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Martyn Cook reports from November’s National Policy Forum

Inside Labour CorbynDespite having been elected to the NPF as a Scotland CLP rep in 2015, the first full NPF meeting only took place on the 19th and 20th of November in Loughborough.

It was a very general meeting and was more focussed on identifying priority issues for the coming months and years. This report is therefore lighter on policy details than may be expected, but instead focuses on ways for you as a member, your CLP, or other affiliated body to get involved in the policy making process.

Labour 2020

Although there is speculation that there may be a snap election, the current timetable is focussed on the General Election taking place in 2020, and building a manifesto for that. There will of course be a change in the plan if this changes.

The starting point for the NPF was Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 Pledges to Annual Conference, which was a document that was voted through by Conference earlier in the year. This laid out parameters and goals for Labour to expand on in greater policy detail, and are:

  1. Full employment
  2. A secure homes guarantee
  3. Security at work
  4. A strong public NHS and social care
  5. A National Education service for all
  6. Action on Climate Change
  7. Public ownership and control of our services
  8. A cut in inequality of income and wealth
  9. Action to secure an equal society
  10. Peace and justice at the heart of foreign policy

The NPF Conference in November looked to give focus to how the manifesto will be structured, and
give priority to certain areas in each Policy Commission. The previous 7 Policy Commissions were expanded to 8, with the new Work, Pensions and Equality Forum being added.

The 8 policy Forums and their remits can all be found HERE.

Timetable

The below table lays out the planned schedule of meetings and policy drafts, starting from now until spring 2020. (Unfortunately it seems that the timetable has slipped already, as there haven’t been any initial meetings or conference calls set up for December…)

 

How to Get Involved 

At Annual conference, the older ‘Your Britain’ website, which was the way members could suggest policy proposals to the NPF, has been replaced by the new Policy Forum site:

http://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/

Here, you can submit a policy idea, comment on others, and view the suggestions that are being submitted to the policy process. The ‘Your Britain’ Twitter account has also been changed to the ‘Labour Policy Forum’, and can be followed HERE.

You can also of course hold policy discussion events in your own CLP, or across a regional area. I would be happy to attend any such meeting or event as an observer to report back to the NPF and the relevant Policy Commission. If you would like me to attend a CLP meeting as an NPF rep, please do not hesitate to contact me:

E: martyn_cook@live.co.uk

P: 07827 962 960

T: @MartynC86

Trident Motion

In my last NPF report I advised that the motion passed by Scottish Conference calling for investment in Defence Diversification and opposing the renewal of Trident submarines had not been included in the International Policy Forum report on defence.

The General Secretary of Scottish Labour, Brian Roy, helpfully clarified that the motion had been submitted to the (now suspended) Defence Review, as opposed to the NPF’s International Policy Forum.  Brian has asked that the motion (along with the Scottish Labour Party’s motion calling for outright opposal to TTIP) be again submitted to the NPF, which I have undertaken to do.

Chair Elections

Finally, congratulation to Katrina Murray, who is a fellow Scottish CLP rep, as she was elected as a vice-chair to the NPF for the CLP section.

This report originally appeared on Campaign for Socialism’s website

45 Comments

  1. Rob Green says:

    It looks likely that there will be a string of Labour MP resignations from now on. We must incentivise local CLPs to nominate pro-Corbyn candidates by standing candidates against those who do not.

    1. Peter Rowlands says:

      Who is ‘we’?

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        DavidE and his dog…

    2. John P Reid says:

      Christian Wolmar, wasro corbyn but he was the wrong person ot stand in Richmond, even though e would have made a great mayoral choice

  2. Mark Livingston says:

    The 10 Pledges form the core of what should, ultimately, be Labour’s first moderate socialist election proposition for decades; and not a difficult one to sell on the doorsteps either, I would suggest. (Who, after all, would be likely to raise head-on objections to “security at work” or the social “guarantee of a secure home”?

    It will tell us much about the state of the party currently, in terms of electoral readiness and unity, if the Pledges don’t get the prominence they deserve during the Copeland campaign. Chris Leslie, for example, all but denied their existence recently on the Sunday Politics show.

    Another problem in Copeland will be the Brexit/immigration thing. One weakness with the Pledges is that they don’t explicitly address the Brexit/immigration issue(s).

  3. David Pavett says:

    This article is very helpful. It lets tells anyone who wants to know what the NPF is doing. Unfortunately, it appears that the answer is “not much”. This gives rise to a series of questions about what is being done to fulfil the pledge, to put members in charge of Party policy, made at the time of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Party leader in 2015 (then again in 2016). Again, it is deeply worrying that the answer to this also is “not much”.

    (1) When did the NPF or its members invite the wider membership to suggest the most important items for policy debate?

    (2) Why is the information on the NPF and its Policy Commissions so sparse? This article gives much more information than is available on the MyLabour (aka YourBritain) website.

    (3) When do the Policy Commissions meet? What are their agendas? What papers do they consider? Why don’t they provide full information either on separate websites or on the MyLabour website?

    (4) Why has nothing been done to sort out the obvious deficiencies of the MyLabour website? It is a poor excuse for systematic debate. Opinions just tumble out with no discussion threads and no way of working to a conclusion of building a consensus. It is a joke.

    (5) What are the left-wing members of the Policy Commissions doing to tell us what is or is not going on? For example James Elliot, the editor of Left Futures, is a member of the Education and Early Years Commission.

    There is no relief from this feeble version of democracy when we turn to he Policy forum documents. Consider just two examples.

    (1) Defence. This comes under “international” and when you work through all 344 words of the International policy document (yes, just 344 words) you will find not a single mention of the problem of the renewal of Trident. Not a single mention either of Labour’s Defence Policy Review opened by Emily Thornbury earlier in the year. All that has disappeared without trace and without explanation. This is Labour politics in its traditional opaque mode.

    (2) Education. After six years of a revolution in our school system ripping most secondary schools out of the sphere of local democracy and requiring all new schools to be free schools one might have expected Labour to say something about that and to propose a change of direction. Anyone with such an expectation will get no joy from the 251 word (yes, 251 words) statement from the Early Years Education and Skills Policy Commission which passes over all that in silence. In fact it is much worse that that and I hope to return to that in a piece I am writing on Labour’s education policy and so will not say more on that for now.

    These minuscule policy statements are followed by ridiculous questions that make it look as though Labour is starting with a blank sheet of paper e.g. “What should Labour’s priorities be in schools policy?”. The whole thing is the antithesis of informed debate.

    At what point do members, branches and CLPs get the chance to say what they think the NPF should be grappling with? The situation seems to be that the NPF determines what its priorities for the next year should be and that is all it considers. That gets approved by Annual Conference because there is no place at the Conference to question it or suggest otherwise.

    The NPF continues to work as a democratic dog’s dinner. Some may say that in that role it is doing what it was set up to do by Tony Blair. Maybe but the issue is whether in can/should be reformed to make it work in a way that engages with members and with the considerable untapped expertise available throughout the Party? Some on the left think that the solution is to go back to Annual Conference debating and determining policy. Not only is that an impossible dream (it was never ever a satisfactory approach) there is no way Conference can get into the detail of the wide range of issues on which Labour needs to resolve. We need a standing committee for that purpose and we have one in the NPF. What is needed is to break with the sham democratic approach it has adopted so far. It is both disappointing and alarming that the new leadership show no sign of wanting to get on top of this problem. Not only that but, as the Trident issue shows, it is all too prepared to adopt the behind closed doors opaque methods of policy formation which many of us were hoping that a Corbyn leadership would strive to end. For now it seems that this is not the case and time is running out.

    I hope that others will read the NPF documents and comment on them here.

    1. Mark Livingston says:

      Tom Watson’s Project Anaconda probably isn’t helping much. For a humorous take on our Party’s milieu:

      https://skwawkbox.org/2016/12/11/from-the-asss-mouth-chris-leslies-bbcsp-inanity-gives-silentcoup2-away/

    2. John Penney says:

      A very accurate analysis of Labour’s still utterly dire “policy formulation process”, by David . Why Labour is still apparently incapable of putting any “policy meat” on the bare Left Keynsian/anti austerity outline proposals of the 2015 and 2016 Corbyn Leadership Campaigns , is due to various factors.

      The first obvious cause is that the entire byzantine NPF structure was set up under Blair and Brown quite deliberately to keep the membership as far away from policy formulation as possible – whilst giving the superficial appearance of “consultation and involvement”. The role of the NPF process under the Blaire/Brown regime was , however , actually more sinister and breathtakingly cynical than the Leadership simply wanting to abrogate to themselves the utmost “policy flexibility” as they “triangulated” Labour’s increasingly opportunistic policy menu in the “political market place”. By this I mean that the actual set of key policies around which the Blair/Brown Labour Party navigated were completely different to the “soft soap” general policies ever presented to Conference through the NPF processes for rubber stamping and Manifesto creation.

      Thus the actual key policies for New Labour (on behalf of their Big Business backers – who had bought the Party ,body and soul, prior to the flukey “Corbyn Insurgency”) were to continue the “Thatcher Revolution” of deregulation of the financial sector (and let the manufacturing sector die away) , continue to provide the regulatory and financial and operation frameworks which would continue towards the privatisation of all public sector services, from the NHS to Education. Also the Blair/Brown core , unstated policies, were to maintain the legal straightjacket hobbling effective trades union organisation, and to encourage the access of the UK economy to the unlimited labour pool of the EU , as a major weapon to keep wages relatively low, and assist with the imposition of ever greater “labour flexibility” . Similarly, Labour made no effort to re-empower local authorities to build major amounts of social housing, being happy to play fully into an economy based on unsustainable housing as well as credit bubbles.The complete actual embrace by Labour of the entire “neoliberal policy songbook” , made the role of the NPF a purely “smokescreen activity” , for electoral presentation purposes.

      Fast forward to today, with well over a year elapsed since Jeremy Corbyn’s extraordinary double Leadership victories, and no coherent policies AT ALL are emerging from the still utterly Labour Right dominated , and quite deliberately dysfunctional, NPF processes to reflect the huge new Left-leaning Labour Party mass membership, or its Leadership’s repeated commitment to pursue a raft of Left Keynsian anti austerity objectives. If this policy stasis was just down to the still major domination by the Labour Right of every part of the Labour Party machine, we , on the Left, could perhaps just commit ourselves to rolling up our sleeves and trying harder next year to win “left supporters” to key positions, including the NPF.

      However, this year’s utter non activity by the Corbyn Leadership group to even TRY to put any meat on the bare bones of his Leadership election proposals, if necessary initially outside of the NPF processes, isn’t just down to the continued dominance of the Labour neoliberal Right. Given the opportunity to develop a serious Left Economic strategy , John McDonnell chose instead to parade a celebrity bourgeois economists Roadshow around the UK !

      This wasn’t just a “tactical mistake” , I fear, wasting so much time and effort in promoting a mainly non socialist, and in some cases not even “Left wing” , bunch of celebrity economists, who in many cases eventually stabbed Jeremy and his proposals in the back. This was a vivid illustration that , after 30 years during which being “ marginalised Left Wing MPs” involved little more than a comfortable lifestyle of making sporadic Left policy pronouncements on disconnectyed “Left agenda causes” , to audiences mainly from the tiny, but well organised UK “Left Bubble” , the Corbyn Team are today apparently utterly politically unprepared for the ,admittedly totally unexpected, challenge of both taking on the overwhelming might of the Labour Right , in both the PLP and local government, and developing a comprehensive set of interconnected transformationally radical Left policies (of a radical Left Keynsian type).

      The evidence so far is that the Corbyn Circle are very much prisoners of the PLP Centre and Right, and that even though nominally “winning “ the 2016 post “Coup” Leadership contest, the Right and Centre have now actually broken the Corbyn Team’s will to pursue anything at all radical. Hence their apparent determination to ensure that the one key political weapon the Corbyn Team do possess to shift the Labour Party to the Left, Momentum, is to be “put back in its box” and if possible turned into a periodic cultural jamboree organising movement, politically invoked periodically to assist with phonebanking and canvassing – to get the same old Austerity supporting MP’s and Councillors re-elected, around an amorphous “Policy Offer” actually little different from that under Ed Miliband. What could possibly go wrong ?

  4. Peter Rowlands says:

    Thanks to Martyn for this informative report, and to David for a comprehensive response which makes many good points, all of which I agree with. A month ago I wrote an article on Labour policy to which there was little response, and I hope there is more to this. If the left does not concern itself with policy making as a priority we are not going to get very far.

    1. David Pavett says:

      As you say, we must hope for a decent response to this article. The issue of policy determination which involves the membership and which resolves issues by clear exposition of differences where they exist, is crucial if the left leadership is to succeed. Capturing positions is one thing, having analyses and corresponding policies which embody left views is quite another. So far all we have is a bit of the former and virtually none of the latter. The traditional Labour left is big on capturing positions and passing resolutions which involve almost no one but weak on analyses and policy development.

      And before we get any daft comments about this all being “ivory tower” commentary let’s have reflections on the 10 documents linked above and some ideas about where Labour policy development is going, or should be going. I think that the two papers I briefly commented on are worse than useless – because they show a continuity with past thinking which most members have made it clear that they want to get away from. What about the other eight?

      1. John Penney says:

        I looked at “Economy, Business and Trade” . It is just a series of very obvious questions, with no attempt at any answers at all ! How many hours of labour did the NPF put in to run this up ? I have already discussed this issue in my article below on the need for comprehensive economic planning , but to repeat my points here :

        At this late stage , with a snap election possible in 2017, or 2018, that this is all Labour has on the Economy is well beyond tragic. It is pure, deliberate sabotage by the Right, and reflects a pathetic lack of seriousness on policy by the Corbyn Circle, far too used to “left politics” simply involving stating a set of desirable “progressive objectives” with no work done to actually deliver them.

        Labour actually needs something much more like :
        http://manifestopress.org.uk/images/pdf/aeps.pdf

        The Comprehensive Left Alternative Economic Strategy “Building An Economy For the People” proposal produced by some Left economists a few years ago. Something on these lines would serve as a believable background analysis , with a much shortened “key points” precis for public distribution. But all we have instead is some banal questions !

  5. David Pavett says:

    I have just read the NPF document on Environment, Energy and Culture. It is feeble beyond belief. There are three short paragraphs on the environment and energy which can be summarised thus:

    (1) Climate change is a big challenge, we need to take it seriously, Labour will do so; (2) The Tories have not kept their promise to be green and have no strategy for low carbon, Labour will fulfil the Paris climate agreement; (3) We need to have a good think about all the issues to come up with solutions.

    That really is it. The vacuous statement is then followed by four inane questions.

    The statement on culture is just two paragraphs. (1) Culture, media and sport are very important to our lives and they provide jobs. (2) The Tories don’t recognise this (they denigrate the BBC, want to privatise Channel 4, didn’t act on Leveson, have allowed a decline in participation in physical activity, and don’t appreciate regional museums). We need better broadband and no more “not spots”. Labour needs to understand how to allow business to thrive, support cooperative enterprises so that we can invest in all of the above.

    Again, I kid you not, that is all there is.
    And then there are the inane questions like “How can we make sure that everyone has opportunities to experience the arts and culture?”.

    Does this look like a party preparing for a general election in four years time (let alone one in 017)?

    If this is not policy sabotage then it would seem that a serious attempt has been made to look like it.

    There are over 100 people on the NPF and its Policy Commissions. Have they all actually read this stuff and signed it off? It seems incredible that this should be so.

    Can we please have some NPF members contributing to this thread to tell us how it all looks to them? Maybe John P, Peter R and I have got it all wrong. Maybe there is a well worked out plan and Party members are going to get quality materials to help them determine policy. Maybe, maybe. But if so we need someone to explain that to us. And if not then we have a policy vacuum staring us in the face.

    1. PETER WILLSMAN says:

      DP,as you well know, I think it is rather shallow to dismiss criticisms,which use meaningful notions such as ‘ivory tower analysis’and ‘bellyaching’,as ‘daft’.Several weeks ago I asked you to work with me on the Economic Policy Comm.I

      1. PETER WILLSMAN says:

        To continue.I pointed out I get at least 500 pages of docs.from members over some 12 months.I said if you could help identify the key points(and add some of your own)I will pursue these at the PC.That way you will get an unparalelled insight into the whole process and you can write this up on LFs.But you didn’t even bother to reply.Thus suggesting that your game is simply negative bellyaching.I would put the same point to PR,except I know he is very busy down in Swansea.You have the time and the expertise for this project.But it would involve a lot of hard work.Much more than mere bellyaching.

        1. PETER WILLSMAN says:

          Seasons Greetings.Have a good day today.

      2. David Pavett says:

        Peter, you took the bait!

        I did reply to your offer of a few weeks back to say that negative invective notwithstanding I would be happy to discuss working with you. Unfortunately the reply I wrote didn’t get beyond my computer because of an intense burst of local activity which took me away from LF for about 10 days. I then thought that maybe it was too late. I will send it to you privately so as not to clog up the debate here.

        It would be good to have your views on one or more of the NPF documents listed above. Is this a serious way to develop LP policy?

  6. John Walsh says:

    David P and sincerely with respect, can you not see that, from a traditional activists perspective, Pete W’s terms ‘ivory tower analysis’ and ‘bellyaching’ can be understood as meaningful shorthand and are therefore kind of useful? Likewise, John P, the NPF may appear “deliberately dysfunctional” from a ‘movementist’ perspective (sort of where I’m standing) but from a traditional activist perspective the NPF is a legitimate body, where activist largesse is handed out as seats round a table (i.e. it’s not so much about outcomes, it’s about being there).

    Moreover, is it being naive to think that PW has actually got his Farther Xmas hat on when offering the opportunity to look over his mountain of paperwork? All this time you lot (and, only very occasionally, me – sorry) have been ‘bellyaching’ about the lack of debate and PW has the primary resources for devising a national debating platform sat sitting on his desk in Oxford.

    One very useful outcome from the recent Momentum spat has been the outpouring of opinion on what constitutes legitimate activism and why ‘online’ is a waste of time. For example, see https://theclarionmag.wordpress.com/ Well, using currently available tools and methods, I agree that online is a waste of time. But, this is surely where PW’s resource – ‘500 pages of docs’ – holds potential.

    Even if it means, in the first instance, just looking over the materials and picking out common themes, would that be start and ideas could emerge from there? Just a thought and hopefully not seen as complicating matters for PW. Merry xmas.

    1. David Pavett says:

      David P and sincerely with respect, can you not see that, from a traditional activists perspective, Pete W’s terms ‘ivory tower analysis’ and ‘bellyaching’ can be understood as meaningful shorthand and are therefore kind of useful?

      No, it put’s off people who are just thinking of putting their toe into the waters of political debate. It is a substitute for serious thought. Thus if you think someone is just “moaning” then your contribution should show in what way his/her comments do not lead to any outcomes (the characteristic of moaning) rather than stating simply that they are “moaning”. The latter is a mere expression of opinion they former is genuine analysis from which others can decide for themselves if it is mere “moaning” that is at issue.

      What matters in this thread is none of that stuff but getting down to analysing the value of the NPF documents and what we can do to get LP policy discussion onto some kind of meaningful track. So far the only contributions which have referred to issues raised by the article are those by John Penny, Peter Rowlands and me.

      I have already responded positively to PW’s offer.

      As far as policy development is concerned it is clearly false to say that John Penny, Peter Rowland (plus here, here and here and lots more) and I (plus here, here and here and lots more) have confined ourselves have confined ourselves to regretting the lack of debate in the LP. We have tried to make suggestions for pushing it on.

      1. John Penney says:

        Peter Willsman’s “I get at least 500 pages of docs from members over some 12 months. I said if you could help identify the key points(and add some of your own)I will pursue these at the PC. ” statement is a very good illustration of exactly what is entirely wrong with the NPF “process ” (to glorify an utter shambles with the term, “process”).

        Putting up a website and asking every LP member to bung in ry short contributions, around a set of extraordinarily vague questions linked to topic areas , and then seeking to turn these into a coherent set of “joined up” strategies, is all very “New Labour” , ie bogus mass , unstructured,”consultation” with the actual power to decide “what it all means” left to a tiny Leadership group. And we all know what routes the Blair/Brown/ Miliband leaderships took ; full steam ahead to ever greater neoliberalism. And that is where the Right dominated NPF will still take it today.

        A genuine policy creation process would start from the outline “line of march” set by the Left Keynsian, anti Austerity, proposals that won Jeremy two Leadership elections, and increased the LP membership by about 500,000. The Party (at present probably via the utterly disfunctional NPF, but we are where we are) should then appoint a sizeable, but manageable series of highly qualified “Policy Commissions, from Labour-supporting academics, trades union research departments and other experts, to actually pull together a set of well researched, credible, policy proposals. The separate Commissions would , vitally, be tasked with ensuring that ALL the policies knitted together into one, coherent National Regeneration Plan for the UK.

        This isn’t difficult, the “Building an Economy For the People” strategy document I have referred to repeatedly does exactly this for the Economic Sphere. A holistic “joined-up” strategy needs to knit in all the other strategies too though, from Housing, to education, to Healthcare, to Defence, to the Environment, etc.

        The work of the Commissions would aim to take about a year, intimately intertwined with a programme of mass consultation at mass meetings, and with trades unions and other interest groups (including Business). Hence the very act of creating an integrated Plan would be in itself a mass mobilising, inspiring, political act, securing mass “buy-in” to its final outcome.

        I spent two years in the failed Ken Loach “Left Unity” political initiative a few years ago , with a membership of less than 2,000, and most of those apparently uninterested in putting in the work for policy development (many Left Unity members on the “revolutionary Left simply wanted the Party to adopt their ultraleft “Leninist” mantras, and many others simply wanted it to adopt the “nil growth” policies of the Greens). Nevertheless a set of policy development Commissions were rapidly established by the tiny Left Unity grouping, and I played a large role in its ” Economy Commission”. At the end of its first year Left Unity had developed a very respectable, well researched, set of interconnected policies on a broad range of key topics. These policies did of course reflect the rather middle class, ex-Green Party , and radical liberal, background, of much of Left Unity, but the point is that in quality terms, the outcomes were vastly more coherent and substantial, than anything our 600,000 strong Labour Party(and multi trades union research departments) has been able to produce via its (deliberately) shambolic NPF process.

  7. Richard MacKinnon says:

    I see we have moved on at last. The cupboard is after all bare, as I said all along. For months the usual suspects on LF have tried to out do each other with even longer and more desperate pleas for some ‘ideas’, some Labour policies, especially economic. Now after a long dark night reality has dawned, there are none and there are not going to be any.
    I would like to say, please do not turn this into a blame game. Dont let The Downfall ruin old friendships. Its nobody’s fault. It happens in politics, sometimes events over take one political party and it is left behind while others rise and take its place.
    We can discuss what those ‘events’ were at a later date, for the time being lets just sit back and enjoy the moment.

    That is the fascinating thing about witnessing a downfall such as Labour’s, it is difficult to anticipate the next stage.

  8. Peter Rowlands says:

    Some excellent responses from David and John, all of which I thoroughly agree with, and which are in line with what I wrote about a month ago in an article on policy making. One problem however is that few seem interested.Let us hope that changes.
    I did look at the four policy documents that neither David or John mention. The Work and Pensions paper is completely useless, the others ( Justice, Home; Housing, Transport: Health, Social Care;)contain, like the other papers, platitudes and brief mention of some major commitments. ( Building more houses, the integration of health and social care, etc.). They are all completely inadequate.
    I very much hope that we can make some progress here.

  9. Karl Stewart says:

    As an exercise, try reading through the documents and disagreeing with anything in them.

    Who would not want full employment, or a modern, dynamic economy, or fair housing for every citizen, or for everyone to receive equal access to essential public services?

    This, for me, is the key test on determining whether anything of substance is actually being proposed – and in these documents, it isn’t.

    All these documents do is to categorise various policy areas.

    There is zero actual policy here.

    1. David Pavett says:

      Karl, it is true that there are lots of fluffy apple-pie and motherhood objectives. But if you dig a bit you will find signs of rather more specific, and more objectionable, policies. I have offered Left Futures an analysis of the Early Years Education and Skills document which I think is truly awful.

  10. PETER WILLSMAN says:

    Things are at last getting more constructive.There is nothing wrong with moaning,we all do it, but it is action that matters.First,to deal with JP.Classic bellyaching.No real programme for action.The only way forward in terms of process in the LP is via rule changes.CLPD has been doing this for 44 years,with the whole Party Establishment, and often the Leadership, against us every step of the way(and the assorted Hard Right/Blairite sects).After JC’s victory on the Sat.,the only other significant victories at Liverpool were on two CLPD-sponsored rule changes.So JP,as well as sounding off(which no doubt makes you feel good),you need to draft rule changes that sets out an alternative to the NPF arrangements.Then, if your ideas are any good, CLPD will pursue them.Of course, you may not even be in the LP,in which case your contribution can never be much more than marginally useful hot air.
    DP,excellent!!(it looks as if Dave and Heather are right).I will phone and arrange a meeting in central London and then we can get underway.If all goes well I will press for you to be able to attend the Policy Comm.with me.The TUs have researchers with them,so why not me.Happy New Year.

    1. John Penney says:

      Just for your information, Peter, I am indeed a member of the Labour Party. I think a bit less boasting about the utterly fruitless work of the CLPD over decades of neoliberal advance in the Labour Party is due from you. The Corbyn victory had absolutely nothing to do with any activity of the CLPD, being a fluke event driven by the European wide Left Surge arising from the post 2008 Crash Austerity backlash, and the hubristic error of the Labour Right in allowing a “token leftie” to stand in 2015.

      The work of the NPF so far is a cynical joke excuse for policy development. Just as the Labour Right want What steps do YOU recommend to change this dire state of affairs, Peter ? A few “rule changes” just aint going to do it.

      1. PETER WILLSMAN says:

        JP.when Ed Miliband stood down the CLPD EC agreed there must be a Left candidate and began a campaign for Jon Trickett(see LFs).Then JT withdrew and asked the Left MPs to find another candidate and JC emerged.So, instead of just bellyaching,CLPD started things moving.A major reason why the Right do well in the LP is because far too many on the Left simply bellyache and do nothing active.If the cap fits JP!!!

  11. PETER WILLSMAN says:

    JW,I hope you will be at the CLPD AGM and we can talk about your two cases,as well as how DP is getting on with the docs-I’ve had another 50 pages in the last few days.Happy New Year.

    1. Richard MacKinnon says:

      Peter,
      Could you please make a list of all the abbreviations (and what they stand for) you use so the rest of us can understand what the f it is you are talking about.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        ‘DP’ = David Pavett

        ‘LP’ = Labour Party

        ‘AGM’ = Annual General Meeting

        ‘CLPD’ = Constituency Labour Party (don’t know what the ‘D’ is for, maybe ‘District’?)

        1. John Penney says:

          CLPD is short for the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.

          1. Richard MacKinnon says:

            Thank you gentlemen that helps a lot.
            I heard another term yesterday that I have never heard before, Barack Obama referred to the ‘Corbynisation’ of the Labour Party. I tried wikipedia without luck, then I hit upon a definition by a Christopher Fowler, he difines ‘Corbynisation’ as something so internalised it fails to notice the real world.
            It seems Corbynisation has infected Left Futures. The contributions from DP, JP and PW are becoming so Corbynised no one can tell what they are talking about except of course, themselves.

  12. Karl Stewart says:

    How about, for those who think these policy documents say nothing, writing some firm policy proposals in each of these subject areas?

    John Penney wrote an excellent article quite recently, in which he tried to start putting some meat on the bones – how about following that example?

    At the workplace, the vital reform we need is to repeal all of the trade union legislation enacted since 1979. We need to bring back the post-entry closed shop, abolish the laws on solidarity action, and reinstate benefit payments for strikers for example.

    Once a closed shop has been established, there should be no exceptions – after all, no-one is allowed to opt out of paying income tax, so why should anyone in an organised workplace be allowed to opt out of paying union dues?

    And when one of the weaker and less well-organised sections of the labour movement is picked on by either the employer or the Government, surely it is right that the stronger parts of our movement are able to act in sympathy?

    1. Danny Nicol says:

      Point of interest: reintroduction of the closed shop is substantially forbidden by a European Court of Human Rights’ judgment of 1981:

      http://echr.ketse.com/doc/7601.76-7806.77-en-19810813/view/

      Young, James and Webster v United Kingdom. See especially articles 50-65 of the judgment.

      More evidence of why socialists should be hostile towards capitalist European integration in its myriad forms, and judicial supremacism.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        I take your main point, but I’m not sure if you’ve got your dates right with respect Doug.

        I started work a few years after the date of the judgement you refer to and that place was a closed shop when I started there.

        As I recall, the legislation came in towards the end of the 80s I think.

        But even after that, the more active and committed shop stewards would always aim for 100 per cent membership regardless of the law.

        Anyway, now we’re out of the EU, there’s nothing stopping us from fighting for the full repeal of all those anti-union laws – and, in the meantime, waging and winning the arguments for organised and strong trade unionism.

      2. C MacMackin says:

        The European Court of Human Rights is independent of the EU and associated with the Council of Europe. It is unlikely that any Labour government would leave this. This appears to have been a ruling that the closed shop violated freedom of association (or, more accurately, the freedom not to associate). A similar ruling has been made in Canada. However, there is an effective loophole: you could still require that all workers in an enterprise are covered by a collective agreement and that they all pay union dues for the negotiating services performed. This is the system we have in Canada and it generally works quite well (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_shop#Canada).

    2. Richard MacKinnon says:

      Karl,
      Maybe the reason the trade unions are so week is because the union leaders, some on big wonga are not cutting it. Simple as.

    3. David Pavett says:

      TU membership is now at a historic low of 25% of all employees. There are 6.5 million members, down from 13 million in 1979. TU membership is the public sector is a little over 50%. In the private sector it is around 14%. Does it make political, or democratic, sense to say to the majority who have not chosen to join a union that under Labour they will be forced to do so? Is that the sort of thing that you want to see on the NPF agenda?

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        It absolutely makes sense to bring back the post-entry closed shop, yes.

        Why should anyone be allowed to benefit from union-negotiated Ts& Cs without contributing?

        No-one’s allowed to opt out of income tax, so why should anyone be allowed to opt out of union membership?

        1. David Pavett says:

          Trade unions are a part of civil society. Tax collection is not. What if a group if workers wants to create a new union? Then what? How much union support would you require before making membership compulsory? How much if the workforce are you suggesting should be covered by closed shop agreements?

          Your argument is a purely moralising one rather than one based on objective analysis.

          As a much older TU colleague and activist said to me a long time ago “There is nothing you can do with 100% membership that you can’t do with 90% membership and if it’s a closed shop you don’t actually know how much support you have because the members have no choice in the matter”.

          And are you proposing that the NPF should debate putting the return of the closed shop into Labour’s election manifesto?

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            I’m saying unions should not be prevented from establishing post-entry closed shop agreements with employers.

            So yes, Labour should have, as a policy, the full repeal of the 1980s legislation that outlawed this.

            We would then return to the status quo ante.

            Not complicated.

          2. David Pavett says:

            Your reply is, as you say, not complicated, but it’s simplicity is achieved by simply ignoring the various points and questions I raised.

          3. Karl Stewart says:

            Response to DavidP at 10.08am:

            Repealing the law outlawing post-entry closed shop agreements isn’t complicated. Parliament would vote to remove this particular legislation.

            And then the precise details of the many different collective agreements between the union and the employer will be worked out between the two parties.

  13. Karl Stewart says:

    Also, let’s have a full judicial pardon for Dean Hancock and Russell Shankland.

  14. Bazza says:

    Let’s hope that from 2017 people will recognise that Jeremy Corbyn is a good left wing democratic socialist and probably the most socialist leader we have ever had.
    But the ‘Right Wing’ MPs have never given him a chance.
    They, usually from university to special paid advisor then to MP followed by retirement on a good pension and plenty of consultancy work have found JC (and more importantly members) have thrown a spanner in the works of their ‘careerism’ when politics for most of the Left should not be about a career but more of a calling.
    The future is simple, Left wing democratic socialists should choose and support left wing democratic socialists.
    And we need a narrative that connects with the masses of working peoples’ lives; and it is their labour which really creates the wealth and makes societies work.
    We need state-led public investment to power the economy out of recession (this will also feed the private sector supply chain) and countries everywhere should do the same to meet human need.
    We need to build the good standard affordable homes to socially rent and to buy which are desperately needed.
    We need the re-democratisation of society including the NHS and more democratic public ownership (giving staff and communities a say) including mail, rail, public utilities, some banks etc.
    We need to seriously address poverty, adult social care, and have democratic and free education.
    We need to seriously tax the rich and powerful and corporations plus to work with international partners to close the global illicit offshore banking industry.
    And here tax land.
    We need a shorter working week with good pay to harness new technology (to benefit working people and to free ‘time poor’ working humanity) and to put earlier retirement back on the political agenda.
    We simply need to put working people first and everything should be to serve us and should not be built around the present with everything serving big business and the rich and powerful.
    JC may not be the most dynamic Parliamentary performer (although has improved) but he shares our principles and has a commitment to help build a grassroots, bottom up, left wing democratic socialist party which should lead to a more caring and egalitarian society and hopefully World.
    So called ‘moderation’ (those who uncritically accept the parameters of Neo-Liberalism and have no alternatives) has failed miserably and the agenda has been hi-jacked by Fake Right Wing ‘Champions of the People’ (who support big business and its right to exploit working humanity) when what we need is a simple, brief and clear narrative that connects with diverse working people.
    Everything we offer should be about us instead of everything serving the needs of the rich and powerful!
    Solidarity!

  15. Bazza says:

    Good piece by Mick Brooks on the LRC website on Momentum.
    Perhaps whilst Momentum non-Labour members could focus on work in trade unions, Labour Momentum members (as well as working in unions) in Labour should:
    Try to elect left wing, pro-Corbyn officials on GMCs and at branches.
    Ask for potential left wing candidates for the NEC, NPF and CAC to submit 100 word statements on their ideas and select our slates OMOV then promote them.
    Get left wing resolutions to the NEC for Conference to change rules such as increasing the number of NEC places to reflect the new mass membership.
    Get left wing resolutions on policy to the NEC for Conference.
    Get left wing delegates elected to Annual Conference.
    Support left wing democratic socialists as Councillors, MPs etc.
    Let’s get organised in 2017!

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