Mandatory selection on the agenda at 2018 conference

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The current process of ‘trigger ballots’ is far from adequate to choose our representatives. We believe that any such ‘checks and balances’ should be abolished. Members should have the right to easily chose who should represent them and their constituency. We need a system of true mandatory selection. Quite simply, everybody who wants to stand as MP (including the sitting MP), should have to put themselves forward to the local membership who should decide in a democratic and transparent vote.

Two rule change motions that would introduce such mandatory selection of MPs have been voted through CLPs in time for conference 2017 – but in accordance with one of the plethora of undemocratic clauses in the LP rule book, these procedural motions are then ‘parked’ for almost 14 months before they can be finally discussed by delegates at the 2018 conference. (Note, a motion from Filton & Bradley, Stoke and Newport West to this year’s conference proposes to do away with this crassly anti-democratic rule. Absolutely correct!)

International Labour (20% or 771 members voted: 62% for, against 38%)

Reform to the selection procedure for Westminster Parliamentary Candidates

Suggested Rule Change to Chapter 5: Selections, rights and responsibilities of candidates for elected public office; Clause IV Selection of Westminster parliamentary candidates

Replace Clause IV.5 and IV.6 with the following:

“5. Following an election for a Parliamentary constituency the procedure for selection of Westminster Parliamentary Candidates shall be as follows:

  1. If the CLP is not represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than six weeks after the election and complete no later than 12 months after the election.
  2. If a CLP is represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, then a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than 36 months and complete no later than 48 months after the election. The sitting Member of Parliament shall be automatically included on the shortlist of candidates, unless they request to retire or resign from the PLP.
  3. The CLP Shortlisting Committee shall draw up a shortlist of interested candidates to present to all members of the CLP who are eligible to vote in accordance with Clause I.1.A above.”

Consequential amendments to be made elsewhere in the Rule Book where the ‘trigger ballot’ is mentioned.

Supporting argument

5.A:

We need to ensure candidates are in place in case of by-elections or snap elections, and to allow the candidate time to spend getting to know the CLP, the local issues and joining local campaigns. The timetable should be sufficiently flexible to ensure adequate time for political reflection following a defeat in the constituency, while responsive enough to get the campaign up and running early.

5.B:

  1. a) Most members interact with the broader electorate daily. It consists of their family, neighbours, and workmates. Members know what they think and can reach them with convincing arguments. Many in leading positions acknowledged after the 2017 General Election that they were out of touch, and this must be respected. Mandatory reselection will prevent future mistakes, and the internecine strife these mistakes resulted in. Necessary differences of opinion can be discussed freely, without being institutionalised in inflexible unrepresentative structures. Our Party can unite in a common struggle to improve society.
  2. b) Being an MP was never a job. It is about democratically representing the electorate, and leaving when one no longer does that. The general election in 2015 showed there are no safe Labour seats (see Scotland), the 2017 election that there are no safe Conservative seats (Kensington and Canterbury). The Labour party can no longer afford to have any MPs, who drift away from being representatives. Mandatory reselection is the most effective way of ensuring that.
  3. c) Mandatory reselection reduces the perception that reselection is motivated by hostility towards a sitting MP. By normalising the practice for all, including the most popular MPs, reselection is an opportunity for candidates to defend their record, outline their vision and debate alternatives with their membership. Most sitting MPs should easily win reselection, strengthen their position and increase their support within the CLP. It is an opportunity for the CLP to discuss policy and priorities and to develop a local strategy on which to campaign.
  4. d) The weakness of the present reselection procedure is that it exhausts members, who can only contribute to election campaigning in their spare time. It shifts the balance of power to those who can use their work- time to campaign. It is as if one would first have a referendum (without universal individual suffrage) to see if a majority wants a general election. If anybody attempted to introduce such a system, it would be understood this puts a ball-and-chain on democracy. Mandatory resection would remove this hindrance to full democracy within the Labour party, and thereby in society as a whole.

 

Rochester and Strood CLP

The Labour Party Rule Book 2017 Chapter 5: Selections, rights and responsibilities of candidates forelected public office; Clause IV Selection of Westminster parliamentary candidates; subclause 5

Replace paragraphs (A) and (B) by the following:

‘A. If the sitting MP wishes to stand for re-election the standard procedures for the selection of a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate shall be set in motion not later than 42 months after the last time the said Member of Parliament was elected to Parliament at a general election and before any scheduled or “snap” general election. The said Member of Parliament shall have equal selection rights to other potential candidates save for those outlined in paragraph.

B. The said Member of Parliament shall have the right to be included (irrespective of whether he/she has been nominated) on the shortlist of candidates from whom the selection of the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate shall be made.’

Consequential amendments to be made elsewhere in the Rule Book where the ‘trigger ballot’ is mentioned.

Supporting argument

Labour MPs are not independents, solely elected by their constituents. They are selected by the Labour Party and benefit from Labour funds, national party campaigning, local members on the ground etc. As such they should be accountable to the party and in particular to local members before each election.

Many Party members are now of the view that some Labour MPs take insufficient account of the views of their CLP and of Annual Conference, our Party’s sovereign body. One reason for this is that adequate mechanisms of accountability are non-existent in our Party. Effectively, a Labour MP in a ‘safe’ seat has a ‘job for life’ – well into their 80s in some cases. Indeed, some Labour MPs in Scotland clearly took this view until, of course, ‘safe’ Labour seats ceased to exist north of the border. There was one well- documented case of a Labour MP who had not been out canvassing for some 20 years. And it was not only in Scotland – in South Shields CLP, when David Miliband left, the marked-up register was found to be a mere 0.3%.

You will see that our proposed rule change makes provision for the sitting MP to automatically to be on the selection list if s/he wishes.