Tag Archives: CLPD

Red Pages, Tuesday September 26 2017

In this issue:

  • Anti-Semitism witch-hunt: Conference fights back!
  • Interview with Jackie Walker
  • Labour First: Over the top … again
  • Mandatory selection: essential democratic demand

Click here
to download the September 26 issue in PDF format

Anti-Semitism witch-hunt: Conference fights back!

As Jonathan Rosenhead and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi note in Labour Briefing, “there is something relentless about the pressure on the Labour Party to be nicer to Israel and more inhospitable to its critics.”

Thus, it has been very encouraging to see delegates at this year’s conference push back against that “relentless” (and utterly cynical) pressure from the right. Fringe meetings organised by ‘Free Speech on Israel’ and ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’ were packed out, as was Jackie Walker’s show ‘The Lynching’. Comrade Wimborne-Idrissi (a member of the new ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’) made an impassioned pro-Palestinian speech at conference yesterday and deservedly got a standing ovation when she concluded with “The Labour Party does not have a problem with Jews”. She clearly spoke for the overwhelming majority in the hall.

The comrade mentioned that the National Policy Forum’s international document had been updated, after Palestine campaigners had noticed a glaring omission. The election manifesto called for an end to Israel’s blockade, illegal occupation and settlements. But these basic demands had been dropped, as had the pledge that “A Labour government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine”.

Presumably, this would have overridden the election manifesto. But after pressure from anti-Zionist campaigners (possibly Jeremy Corbyn himself?), it was put back into the NPF document by the CAC to avert a major controversy at conference itself. Excellent.

The same kind of pressure should be put on the NEC’s new compromise formulation on ‘prejudice and hate’, to be discussed on Tuesday morning. The Jewish Labour Movement’s fingerprints are all over this compromise and we hear that they are lobbying Corbyn and the NEC to be allowed to help write the new code of conduct. The JLM hopes this will enshrine the controversial ‘Working Definition of Anti-Semitism’ into our rulebook. This conflates anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and has been widely criticised.

Unfortunately, the NEC compromise is a deliberate fudge to appease the right. The response of Corbyn and his close allies to crude mendacious ‘anti-Semitism’ charges against the left has been disappointing. They seem to believe that the saboteurs can been pacified and ‘party unity’ consolidated by giving ground on this issue. This is dangerously naive. The outcome of the Chakrabarti enquiry showed the opposite to be true. The witch-hunters’ appetites grow in the eating.

But conference has shown that the wider membership has no interest in appeasing those determined to destabilise Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – as the standing ovation for Naomi dramatically illustrated.

protest Jackie

Jackie Walker says…

Jewish anti-Zionist campaigner Jackie Walker, suspended from the Labour Party, talked to Red Pages ahead of her widely praised show ‘The Lynching’. This was staged with much secrecy on Monday night in Brighton

Things are clearly changing in the party. So, are you expected to be reinstated anytime soon? 

I don’t expect it to change soon, no. I’ve been told by somebody in the know that it could be another year before my case comes up. It will now involve a number of barristers on the Labour Party side and my solicitor. They have got to get their papers together. The state of the papers that were sent to the NEC was so appalling that they would be in bad trouble if they were distributed in a similar state again. It will take them some time to get it together.

You have been suspended for a year now; surely this cannot go on indefinitely? 

You’re right; this is an outrage. My solicitor will probably have to make some kind of application under national justice soon. But there are others who have been suspended longer than me – and they don’t even know what they have been suspended for! And this is all happening on the watch of general secretary Iain McNicol.

You took part in yesterday’s protest urging McNicol to go. 

Yes, but he is just one person. I think we need an overhaul of the whole disciplinary process, to ensure that it is not so easily manipulated for political interest. You would have to be a fool not to believe that behind the anti-Semitism witch hunt and the expulsions and suspensions of members is a political ideology.

Are you hopeful that so-called Corbyn review will look at these issues?

Oh yes, because if we keep the current structures we will be embroiled in this kind of nonsense forever. The data protection agency ICO had so many complaints about the Labour Party disciplinary process that enquiries now take three months to be answered – it was two weeks until recently.

What are your thoughts on Iain McNicol awarding the Del Singh memorial price for ‘best practice for a members-led affiliate’ to the Jewish Labour Movement?

It is very unfortunate. This award was established to honour a man who was a real supporter of the Palestinians. Del Singh would be turning in his grave. As I understand it, it’s the Conference Arrangements Committee that decides who wins the prize, so this just shows how right wing the outgoing CAC is. In terms of the JLM’s “best practice”, I have to remind people that this was the organisation that has allowed their official to make a secret film during a training session at last year’s conference, then sent it to the media – a provocation which got me suspended, of course.

You are a supporter of Jewish Voice for Labour, which had its inaugural meeting last night here in Brighton. 

It is a travesty that the Jewish Labour Movement, a Zionist grouping, is the only recognised Jewish voice in Labour. You can bend numbers as much as you want, but there are many, many Jewish members of the Labour Party who are not Zionists and we need to have a voice too.

Are you trying to affiliate to the Labour Party?

It takes time before an organisation can affiliate. I think first of all we’re trying to grow our numbers. We are having a very positive response and I would urge everybody to get involved in the organisation. You don’t have to be Jewish to become a supporter – though you can’t be a full member unless you’re Jewish.

I hear Tony Greenstein hasn’t been allowed to join? Barring people is not a very good start…

My personal view is that this should not have happened, but I am not a member of the executive.

Is the party too broad a church?

I believe in free speech. If you have Zionists in the Labour Party, they should be able to give their view. People should be able to hear both sides. Progress, Labour First – they have the right to speak. But they should not be allowed to shut down debate and silence opinions that they don’t agree with. The party is changing, but this censorship is still going on.

Labour First: Over the top … again

A first-time delegate from Wales gave his impressions of this year’s conference to a Red Pages distributor. He observed that the right was “near invisible, low key and shoddy looking”.

That just about sums up the 2017 ‘moderate left’ line-up that we have come across. We have reported the slightly weird attack on our comrades who attended the Labour First rally on Sunday. The two comrades we sent along to flood the event were blasted as “Stalinists” and subjected to a stern telling off for their adherence to the “hate filled ideology” of Marxism.

Monday’s new bulletin from our temperate friends has a very odd, over-the-top and laughably ignorant rant against the “cynical Leninists” who have wormed their way into the party. The majority of the Corbyn intake is just “a bit naïve”. Marxists, on the other hand, are “bullies”; fans of “secret police goons”; fetishists for “the violence of the Russian revolution” and South American “authoritarianism” and people who are “happy to impose political change through violent revolution”.

You get the idea. We’re definitely off their Xmas card list.

But then, shit is water-soluble – it washes off pretty easily. This idiotic rant is only worth noting for one thing – it illustrates that the right is under pressure, feels its grip on the party slipping away and it simply hasn’t got the politics to argue cogently against the left – Marxist or otherwise. LPMers confidently expect that LF types will refuse to even talk about these issues when we approach them; to just brush Marxists aside as irrelevant. Although, we note, not too irrelevant to spend well over 500 words maligning us.

They’re on the run, comrades!

Mandatory selection: essential democratic demand

MPs, like all our reps, must be under democratic control from above, by the NEC; from below by the CLPs. Unfortunately, this year’s conference will not hear any motions on the subject – though at least two have been submitted to the 2018 conference. Whatever happens in Brighton, this is a key issue for the left and must be part of the ‘Corbyn review’.

Mandatory reselection terrifies the right. For decades, sitting Labour MPs enjoyed a job for life. They might visit their constituency once or twice a year, deliver a speech to the AGM and write the occasional letter to a local newspaper. Unless found guilty of an act of gross indecency, they could do as they pleased.

With the insurgent rise of Bennism that situation was challenged. The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy committed itself to the fight for mandatory reselection of MPs, finally agreed by the 1980 conference. What this saw, however, was not a Labour Party equivalent of the Paris Commune or the Russian soviets, as our friends in Progress foolishly warn on their website. There was no right to instant recall. Nevertheless, once in each parliament, our MPs had to get the endorsement of the local local party and trade union branches. Under Neil Kinnock, this was watered down and eventually today’s trigger ballot was introduced in the 1990s, which makes it significantly easier for MPs to defend their positions.

Clearly, this process is badly flawed. The ‘checks and balances’ that delay and complicate members ability to ‘sack’ the people who are meant to politically represent them and their constituency should be abolished. We need a system of true mandatory selection.

Two rule change motions (from International Labour and Rochester and Strood CLP) that would introduce this 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 motions have now been ‘parked’ for almost 14 months before they can be finally discussed by delegates at next year’s conference.

IL’s motion would delete any reference to ‘trigger ballots’ in the rule book and introduce a very simply system, where “The sitting Member of Parliament shall be automatically included on the shortlist of candidates, unless they request to retire or resign from the PLP. 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.”

This is very simple, very fair and eminently supportable!

Red Pages @ LP conference: Monday, September 25

Click here to download the September 25 issue of Red Pages in PDF format.

Articles in today’s issue:

  • Brexit: To debate or not to debate?
  • We need a positive vision for Europe, not a pro-business one
  • Protest against Iain McNicol
  • Labour First rally: all about Marxism
  • Conference Arrangements Committee: Death throes of the right
  • Success! NPF document on Israel/Palestine is amended

Brexit: To debate or not to debate?

Comrades should be wary of the ‘Labour Campaign for Free Movement’: many of its leading lights do notsupport the free movement of labour

If the anti-Semitism furore in the party has shown one thing, it illustrates that the developing fault lines between left and right in the party produce some strange configurations.

Conference has been seeing an odd debate/non-debate around Brexit. The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) and Momentum really did not want this thorny question discussed at conference and urged delegates not to choose the issue in Sunday’s priorities ballot. (This decides which ‘themes’ are allocated time for discussion).

The CLPD argued that, “it serves no purpose to debate the different views on Brexit at this stage. The NEC’s statement and the plenary session on Monday morning are quite enough at the moment. We should try and limit the damage the right can inflict upon conference”, as Barry Gray said at the CLPD fringe meeting on Saturday.

Ranged against them, you have the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (in formal terms, also on the left) who sided with none other than Labour First’s Luke Akehurst to urge delegates to vote in favour of a Brexit debate.

As a general principle, Marxists argue that organisations in the workers’ movement should be able to have frank and transparent discussions on any issue, even uncomfortable ones. Political differences should not be viewed as a problem per se. A thinking organisation will always have disputes, and it is almost always right to argue them out publicly.

We need to be concrete, however. Labour First and Akehurst wanted this issue discussed because they perceive Corbyn and the left are vulnerable on it. For instance, at the Labour First rally on Sunday, the CLP delegates in the audience were strongly urged to give their first vote in the priorities ballot to a debate on Brexit. Apart from any other considerations, it was given this importance by LF because Momentum is politically fractured on the issue, with deep disagreements between its “Stalinist” and “Trotskyist” factions. (LPM comrades who braved the wrath of the angry rightists at this gathering report that our organisation also warranted a few mentions from the platform. None complimentary – though we would have been mortally offended if any were, of course.)

So, the right has correctly identified Europe as one of Jeremy’s weak spots. While the Labour leader has been reasonably successful in simply standing back and giving the Tory government sufficient Brexit rope to hang itself, the Labour Party’s position is hardly coherent or convincing. Thus, Labour First, Progress and the whole rightwing gang in the party are jostling for a chance to attack Corbyn on the issue and show him up for the benefit of their allies in the yellow press. Concretely, therefore, the demand for a debate on Brexit is a rightwing tactic, another attempt to beat up Corbyn and his allies. 

Balance of forces

Thankfully, they have not succeeded: during Sunday’s priorities ballot, conference voted overwhelmingly to follow the advice given by CLPD and Momentum. Contemporary motions on Brexit will not be discussed, after that subject received 72,000 CLP votes. As a comparison: The NHS and housing received 187,000 votes each, social care 145,000 and the railways 120,000. This gives a useful snapshot of the balance of forces at this year’s conference. 

Mindful of this background, it may seem strange that an ostensibly left organisation like the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty should prioritise building a campaign (‘Labour Campaign for Free Movement’) that offers platforms to the likes of Tulip Siddiq (who in January resigned as a shadow minister following Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to impose a three-line whip on Labour MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50) and Clive Lewis MP, who has of course spoken out against free movement.

In response to Jeremy Corbyn stating publicly that he saw “no need” to curb immigration or impose more controls, Lewis said: “We have to acknowledge that free movement of labour hasn’t worked for a lot of people. It hasn’t worked for many of the people in this country, where they’ve been undercut, who feel insecure, who feel they’re not getting any of the benefits that immigration has clearly had in our economy.” 

Now, it would be foolish in the extreme to argue – in the manner of a sect like the Socialist Worker Party – that mass immigration always and everywhere brings unalloyed economic benefits and social harmony to indigenous working class communities. However, this in no way implies that we should oppose the right of working people to free movement; to be able to seek a life for themselves and their families in any part of the world they choose. 

Voluntary unity

The key is unity, won from below. We need to fight for the integration of migrants into the culture of struggle of a native working class (a reciprocal process of learning, of course), into common organisation and unity against our class enemies. 

This voluntary, combative unity is a million miles away from what the likes of Clive Lewis advocate when they call for obligatory union membership for migrant workers (as a precondition of their right to enter the country) to stop them “undercutting wages” – a proposal motivated, he admits, by his core concern to “have an impact on the number of people coming to this country”, to “make it more difficult for employers to bring people in” and thus to push companies to “begin to take people more often from this country”. Fairly bog-standard Brit nationalism masquerading as ‘internationalism’, in other words.

The very fact of the AWL’s involvement in the ‘Labour Campaign for Free Movement’ should set alarm bells ringing for Labour comrades. This is an organisation infamous for arguing against the right of Palestinian people to free movement – concretely the right to return to areas they were forcibly ejected from by the colonialist Israeli state.

Among their leaders are people who are happy to call themselves “Zionists” and this softness on reaction saw them support the purging of Jackie Walker as vice-chair of Momentum. Their ‘fellow traveller’ on the Labour Party NEC, Rhea Wholfson, voted to refer Jackie Walker’s case to Iain McNicol’s compliance unit – and happily speaks at meetings organised by the Jewish Labour Movement, an affiliate to the World Labour Zionist Movement, a loyal supporter of the state of Israel and home to many of those who have been so keen to save the Labour Party from its ‘unelectable’ leader.

This campaign needs to be given a very wide berth. As with every other issue and debate in the Labour Party these days, context is everything.


We need a positive vision for Europe, not a pro-business one

Keir Starmer has succeeded in getting the shadow cabinet to come out in favour of staying in the single market (though in an interview on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, Jeremy Corbyn seemed to backtrack somewhat from this again). Still, there remains a striking paradox. On Europe, Labour is articulating the interests of big capital. Not that big capital will reciprocate and back the Labour Party. It is, after all, led by Jeremy Corbyn: pro-trade union, pacifistic and a friend of all manner of unacceptable leftists.

For the sake of appearances, Keir Starmer pays lip service to the 2016 referendum result. There is no wish to alienate the minority of Labour voters who backed ‘leave’. More through luck than judgement, ambiguity served the party well during the general election campaign. The contradiction between Corbyn’s historical hostility towards the EU – now represented in the Commons by the Dennis Skinner-Kelvin Hopkins rump – and the mass of Labour’s pro-‘remain’ members and voters resulted in a fudge.

However, instead of getting embroiled in the argument about what is and what is not in the ‘national interest’ – eg, staying in the single market versus leaving the single market – Labour needs a class perspective. We should have no illusions in the European Union. It is a bosses’ club, it is by treaty committed to neoliberalism and it is by law anti-working class (note the European Court of Justice and its Viking, Laval and Rüffert judgements). But nor should we have any illusions in a so-called Lexit perspective.

On the contrary the EU should be seen as a site of struggle. We should aim to unite the working class in the EU in order to end the rule of capital and establish socialism on a continental scale. That would be the biggest contribution we can make to the global struggle for human liberation.


LPMers happily joined the 30 or so protestors outside Labour Party conference this morning to demand that general secretary Ian McNicol should resign (actually, he should be sacked!). Not only is McNicol responsible for the suspensions and expulsions of thousands of leftwing Labour Party members, he is also in the frame for attempts to sabotage Labour’s electoral challenge in June’s snap election. He and other right wingers were clearly hoping for a Labour result so dire that Jeremy Corbyn would have to fall on his sword. Thus, many CLPs were woefully under-resourced and a large number received not a single penny. (For example, Sheffield Hallam, where the pro-Corbyn left managed to oust Lib Dem luminary Nick Clegg and win the first ever Labour MP in the constituency, received precisely zip from either the region or HQ).

The rightwing response to the protest was predictable. Johanna Baxter expressed to conference her tremulous outrage at this protest and railed that a demo against “an employee of the party should not be allowed”. Deservedly, she was booed.

Of course, the issue wasn’t really Ian McNicol’s employment rights, but Baxter’s solidarity with his politics. Before she was booted off the NEC last year, she managed to use the then wafer-thin right wing majority on the NEC to push through changes to give Wales and Scotland two extra NEC seats. This was not prompted by democratic concerns around regional devolution. No, Baxter was confident that the vacancies would be filled by supporters of the right in the party.

Subsequently, of course, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has resigned and been replaced (temporarily) by leftwing deputy leader Alex Rowley. This produced a small left NEC majority. In turn, this was enough to push through the ‘Corbyn review’ and expand the CLP representation from six to nine, producing a leftwing majority on our leading body for the near future. Clearly, the right is in some pain. Happy days!

Labour First rally: all about Marxism

The crowd at the Labour First rally on Sunday afternoon was a pretty riled up bunch. Luke Akehurst and his mates are clearly feeling under pressure from left-wing delegates at this year’s Labour Party conference … and they are not handling the stress at all well. The chair launched an attack on LPM as “not real Labour” – unlike the rows of Tory-lite manikins in the hall, for whom genuine Labour principles are as expendable as autumn leaves. Furthermore, our very name is a “a contradiction in terms” – a short course in dialectics might clear up any confusion.

The ever-delightful John Mann MP scowled at our comrades, but didn’t deign to speak to them – presumably because there were no cameras nearby. However, he did prevail upon a minion to pick up a copy of the latest issue of Labour Party Marxists Bulletin.

Not surprisingly, given the general election result and Jeremy’s huge spike in popularity and profile, Luke Akehurst and his chums didn’t attack Corbyn directly. Instead, they concentrated their attacks on his supporters – the organised Corbynistas particularly. These were “Stalinists” who “fetishise military dictatorships” like Venezuela and Cuba. The June poll was run down, however – “We have even fewer seats than under Neil Kinnock”, Chris Leslie MP complained. He went on to illustrate his encyclopaedic ignorance of Marxism, which he dismissed as a “destructive, hate filled ideology”. In comments that must have shocked many in the audience, he also revealed that Marxism is “revolutionary” and wants to “overturn capitalism” (well spotted).

Akehurst suggested that the Labour Party should “purge the Anti-Semites” (for this, read “the left”) and “stand up to the bullies” (that is, “silence all criticism of the right”). Pretty classic -and pathetic – tactics of bureaucrats who are politically incapable of answering critics and are aware the game is moving away from them. For instance, in one of his more honest moments, Akehurst had to acknowledge that the right’s forces are now too weak to “stop the McDonnell amendment”.

Conference Arrangements Committee:
Death throes of the right

The Conference Arrangements Committee reported two records: there have never been so many delegates at Labour Party conference – almost 1,200. And over 1,000 of these are first timers. Of course, that reflects the tremendous sea change within the party. But it also presents the left with a problem. We have the numbers, but we do not have the organisation yet to halt the undemocratic shenanigans by the right.

Take the CAC, which is still dominated by the old guard. Their report on Sunday morning provoked angry responses from conference floor. Two disputed issues should really have led to votes being taken to refer the report back; but the left was not organised enough to see this challenge through.

First was the CAC’s sneaky move to provide time for London mayor Sadiq Khan to address conference, although this is clearly not within the CAC’s remit. The NEC had previously decided not to allow any of the city mayors to speak, to give more space for delegates to contribute. Once the CAC had made its invitation public, the NEC caved in, presumably for fear of media ridicule and scathing headlines. If Khan uses his allotted time to undermine Corbyn or belittle the scale of the party’s achievement in June, then we trust delegates will not be shy about voicing disapproval.

The other issue is related to the CAC’s implementation of last year’s rule change to allow the partial reference back of National Policy Forum documents. Any delegate can now challenge part of the NPF’s (extremely long-winded) documents and demand that the issue is revisited by the body. Of course, if the chair is happy with a challenge, s/he will simply “ask conference if the reference back is agreed”, as it says in the CAC report.

However, if the chair is not happy about the issue in dispute, then it will be up the person chairing that session to decide if a vote is conducted by show of hands or by a card vote.

The difference between the two is crucial. The unions and other affiliates have 300 delegates at conference, the CLPs have sent 1,200. But in a card vote, the affiliates’ vote counts for 50% of the total vote, ditto the CLPs’ vote (which is then further divided according to how many members a CLP has). Roughly, a union delegate’s vote counts four times as much as the vote of a CLP delegate – and that can make all the difference in a dispute.

This chair’s discretion over the format of voting is within the current rules, but normal practice in recent years – when it comes to reference back of a CAC report, composite motions etc – has been to allow any delegate to make a call for a card vote, which the chair is then obliged accept.

This posed almost no problem in the Blairite period of the party: real disputes were absent from conference floor, which had become a tedious, stage-managed affair. The election of Jeremy Corbyn has changed all that. Last year, a huge row broke out at conference over the NEC’s “reform package” that snuck in two additional NEC seats for the leaders of Welsh and Scottish Labour. Delegates were on their feet, shouting “card vote, card vote” – but the chair simply refused and declared that the hand vote had “clearly won”. In a card vote, the result would have gone the other way, as the unions were firmly against the addition of two right wingers.

This shows how important it is for the left to show its muscle in every party arena – including the middle layers of the party bureaucracy, of which the CAC is a part. Yes, Momentum and CLPD successfully campaigned for two leftwingers, Billy Hayes and Seema Chandwani, to be elected onto the committee by direct ballot of the membership. But the CAC is made up of seven members, five of whom will be elected by other methods. Therefore, we are not entirely confident that the left will actually be running next year’s conference.

Success! NPF document on Israel/Palestine is amended

The National Policy Forum is a relic of the dark days of Blairism; a body Blair established to outsource the party’s policy-making. When it published its dire, 90-page annual report in June, Palestine campaigners quickly noticed a glaring omission. The 2017 election manifesto called for an end to Israel’s blockade, illegal occupation and settlements. But these basic democratic demands had been dropped from the NPF document, along with the pledge that “A Labour government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine”.

Had conference supported this document, it would have overridden the pledges in the manifesto, as conference is – at least on paper – the sovereign decision-making body of the party. This omission was no ‘oversight’. Campaigners went into overdrive; LPM joined others calling on delegates to refer back this section of the document.

But page 14 of yesterday’s Conference Arrangements Committee report includes, without explanation, this small paragraph:
“The following text, as agreed in the Labour Party Manifesto 2017, is now included in the National Policy Forum Annual Report 2017. On page 56, column 2, line 43, add:

‘There can be no military solution to this conflict and all sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve. That means both an end to the blockade, occupation and settlements, and an end to rocket and terror attacks. Labour will continue to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations leading to a diplomatic resolution. A Labour government would immediately recognise the state of Palestine.’”

It is not the kind of programme we would write on the Middle East (there is clearly a tendency to equate the violence of the oppressor state Israel with the struggle of the oppressed Palestinian people – note the mention of “rocket attacks”). But a return to the original formulation is a victory against those (like the Jewish Labour Movement) who want us to take the side of the Israeli state. The fact that the JLM has perversely been given the ‘best practice award’ by Ian McNicol serves as a reminder of how well connected this organisation is to the party bureaucracy.

Red Pages @ LP conference: Sunday, September 24

Click here to download the September 24 issue of Red Pages in PDF format.

Articles in this issue:

  • Voting recommendation: today’s priorities ballot
  • ‘Corbyn review’: Now keep up the pressure
  • Vote against the NEC ‘compromise’ on anti-Semitism


Voting recommendation: today’s priorities ballot

Yesterday’s meeting of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy was so packed that a few dozen delegates were briefed on the lawn outside Friends’ House.  Barry Gray urged CLP delegates to vote for the following four thematic issues, so that they can be debated by conference throughout the week: Social care; NHS; Housing; Railyways.

The unions have already decided on the following four subjects, which means delegates should not vote for them, as they will be discussed anyway:

Growth & Investment; Public sector pay; workers rights; Grenfell. 

Comrade Gray explained that a staggering 185 ‘contemporary motions’ had been submitted by CLPs. As usual, about a third had been ruled ‘out of order’ – mainly because the motion was dealing with issues already “substantially covered” by the documents produced by the National Policy Forum (to which Tony Blair outsourced policy-making in the party). However, the NPF documents are incredibly vacuous and bland and, as comrade Gray said, the application of this rule tends to be “very flexible” – ie, the conference arrangements committee rules out whatever it likes. This means we will not be hearing motions on, for example, Saudi-Arabia, grammar schools, fracking and nuclear weapons.

While left-wingers Seema Chandwani and Billy Hayes have been elected onto next year’s CAC, this  year’s proceedings are unfortunately still dominated by a right-wing CAC. Incidentally, it was also this body that went well beyond its remit and offered  Sadiq Khan a speaking slot at conference, despite the NEC having previously decided against it.

We believe that conference should be the sovereign body of the party: The NPF should be abolished, as should the practice of “merging” all contemporary motions that fall into the same theme. The end result tends to be final motions that are so bland and uncontroversial that they really clarify nothing.



‘Corbyn review’: Now keep up the pressure
Labour’s NEC has opened the door for much-needed change – now the left needs to take advantage of that opening

Meeting on September 19, Jeremy Corbyn and his allies on the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) made good use of their wafer-thin left majority, which is down to the resignation of Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and her temporary replacement by leftwing deputy leader Alex Rowley.

The NEC agreed to put a ‘reform package’ to this year’s conference that sees a compromise on the so-called McDonnell amendment (see below) and, crucially, an increase in the number of NEC delegates from Constituency Labour Parties from six to nine, to be elected by the whole membership within the next three months. The unions will get one additional seat and, despite the fact that this seat will go to the ‘moderate’-led Usdaw union (which will take up the seat in three months’ time) it is looking good for the left. Even if (and that’s a big if) Labour Party members in Scotland vote for a rightwinger to replace Dugdale on the NEC, this leaves the left in a majority on the NEC, albeit a very slim one.

But the NEC is also proposing to conduct a review of party rules, to be led by Corbyn’s political secretary, Katy Clark. It is a shame that the NEC is strong-arming CLPs to withdraw all rule changes submitted, even those dealing with issues not covered by the ‘terms of reference’ of the review. An open and frank discussion on various issues like the leadership elections, and, of course, the various amendments moved on the question of the entirely fabricated ‘anti-Semitism scandal’ in the party would have been very useful, in our view (see page 3 of this issue).

Unhappy CLPs

We also hear that at least two of the CLPs who moved the original ’McDonnell amendment’ are refusing to remit their rule change. Currently, 15% of the “combined Commons members of the PLP and members of the EPLP” must nominate a candidate for leader or deputy leader of the party. The original rule change suggests reducing it to 5% per cent; the NEC compromise is 10%. In our view, it should actually be 0%. The relatively tiny numbers of Labour MPs and MEPs should not have any inbuilt constitutional right to thwart the democratic will of our mass membership!

We therefore urge delegates – if they get the chance – to vote for the original McDonnell amendment. It seems Corbyn and his allies on the NEC were forced to agree to the 10% compromise in order to get the increase of CLP reps onto the NEC through.

But if Momentum’s “survey”, which apparently shows that of the 1,155 delegates chosen by CLPs, 844 “back reforms proposed by Momentum”, is half-way correct, then we do have enough delegates to fight for a more serious change.

Temporary compromise

The “terms of reference” of the “Party Democracy Review”, which “will aim to produce a first report within 12 months”, includes a review of the method on how to elect the party leader (“including the role of registered supporters and the issue of nominating thresholds”) and the “composition of the NEC”. In other words, much of the compromise agreed at the September 19 NEC meeting is temporary. The battle is not yet won.

This is, however, a watershed moment for the future of the party. The left must make sure that it uses this review to full advantage, pushing for the kind of changes needed to transform it into a real party of the working class. The review could easily become a pseudo-democratic exercise, where thousands of people send in their blue-sky thoughts and we end up with another compromise between the left and the right. This is, of course, the way the national policy forum (to which Tony Blair outsourced policy-making in the party) currently works. The NPF report produced in time for this year’s conference is truly atrocious – full of waffle about the wonderful “process” employed in compiling it, but devoid of any concrete policies.

Unfortunately, judging from Jeremy Corbyn’s performance so far, we are not hopeful that he is prepared to fight for some of the reforms that are urgently needed to transform Labour into real party of the working class. Corbyn’s method of operation is still characterised by the ill-conceived attempt to appease the right in order to win some kind of ‘party unity’. But the right, with the energetic aid of the bourgeois media, will not rest until they get rid of him (and the entire left). It is high time he came out fighting – and the left needs to push him along in this fight to transform the Labour Party.

Meaningful reforms

ï All elected Labour representatives must be subject to mandatory selection based on ‘one member, one vote’. MPs must be brought under democratic control.

ï We need a sovereign conference once again. The cumbersome, undemocratic and oppressive structures, especially those put in place under the Blair supremacy, must be rolled back. The joint policy committee, the national policy forums, etc, must go.

• Scrap the Compliance Unit “and get back to the situation where people are automatically accepted for membership, unless there is a significant issue that comes up” (John McDonnell). We say, allow in those good socialists who have been barred, reinstate those good socialists who have been expelled or suspended.

• Winning new trade union affiliates ought to be a top priority. The FBU has re-affiliated, the RMT is in the process of doing so. But we should also fight for the NUT, PCS, NUJ and others to join.

• We need to remake every branch, every constituency – only then can we sweep out the right from the NEC, the HQ, the councils and the PLP. Elect officers who support genuine socialism and who are committed to transforming all LP units into vibrant centres of socialist organisation, education and action.

• Our goal should be to transform the Labour Party, so that, in the words of Keir Hardie, it can “organise the working class into a great, independent political power to fight for the coming of socialism”. The left, communist and revolutionary parties should be able to affiliate. As long as they do not stand against us in elections, this can only strengthen us as a federal party.

• Being an MP ought to be an honour, not a career ladder. A particularly potent weapon here is the demand that all our elected representatives should take only the average wage of a skilled worker – a principle upheld by the Paris Commune and the Bolshevik revolution. Let them keep the average skilled worker’s wage – say £40,000 (plus legitimate expenses). They should hand the balance over to the party.



Vote against the NEC ‘compromise’ on anti-Semitism

The Jewish Labour Movement claims its rule change has been adopted by the Labour Party NEC. That’s not the whole truth – and the left has to be very vigilant

The Guardian (September 18) claimed that Corbyn would be “backing” a Jewish Labour Movement-motivated rule change to this year’s Labour Party conference. This was a real worry: The JLM is an affiliate to the World Labour Zionist Movement, a loyal supporter of the state of Israel and home to many rightists in our party who have been keen to deliver the Labour Party from its ‘unelectable’ leader.

The next day, the Jewish Chronicle happily reported that the Labour Party’s NEC had “unanimously” passed the JLM’s proposal. However, leftwing NEC member Darren Williams wrote on social media that  the NEC approved a “rule change on dealing with prejudiced views and behaviour that avoided the more draconian approach favoured by the Jewish Labour Movement”.

So, what’s what?

Well, that depends on who you ask and what you ask them. Clearly, the JLM’s fingerprints are all over the NEC compromise formulation. The Jewish Chronicle quotes “a spokesman of Corbyn” passing on Jeremy’s “thanks all those involved with drafting this motion, including the Jewish Labour Movement and Shami Chakrabarti.”

It is also true, however, that the original JLM motion was not accepted. One of the key aspects of the original motion was rejected: the JLM wanted a “hate incident” to be “defined as something where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity, or sexual orientation” (our emphasis).

This was a clumsy JLM attempt to hijack the recommendations of the MacPherson report, established after the killing of Stephen Lawrence. This found the police to be “institutionally racist” and went on to recommend that when the victim or someone else feels an attack or hate incident is racially motivated, the police are obligated to record it as such and frame their investigation within these parameters.

So, there’s no question that JLM has failed in its attempt to lodge in the party rules the notion that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic. The NEC formulation requires some concrete evidence on “any incident which in their [the NEC’s] view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice”. The JLM also failed in its attempt to enable the disciplining of members for comments or actions made in “private” – a truly Orwellian proposal.

If it had been successful, this motion would have handed Iain McNicol and the Compliance Unit a devastatingly effective witch-hunting app, to be used of course against the left: members could have been punished for what others perceived to be their motivation for specific comments or actions, not what was said or done.

Why a ‘No’ vote

Yes, the worst excesses of the JLM motion have been removed. But the fact remains that the NEC – and Corbyn – now seem to implicitly accept the premise that Labour does have some sort of chronic anti-Semitism malady to be addressed. This is palpably untrue.

The response of Corbyn and his close allies to the flurry of crudely mendacious ‘anti-Semitism’ charges against the left has been deeply disappointing. Clearly, the belief in these leading circles is that rightwing saboteurs can been pacified and ‘party unity’ consolidated by giving ground to them on this issue. This is dangerously naive. The outcome of the Chakrabarti enquiry showed the opposite to be true. The witch-hunters’ appetites grow in the eating.

This is why – despite the fact that we recognise the healthy motivations of the comrades – we would also oppose the Hastings & Rye amendment stipulating that all accusations of anti-Semitism be based on concrete factual evidence. Implicitly, it still concedes too much to the falsehood that Labour has a serious problem with prejudice in the first place. But we understand why many delegates will probably vote for it, if given the chance: we hear the CLP has refused to remit their rule change.

First up, we should remember that the party already has sufficient powers to discipline members actually guilty of anti-Semitic comments or actions. Their vexatious nature aside, the suspensions of Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Naz Shah and others clearly demonstrate this. The rulebook has lengthy sections on the disciplinary measures available to the NEC.

Further, the NEC compromise accepts the JLM’s suggestion that the following sentence in the rule book needs amending: “The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions.” The JLM wanted to expand this sentence to include “except in instances involving anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or racism.”

The NEC compromise now reads: “The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions, except in any instance inconsistent with the Party’s aims and values, agreed codes of conduct, or involving prejudice towards any protected characteristic.”

This formulation could still see party members disciplined for holding what are perceived to be prejudicial views – even without them acting on or articulating them publicly. What would be the basis for conviction? A hunch? Telepathy? Are we perhaps talking about petitions you have signed or Facebook posts you have ‘liked’? This formulation is wide open to abuse – it all depends on who looks at the rules, who interprets them for what purpose.

The NEC compromise also references “codes of conduct”. Again, these already abound in the Labour Party: Last year, our leading committee published a ‘Social Media Code of Conduct’; there is a code of conduct for “membership recruitment and retention” and there is one solely for the “selection of local government candidates”. Even the Parliamentary Labour Party has agreed on a set of “pledges” to facilitate its good behaviour. (We eagerly await the first evidence of its success.)

Notwithstanding this, it seems we might now have another ‘code’ to look forward to – on “hostility and prejudice”. Rumours circulate that a bone thrown to the JLM is the undertaking that some of its original draconian formulations could be shoe-horned into this new code of conduct. Word also reaches us that the JLM might be pushing for the controversial ‘Working Definition of Anti-Semitism’ produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance to be included in the new conduct protocols. The short IHRA definition is designed to conflate and confuse anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and has been criticised by many anti-Zionist campaigners.

No anti-Semitism problem?

Of course, there are a minuscule number of individual members who hold anti-Semitic views – most of whom you would expect to find on the party right,  by the way. Labour is not some chemically pure ideological sect of a few hundred acolytes. We are a mass movement and therefore, to varying levels, may find in our ranks trace elements of irrational minority prejudices that exist in wider society. The party – or, more specifically, the Labour left – has no more of an institutional anti-Semitism ‘problem’ than we have a problem with paranoid notions that 9/11 was an inside job or that shape-shifting space lizards run the world.

Clearly, the scale of the ‘scandal’ that broke over members in 2016 (and still reverberates) is in inverse proportion to the real size of the problem itself. Even at the height of the feverish hunt for ‘anti-Semites’, the NEC only ‘identified’ and took action against a grand total of 18 members. Quite a few (like MP Naz Shah) were fully reinstated. Others, like Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker, should be fully reinstated – nothing they said was even vaguely anti-Semitic.

Sections of the right of the party have attempted to rebrand as ‘anti-Semitism’ even the discussion of some sensitive but accurate facts of Zionism’s relationship with the early Nazi regime or the left’s critical stance on the Israeli state’s savage oppression of the Palestinian people.

The latter is a particularly smart move on behalf the witch-hunters. With a few dishonourable exceptions, the Labour left is highly critical of the Israeli state’s ongoing colonial/expansionist oppression of the Palestinians and the appalling discrimination, displacement and denial of basic democratic rights that go with it. However, it is a crude and transparently false conclusion to draw from this that the left wishes to see the poles of oppression simply reversed. There are different strategic approaches amongst comrades in solidarity with the Palestinian people (a single secular state, two viable state formations, etc). But a common theme is the need for democratic consent of these two peoples to live side by side, sharing equal, substantive democratic rights. In other words, the left in the party is overwhelmingly anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic.

These two very distinct categories have been conflated for the most contemptible of reasons. In the struggle between the left and right for the soul of the party, ‘anti-Semitism’ has been “weaponised”, as Chris Williamson MP quite rightly put it. It has been a successful tool in the drawn-out campaign to destabilise Jeremy Corbyn. Historically, Corbyn has been an ardent supporter of Palestinian rights. We are not so sure where he stands now. It is probably fair to say that his stance has become more ‘flexible’.

We sincerely hope he has not come around to the viewpoint of the National Policy Forum. The NPF is recommending a document this year that would dramatically alter the party’s position on Israel/Palestine. The 2017 election manifesto called for an end to Israel’s blockade, illegal occupation and settlements. But these basic democratic demands have been dropped, along with the pledge that “A Labour government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine”.

We urge delegates to vote against the NEC compromise and to reference back the NPF international document. They come before conference on Tuesday.

LP conference voting guide: Life-long bans and significant silences

Unfortunately, Momentum’s 2017 Rule change guide for this year’s Labour Party conference simply ignores the controversial motions around the weaponised issue of anti-Semitism. In fact, it is vital that these three motions sponsored by the Jewish Labour Movement are voted down, says Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists

This LPM voting guide deals with all rule changes submitted by Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) before conference in 2016. In accordance with one of the plethora of undemocratic clauses in the LP rule book, these procedural motions were then ‘parked’ for almost 14 months before they can be finally discussed by delegates at this year’s conference. (Note, motion 12 from Filton & Bradley, Stoke and Newport West proposes to do away with this crassly anti-democratic rule. Absolutely correct!)

Not every motion published in the Addendum to the 2016 delegate’s report will make it to conference floor. Some have already been implemented by the NEC, some might be ruled out of order by the Conference Arrangements Committee and/or the NEC meeting on September 19. The final, detailed agenda and all motions will only be published a few short days before conference and might well contain a package of clumsy compromise ‘reforms’.

For example, there is talk of the ‘McDonnell amendment’ (no:14 in our list below), being tweaked so that any future candidate for LP leader or deputy leader would need nominations from 10% of the “the combined Commons members of the PLP and members of the EPLP”. Currently, the threshold stands at 15%. The original motion below suggests reducing it to 5% per cent.

In our view, it should be 0%. The relatively tiny numbers of Labour MPs and MEPs should not have any inbuilt constitutional right to thwart the democratic will of our mass membership!

If Corbyn and his allies on the NEC opt for this 10% ‘compromise’, it may be prompted by uncertainty about the political balance at conference – despite Luke Akehurst and the mainstream media suggesting that the left will score important victories in Brighton.

So, the battle lines are clearly draw up, but the actual balance of forces remains blurry. Lukehurst could be reducing expectations on the right with his downbeat comments. This wing of our party is fighting hard to keep its hold over the party apparatus – but its supporters are painfully aware they constitute a minority amongst the grassroots membership. In addition, many CLPs have chosen pro-Corbyn supporters as representatives and have filled their whole quota of delegates with left-wingers. But it’s not a done deal, however. There are also reports of many more CLPs where the right has again cited the “financial burdens” of sending more than one delegate – ‘and, hey, why not send our experienced [read, “rightwing” – CR] comrade X, who represented us in previous years, knows the score at conference…”, etc, etc?

Indeed, if we consider the rule changes as an indicator of the balance of forces in the party, then a clear victory for the left is far from certain. It is remarkable how few progressive, left-wing amendments have been submitted – and how tame they are. Yes, this is partially explained by the 14 months delay, which means we have a snapshot of where our party was over a year ago, not how it looks now. But there’s no doubt that the motions are also a reflection of the fact the left is still playing catch-up with the huge challenges presented to us by the election of a left-wing leader and a mass influx of a left-leaning new membership – some two years after these historic opportunities landed in our laps.

Bluntly put, we are still woefully unprepared and unorganised.

Momentum played a very effective mobilising role in the general election. However, its leader Jon Lansman – and Jeremy Corbyn, for that matter – clearly have no coherent plan for a root and branch political transformation of the Labour Party. The organisation deserves credit for publishing some useful guides to and information on the 2017 conference. (With the partial qualification that its most useful sections have already been covered by NEC member Pete Wilsman’s excellent overview, published last year and which is still available on the website of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.) Momentum’s generally useful contribution has a very loud, symptomatic silence, however – it has nothing to say on the energetic witch-hunt against the left in the party, under the banner of purging of ‘anti-Semitism’ in our ranks. This finds reflection in three rule changes submitted to conference – and the fact that the National Policy Forum wants to end Labour’s opposition to the occupation of Palestine (see Tony Greenstein’s article in Weekly Worker September 7).

There must be no bowing to this foul provocation against the left of the party, or equivocation on the defence of comrades who are caught in the net of the witch hunters.

Motions to oppose

The Momentum 2017 Rule change guide lists six motions that delegates should support (copied from CLPD and LPM) – and only two that should be opposed. Both of those deal with the anti-Corbyn attempt of removing the category of ‘registered supporters’ (who paid £3 and £25 respectively to have a vote in the leadership elections) and ‘affiliated supporters’ (ie, union members and members of affiliated societies). Of course, LPM also opposes these two motions (there are actually three: the Momentum office seems to have forgotten about motion no 1 from Kingswood). You can bet your bottom dollar that neither of the movers of these motions are concerned about the ‘power of the fully paid up Labour Party member’ – this is all about reducing the power of the unions, Jeremy Corbyn and avoiding the possibility that he could be replaced by a fellow left-winger.

But there are far worse motions among the 23 submitted – and they have been composed in exactly the same anti-Corbyn spirit. Motions 3, 4 and 6, all are clearly motivated by the entirely fabricated “anti-Semitism scandal” in the party. Motion 4 from Finchley & Golders Green is the worst of the lot. It proposes a life-long membership ban on anybody who is deemed to have engaged “in conduct which is motivated by hostility or prejudice based on gender; sexual identity; ethnicity or faith; age or disability; or other personal characteristic”. Such a person “shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member” [our emphasis]. And how can you possibly disprove that you were “motivated by hostility or prejudice”? This proposed rule change is incredibly open to abuse.

Ditto motion no 3, which defines a “hate incident” as “as something where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity, or sexual orientation” [our emphasis]. This formulation basically does away with the need for any evidence. Somebody thinks you were motivated by something nasty – bingo, that’s your expulsion letter in the post.

Motion 6 has been submitted by, among others, the Jewish Labour Movement. It uses the same formulations as the two motions above – ie, it is up to the “victim or anyone else” to charge somebody successfully with Anti-Semitism or related crimes. Hard evidence is not needed, feelings will suffice. The person charged is guilty until they can prove their innocence. In addition though, the motions also singles out “anti-Semitism (and ‘cleverly’, Islamophobia and racism) as being above the right to express opinions. Their full proposal would read: “The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions, except in instances involving antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism” [we emphasise the JML’s proposed amendment]. Coupled with the proposal to remove any need for evidence, this is a truly anti-democratic motion and a bureaucrat’s wet dream.

Why is Momentum not saying anything on these truly atrocious motions? Unfortunately, Jon Lansman – who since his coup of January 2017 rules Momentum’s national office like an absolute monarch – has been a willing accomplice in the witch-hunt by the right in the party, in the mistaken belief that by not ‘attacking’ them, they might eventually rally behind Jeremy Corbyn.

Also, Lansman, rather ironically, is politically rather close to the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty when it comes to their definition of Anti-Zionism: basically anybody who criticises the actions of the state of Israel. Lansman famously threw Jackie Walker to the wolves when he had her removed as vice-chair of Momentum and then drew up a constitution which bars from Momentum membership all those thrown out of the Labour Party – for example, for the ‘crime’ of having been or being a member of another political group (like the AWL or Left Unity).

And just like the CLPD, Momentum has, at least for the time being, given up its fight for mandatory selection of MPs. And that despite the fact that the CLPD (with its member Jon Lansman playing a leading role at the time) fought for this rule change for many decades – and eventually with success: From 1980 until the early 90s, a form of mandatory selection of MPs was enshrined in the rule book. Noticeably, no constitutional motion on this subject has been submitted, despite all the debates on this subject in the last few years (though there is a slight chance that some of the contemporary motions submitted might touch on the subject – we’ll know after the NEC meeting of September 19. Also, at least a couple of motions on mandatory selection have been submitted in time for the 2018 conference). This shows how far we still have to go: the left is a long way away from the power it wielded even in the 1980s.

Motions to support

Among the motions that should be supported by delegates are, as already discussed, the so-called ‘McDonnell amendment’ (No 14). We also support motion 9 from Blackley & Broughton Exeter, which wants to do away with the restriction that CLPs can submit either a contemporary motion or a procedural motion, but not both. Motion 11 also wants to give more powers to the CLPs: it proposes that motions submitted are not automatically ruled out of order because they touch on a subject that is mentioned in the long documents produced by the National Policy Forum (to which Tony Blair has outsourced policy-making in the Labour Party). We also recommend a vote for motions 7 and 23, which seek to increase the money from membership fees allocated to CLPs (at the moment, they scrape by with an allocation of a measly £1.50 per member – per year!). There are a couple of other motions that deserve support.

Click here to read our voting recommendation in detail. We will produce more voting guides when the agenda and all motions have been finalised. They will be covered by our daily issue of Red Pages that we will upload online hand out at conference. We are keen to hear from delegates and observers – send your impressions, thoughts, observations and short articles to office@labourpartymarxists.org.uk for possible inclusion in Red Pages.


Voting Guide on constitutional amendments, Labour Party conference 2017


  1. Kingswood, referencing: all

Remove the term and entitlement of Registered Supporters from the Rule Book,

Vote against

Our reason: In general, we’re against the Americanisation of politics and would argue for Labour Party members only to have a vote. But clearly, this is an anti-Corbyn attempt by the right to reverse the changes made in the aftermath of the ‘Collins review’ – which was of course designed to curb the powers of the unions.

  1. Socialist Health Association, referencing: Clause IV Constitutional Rules, Page 3

Delete all and replace with:
Labour is a democratic socialist party working for a fairer, healthier and more equal society

Vote against

Our reason: Clause IV deserves to be torn up and replaced – but neither this lame alternative nor a return to the Fabian 1918 version are sufficient. We need a commitment to socialism, the rule of the working class, a democratically planned economy and a democratic republic.[1] Labour Party Marxists have drawn up an alternative formulation along those lines.[2]

  1. Folkestone & Hythe Hendon referencing: Chapter 2, Clause I, Section 4 Membership Exclusions Page 7
    Insert new paragraph:
    Where a member is responsible for a hate incident, being defined as something where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity, or sexual orientation, the NEC have the right to impose the appropriate disciplinary action from the following options […]
    Vote against

Our reason: This is a blatant attempt by the right to continue to use the fabricated ‘Anti-Semitism’ scandal to attack and silence the left. It wants to remove the need for evidence to punish trouble makers: the phrase “something where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility” is very much open to all sorts of abuse. Guilty until proven innocent.


  1. Finchley & Golders Green, referencing: Chapter 2 Clause I, Section 4 Membership Exclusions Page 8

Add a new paragraph D, and restyle current paragraph D as paragraph E: A member of the Party engaging in conduct which is motivated by hostility or prejudice based on gender; sexual identity; ethnicity or faith; age or disability; or other personal characteristic, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6, Clause 1 below of the disciplinary rules.

Amend Section 8 as follows: insert after first sentence: No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, or otherwise expressing hostility or prejudice based on gender; sexual identity; ethnicity or faith; age or disability; or other personal characteristic.

Add at end of last sentence: except in cases of conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic or otherwise expressing hostility or prejudice based on gender; sexual identity; ethnicity or faith; age or disability; or other personal characteristic.

Amend Appendix 6, Procedural guidelines in disciplinary cases brought before the NCC as follows:

Insert new paragraph 19, and renumber paragraph 19 as paragraph 20:

  1. Where a panel has found a charge of conduct that is racist or expressing prejudice under Chapter 2, 4, D, expulsion is required by the terms of the rule unless the panel is satisfied that an unqualified undertaking in the form required by the NEC has been given, in which case a disciplinary measure short of expulsion may be imposed.

Vote against

Our reason: It is true that the rules make no reference to the kind of sexist and racist behaviour mentioned in the amendment. But this gives way too much power to the bureaucrats, including the issuing of lifelong membership bans. It is – again – very much open to abuse, especially the formulation “which is motivated by hostility”.

It would be much more useful to challenge point B in this section, which has been used, for example, to bar from membership former parliamentary candidates for Left Unity and members of the AWL. It states that, “A member of the Party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member.”

Why should members of political groups be banned? Surely, if the party is to become a real party of the class (ie, a united front), we need to welcome all those from different political backgrounds.

  1. Hastings & Rye, referencing: CHAPTER 2, Clause I, Section 8 Conditions of membership Page 9

At the end of Section 8 add: “A member of the Party who in the opinion of the NEC engages in intentional anti-Jewish or racist abuse in public or in writing shall be deemed to have engaged in conduct prejudicial to the Party. Where there is a case to answer within objective criteria and the party’s values, a clear dividing line shall be maintained between
a) investigation to establish the full facts; and
b) informed judgment on their political implications. Hatred of Jews shall not be evidenced by non- abusive words or actions regarding Israel or Zionism that are part of legitimate political discourse. If the Party seeks Jewish or other community views or advice on definitions, these shall be sought from all sections of that community as deemed appropriate, and any alternative views that are offered from that community shall be heard.”

Vote against

Our reason: This would appear to be a well-meaning attempt to oppose the entirely fabricated Anti-Semitism scandal in the party and to base any accusations on factual evidence. However, the motion starts from the premise that the party indeed has an “anti-Semitic problem”, which is palpably untrue.[3]

  1. Bury South, Chipping Barnet, Hertsmere, Jewish Labour Movement, Manchester Withington, Streatham, Warrington South, referencing: Chapter 2, Clause I, Section 8 Conditions of membership Page 9.

After the first sentence add a new sentence: A member of the Party who uses anti-semitic, Islamophobic, racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions in public, private, online or offline, as determined by the NEC, shall be deemed to have engaged in conduct prejudicial to the Party.

Add at the end of the final sentence after “opinions”: except in instances involving antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism.

Insert new paragraph E: Where a member is responsible for a hate incident, being defined as something where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity, or sexual orientation, the NEC may have the right to impose the appropriate disciplinary options from the following options: [same as D]

Vote against

Our reason: This is supported by the Jewish Labour Movement, an affiliate to the World Zionist Movement, which has played a shameful role in the witch-hunt of anybody in the Labour movement who is speaking out against the role of Israel in oppressing the Palestinians. This already tells you that you should probably oppose without even having to read it (though of course we would urge you to do so). Like motion 3, it puts ‘feeling insulted’ first and removes the need to rely on rational evidence.

But it also puts Anti-Semitism (and ‘cleverly’, Islamophobia and racism) above the right to express opinions. Coupled with the proposal to remove any need for evidence, this is a truly anti-democratic motion.

Their full proposal would read: “The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions, except in instances involving antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism.”

  1. York Outer, referencing Chapter 2 Clause III, Section 6 Membership subscriptions Page 10

Replace existing Section 6 with: An NEC approved statement shall be produced setting out the basis on which membership fees shall be allocated, including from January 2017 a minimum cash allocation of 10% of each paid up member’s subscription and a guaranteed minimum package of support for all CLPs.

Vote For

Our reason: Currently, CLPs are allocated a ‘minimum’ of a measly £1.50 per member – per year! Clearly, an organisation that encourages local organisation and autonomy should allocate much more.

  1. Cheltenham, referencing Chapter 3 Clause I, Section 4F Party Conference – delegations Page 12

Add at new sentence at the end of Section 4F as follows: Any exceptions to this rule can only be made with the approval of the NEC or an officer exercising the powers given to them by the NEC.

Vote against

Our reason: This amends the following sentence:
“F. All delegates must have been individual members of the Party for at least 12 months at the closing date set for the receipt of names of delegates (see III.1.E below).“

We believe that this entire section should be scrapped. Full members should be given full membership rights from day 1. This amendment further complicates an already bad situation – and allows ‘special’ members to enjoy special rules.

  1. Blackley & Broughton Exeter, referencing: Chapter 3, Clause III, Section 2C Party Conference – submissions by CLPs and affiliates, Page 13

At the start of the last sentence delete “Alternatively” and replace by “Also”

Vote For

Our reason: This would allow CLPs and affiliated organisations to submit one rule change motion and one contemporary motion (at the moment, it’s either one or the other).

  1. Bracknell Burnley, City of Durham, Colne Valley, Solihull, Wealden, referencing: Chapter 3 Clause III, Section 2G Policy documents, Page 13

Amend the first sentence as follows: after “strategy” end the sentence and insert: “Conference has the right to refer back part of any policy document without rejecting the policy document as a whole. Conference shall also consider

Already implemented.

  1. Brighton Pavilion, referencing: Chapter 3 Clause III, Section 2C Conference Motions, Page 13

Amend the first sentence as follows: delete “contemporary” and delete “which is not substantially addressed by reports of the NEC or NPF or Conference.” and replace the latter with “on a matter of policy, campaigning or Party organisation and finance”.

Amend the second sentence: delete “determine whether the motions meet these criteria and”

Amend the last sentence: delete “contemporary”.

Vote For

Our reason: Currently, the Conference Arrangements Committee and the NEC rule out tons of contemporary motions, because they deal with a subject that is mentioned in the long documents produced by the National Policy Forum. We are strongly against this outsourcing of policy-making to an untransparent and unwieldy forum like the NPF. Conference must become the supreme body of the party. The NPF is nothing but a pseudo-democratic device, invented by Tony Blair, of course, and should be abolished.

  1. Filton & Bradley Stoke, Newport West, referencing: Chapter 3 Clause III, Section 2H Constitutional Amendments – debated in year of submission, Page 13

Add a new sub-clause 2I at end: All constitutional amendments submitted by affiliated organisations and CLPs that are accepted as in order shall be timetabled for debate at the first party conference following their submission.

Vote For

Our reason: Definitely. It’s an outrage that rule change motions are only debated at conference in the year after they were voted through at CLP level; NEC motions however, can immediately be discussed at conference.

  1. New Forest East, referencing: Chapter 3, Clause III, Section 2D, Women’s Conference to submit motions to Conference, Page 13

Add a new Section D as follows and re-number rest of Section 2 accordingly:
The annual women’s conference may submit to conference up to two motions not substantially addressed by reports to the NEC or NPF or contemporary motions already put forward as a result of the ballot process.

Vote For

Our reason: At the moment, women’s conference is used mainly as a platform for the likes of Harriet Harman. It has no rights. Of course, a conference of women members should have the right to submit motions to main conference (just like Young Labour should).

  1. Birmingham Hall Green, Cardiff North, Crewe & Nantwich, Devizes South, West Devon, referencing: Chapter 4, Clause II, Section 2b (i) – Election of Leader – nominations required – Page 14

Replace “15 per cent” with “5 per cent”

Vote For

Our reason: This is the so-called ‘McDonnell amendment’, which would make it easier for left-wingers to stand for the position of leader. (Up until 1988, only 5 per cent of MPs were needed to support a nomination.)

We urge delegates to vote in favour, though we actually think it should be zero per cent. Surely, ‘normal’ Labour Party members should have the right to decide who should be their leader. MPs and MEPs should not have the right to act as some kind of system of ‘checks and balances’ on the democratic will of the membership.

  1. Bath (and many more), referencing: Chapter 4 Clause II, Section 2B (ii) Election of Leader – incumbent on ballot paper Page 14

Replace existing 2B (ii) with the following:
Where there is no vacancy, nominations may be sought by potential challengers each year prior to the annual session of Party conference. In this case any nomination must be supported by 20 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. In the event that a potential challenger attains the threshold and that an election will take place, the incumbent (Leader or Deputy Leader) will be automatically included on the ballot paper if they inform the General Secretary in writing they wish to be a candidate in the election.

A version of this is already in the 2017 rule book

After the successful court challenge, this following sentence was added to the 2017 rule book:
“The sitting Leader or Deputy Leader shall not be required to seek nominations in the event of a challenge under this rule.”

  1. Daventry, referencing Chapter 4 Clause III Elections to National Committees – voting system, Page 16

Amend introductory paragraph as follows: Delete “the conduct of” (after “other matters relating to”) and Insert: “which shall be conducted using the Single Transferable Vote system with, where appropriate, constraints to ensure gender balance” at the end of the paragraph. ,

Vote against

Our reason: In general, single transferable vote can indeed be more democratic, as they allow minorities to get elected. However, in this politically fluid situation, the current first-past-the-post system allows the left to campaign to get a whole slate of candidates elected, whereas under STV the left would be more likely to take only a majority. Also, who decides what the “constraints” in terms of gender balance are, for example?

  1. Caerphilly, referencing Chapter 4 Clause II, Section 2C (vi), Election to national committees and officers – entitlement to vote, Page 14

Delete the words “affiliated supporters and registered supporters” and insert the words “Voting shall be cast in a single section of fully paid Labour members”

Vote against

Our reason: See motion 1 and 18: In general, we’re against the Americanisation of politics and would argue for Labour Party members only to have a vote. But clearly, this is an anti-Corbyn attempt by the right to reverse the changes made in the aftermath of the ‘Collins review’ – which was of course designed to curb the powers of the unions. See also motions 1 and 18.

  1. Huddersfield, As above

Replace existing sub-clause with: Only paid up members of the Labour Party are entitled to vote in elections for the Leader and Deputy Leader of the party.

Vote against

Our reason: See motion 1 and 17

  1. Ashfield , referencing: Chapter 7 Clause III, 1A and Clause 1V,1A Rules for CLPs – Affiliated Organisations Page 28

Amend as follows: In sub-clause A, after “subsections of branches” insert “including retired member sections/associations”

Amended 1A would read:
1. Organisations may affiliate to the Party at constituency level if they fall within the following categories:
A. trade unions or branches thereof affiliated to the Trades Union Congress or considered by the NEC to be bona fide trade unions affiliated to the Party nationally. Where provided by the structure of an affiliated organisation, subsections of branches retired member sections/associations may affiliate separately at the discretion of the RD(GS) of the Party in agreement with the appropriate authority of the affiliated trade union Consequential rule change to support the rule amendment – payment of affiliation fees.

Amend Clause IV, 1A as follows: after “branches of trade unions” insert “retired member sections/associations of trade unions”

Vote For

Our reason: Of course, this could be open to abuse by an unelected union bureaucrat ‘representing’ their retired members section.(Remember the Socialist Labour Party’s inaugural conference, when the 3,000 card votes of a phantom organisation of retired miners trumped the couple of hundred of individual members present, making sure Arthur Scargill got his way?[4])

But the left should try to make these organisations real – just because somebody retires from work does not mean they are not interested in the affairs of their union anymore.

  1. Blackpool North & Cleveleys, referencing: Chapter 11, Clause V Young Labour Rules, Page 39

Add at the 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.

Vote For

Our reason: We agree with much of the motivation by the movers: “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

  1. Enfield North, Leyton & Wansted, referencing Chapter 12 Clause IV, Local Campaign Forums, Page 44

Delete all and insert new sub-clauses as follows:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Vote For

Our reason: The Local Campaign Forum itself was an anti-democratic effort to abolish the much more democratic Local Government Committees (and District Labour Parties), which used to write the local Labour Party’s manifesto and exercised some democratic control over Labour Party councillors (who these days write their own manifesto).

Currently, LCF’s are chiefly run by Labour Party councillors, with the local CLP executives making up the rest. There is almost no input from normal members, let alone much transparency.

  1. Leicester South, referencing Chapter13, Clauses XIV and XVII Reporting to and consulting with the Party, Page 51

Replace existing Clause XIV, Section 1 with the following:
1. Members of the Labour group are entitled and encouraged to attend meetings of their constituency party and appropriate local party units. The group standing orders shall specify how the group and council leadership including the City Mayor and Deputy City mayor shall report to and consult with the appropriate local party on a regular basis; the leader and deputy leader of the Labour Group, or other Group officer as determined by the Group shall be members of the LCF and its Executive Committee. The party expects the group leadership including the City Mayor and Deputy City mayor to give a minimum of reports and hold a number of policy consultations within the year, to keep the party informed of budgetary and service delivery issues, and other policy areas.

Replace existing Clause XVII, Section 1 and 2 with the following:
1. Labour groups on joint boards, committees, on regional bodies and on local government associations shall adopt appropriate rules and standing orders in consultation with the party’s Local Government Unit and with the prior approval of the NEC.

  1. The rules contained in Chapter 13 are minimum requirements for the operation of Labour groups and the conduct of Labour councillors including the City Mayor and Deputy City Mayor. Due account must be taken of the resources for member development and the guidance approved by the NEC and of such advice as may be issued from time to time by the NEC.

Vote For

Our reason: The only change here is the addition of “City Mayor and Deputy City Mayor” to the list of those required to “consult” with members. Of course, these should not be able to act as little Bonapartes, but be subject to democratic control by the party.

This so-called “consultation” is however incredibly vague and in reality just means a councillor or MP has to give a monthly report to members, who can question them but have no way to hold their representatives to account or sanction them.

This whole rule should be torn up and dramatically rewritten to make sure councillors, MPs and all other elected Labour Party representatives come under the democratic control of party members.

  1. Richmond (Yorks) referencing: Appendix 8 Clause III, 1A Membership subscriptions – portion allocated to CLPs, Page 83

Given that far too small a percentage of the membership fee is allocated to Constituency Labour Parties, we call on Labour Party NEC to increase the share of the subscription that is returned to CLPs to enable more and better campaigning by constituency parties and branches Thus the amendment would read as does the current statement but the figure of £1.50 per member would be increased to £2.50, (and the example given would be changed accordingly.)

Vote For

Our reason: An annual allocation of £2.50 per member to the CLP is still a joke. Even 10%, as in motion 7, is too little. But even a little more is better than the current status quo of £1.50 per member per year.

[1] http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/three-clause-fours/

[2] http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/alternative-clause-4-proposed-by-labour-party-marxists/

[3] http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/anti-zionism-does-not-equal-anti-semitism/

[4] http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/535/arthur-scargill-and-the-end-of-a-fantasy/

Mandatory selection on the agenda at 2018 conference

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


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.


  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.


Recruit, win new affiliates, transform

Jeremy Corbyn’s election presents the left with a historic opportunity. James Marshall of Labour Party Marxists outlines a programme of immediate action and long-term strategic goals

First the background. Once Jeremy Corbyn got past the gatekeepers of the Parliamentary Labour Party and made it onto the ballot he was always going to be the winner. There are millions out there who are angry, who, no matter how vaguely, want a better world, who feel alienated from and unrepresented by the pro-austerity Labour right. They found their weapon in the person of comrade Corbyn.

Already, even in the early stages, pollsters had him way out in front: eg, on 53%. And, of course, on the very last day, on August 12, when people had their final opportunity to sign up and vote in the leadership contest, the Labour Party’s computer system crashed. It was obvious why. Corbyn supporters were desperately trying to register. So the 59.5% vote came as no surprise to me. Frankly, I was expecting something a little over 60%.

Anyway, there can be no doubting the scale of Corbyn’s victory. He ended miles ahead of Andy Burnham (19%), Yvette Cooper (17%) and Liz Kendall (4.5%). And the fact that Tom Watson, the Brownite deputy leader, only won after three rounds means comrade Corbyn possesses immense authority. So fuck Watson’s doubts over Trident, etc. Our Jeremy gained a crushing first-round mandate in all three categories: registered supporters: 83.8%; affiliates: 57.6%; individual members: 49.6%. To rebel against Corbyn is to rebel against these figures.

Despite that, at the well publicised prompting of Peter Mandelson, Charles Clarke, David Blunkett and above all Tony Blair, the hard right have already launched what will be a protracted, bitter, no-holds-barred struggle to overturn the September 12 result. Blair’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ opinion piece in The Observer had nothing to do with the former prime minister trying to swing votes in the closing two weeks of the leadership campaign.1 Corbyn had already won. No, its purpose was perfectly clear. Rally the Blairites and their corporate, state and international allies … and declare war.

As I have argued, under present circumstances it is unlikely that the hard right will go for a breakaway. Another Social Democratic Party is an outside possibility. But, unlike the early 1980s, the centre ground is not on the up. At the last general election the Lib Dems were decimated. They remain marginalised and loathed. Hence the Blairites have nowhere to go except the government benches. Being dedicated careerists, they are hardly attracted to that – their constituents would turf them out at the first opportunity. Instead of the glories of high office it would be a suicide jump. Knowing that probable outcome, most of the right will therefore stay put and fight hard … until we send them packing.

The announcement by leading members of the right that they would refuse seats in comrade Corbyn’s shadow cabinet needs to be understood as an act of civil war. Yvette Cooper, Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt, Emma Reynolds, Liz Kendall, Shabana Mahmood, Mary Creagh, Jamie Reid, Chris Leslie and Rachael Reeves have in effect constituted themselves a shadow, shadow cabinet. Obviously this parliamentary gang of 10 do not share the same values as the mass of Labour members.

In that context, Corbyn is absolutely right to maintain the power to hire and fire. After all, he faces not just 10 rebels, No, it is more like 100. We Marxists want the abolition of the Bonapartist position of leader.

But these are extraordinary times and require extraordinary measures. The idea of having the PLP electing the shadow cabinet was being touted by the right. But thankfully Corbyn thought twice about his early pronouncements on this subject. Instead he wisely opted to keep the dictatorial approach long favoured by past Labour leaders.

Appointing the shadow chancellor was a litmus test. Many timid leftists as well as members of Corbyn’s inner circle were reportedly urging him to opt for someone from the centre. Instead he chose John McDonnell. Excellent. So there is in effect a Corbyn-McDonnell leadership.

Offering shadow cabinet seats to the likes of Andy Burnham, Hilary Benn, Angela Eagle, Lucy Powell, Lord Falconer, Rosie Winterton and Chris Bryant was always going to happen. Corbyn is a natural conciliator. And the fact of the matter is that there are simply not enough leftwingers in parliament. Unless, that is, Corbyn went for a pocket-sized shadow cabinet and appointed shadow ministers from outside parliament. That is what we LPMers advocated.

Nevertheless, equipped with his left-centre-right coalition, Corbyn can claim the moral high ground. He is reaching out to all sections of the party. Meanwhile, in terms of internal perceptions, it is the hard right that will be blamed for starting the civil war. That will play badly with traditional Labour loyalists. They do not take kindly to anyone damaging Labour’s chances at the polls. After all, for most Labour councillors and would-be Labour councillors, most Labour MPs and would-be Labour MPs, the be-all and end-all of politics is getting into office, no matter what the programme.

However, the hard right will have the full backing of the capitalist media, the City of London, the military-industrial complex and the secret state. And Corbyn’s much publicised admiration for Karl Marx, his campaigning against US-led imperialist wars, his opposition to Nato, Trident and nuclear weapons, his commitment to increase the tax take from transnational corporations, the banks and the mega-rich, his republicanism – even his refusal to sing the royal anthem at St Paul’s – mark him out as completely unacceptable for Labour’s hard right and the business and state establishment.

Of course, the distinct danger is that the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership will have their agenda set for them by the need to maintain PLP unity. Put another way, in what is a coalition cabinet, it will be the right that sets the limits and therefore determines the political programme. Why? Because they are quite prepared to walk. That is what Burnham has indicated over Nato and nuclear weapons. The decision by Corbyn to kneel before Elizabeth Windsor and accept a place on her privy council is therefore more than a symbolic gesture.

Watering down, abandoning, putting principles onto the backburner in an attempt to placate the right, if it continues to happen, will prove fatal. Such a course will demobilise, demoralise and drain away Corbyn’s mass base in and out of the party.

Hence the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership faces both an enemy within the PLP and an enemy within the shadow cabinet. That is why Marxists will, at the first politically appropriate moment, be agitating for the removal of rightwingers from the shadow cabinet. An obvious target being Tony Blair’s old flatmate and co-thinker, Lord Charlie Falconer. He has already threatened to quit over the EU referendum.


The left in the Labour Party faces three immediate tasks.

Firstly, there must be a concerted drive to win registered supporters to become full individual members. There are now well over 100,000 of them. If they want to bolster Corbyn’s position, if they want to ensure that he stays true to his principles, then the best thing that they can do is to get themselves a vote when it comes to the national executive committee, the selection and reselection of MPs, MEPs, councillors, etc. Card-carrying members can also attend ward and constituency meetings and vote for officer positions.

Secondly, within the affiliated trade unions we must fight to win many, many more to enrol as Labour supporters. Just over 70,000 affiliated supporters voted in the leadership election. A tiny portion of what it could be. There are 4,414,929 who pay the political levy.2 Given that they can sign up to the Labour Party at no more than a click of a button, we really ought to have a million affiliate supporters as a minimum target.

Thirdly, the constituency, branch (ward) and other such basic units must be revived and galvanised. Everything should be done to encourage new members and returnees to attend meetings and elect officers who oppose austerity and want to support the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership. Labour’s constituency and branches can be made into local centres of organisation, education and action. As such they would be well placed to conduct a mass campaign to get local people onto the electoral register. The election commission estimates that nationally “approximately 7.5 million individuals are not registered”.3


As the hard right begins its civil war, the left must respond with a combination of disciplinary threats, constitutional changes and reselection measures. Those in the pay of big business, those sabotaging Labour election campaigns, those who vote with the Tories on austerity, war or migration, must be hauled up before the NEC. If MPs refuse to abide by party discipline, the whip must be withdrawn. We should democratically select and promote trustworthy replacement candidates. If that results in a smaller PLP in the short term, that is a price well worth paying.

Obviously, the party must be reorganised from top to bottom. A special conference – ie, in spring 2016 – should be called by the NEC with a view to radically overhauling the constitution and rules, and undertaking an across-the-board political reorientation. We need a new clause four, we need a sovereign conference, we need to be able to easily reselect MPs, MEPs and councillors. We also need to sweep away the undemocratic rules and structures put in place by Blair. The joint policy committee, the national policy forums – the whole horrible rigmarole should go.

Clearly it is going to take time to transform the PLP and subordinate it to the wishes of the membership. But with a combination of threat, reselection and rule change it can be done.

A particularly potent weapon here is the demand that all our elected representatives should take only the average wage of a skilled worker. A principle upheld by the Paris Commune and the Bolshevik revolution. From memory even the Italian Communist Party under Enrico Berlinguer applied the partymax in the 1970s. With the PCI’s huge parliamentary fraction this proved to be a vital source of funds.

Our MPs are now on a basic £67,060 annual salary. On top of that, they get around £12,000 in expenses and allowances, putting them on just under £80,000 (yet at present they are only obliged to pay the £82 parliamentarians’ subscription rate). And as leader of the official opposition Jeremy Corbyn has just got himself a £6,000 pay rise.4

We in the LPM say, let them keep the average skilled workers’ wage: say £40,000 (plus legitimate expenses). They should, however, hand the balance over to the party. That would give a considerable boost to our finances. Even if we leave out MEPs from the calculation, it would amount to a roughly £900,000 extra. Anyway, whatever our finances, there is a basic principle. Our representatives ought to live like ordinary workers, not pampered members of the upper middle class. So, yes, let us impose the partymax.

In the three days following Corbyn’s election 30,000 joined the party.5 Many more should be expected. But we need to reach out to all those who are disgusted by corrupt career politicians, all those who aspire for a better world, all those who have an objective interest in ending capitalism. To do that we need to establish our own mass media.

Much to the chagrin of the fourth estate, comrade Corbyn has shown his “contempt” for the capitalist press, radio and TV.6 Relying on them worked splendidly for Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell. But our newly elected leader will get nothing but mockery, hatchet-jobs and implacable opposition. While there will doubtless be an attempt to court The Guardian and the Mirror group, his turning to the social media is understandable and very much to be welcomed. However, tweeting, texting and blogging has severe limits. They are brilliant at transmitting short, sharp and clear messages. But, when it comes to complex ideas, debating principles and charting political strategies, they are worse than useless. To set the agenda we need our own full-range media.
Once we had the Daily Herald. Now we have nothing. Well, apart from the deadly dull Morning Star (which in reality is still in the hands of unreconstructed Stalinites).

We should aim for an opinion- forming daily paper of the labour movement and seek out trade union, cooperative, crowd and other such sources of funding. However, we need to be brave: iconoclastic viewpoints, difficult issues, arguments, must be included as a matter of course. We should also consider internet-based TV and radio stations. With the riches of dedication, talent and ideas that exist on the left, we can surely better the BBC, Al Jazeera and Sky.

Branding people as ‘infiltrators’ because, mainly out of frustration, they supported the Greens, Left Unity or the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the last general election does nothing to advance the socialist cause in the Labour Party. Such a jaundiced response smacks of the cold-war bans and proscriptions. We should be proud of being a federal party. Therefore securing new affiliates ought to be at the top of our agenda. Indeed we should actively seek to bring every leftwing group or party under our banner. Labour needs to become the common home of every socialist organisation, cooperative and trade union – the agreed goal of our founders.7 In other words, a permanent united front.

Yet sadly, so far, apart from the CPGB, there has been a distinct lack of imagination from those outside Labour. Instead of a banging on the door, there is a cowardly disengagement. A runaway approach designed to preserve sectarian interests and reputations.

Showing his profundity, his prostration before Scottish nationalism, his unconscious English nationalism, the media darling, Tariq Ali, assesses Corbyn’s victory as “England coming to life again”.8 In that same blinkered spirit, he privileges protest politics, as against parliamentary politics. Of course, comrade Ali is one of those freelance socialists: a typical dilettante. The idea of actively engaging in our civil war does not seem to occur to him nowadays.

The same goes for Charlie Kimber, national secretary of the Socialist Worker Party. Our Charlie boasts that he, and his much reduced band of followers, did not take up the opportunity of registering as Labour Party supporters. Why do they impotently stand aloof? After all, a Corbyn vote cost a mere £3 … and for levy-paying members of affiliated trade unions it was gratis. So why did the SWP refrain from giving Corbyn voting support? Comrade Kimber pathetically explains.

The right is set to trigger a firestorm. The PLP is dominated by the right. Corbyn has the active support of no more than 20 MPs. Tom Watson is a Brownite. Lord Mandelson is advising a protracted war. The trade unions are dominated by a self-serving bureaucracy. There will be internal struggles and attempts to introduce constitutional and programmatic changes.9

What ought to be a challenge to join the fight becomes an excuse to opt out.

Having been torn by splits and divisions in the 1970s and then again in the 2010s, the SWP apparatus wants nothing to do with anything that carries even the whiff of factional strife. So, as with Tariq Ali, there is the call for marches, protests and strikes … as counterposed to the Labour Party, PLP battles and taking sides in a concentrated form of the class war. In other words, the SWP stays true to its modern-day version of Bakuninism.

Then we have the Socialist Party in England and Wales. Having wrongly classified, dismissed, the Labour Party as an out-and-out capitalist party since the mid-1990s, it is busily rowing … backwards. The old Militant marker has been cosmetically introduced onto the masthead of The Socialist. Despite that, the politics remain idiotic. Peter Taaffe expects Corbyn to come to him and his floundering Labour Party mark II project otherwise known as Tusc. Showing the same sort of myopic vision as comrade Kimber, SPEW informs us that Tusc will stand against Labour candidates in the next round of council elections. A blundering stance supported by Nick Wrack’s Independent Socialist Network (along with SPEW and the SWP a Tusc

If Tusc stood on something that resembled a Marxist programme, that would be tactically inadvisable under present circumstances. But what passes for Tusc’s programme is barely distinguishable from Corbynism. Despite that, whereas the Corbyn Labour Party will get mass votes, even with many questionable candidates, Tusc will hardly register. Its votes are uniformly homeopathic.

Left Unity, seems to me to be essentially no different. And, as with SPEW and the SWP, LU members are peeling away to join the Labour Party as individuals. Obviously this project, as with all halfway house attempts to recreate the Labour Party, is doomed. Unless it votes for the motions of its Communist Platform, Left Unity has no future.

We Labour Party Marxists unapologetically take our programmatic lead from the CPGB. Having been demanding the right to affiliate since 1920, we demand that the CPGB ought to have the same rights as the Cooperative Party, the Fabians, Christians on the Left, the Jewish Labour Movement, Scientists for Labour, etc.10 However, we also extend that demand to include the SWP, SPEW, LU and all other such organisations.

Then there are the trade unions. Those who have disaffiliated or been expelled must be brought back into the fold. In other words the Fire Brigades Union and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union. They actively supported the Corbyn campaign … from the outside. So, comrades, now do the same, much more effectively, from the inside.

The same goes for unions which have never had an organised relationship with us. Regrettably, Mark Serwotka, Public and Commercial Services union general secretary, was one of those turned away in the Harriet Harman-organised purge. But, instead of impotently complaining about it on Twitter, he should turn the tables on the Blairite apparatus by bringing in his entire membership. Mark, fight to get PCS to affiliate.

I heard him interviewed on BBC Radio 4 on this. He enthusiastically supported Corbyn’s September 15 speech at the TUC. However, he excused himself from getting the PCS affiliated. Apparently it has been illegal for civil servant trade unions to affiliate to the Labour Party since 1927.

When we moved a motion to the effect that all trade union should affiliate to the Labour Party at the last AGM of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, we met with exactly that sort of legalistic objections. However, as NEC member Christine Shawcroft, who was sitting next to me, said, “What does that matter?” Here comrade Shawcroft, a close ally of Corbyn, shows the exact right spirit of defiance. Comrade Serwotka and other leaders of non-affiliated trade unions should take her lead. Laws can be defied, laws can be changed. They key, however, it is win the PCS’s membership to want to affiliate. It would be great if the 2016 annual conference was addressed by Jeremy Corbyn and had a raft of branch motions calling for the union to affiliate to the Labour Party.


Real Marxists, not fake Marxists, have never talked of reclaiming Labour. It has never been ours in the sense of being a “political weapon for the workers’ movement”. No, despite the electoral base and trade union affiliations, our party has been dominated throughout its entire history by career politicians and trade union bureaucrats. A distinct social stratum, which in the last analysis serves not the interests of the working class, but the continuation of capitalist exploitation.

Speaking in the context of the need for the newly formed Communist Party of Great Britain to affiliate to the Labour Party, Lenin said this:

“[W]hether or not a party is really a political party of the workers does not depend solely upon a membership of workers, but also upon the men that lead it, and the content of its actions and its political tactics. Only this latter determines whether we really have before us a political party of the proletariat.

“Regarded from this, the only correct, point of view, the Labour Party is a thoroughly bourgeois party, because, although made up of workers, it is led by reactionaries, and the worst kind of reactionaries at that, who act quite in the spirit of the bourgeoisie. It is an organisation of the bourgeoisie, which exists to systematically dupe the workers with the aid of the British Noskes and Scheidemanns.”11

Despite all the subsequent changes, this assessment retains its essential purchase. Labour is still a “bourgeois workers’ party”. However, with Corbyn’s election as leader, things have become more complex. Labour has become a chimera. Instead of a twofold contradiction, we have a threefold contradiction. The left dominates both the top and bottom of the party.

That gives us the possibility of attacking the rightwing domination of the middle – the councillors, the apparatus, the PLP – from below and above. No wonder the more astute minds of the bourgeois commentariat can be found expressing deep concern about what will happen to their neoliberal consensus.


1. The Observer August 30 2015.
2. D Pryer Trade union political funds and levy House of Commons briefing paper No00593, August 8 2013, p8.
3. The Guardian February 24 2015.
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salaries_of_ Members_of_the_United_Kingdom_Parliament.
5. International Business Times September 15 2015.
6. See Roy Greenslade in The Guardian September 14 2015. Chris Boffy, online special advisor to the last Labour government, has also been bitterly complaining about Corbyn’s supposed lack of a media strategy – see The Drum September 15 2015.
7.At the 1899 TUC, JH Holmes, a delegate of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants moved this resolution:
“That this congress, having regard to its decisions in former years, and with a view to securing a better representation of the
interests of labour in the House of Commons, hereby instructs the parliamentary committee to invite the cooperation of all cooperative, socialistic, trade unions, and other working class organisations to jointly cooperate on lines mutually agreed upon, in convening a special congress of representatives from such of the above-named organisations as may be willing
to take part to devise ways and means for securing the return of an increased number of labour members to the next parliament.” (www. unionhistory.info/timeline/1880_14_Narr_Display. hp?Where=NarTitle+contains+%27The+Labour+ Party%27+AND+DesPurpose+contains +%27WebDisplay%27).
8. The Independent September 12 2015.
9. Socialist Worker September 8 2015.
10. www.labour.org.uk/pages/affiliated- organisations.
11. VI Lenin CW Vol 31 Moscow 1977, pp257-58.