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Labour Students’ OMOV costing casts doubt over consultation process

Many suspected that the decision at last year’s Labour Students Conference to delay a verdict on implementing One Member One Vote (OMOV) until after a consultation was simply a delaying tactic so that OMOV could be voted down at National Council this year. Those fears were confirmed the moment delegates arrived on Saturday as we were handed the results of the ‘consultation’ containing some incredible claims about the effects of changing the voting system- claims that were clearly designed to pre-determine the outcome of the vote.

Chief amongst them was the notion that the cost of a simple online vote would consume a third of NOLS’ budget, nearly £12,500! However, online voting could be brought in for NOLS for less than £500 using the same system employed by the Scottish Lib Dems and Liberal Youth across the UK, OpaVote. Even though the main demand was for OMOV-based national committee elections only, the figures that were supplied by the consultation pertained to the cost of online voting for every position imaginable, including regional reps, liberation positions and the Scottish and Welsh Labour Students Committees. The huge discrepancy was also partly due to choosing the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of voting systems from ERS (despite our modest needs) and the apparent complete failure to research any alternatives. Is it any wonder that the Party has a money problem if this is the way important financial decisions are made?

Concerns over cost were understandably raised in the following debate regarding the impact on Labour Students’ ability to campaign and subsidise events, but if the National Committee were proposing to pay more than 25 times over the odds, the conclusion must be that this was either rank incompetence or flat out deception.

All this meant that legitimate debates about the impact of OMOV on gender balancing, or the disgracefully low BAME representation under the delegate system were denied the time and attention they deserved.

The OMOV consultation was the result of months (in some cases years) of work from those inside NOLS wanting to see a living, breathing and democratic student wing for our party. That the National Committee would so brazenly derail it just goes to show how far the small group of 20 or so friends that control the NOLS machinery will go to ensure that power continues to be decided through patronage and fixing rather than through the collective voice of the 6,000 members. Those members have been badly let down and now it will be up to the National Committee to make a convincing account of themselves during this process or the awkward questions will not go away.

3 Comments

  1. Ric Euteneuer says:

    How ironic – when I was involved in student politics back in the middle ages, NOLS and the right of the party – Progress’s many predecessors – were very, very keen on OMOV, as they thought it would deliver the party from the monsters of the left. When it didn’t – London’s Mayoral selection, Wales’s First Minister, then it was not to be used. Plus ca change

  2. Rod says:

    “rank incompetence or flat out deception”

    I’d go for “flat out deception” – they’re keen to develop the qualities essential to a career as a Labour MP.

  3. swatantra says:

    Nothing beats a Paper Ballot. just set up Polling Stations in the foyer of Colleges, so students can vote when they bother to turn up for lectures.
    Similarly, for all election have Polling Booths at Railway Stations and Bus Stations and Airports.
    And abolish all internet, telephone and postal balloting. OMOV is the only way for a fair vote.

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