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Peter Willsman reports from Labour’s Clause V meeting, May 2017

For new members, I will just explain what the ‘Clause V’ meeting actually is. It has pride of place in our party’s Constitutional Rules – “Chapter 1, Clause V – Party Programme”. It is when the party’s Mandarins get together to produce the party’s General Election Manifesto. When not in government, the Clause V meeting consists of the NEC, the Shadow Cabinet, the Parliamentary Committee of the PLP, the Leaders of the Scottish and Welsh Labour Parties, the Chair and the three Vice-Chairs of the National Policy Forum, and the eight Trade Union members of the TULO Contact Group. It is very encouraging to be able to record that almost all of the aforesaid representatives were in attendance.

The meeting was somewhat overshadowed by the disgraceful leaking of what the press has described as the ‘whole Manifesto draft’ to the Daily Telegraph, only a few hours before our meeting started. But no one allowed this to undermine their commitment in any way. The four-hour meeting was very friendly, disciplined (thanks to our splendid NEC Chair, Glenis) and very professional. Some two-hundred amendments and suggestions were put to the meeting, and each was responded to by the appropriate Shadow Cabinet minister. Almost every comrade in the room made a contribution. Consensus was reached on every single proposal – there was no requirement for even one single vote, except of course, the unanimous endorsement of our four-hours work at the end of the deliberations. Following the meeting, all of the consensus material will be sharpened up for the publisher. The Manifesto is likely to be published next week.

Leader’s Welcome

Jeremy, together with Andrew Gywnne and Ian Lavery gave an assessment of the campaign so far. He gave a ringing endorsement to the massive contribution being made by our members and staff throughout our party. Jeremy is constantly crisscrossing England, Scotland, and Wales, speaking at events and joining the doorstep canvassing. Yesterday Jeremy had attended no less than five rallies, and in York some two-thousand members of the public gave an enthusiastic welcome to the Labour team. Jeremy stressed how vital it is that our Manifesto (for England, Scotland, and Wales) addresses the key concerns of voters in the diverse communities across the country. (The SEC and WEC have responsibility for their respective complementary manifestos.)

Finalising the overall Manifesto

Before moving on to the draft document, a brief report was given of the leaking of the ‘draft’. The Clause V meeting deeply regretted that at the highest levels of our party, there are those who are completely disloyal and who are a total disgrace.

The meeting then went through the draft section-by-section. A wide range of amendments/suggestions were made in relation to each section.

The first section addressed our overall strategy for rebuilding a strong economy after years of austerity and failures under the Tories and Lib Dems. Even the Sunday Times has underlined this failure. This Tory-supporting paper has pointed out that Labour’s proposals at the 2015 General Election included no plans for a budget surplus, but rather the policy was to continue to borrow to invest (in practice, leading to about £90 billion more debt by 2020 according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies). The Sunday Times concluded “in fact, it now looks as if we will end up with something like the numbers set-out by Labour 2 years ago, not the budget surplus promised by the Tories.” So instead of investing and growing, as Labour would have done, we have had massive austerity, falling wages, cuts to services, low productivity, and debt.

As I have said, the Manifesto will probably be launched next week. Obviously I cannot reveal details in advance! Nevertheless, the following is the summary of the Manifesto key points contained in The Guardian and elsewhere on 11th May, which are based on the leaked material. (I am of course not saying The Guardian is totally accurate, I’m only stating what is in The Guardian.)

  • Take parts of Britain’s energy industry back into public ownership, alongside railways and Royal Mail.
  • An annual injection of £6 billion in the NHS and £1.6 billion for social care.
  • Build 100,000 new council homes a year.
  • Institute a 20:1 pay cap for businesses with public contracts.
  • A Ministry of Labour to oversee a wide range of reforms to workers’ rights.
  • Getting rid of zero-hours contracts.
  • £10 minimum wage.
  • Borrow £2.5 billion to invest in infrastructure.
  • The Tory’s planned increase in the pension age beyond 66 will be scrapped.
  • A phased abolition of tuition fees. Restoring the Education Maintenance Allowance that were paid under Labour to 16-18 year olds in full-time study.
  • Greatly increased finance for child care.
  • Banning fracking.
  • Reverse the Tory handouts of cuts to inheritance and corporation tax. Scrap the bedroom tax. Develop a more progressive tax system.
  • Extend abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland.
  • The policies will be fully costed and there will be tax raises for those earning over £80,000 a year. 

I can also reveal some of the suggestions and proposals that I personally put to the meeting.

These included: that Labour’s clear opposition to the divisive separation at age 11 into grammar schools or secondary moderns should be clearly spelled out; we should remove charity status from private schools once and for all, saving some £100 million a year; much closer links between schools and mental health service, given the increase pressures and anxieties faced by school children; the totally unworkable Universal Credit System should be abolished before it causes even more havoc; there needs to be massive restrictions on the numbers of betting shops in town centres – they are now ubiquitous in some neighbourhoods; the ‘wheels-to-work’ initiative should be examined, under this scheme local authorities leased mopeds to young people from low income families to get to work/training/further education; local authorities must be given much more power to raise funds on the bond markets to pay for council housing (given the low interest rates this is a ‘no-brainer’); the increasing inequalities within council tax must be urgently addressed; leasehold tenure should be phased-out altogether and should be replaced by common-hold tenure; private landlords must be licensed; the exciting initiative of community farms should be explored – these farms are worked by ex-offenders or homeless people and in this way they contribute to society and have a home.

It was very encouraging that most of my proposals were sympathetically received by the assembled comrades. Soon I will be reading the Manifesto to see just how sympathetically! Of course, it is also the case that our able team of Shadow Cabinet ministers may well pursue my proposals even if they’re not in the actual Manifesto.

Jeremy’s Message to the Meeting and to our Party

The meeting concluded with Jeremy giving huge thanks to all those who have been involved with working on the draft Manifesto. We now have a set of powerful pledges that directly relate to the concerns on the doorstep. We must ensure that all voters get our message loud and clear – that Labour will build a diverse society to be proud of. We did it in 1945-51, when we faced both a much bigger deficit and economic problems. We can certainly do it again, and we will!

At this point, I led the raucous cheering and clapping. There were comrades at the meeting that I had not seen for some twenty years – their commitment to the cause was all too crystal clear.

Postscript 

For the assistance of members and candidates: CLPD is composing an ever-longer list of ‘Election Points’ (see CLPD’s website). These are to assist in speeches, articles, and on the doorstep. If you have a good election point you would like added, please let me know.

10 Comments

  1. Bazza says:

    Yes the manifesto is brilliant and latest news 0.5% Robin Hood tax on finance – brilliant too & will give us £26b! A young working class lass at a bus stop in Keighley – the day after the Referendum result said she was happy and next get the Tories out and Labour in!
    Perhaps we need to remind people that Neo-Liberalism has captured the Tory Party and people feel POWERLESS and everything is about money, markets, profits, outsourcing, fake self-employment, zero hours and essentially CHEAP LABOUR and people are sick of it!. Explain this simply and argue WITH LABOUR AS CITIZENS WE NEED TO TAKE BACK CONTROL FROM TORY NEO-LIBERALISM!
    We can win the war of IDEAS but the media is obsessed with image – a PM if a male must be a pretty man but if you were about to have a life saving operation would you say no if you thought the surgeon was ugly! AS CITIZENS WE ARE NOTHING WITHOUT IDEAS! LAB 4 HOPE X

  2. Richard MacKinnon says:

    When it comes down to the recriminations, on the 9 June this piece of economic illiteracy will be exhibit A.
    Labour have only themselves to blame. It is not an accident that they are about to go burst. Sometimes that happens in business through no fault of the company management. This is self inflicted mismanagement in a scale never seen before. It is 100% deserved. It is what happens when you appoint self deluded, out of touch with reality, political caricature fools from the last century to run the party. People that are in place by default.
    It is what happens when a political party is morally bankrupt. Labour gave the country and the world, a leader in Tony Blair that should have been charged with crimes against humanity. This Labour party would not even consure Tony Blair for misleading parliament. Tony Blair will now destroy the Labour Party.
    What beautiful retribution.

    1. James Martin says:

      Richard, I honestly don’t know why you are tolerated on this site when you bring no intelligent debate to it at all. If you wish to debate policies then go ahead, otherwise just do one will you as you have embarrassed yourself far too much already.

  3. Richard MacKinnon says:

    James,
    Dont talk to me about lacking intelligence. There is no intelligence left in Labour. Your party is in the hands of comics. Your party is just about to implode. The result in June is going to be so cataclysmic there will be no way back.
    Blair is in the wings. He sees an opportunity to become the leader of a new mainstream opposition in British politics, as Macron has done in France. His plans are in place. He is betting everything on a Brexit failure. Whether he is right or wrong Labour are history
    James, understand this, I will never be embarassed by what I believe. Why should I be? I am only telling it as it is. As someone once said, you dont a weather man to know which way the wind blows.
    And let me assure you, I am not going anywhere. I will be here on Leftfutures on 9 June to say ‘I told you so’.

    1. Tim Barlow says:

      Fuck off, MacKinnon!

  4. Charlie Lopez says:

    100,000 council houses per year must have a stipulation that they are not not be sold off into private ownership at a later date. Or we will just end up back where we started.
    The
    newly renationalised industries must include worker participation. The people who do the jobs have the best understanding of how to make them run effectively. The previous centralised models run by bureaucrats in Whitehall left a lot to be desired and allowed the Tories to fool the public into believing that privatisation would make things run better.

    1. Steven Johnston says:

      The Tories fooled no one. If you are going to run capitalism at least do it in the most efficient way.
      Nationalised industries are not efficient, most of them were highly inefficient, gave a poor service and offered low wages.
      If you don’t want to end up back where you started then don’t make the same mistakes all over again.

    2. Bazza says:

      Good points Charlie and we need democratic public ownership with staff and communities having a say and close to people.
      Interestingly some people criticise Corbyn supporters but some sociologists did some interesting research a few years ago and found people have beliefs and support leaders who share their beliefs.
      Even if you present powerful arguments against their beliefs they just search for new arguments that chime with their beliefs (applies to Tories, Labour, Lib Dems etc) so in fact the battle seems to be amongst those with no or weak beliefs.
      So Corbyn supporters are with JC because he shares our ideas.
      I am really puzzled and rather bored by the ‘three wise Tory men’ (or it could be one person) on here – what is it they/he doesn’t understand about our masthead Left Futures? The Democratic Left!
      If I could be arsed would go on Conservative Home and invade their space but have an election to try to win!
      Please Mr Moderator free us from these bores zzzzzz!

  5. Bazza says:

    Just been to a fantastic rally in Leeds for Jeremy Corbyn outside the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds LS6 scheduled for 4.00pm, Monday 15/5 – I say rally as there were thousands patiently waiting in the intermittent rain who waited 1.5 hours to hear Jeremy but a meeting was supposed to take place in the club (capacity 450).
    And the solidarity in the crowd was great!
    I have been involved in Labour politics since the late 1970’s and I have never experienced anything like this in my life, to quote the song by Thunderclap Newman “There’s Something in the Air.”
    And Labour is up to 32% in the opinion polls (higher than Miliband and Brown received).
    The UK is divided over Brexit but perhaps we could all unite with Labour in TAKING BACK CONTROL FROM TORY NEO-LIBERALISM! Solidarity!

    1. Steven Johnston says:

      Nurse! The screens…quick!

      Forgive me but why does it matter that Corbyn’s poll ratings are above both those of Miliband and Brown, when they are below those of the May.

      Actually are the ratings down to the leaders?

      This cult of personality for Corbyn would shame even the DPRK!

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