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Time to get your contemporary motions in for Labour’s conference

Conference MotionsThis year, Labour’s national policy forum did not agree to a single minority report. Nor did any policy papers include even a single option for decision by conference. This means that meaningful policy debates at this year’s conference, the last before the general election, can only happen on the basis of contemporary and emergency motions. The deadline for receipt of contemporary motions is Thursday 11 September at 12 noon. The title has a maximum of 10 words and the motion a maximum of 250 words.

Unfortunately, there are a number of hurdles to jump in order to get a motion accepted, including meeting the ridiculously complicated Criteria for determining if a motion is contemporary”, and not dealing with issues already dealt with by the national policy forum — though how are constituency parties supposed to know what these issues are when no report has yet been published? As a service to our readers, we we therefore reproduce a number of model motions circulated by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy below. Please feel free to cut and paste these to take to your local party meetings. Remember that if you add words, you must make sure that the total remains below 250.

Emergency motions must:

  • be about an issue which could not reasonably have been the subject of a contemporary motion, or
  • have arisen after the closing date for contemporary motions -­ Friday 11 September at 12 noon, or
  • is an issue of urgent and immediate importance to the discussion by the whole Labour Party at Annual Conference
  • be received by Friday 19 September at 12 noon.
  • emergency motions must be emailed (no form required) to CAC@labour.org.uk and a hard copy, signed by the CLP secretary or Chair, sent to the Conference Arrangements Committee, The Labour Party, One Brewer’s Green, Buckingham Gate, London SW1H 0RH or faxed to 020 7783 1506.

The model motions are as follows:

Crisis in Gaza

Conference remembers that on 3 August 2014 an Israeli missile struck next to a UN school being used for civilian shelter, resulting in 9 deaths and 27 injuries.

Conference expresses alarm at the UN (OCHA) assessment that between 7 July and 13 August 1,965 Palestinian, mainly civilian, and 67 Israelis, three of whom were civilians, have been killed, and 9,986 Palestinians injured.

Conference notes that under the laws of war ‘parties to a conflict are prohibited to target civilians and required to take all feasible precautions to avoid attacks that result in civilian casualties’ and ‘unnecessary attacks on their means of livelihood such as farms, housing, transport and health facilities, are forbidden.’ Conference notes that the loss of life and destruction of civilian infrastructure indicates Israeli Forces used disproportionate and reckless force.

Conference highlights the 12 August UN OCHA assessment that:

15 hospitals, 18 clinics, 14 UNRWA installations, 48 WASH facilities, 18 ambulances, 230 schools, and 41 mosques have been damaged or destroyed and that that over 100,000 people have no home to return to.

Conference therefore calls for:

  • An end to the arms trade, and all military-industrial collaboration, with Israel.

  • The Israeli State to pay for humanitarian assistance and rebuilding Gaza.

  • An immediate lifting of the blockade of Gaza, allowing free movement of people, goods and aid.

  • Suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement due to Israel’s breaches of the human rights’ conditions.

  • Support for violations of international law being referred to the International Criminal Court.

246 words

 

End austerity and the cost of living crisis 

Conference notes:

  1. The ONS announcement on 13 August that nominal wages fell by 0.2% in the second quarter of 2014 with the fall in inflation-adjusted pay since 2009 representing the most sustained decline in real wages since the 1870s.
  2. The Trust for London analysis published on 14 August that the number of low paid jobs in London has increased for the fourth year running, indicating growth of a low-pay culture.
  3. Pay restraint in the historically low-paid public sector has resulted in local government wages falling by 18% since 2010, with over 400,000 workers earning less than £15,000 per year, and has resulted in unprecedented joint action by Unite, Unison and GMB.
  4. For the first time on record the majority of people living in poverty in the UK are from working families.

Conference believes a cost of living crisis from falling incomes, through real terms wage cuts, the growth of precarious employment and reductions in social security payments, stem from Tory austerity policies.

Conference therefore supports the fair pay in local government campaign led by Unite, Unison and GMB, and the Britain Needs a Pay Rise campaign led by the TUC.

Conference resolves that Labour would end the cost-of-living crisis through:

  • ending public sector pay restraint, including increasing local government pay by £1 per hour;

  • ending restrictions of social security payments including abolishing the national social security cap and household cap;

  • increasing the National Minimum Wage by £1.50 and legislating for a National Living Wage.

248 words

 

Housing

Conference notes Shelter’s research, published on 29 July 2014, showing that many 20 to 34 year old working adults have no choice but to remain living with their parents because of the lack of affordable housing. Shelter’s Robb Campbell says that those that do not have the option of living with their parents ‘face a lifetime of unstable, expensive private renting.’

Conference also notes that mental health and young people’s welfare organisations have expressed concern about the housing difficulties faced by young people with mental health problems and those leaving care.

Conference notes that on 7 August 2014 Shelter reported that a major shortage of affordable homes in the capital means that London councils are struggling to find suitable housing for homeless families in need of support, resulting in 1 in 3 homeless families being stuck in temporary accommodation for over two years.

Conference notes that, as a result of low pay and high housing costs, the number of working people relying on housing benefit to boost their income, has doubled in five years to a figure of 962,000 in 2014.

These examples of the growing crisis of affordability in housing demonstrate social and economic problems that urgently need to be addressed. The Tory government is ignoring this crisis. Conference calls upon the Labour Party to expose Tory failure and address Shelter’s call for bold action that will meet the urgent need for affordable housing and prevent further inflation of housing costs.

242 words

 

End the division in Tower Hamlets

Conference notes:

  1. In August Tower Hamlets Council backed the ‘Save our Surgeries’ campaign and launched its ‘Summer Night Lights’ project to tackle crime.
  2. These and other such Labour policies are the initiatives of Lutfur Rahman, the former Labour Leader of the Council, who was elected for a second term as the Borough’s Mayor in May this year.
  3. In 2010 Lutfur Rahman overwhelmingly won the selection contest in Tower Hamlets to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor. But subsequently, following an Islamophobic Tory campaign, the NEC removed Lutfur Rahman as Labour candidate, without investigating the situation.
  4. In the 2010 and 2014 Tower Hamlets Mayoral elections Labour’s previous support divided – Lutfur Rahman winning as an independent candidate and Labour’s reputation damaged.

Conference believes:

  1. The NEC has a responsibility to help bring this division to an end.
  2. The Party’s priority, including in Tower Hamlets, should be focussed on removing the Tory-led government and drawing together the broadest possible coalition of supporters. The division within Tower Hamlets, with Labour publicly fighting Britain’s first ever ethnic minority directly-elected Mayor, does not assist Labour’s national standing amongst Muslim and minority voters.

Conference calls on the NEC to initiate a process to bring Lutfur Rahman back into the Labour Party at the earliest opportunity, to heal the division and send out the clear signal that Labour stands for uniting with Britain’s diverse communities to build a better and inclusive society for all.

242 words

 

NHS: resisting the Tory threat can’t wait until the election

Conference welcomes the countrywide demonstrations in support of our NHS, including the August-September march from Jarrow through over 20 other towns and cities.

Conference agrees with Andy Burnham’s 29 July declaration that the Tories’ privatisation of our NHS is proceeding so fast that our response can’t wait until the coming election.

Conference accordingly applauds our Party leadership’s support for the Private Member’s Bill being introduced by Clive Efford MP on 21 November to stop the Tories’ unaccountable privatisations before it is too late.

Conference notes that the Department of Health’s recently-published accounts for 2013/14 reveal that £10.02 billion of NHS spending went on the purchase of healthcare from non-NHS bodies such as Virgin Care and Care UK.

Over the same year 279,200 ambulances were delayed in queues outside A&E departments for more than 30 minutes, with a further 30,600 kept waiting for more than twice as long.

Conference reaffirms Labour’s responsibility to campaign with healthworkers and all NHS supporters to :

  • Repeal the Health & Social Care Act;
  • Rebuild an NHS that is publicly owned, publicly (and adequately) funded and publicly accountable;
  • Ensure that our NHS is excluded from international ‘free trade’ agreements;
  • Reduce patients’ waiting-times;
  • Improve nurse-patient ratios;
  • End extortionate PFI charges;
  • Ensure appropriate terms and conditions for staff.

It was Labour that fought to create the NHS. It is now up to Labour to fight to defend it.

230 words

 

Britain’s railways: passengers, not profits, are Labour’s priority

Conference notes:

  1. This August’s report that the publicly-run east coast mainline repaid no less than £235 million to the government for the year 2013/14, an increase of 12% over the previous year.
  2. The subsequent insistence by Conservative ministers that they will not only continue outsourcing Northern Rail and TransPennine Express but that they will also return the east coast mainline to private ownership, despite the evidence of other private franchises indicating that this will further increase British fare levels (already the highest in Europe).
  3. The 19 August announcement of the inflation figures on which next year’s fare-rises will be based, exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis confronting many passengers.

Conference therefore welcomes the commitment of Labour’s leadership to put a cap on annual fare-rises; but conference is not persuaded that merely ‘reforming’ the franchise system would benefit the British public.

Conference calls on our Party leadership to reconsider whether taxpayers should be obliged to finance any franchising process at all, in that franchising is inherently expensive, complicated, time-consuming and open to legal challenge.

Conference welcomes our leaders’ recognition that ‘the first priority should be passengers, not profit’; and therefore believes that the income contributed by passengers and other taxpayers should be spent on holding down fares and investing in service improvements, not on paying for a franchising procedure or on subsidising (as the Conservatives demand) the unearned dividends of private company shareholders.

233 words

 

Disarm Trident

Conference notes the Message to Congress by President Obama of 24 July on the extension of the US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement.

Conference further notes that the Prime Minister failed to consult or inform Parliament before signing the extension of this Treaty and regrets this disregard for democracy by the Government.

Conference recognises the extension of the Treaty is to permit ‘the transfer of classified information concerning atomic weapons’ in order ‘to assist the United Kingdom in maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent’.

Conference further regrets that the extension to the US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement runs counter to our Non-Proliferation Treaty commitment to disarm our nuclear weapons.

Conference notes that Labour’s National Policy Forum of 18-20 July discussed almost 50 submissions on Trident.

Conference welcomes the NPF decision to recognise the success of past international bans on weapons of mass destruction such as landmines, cluster munitions, and chemical and biological weapons and supports a definitive commitment to disarmament.

Conference resolves that Labour will support an international process to ban nuclear weapons, as a complementary and necessary mechanism to our commitment to disarm UK nuclear weapons under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Conference resolves that Labour will disarm Trident and re-allocate spending to where it best serves our society, including developing an industrial plan to make use of the skills of those workers in the sector.

221 words

2 Comments

  1. David Pavett says:

    GAZA. Is there any point to a resolution on Gaza that does not point to the need to resolve the fundamental problem causing the repeated conflicts: Israelis occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land and its refusal to allow the creation of a viable Palestinian state? I suggest also that it would make sense to call on Hamas to stop sending those idiotic rockets which achieve nothing except to give the Israeli’s the excuse they are looking for.

    AUSTERITY. The unions have blown the anti-austerity campaign out of the water by their support for its continuation under Labour. Perhaps the objective is just to give the issue an airing. It can’t be more since union action at the NPF has ensured the success of the austerity line.

    HOUSING. Is it not obvious that someone will say that the problem is indeed terrible and that is why Labour proposes to build 200,000 new homes each year and to give greater security in the rented sector. The motion doesn’t actually call for anything specific and doesn’t really add anything to Labour policy. The platform could accept it and it would make no difference. I don’t see the point of this motion.

    TOWER HAMLETS. Asking conference to support not only the reinstatement of Lutfur Rahman but also to accept that Labour action was due to accepting “an Islamophobic Tory campaign” just isn’t going to happen. This appears to be a case of people working off their feelings in a motion rather than just stating what is needed to get the key point accepted.

    NHS. I suppose their is no harm in reaffirming what has already been agreed. Surely the writers of the motion cannot have meant to say “279,000 ambulances were delayed”!

    RAILWAYS. It seems a bit of a step backwards not to mention the need for public ownership and the fact that this is supported by majority of voters and Party members. Just doubting the franchise reforms is decidedly weaker than the resolution passed at last year’s conference. We we told that there would be a motion on railway renationalisation. This does not appear to be it.

    TRIDENT. Should it not be mentioned that most (all?) of the Trident motions for the NPF were calling for it not to be renewed? I do not believe that the Non-Proliferation Treaty commits the UK to disarming its nuclear weapons in any tangible sense. What is “our commitment to disarm UK nuclear weapons under the NPT”? The provisions of the NPT are actually very vague and cannot be taken as an immediate, or even near-future commitment to any specific disarmament measure. The Wikipedea article on the NPT puts it like this

    Article VI of the NPT represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States. The NPT’s preamble contains language affirming the desire of treaty signatories to ease international tension and strengthen international trust so as to create someday the conditions for a halt to the production of nuclear weapons, and treaty on general and complete disarmament that liquidates, in particular, nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles from national arsenals.

    The wording of the NPT’s Article VI arguably imposes only a vague obligation on all NPT signatories to move in the general direction of nuclear and total disarmament, saying, “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament.” Under this interpretation, Article VI does not strictly require all signatories to actually conclude a disarmament treaty. Rather, it only requires them “to negotiate in good faith.”

    On the other hand, some governments, especially non-nuclear-weapon states belonging to the Non-Aligned Movement, have interpreted Article VI’s language as being anything but vague. In their view, Article VI constitutes a formal and specific obligation on the NPT-recognized nuclear-weapon states to disarm themselves of nuclear weapons, and argue that these states have failed to meet their obligation. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, issued 8 July 1996, unanimously interprets the text of Article VI as implying that

    “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”

    The ICJ opinion notes that this obligation involves all NPT parties (not just the nuclear weapon states) and does not suggest a specific time frame for nuclear disarmament. (Emphasis added)

    This is hardly an issue that can be slipped by with the simplistic assertions of the proposed motion.

  2. Peter Willsman says:

    Some good points David.We need you in CLPD!!
    Yours,Peter W,Sec’y CLPD.

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