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There’s a smell of roses at Labour headquarters

red rosesNever let it be said that Left Futures never has a good word for Labour headquarters and staff in the Leader’s office. Today, we have particular reason to praise their judgement.

At today’s meeting of Labour’s national executive committee, two rule changes proposed by CLPs having been promoted by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, have been endorsed by the executive based on officers recommendations. That’s not unprecedented – for a very short period in the early 1980s it was almost common – but it is not a frequent occurrence. The amendments recommended for approval by party conference are:

  1. The election of the conference arrangements committee constituency representatives by one-member one-vote (OMOV) of party members instead of just by conference delegates, proposed by Beverley & Holderness, Exeter, Leyton and Wanstead and Liverpool Walton constituency parties.
  2. That front bench MPs shall not be eligible to be constituency representatives on the conference arrangements committee, proposed by Burnley constituency party.

The first of these rule changes would enable all party members to be involved in the election of those who make crucial decisions about what may be discussed at Labour’s annual conference. And perhaps even more importantly, it puts an end to the blatant interference in and manipulation of elections that started in the New Labour years when Margaret McDonagh was general secretary. It’s simply not possible to fix OMOV elections, and once all representatives of party members are elected in this way, the days of fiddled internal elections will be over.

Furthermore, on officers’ advice, the national executive also effectively accepted the longstanding argument of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy that the ‘three year rule’ in the party rules needed amendment. This was designed to prevent repeated discussion at party conference of the same issue in the party rules.

Unfortunately, the rule referred not to an issue but the a “part of the constitution or rules of the party“, and this was eventually so widely as rule out almost any rule change at all. The officer’s advice is, we are told, that “the current rule is not clearly understood by CLPs and affiliates submitting rule changes and it sometimes poses problems of interpretation for the CAC.” That’s one way of putting it. Another would be to say that it facilitated continual abuse in order to prevent constituencies changing the rule book. But we nevertheless congratulate Iain McNichol and his staff on their wisdom.

Although the executive has not accepted the same wording as proposed by East Devon, City of Durham, Islington North, Mid-Bedfordshire and Bury North CLPs, most of the wording they have proposed instead is drawn from CLPD drafts. In future we understand that “no resolution to amend the constitution or rules of the Party having the same or a similar primary objective shall appear on the agenda of the three following annual party conferences.”

Essentially that means the same issue can’t be discussed (unless proposed by the NEC who are exempt from the rule) more than once in four years.

That is the way it should have been all along but it is very welcome that Iain McNicol intends to being practice into line with the party’s agreed intention.

Image credit: © subbotina / 123RF Stock Photo

One Comment

  1. Robert says:

    Good at least something for the left to smile about, although you’d still be in tears with the rest of it.

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