“Force of conservatism” in the Labour Party will not be defeated until the left wakes up to the importance of structures, a former CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes told the Morning Star this week. Hayes is standing for election to Labour’s influential conference arrangements committee.
He said the party’s policy-making structures should empower members and “not officialdom.” His comments came after Labour rightwingers won key positions at the London Young Labour conference last weekend, due to being better organised that their left-wing rivals. Mr Hayes, who is standing alongside north London party activist Seema Chandwani on the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance slate, warned that the right had upped its game following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.
“The forces of conservatism have not gone away,” he told the Star. “Sometimes people think that structures are dry as dust, but they’re vitally important.”
The committee is regularly criticised by left activists for keeping policy motions and rule changes proposed by left activists off the agenda at the Labour conference. It is made up of five members elected by the whole conference — effectively chosen by the unions — and two Constituency Labour Party (CLP) reps elected in a one-member one-vote postal ballot. The current CLP reps are MP and former TV presenter Gloria de Piero and former MEP and Eastenders actor Lord Cashman. “For a long time, conference has been underplayed,” Mr Hayes added. “The minimum wage began at Labour’s women’s conference, and there’s something to say for the wisdom of crowds.
“I was involved in union negotiations to get issues onto the agenda, and when we have got our way, it was because the unions have acted as one. The CLPs are not as experienced.”