule change would not alter the 20 percent threshold required when there is an incumbent in office.)
2. Abolish the obsolete one year’s delay re rule changes from CLPs
The Labour Party Rule Book 2016 (page 13) Chapter 3 Party Conference, Clause III (Procedural Rules for Party Conference), Conference rule 2 – agenda.
Add at end after Sub-clause H, a new Sub-clause I as follows:
‘All constitutional amendments submitted by affiliated organisations and CLPs that are accepted as in order shall be timetabled for debate at the first annual party conference following their submission.’
The NEC can (and does!) agree rule changes one week and have them voted on by Annual Conference the following week. But for CLPs and trade unions it is an entirely different process. A rule change from CLPs/TUs submitted before the June closing date in one year has to wait well over a year (until the Annual Conference the following year) before it is timetabled for debate. This inordinate delay is due to an obscure convention, referred to as ‘The 1968 ruling’! In those more democratic days a complete verbatim of Conference was published and provided to delegates and CLPs. Thus we can read that the idea proposed in 1968 was that, during the year’s delay, the NEC would analyse the rule amendments in detail and present a considered assessment to the subsequent Conference. This may have happened once, but it has not been like that for years. Rather, in the lead up to the subsequent Conference, the Party officials simply make a one or two sentence written comment (usually to ‘reject’) and then this is nodded through by the NEC (although 2014 saw an exception to this pattern). Thus, by its actions, the NEC has rendered the 1968 convention obsolete and it should be dispensed with. In any one year there is plenty of time between June and Annual Conference to assess rule change proposals from CLPs and TUs. The rule amendments should therefore be considered by Annual Conference in the year in which they are submitted – as set out in our recommended rule change.
3. Remove the arbitrary criterion of ‘contemporary’ in relation to annual conference motions
The Labour Party Rule Book 2016 (page 13), Chapter 3 Party Conference, Clause III (Procedural rules for Party Conference), Conference Rule 2 – Agenda, Sub-clause C reads as follows:
‘All affiliated organisations, the ALC, Young Labour and CLPs may submit one contemporary motion which is not substantially addressed by reports of the NEC or NPF to Conference. The CAC shall determine whether the motions meet these criteria and submit all motions received to a priorities ballot at the start of conference. The ballot will be divided into two sections. One section for CLPs and one section for trade unions and other affiliated organisations. At least the four priorities selected by CLPs will be time-tabled for debate, as will at least the first four priorities selected by Trade Unions and other affiliated organisations. Motions must be in writing, on one subject only and in 250 words or less. Alternatively, a constitutional amendment on one subject only may be submitted in writing. Contemporary motions and constitutional amendments must be received by the General Secretary at the offices of the party by the closing date determined by the NEC.’
First sentence: delete ‘contemporary’ and delete ‘which is not substantially addressed by reports of the NEC or NPF to Conference.’ And replace the latter with ‘on a matter of policy, campaigning or party organisation and finance’. Second sentence: delete ‘determine whether the motions meet these criteria and’.
Last sentence: delete ‘contemporary’.
CLPs have precious little scope to influence decision-making at annual conference and the right to submit a single ‘contemporary motion’ is one of their most important opportunities. Indeed, this lack of real influence is a major factor why less and less CLPs are sending delegates to conference.
Unfortunately the arbitrary criterion of ‘contemporary’ is not only not properly defined, but it is unnecessarily restrictive. It lends itself to being used by the platform to rule out controversial issues that the Party establishment would prefer not to see on the conference agenda. But in a democratic party, annual conference (the Party’s sovereign body) should have the right to discuss all subjects which CLPs and affiliated organisations consider are important. There should be no artificial barriers on this right. CLPs and unions should therefore have the right to submit whatever subject their members consider important. The original Partnership into Power proposals made it clear that motions on campaigning and party organisation were permissible. The above rule change spells this out.
4. A new Local Government Committee structure (instead of the existing Local Campaign Forum)
The Labour Party Rule Book 2016 Chapter 12 Rules for Labour Party Local Campaign Forums, Clause 4 Membership (page 44):
Delete all and insert new sub-clauses as follows:
- The membership of the LGC shall consist 75% of delegates from the local CLP(s) and 25% from affiliates. At least 50% of delegates from each group shall be women.
- Additionally, CLP campaign co-ordinators shall be ex officio members of the LGC. Any sitting MP, AM, MSP, MEP, PCC and / or PPC may attend their LGC. Where a Co-operative Party council exists for the area concerned and they sponsor candidates in local elections they shall be entitled to appoint a member to the LGC.
- The LGC shall meet at least four times per year with representatives of the Labour group where one exists.
Consequential amendments – elsewhere replace LCF by LGC
The introduction of Local Campaign Forums, following the ‘Refounding Labour’ process in 2011, has not been a success. In many parts of the country LCFs meet irregularly, do not provide an adequate forum for consultation and debate on local government policy, and do not organise sufficient campaigning activity.
Reinstating Local Government Committees, with defined representation for CLPs and affiliates, and regular meetings, would improve on this situation.
5. A democratic Young Labour
The Labour Party Rule Book 2016 Chapter 11 Rules for Young Labour, Clause V Structure (page 39):
Add at end after Sub-clause 3, a new Sub-clause 4 as follows:
‘Young Labour shall have its own constitution and standing orders, to be determined by the Young Labour AGM’
The rule would clarify how Young Labour works, increase its autonomy and stop the organisation being beholden to Labour Party staff’s interpretation of the rulebook. Much of the current rules simply say that the NEC will determine how Young Labour works as it sees fit, with no concrete rules to govern the organisation The purpose of this rule change is to make Young Labour AGM into the sovereign body of the organisation. Self-organisation and democracy are crucial to making a youth organisation that can be really attractive to young people. An organisation where all the important decisions are made by distant bodies cannot foster the democratic spirit that we want in our youth movement; nor will it be convincing to young people wanting to be involved in politics.