Yesterday, we reported on the transparency and accountability in how Refounding Labor has been handled and the shameful farce of putting the whole package to conference as a package with a single debate and vote. Today we discover that there isn’t even going to be a real debate, time perhaps for two or three CLP delegates to speak on a report and review that is the meat of the conference – if we’re lucky, we’ll get to vote on 8 policy motions too. There is something that can be done — if there really is a commitment to democracy, let’s do it.
Looking at the timetable for the 3½ hour session on Sunday afternoon, after the opening addresses, the conference arrangements committee report (on which you can predict some heated debate), the merit awards, the reports of the two general secretaries, outgoing and incoming, a session on the London Mayoral election, Liam Byrne’s presentation on the whole policy review, and the national policy forum report, it is hard to see how there could be more than an hour for debate on the whole Refounding Labour consultation and report. Party managers have decided that much of this will be taken up with presentations on good practice by hand-picked CLP representatives and councillors. Given what has been proposed about reducing union influence, it is right that there be trade union delegate contributions too. Virtually no time for CLP delegates then. And certainly no time for moving CLP proposed rule changes on the same subjects alongside the report.
And yet, in the rest of the week, although there may be up to 8 contemporary motion debates, there is precious little else to vote on or even discuss. No major policy statements. Plenty of presentations, Q&As, set-piece speeches from shadow ministers who might not even be in the same job the next week.
The solution, of course, could be found. We can avoid a shabby stitch-up. Move the debate until later in the week. Allow CLP rule changes (all of them, those submitted last year and this year) to be considered alongside the Refounding Labour report.Vote on issues one-by-one. If the consequent rule changes can’t be separated out, have a later vote on all the changes consequent on conference decision’ before the end of conference.
Support the emergency motion. Persuade the Conference Arrangements Committee to choose democracy.
Note: You can now download both ‘Refounding Labour to Win’ and a copy of the rule book with the rule changes clearly marked from the homepage of membersnet.