Latest post on Left Futures

How to make Labour more democratic

When the local election are over, dedicated Labour activists have time to reflect on Labour’s conference and what changes are necessary to give Labour’s members the voice that Ed Miliband promised but which Refounding Labour failed to deliver. Apart from making sure you have a good delegate and your constituency party nominates for this year’s elections, you can also make sure it uses its chance to submit a rule change by 21 June.

Key issues which affect the working of conference and the selection of parliamentary candidates on which the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) has circulated model rule changes this year are as follows (click on the images to download):

The Three year rule: In recent years, the rule book has been increasingly abused to stop constituency party rule changes being considered. The so-called three-year rule was designed to prevent repeated discussion of the same issue year after year and that’s how it was interpreted for years. In recent years, however, it has been interpreted increasingly widely and unpredictably. Amendments on completely different issues have been ruled out if they happen to fall in the same clause (that could cover several pages) as the previous amendment. In some cases, the earlier one was put by the NEC only days before, or was no more than a drafting change. The amendment clarifies the rule, and would prevent abuse.

Electing the CAC by OMOV: The Conference Arrangements Committee is critical to whether the party continues to have an annual rally or regains a genuine policy making conference that allows party and union delegates real influence. This year’s election of the two CLP members will offer a real choice between the two. However, the fact that delegates will decide the election rather than all party members makes it prone to the sort of improper influence we saw throughout the New Labour years, and which still persists. It’s time to bring the election of the CAC in line with all the other national bodies and give all party members a vote.

Stopping parachuting and shortlist-rigging by party managers in parliamentary selections: For too long, the friends and bag-carriers of the powerful have been imposed on local parties to the exclusion of local and left-wing candidates. In many cases the time taken to organise the NEC selection or shortlisting process was no quicker than would have been possible at a local level by reducing the time allowed in the normal timetables for selection. This amendment restricts the imposition of candidates to the most extreme circumstances, and where the choice of candidate or shortlist, that decisions are taken jointly with local representatives. Where it is necessary to impose a shortlist, it should still be done jointly, and from those nominated locally whenever possible.

Tightening up trigger ballots: Trigger ballots for sitting MPs as they are now aren’t just a failure of accountability but actually make it difficult to remove even the most unpopular MPs, as was the experience of East Lothian in the last parliament. This amendment (based on the TULO submission to Refounding Labour) improves accountability by forcing a full selection process if only one third of members/affiliates want one, and makes the voting fairer by weighting branches according to their delegate entitlement (or what it would be if they did have a GC).

A proper nomination process: In recent years, parliamentary selections have not incorporated a proper nominations process that allows party branches and affiliated organisations to interview prospective candidates. This means that some of the best candidates have been overlooked. Although branches can once again nominate (which is a welcome improvement), they can only do so from candidate CVs. This amendment restores the right to interview candidates at nomination stage.

A more democratic Young Labour: At last Labour is beginning to recruit more young people and a healthy independent youth organisation is vital to enable them to win over the newest generation of voters but also to provide them with the self-confidence and experience to play their full part in all the party’s activities as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the culture of “command and control” has not disappeared from Young Labour. These two reforms would introduce an all-member ballot for the national chair with a voice in an electoral college for young trade unionists, and provide a proper basis for policy motions to the Young Labour conference.

A local electoral college: The idea of a local electoral college to choose leaders of Labour groups was floated in the first draft of Refounding Labourbut was regrettably dropped from the final document approved by annual conference. Giving party members more of a role and influence within our party was a key commitment by Ed Miliband and a wider franchise for electing council leaders would be an important step forward at a local level. Recent changes to local government structures and arrangements have increased the power of group leaders and tended to weaken their accountability to the rest of the group. A local electoral college would enhance the accountability to both councillors and party and strengthen the link between group and party.

There are also other model rule changes on the re-creation of a class of “affiliated members”, and the creation of a Labour Party Ombudsperson.

Any rule change proposal must be submitted by 21 June through Membersnet. If you need any furtherinformation, contact CLPD at info[at]

Image credits: 123RF Stock Photo


  1. John reid says:

    If you don’t like how the m.p is picked to run it, why don’t use the trade union block vote to pick them the way they’ve Picked the Euro m.p choice?

  2. Robert says:

    John your not having a go at the Unions again mate, never mind I’m sure you will be asked to give a few quid more to the Newer Labour regime as labour moves back to it’s roots of New Labour

  3. peter willsman says:

    JR has an important role.He is an ever present devils advocate.If JR did not exist we would have to invent him.Come to think of it,does JR exist?Which CLP is JR in?

  4. John reid says:

    Hornchurch Upminster, and Romford

  5. Uglyfatbloke says:

    What’s the point of democratising the party if the party is opposed to democratising the country? This is the only nation in Europe that does not have a democratic electoral system – in fact the EC had to make a special exemption to its rules in order to let Britain in at all.
    Look at Scotland …traditionally Labour gets 40% of the vote and 80% of the seats, but listen for the cries of ‘foul’ if the gnats repeat their 45% vote from the last Holyrood election and sweep up 30+ gains from Labour and the Glib-Dumbs.

  6. peter willsman says:

    In respose to Ugly:Capitalism is inherently undemocratic and corrupt.In the capitalist system no electoral arrangements can be properly democratic in a text book sense.What matters is to get a majority Labour Govt. that can address social inequalities, as in 1945.Under PR there would never be majority Labour govts.No doubt this is why the CBI has backed PR in the past! Under FPTP you get govts.that 40% have voted for.Under PR you always get coalitions and thus govts. that no one whatsoever has voted for.Ugly needs to come out of his ivory tower.

  7. Matty says:

    So JR is either a member of 3 different clp’s or he isn’t sure which one of those clp’s he is a member of, or maybe the 3 Havering clp’s have formed a joint party of some kind. Both myself and Pete went up to Upminster to support John Cryer in the past (Pete more than me), give the comrades my regards and best wishes.

© 2024 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma