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Peter Willsman reports from Labour’s May executive

NEC Report Pete WNational Executive Committee 17 May 2016

The major subject for debate at the NEC were the reports from Baroness Jan Royall. These were handed round at the meeting and collected up at the end. In addition, Shami Chakrabarti attended the NEC to discuss the framework for her inquiry. There was a very friendly and positive attitude at the NEC reflecting the relative success in the recent elections and the general consensus that the bulk of the Party is pulling together.

Leader’s Report

Jeremy gave his assessment of the election results, drawing attention to several victories in the South and, of course, to our splendid results in Bristol and London. Jeremy said he had visited Bristol several times and from the beginning had stressed to members and Party staff that Bristol was winnable, especially with our impressive candidate. Furthermore our two new MPs have been warmly welcomed by the PLP.

Jeremy’s message to the NEC and the whole Party is that we should always believe that Labour’s vision can get across to the electorate and thus we can win. There is of course much more work to be done, particularly in setting out a comprehensive programme for government. But if we believe in ourselves and our policies we will win.

In relation to Scotland, Jeremy made the point that the commitment of long term Labour voters to our Party has been in decline for some years. As he promised, Jeremy always visits Scotland at least once a month. The party has much work to do, but again, if there is the political will we can recover. Jeremy emphasised that the SNP are a walking contradiction. Their policies often point in opposite directions e.g. their broad economic policy vis a vis their talk of workers’ rights; and higher education opportunities in contrast to their policies on further education. Also the SNP will struggle because they are trying to appeal to all sections of the whole political spectrum. In the long term this is unsustainable. North of the Border, our policies were popular in the polls but unfortunately this did not carry across sufficiently to votes.

Jeremy emphasised that the policy framework that we are developing will have social solidarity as a central theme: a progressive agenda especially addressing workers’ rights and the rights of the self-employed, which are often neglected. We are now locked in a battle with the Tories over human rights. Jeremy outlined how he wants this campaign to develop. He congratulated our parliamentary spokespeople and the unions on the successful campaign against universal academies. As Jeremy pointed out, one of the Tories’ aims was to destroy national collective bargaining. Jeremy also highlighted our successes in relation to police and crime commissioners, highlighting Humberside. He pointed out that the Party needs to develop mechanisms of accountability in relation to PCCs, as we do not have adequate mechanisms for this at the moment.

Several NEC members commented on issues raised in Jeremy’s Report. It was stressed by several comrades round the table that party members’, left, right, and centre, are dismayed by the damage that is being done by a few Labour MPs constantly making negative comments in the press and media. In relation to the loss of Rhondda, it was pointed out that the Labour candidate had made unhelpful comments that had inflamed Plaid Cymru and many voters.

Finally, Jeremy congratulated all Party staff for their tremendous efforts above and beyond the call of duty. This, together with the role of party activists, was the key to our good result. He applauded the fact that staff and members are now working hard on the EU referendum. Jeremy outlined our many reasons for voting ‘In’. He has set these out in a recent set-piece speech.

Racism, Antisemitism and Islamophobia

Jeremy informed the NEC that NEC officers and staff had prepared a Code of Conduct. This will be issued to the media today. Jeremy took the NEC through all aspects of the Code. The Code stressed that our party is an anti-racist party and will not tolerate any form of racism. Our Party will ensure that we are a welcoming home to members of all communities.

Royall Inquiry Report

Jan took the NEC through the two reports that she had prepared. The first related to complaints regarding the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC). Jan firmly emphasised that she had found no sign of institutional antisemitism within the OULC. The first report recommended that the OULC should aim to have a greater continuity of leadership rather than elections every term. The report also recommended training by Labour Students (together with the Jewish Labour Movement) of all Labour Club officers UK-wide. There should also be materials/guidance for all post-holders throughout our Party.

The first report also made suggestions to the Chakrabarty Inquiry. For example, it suggested that rule changes should be considered, that there should be more rigorous vetting procedures for local and national candidates for public office, that it was completely unacceptable to use antisemitism/racism as a factional political tool.

The second report covered the Young Labour conference. It recommended that the timing/location of the Young Labour conference should not be dependent on the Labour Students’ Conference; that in future, national elections in Young Labour should be held by national ballots conducted by an independent balloting company. Finally, it recommended that the NEC consider reforming the structure of Young Labour.

Several NEC members responded to Jan’s report, particularly noting that it was comprehensive and covered the issues that had been raised. I argued that rule changes may not be such a good idea as they would be difficult to word and might open the door to hostile legal suits. I also welcomed the commitment to reforming the structure of Young Labour, pointing out that this had been raised on several occasions by trade unions on the NEC. The Unions feel that Labour Students are given an undue vote weighting compared to trade unions and other affiliates. It was also agreed that staff from trade unions could be present at the youth conference in addition to staff from TULO. A proposal was made to co-opt a member of the Jewish Labour Movement onto the NEC’s Equalities Committee. This was referred to the Equalities Committee to consider.

Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry

Shami set out the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry into tackling antisemitism and other forms of racism. The inquiry will report in two months. It will consult widely with party members, the Jewish community, and other minority representatives about a statement of principles and guidance concerning antisemitism and other forms of racism, including Islamophobia. It will recommend clear and transparent compliance procedures for dealing with allegations of racism and antisemitism. The inquiry will take account of the recommendations from Jan Royall’s reports and will set out a framework to ensure Labour is a welcoming environment for members of all communities.

The NEC warmly thanked Shami for agreeing to chair this very important Inquiry. Finally, Shami emphasised that this is in no way a disciplinary review, rather it is looking at issues ‘in the round’.

Deputy Leader’s Report

Tom presented a written report covering the work that he has been doing in relation to our party’s use of Social Media. Tom stressed that collectivism is at the heart of what we do. We seek to break down the wall that creates ‘us’ and ‘them’. When we say ‘we’, that means the whole movement and those who share our values. We prioritise the issues that affect the public in their everyday lives. We should use accessible language and avoid jargon. Tom also reported on the recent Online Conference centred in Weymouth.

Tom outlined the work that he and his working party are doing to identify ‘best practice’ in different aspects of our communities. We will build on these lessons and communicate them as widely as possible.

Local Government Report

Councillor Alice Perry gave a verbal report. Alice pointed out that we should have regained control of the LGA, but at the moment the Liberal Democrats and the Tories are ganging up and playing political games. Alice gave an assessment of the local government elections and stressed the hard work that our councillors had undertaken. We had major victories in unexpected places, especially in the South. Alice also reported that one Labour Council had elected a Cabinet and officers that were entirely men. The Labour Group in question has, of course, been instructed to re-run the election.

Alice also raised the need for proper NEC Guidance in relation to allowing private companies to sponsor events/stalls at Party Conference. This was agreed.

EPLP Leader’s Report

Glenis Willmott, the leader of the Labour Group of MEPs, was out and about campaigning on the EU referendum and therefore could not be present. Glenis had submitted a written report and this was moved by the General Secretary. It detailed the work that our MEPs had been pursuing in Brussels and Strasbourg. For example, our MEPs have been taking a leading role in the fight against tax dodging, pressing to block Chinese steel dumping, fighting to safeguard public services and bring transparency to TTIP negotiations, protecting the use and sharing of personal data, and pressing for effective EU action as Volkswagen’s emissions hearing begins.

The General Secretary outlined the hard work that has been carried out by Party staff and members for the Labour ‘In’ campaign. Alan Johnson had been a ‘safe pair of hands’ in fronting the campaign. Gordon Brown has also swung into action as only he can.

NPF Chair’s Report

Angela Eagle, chair of the National Policy Forum (NPF), had circulated a detailed report. This covered the Labour is Listening pilot, the priority issue consultation, and an update of the work of the seven Policy Commissions. The NEC also had before it the minutes of the Joint Policy Committee (JPC – effectively the executive committee of the NPF) held on the 24 March. The latter stated that the outcome of the defence policy review would form a submission to the International Policy Commission, and pointed out that the Commission is responsible for Labour’s policy development in this area. The JPC had also agreed that a general question about Labour policies at the 2015 election should be included in all seven priority issue consultation documents.

During the discussion on the NPF report a Unison representative pointed out that since Ken Livingstone was unable to be a Co-Chair of the International Policy Commission, it was necessary to elect another Co-Chair. He proposed Cath Speight (GMB representative) to be the Co-Chair of this commission. This was agreed.

International Report

A paper setting out recent international work by the Party was moved. For example, NEC member Jonathan Ashworth had attended the NDP national convention in Canada and gave the keynote international speech (I congratulated Jon, as I understood he had received a standing ovation!). We have also hosted several visits from our sister parties e.g. from Norway and Italy. Yvette Cooper, Chair of the UK Labour Party Refugee Taskforce, met with our Greek colleagues in Athens about unaccompanied child refugees in Europe. Many of our sister parties have written with congratulations on the election of Sadiq Khan.

General Secretary’s Report

Iain gave a detailed update on the Tooting by-election. The Party is already working flat-out to win the seat for our committed candidate Rosena Allin-Khan, who is deputy leader of the local Labour Group. Many NEC members (including myself) are intending to do their bit in Tooting.

Draft Motion from Peter Willsman

In recent months I have addressed many Party meetings. The response from our members, left, right and centre, is that the small number of Labour MPs, who constantly pump out negativity to the press and media, are simply providing ammunition to our enemies and damaging our Party. I therefore felt that it was important that the NEC addressed this issue. Accordingly, I submitted a draft motion for discussion. My draft motion provoked a lively debate. John Cryer, chair of the PLP, responded that despite what it says in the press, the atmosphere in the PLP is much better. John added that almost every Labour MP is focussing on Labour winning. This assessment was echoed by MPs and others around the table. I responded by stressing that this message needs to get across to our members because they tend to have a different view. Nevertheless, in the spirit of unity, I accepted the mood of the meeting, namely that the way forward was for John to make a statement to the PLP. He would stress that the NEC believes that the whole Party should pull together behind the Leader.


  1. Syzygy says:

    ‘Draft Motion from Peter Willsman:

    The response from our members, left, right and centre, is that the small number of Labour MPs, who constantly pump out negativity to the press and media, are simply providing ammunition to our enemies and damaging our Party.’

    Well done for trying Peter – you are spot on and they are deluding (?) themselves if they really believe that members see the PLP as pulling together.

  2. Unfortunately all these McCarthyist proposals are going to split the ” democratic left ” into the bookburners on the one hand and those that think that the democratic bit has to be taken as seriously as the ” left” bit. Modern democracy, of course, is a concept that embraces freedom of expression within the law.

    There is going to be mayhem. Law suits the whole works.

    Anyway the Chakrabarti enquiry is already being successfully hi jacked by the bookburners and Tories.

  3. Tony says:

    I find this very interesting:

    “There is a lot more in this anti-Semitism issue -a lot more. And the people we will take out are all close to Corbyn.”

    That’s what a Labour MP confided to me more than a week before Naz Shah’s Facebook activities were exposed.
    There is no suggestion that this particular MP was involved – and equally no suggestion that the shock felt by long standing Labour Party members at anti-Semitic comments by newer recruits is synthetic.

    But for those opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the week could hardly have gone better.

    There is a consensus that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is not widespread.

    “Anti-Semitism row bolsters Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour foes” By Iain Watson Political correspondent, BBC News, 29 April 2016

    1. Yup. Some people close to Jeremy have been making some very bad calls on this issue. It is all going to end in buckets of tears.

    2. john P reid says:

      I don’t think much of Corbyns leadership ,but I’m not happy there’s anti semeticism in the party that is making the hard left look unattractive

      1. John there is less anti-Semitism in the Labour Party than in the general population and way less than there is in the Tory Party. The whole thing is manufactured.

        This feeding of the idea that there is a level of anti-Semitism on the left, such that it is deserving of being treated as a separate discipline, distinct from racism in the round is very ill advised. It will end in disaster.

        It isn’t about racism at all. It is about two other things.

        1) getting Corbyn

        2) singling out of the State of Israel for impunity.

        1. john Reid says:

          no, people muddle up the terrible record of Israel by coming out with anti semetic stuff,
          there would still have been these quotes had one of the other 3 won, and although Jeremy is getting on top now, it was Sadiq Khan who pointed out he was to slow ,to tackle it

          the thing isn’t manufactured that would imply it’s not true such a view is denying racism exists within the hard left of the party

          the fact there’s more anti semticism in society than the labour party doesn’t justify we’re turning a blind eye to it,to the point it’s increasing

          its not being treeted different to other forms of racism when Diane abbot said White people like to divide and rule that was signalled out too

          there are critics of Israel who’ve been the subject to anti semticisim, like Gerald Kaufman and Alan sugar for instance

          1. Rob Bab says:

            Hi John
            “there are critics of Israel who’ve been the subject to anti semticisim, like Gerald Kaufman and Alan sugar for instance”
            Hmmm, well Kaufman has been a full on Israel-Firster for well over 6 decades, and as such supporting the anti-Semitism machine in all it’s forms. So I wouldn’t be too concerned when he’s on the receiving end for a change. Hopefully it’ll make him a more informed individual..
            As for Sugar’s anti-Zio credentials, well he ain’t too fond of anti-Zionist Ken Livingstone;
            “I don’t care if Ed Miliband is backing Livingstone. I seriously suggest NO ONE votes for Livingstone in the Mayoral elections,” Lord Alan Sugar recently wrote on Twitter.

            In the article it says;
            “The first related to complaints regarding the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC).”
            elsewhere it says;
            “A student behind false claims of anti-Semitism at Oxford University will be expelled from the UK’s main opposition Labour Party… David Klemperer was described by a top Labour manager as one of “two who instigated the anti-Semitism row” at Oxford University Labour Club… The second named in the email is Alex Chalmers, the former Israel lobby intern whose resignation as club co-chair in February kicked off the whole scandal.”
            Scroll down for some interesting pics 🙂

          2. The Oxford Labour Club thing was an obvious and transparent scam from outset. It is all very formulaic. Some not so bright young thing ( usually not Jewish) is set up to make some grand gesture, which is immediately followed by a torrent of pre prepared false claims of anti-Semitism. It was tried on AmnestyUK who escaped the trap only by the skin of their teeth.

            Now, thanks to great work by Asa Winstanley, we have the gruesome details.

            I’m betting none of this appears in the reports of the good Baroness.

          3. john P Reid says:

            Rob rab, the fact that Sugar wasn’t keen on Livingstone (who’s anti Israel)doesn’t make him pro Zionist, does it

            as for Kaufman I think you need to checkout his past record on Israel

          4. john P Reid says:

            Stephen Bellamy labour internal inquiry find themselves not guilty shock

          5. Problem is John the Labour Party is going to find itself very guilty indeed

          6. And let us hope the wholly innocent Labour Party doesn’t have to wait this long for justice.


            At least these guys and gals had confessions tortured out of them.

            The LB throws up its hands at the first wiff of grape shot

            ” Yes we did it miss, sorry miss, forgive us miss, what can we do make amends miss, how high do we have to jump miss, just tell us and we will do it miss”

            Pass the sick bag Alice.

          7. Tim Barlow says:

            The one thing that’s struck me during this whole storm-in-a-teacup is the extraordinary silence on the part of the party’s most senior Jew, most vociferous critic of the Israeli state and Father Of The House, Gerald Kaufman. Anyone have any idea why?

          8. john P Reid says:

            stehpen bellamy you’ve found the party guilty before the inquiry

          9. Rob Bab says:

            @john P Reid
            “Rob rab, the fact that Sugar wasn’t keen on Livingstone (who’s anti Israel)doesn’t make him pro Zionist, does it” rab?!?
            That is correct, by itself it doesn’t make Sugar a pro Zionist but defending the Jewish Zionist terrorist, Ariel Sharon from his crimes against the Palestinians does. John if you’re not familiar with the antics of Sharon do some research, it’ll be an eye opener;

            Sugar, in a 2012 piece, gives himself away by accusing Livingstone of ‘simply playing the Muslim community’ in the Mayoral elections but then follows this, with a sycophantic out pouring of disingenuous praise of Muslim business acumen. Couple that with his “Ooh, Israel’s been naughty again!” routine, well who’s trying to ingratiate themselves now then Alan, eh?
            Scroll down half way to London Mayoral Elections 29 April 2012;

            “as for Kaufman I think you need to checkout his past record on Israel”
            I did John, 6 decades John. If you have counter evidence, show me. Cheers

        2. Gerald is tired Tim. It will happen to you. And to me. o:)The lack of support from the left hasn’t helped.

        3. john P Reid says:

          stehpen Bellamy the birmingham 6 and Guildford 4 were made to sign confessions by force,
          did someone make Naz shah and Livingstone make their statements by force?

          1. Rob Bab says:

            No, force is not necessary to make Ken Livingstone tell the truth.
            Naz Shah gave a human response to this. Watch it through John and imagine being in the middle of that with your children. At the end, they’re all bloody dead, with 500+ others;

          2. John P Reid says:

            So why did you compare the bimingham 6/Guildford 4 yo the current anti semeticism probe in the Labour Party ,are you saying those wrongly convicted,when they made their forced confessions were telling the truth?

          3. Rob Bab says:

            “So why did you compare the bimingham 6/Guildford 4 yo the current anti semeticism probe in the Labour Party…”
            You’re getting confused John, probably because of the 14hrs between your comments. I did not compare or mention the “birmingham 6 and Guildford 4”, I merely questioned your use of the word “force” in your comment.
            Did you watch the video I provided for reference purposes? What did you think?

          4. john Reid says:

            yes watched the link and as I knew they way they were treated was bad,but, the fact was the Birmingham 6/Guildford 4 were forced to sign confessions and ,it was a miscarriage of justice, can’t see any comparison with livingstones suspension as a miscarriage,if he’s expelled as no one made him say that stuff

          5. Rob Bab says:

            I said;
            “No, force is not necessary to make Ken Livingstone tell the truth.”
            Ah I see now where the confusion arises. You thought when I said no force was needed for KL to tell truth, that I was insinuating the B6/G4 were guilty all along? No, no, no, they were innocent.
            What I was referring to was the LBC interview in which KL stated more than once, that he always told the truth as he saw it and that no interviewer had ever accused him of lying – 11mins onwards.
            I apologise for the poor quality of the comment. Here is the LBC KL link for clarity, worth a listen;

    3. Jim Denham says:

      “There is a consensus that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is not widespread.” no there isn’t: my own, personal; experience (including participation on this blog) has convinced me that it’s a widespread and serious problem, especially on sections of the self-proclaimed “left”.

      1. And if Jim From Neoconland’s personal experience is such it must be so.

        1. Jim Denham says:

          Stephen for apologialand: let me break something to you gently: all *any* of us have to go on is personal experience. In my case, it involves people like you, unfortunately.

          1. I agree that there is no such thing as an invalid experience. As RD Laing pointed out, experience used to be called the soul. Are you happy with the state of your soul Jim ?

    4. David Pavett says:

      The fact that the longest discussion thread following this report is about the issue of anti-Semitism which is just one issue among the many important issues it raises, seems to indicate something of an obsession. Meanwhile many big political issues simple fade out of view. This can’t be right.

      1. Rob Bab says:

        “…seems to indicate something of an obsession.”
        Yes couldn’t agree more. It’s getting to the point where the ‘anti-Semite accuser obsessives’ are generating such interest by the medical profession that a circular has gone round eminent psychiatrists requesting suggestions for a diagnostic name that wont result in litigation.
        When you said;
        “Meanwhile many big political issues simple fade out of view. This can’t be right.”
        Yes, it’s as though the aSao’s know this and are deliberately sabotaging the Labour party. The question is, why are they doing this?

      2. I agree David. This is precisely my point. This anti-Semitism bullchit is highly dangerous and the idea should not have been fed. Then we would all have been able to move on months ago.

        We are now faced with a situation in which there is likely to be an unfixable split in the democratic left.

        A situation in which freedom of expression in the Party is to be seriously curtailed.

        A situation in which there is to be a Stalinist style Re-Education and vetting programme run by a notorious perjurer and an organisation affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation that has been called out by the UN for funding illegal Israeli colonies in the West Bank.

        A situation in which the Labour Party has pleaded guilty to something of which it is wholly innocent.

        A situation overseered by the Tories and scam merchants of the CST.

        There is going to be a level of mayhem that will make the witch hunts we have so far witnessed seem like ringa ringa rosy. But we can’t complain. We are volunteers.

        You will note that Peter said the NEC meeting was largely given over to the issue. Once again I entirely agree with you,

        This can’t be right.

        1. And Jon Lansman has become nothing more than the Jewish Chronicle’s plaything. I mean just look at this ffs

          1. Dear God Tom Watson is going to hang out with NWFOI and presumably the EDL. Will the madness ever end


          2. john Reid says:

            lansman has said the timing regrettable so why is he a play thing of the Jewish chronicle?,

            I am aware the early das of the EDL when Tommy Robinson was actually getting respect from ,people like Douglas Murray and the Libdem Muslim think tank, that they were more than the thugs they are now,or a poor mans Britain first, and Lord Glasman said that labour should appeal to those who have the concerns of the EDL, and they both supported Isreal

            but where the Tom Watson link? I mentioned yesterday at a Blue Labour meeting that, most of the 400 people who voted Bradshaw first, Watson second in the leadership last year lived in Essex, Maybe Bradshaw and Watson were the only 2 who appealed to Essex man ,and Bradshaw is in the Henry Jackson society, but where the EDL Watson link?

          3. Rob Bab says:

            “lansman has said the timing regrettable so why is he a play thing of the Jewish chronicle?”
            Well Jeremy Newmark, head of the Jewish Labour Movement, had criticised Momentum for putting on an event discussing anti-Semitism on a Friday evening, the Jews Shabbat.
            Some Jews took umbrage at the event time and started kicking up a fuss, with Newmark calling it ‘crass and insensitive’. Not only that, he also found the debate panel not to his liking, saying it was out of balance. Basically there weren’t enough ultras on the panel. The time of the event was changed to suit the Jews who had complained.
            Jon Lansman told the Jewish Chronicle, a right-wing Zionist news outlet;

            “I wasn’t involved in the planning of the meeting and didn’t know about it until yesterday and the timing of it is regrettable and unfortunate.
            “I’m not happy about it but it is important not to shut down debate around these issues. One of the negative effects of the antisemitism debate is there isn’t enough serious debate going on, so I’m reluctant to discourage it from happening.
            “I think the speakers are balanced and it gives an opportunity for Zionist speakers to share their views, which is important.”
            Hmmm that sounds like Jon’s capitulating. He doesn’t owe the ultras an apology or explanation. It’s not even reported that they’re thankful that the event times were changed to suit them. If an event is set up to talk about ‘anti-Semitism in the Labour Party’, you prioritise, you either go or you don’t. The Jewish Chronicle does not speak for all Jews, far from it. The panellist, Ms Cohen, from Jewdas had no issue with the start time.
            I hope it’s filmed as it will be a very interesting debate.

          4. Rob Bab says:

            In a nutshell – Jon Lansman does not want to be kowtowing to those at the Jewish Chronicle.
            If you are not familiar with them and want a taste of these characters see SB’s NWFOI link below or this one here;
            Jon is in a difficult position, he cannot please all the people all the time. His loyalty is to the members and the party, not to some Israel loyal opportunists who will cut him adrift when they see fit. Jon has to be careful not to unwittingly fall into the roll of Emmanuel Goldstein.

        2. The link is NWFOI, one of whose happenings Watson is going to grace with his presence.

          1. Levinson is not a passing joe on the street he is NWFOI Committee member.

          2. John P Reid says:

            Ok is it like one of the gender segregated meeting he went to where Muslim men sit on separate side of the hall to women?

    5. Rob Bab says:

      “no there isn’t: my own, personal; experience (including participation on this blog) has convinced me that it’s a widespread and serious problem,”
      Jim, I think you meant to write this;
      “yes there is: my own personal experience though (including setting up a blog that is jammed packed, floor to ceiling with topics marinated in Nazi, Zionist, Hitler, Far Right, Anti-Semitism fear-mongering) hasn’t helped me form a balanced opinion on any subject.”

      1. Why didn’t I think of that

  4. Sue says:

    Thank you Pete. I think the Corbyn led Labour party is definitely heading in the right direction. For the record I’ve never come across any member of the Labour Party who I’ve considered anti-Semitic. I have met many who are very critical of the current Israeli govt. re the local election results I felt they were great for Labour! Especially great given the barrage of negative press!

  5. David Pavett says:

    I am grateful to Peter Wilsman and Ann Black for their NEC reports. However, this one seems to me to raise more questions than it provides answers.

    Peter says in this up-beat report that “the bulk of the Party is pulling together”. The first thing such a pulling together should do would be to agree on what we are pulling towards. I see no sign of that. The papers for this year’s NPF and the manner of their release, as I argued here, give little indication that this is the case.

    Jeremy Corbyn said that we should always believe that Labour’s vision can get across to the electorate. But what vision is that? Does Labour for example, have a vision for education that we can all rally round and fight for? Peter says “… if we believe in ourselves and our policies we will win”. But which policies is he referring to?

    On Labour’s loss of Scotland it is said that if we will it we can recover. And the analysis of the problem is? Willing recovery is not enough and belongs to the “one more heave” school of thought.

    Jeremy Corbyn congratulated our parliamentary spokespeople and the unions on the successful campaign against universal academies”. In fact the picture is not so rosy. The government has not changed direction but has rowed back partially on forced academisation. The inducements to convert remain and the government retains the right to force academisation where schools are deemed to be failing or where the local authority education service has been so weakened by schools leaving the LA framework that they are judged to be unable to provide a full service. Not only that but Labour’s campaign was entirely negative. Lucy Powell presented no alternative vision. Labour’s official policy remains favourable to academisation. So just how worried should the government be by this outcome and how happy should we be with Labour’s position?

    It was reported that there are “no sign of institutional antisemitism within the Oxford University Labour Club”. I have no idea what such an “institutional anti-Semiticism would look like (rules against Jews? A tradition of shouting down Jewish speakers?). What does it mean? What were they looking for?

    The Chakrabarty proposal “that there should be more rigorous vetting procedures for local and national candidates for public office” worries me given that the party machine is still largely in the hands of the right. One person’s “rigour” can be another person’s prejudice.

    Tom Watson’s report seems to have been heavy on flim-flam. Social media okay, but what about the Party’s web presence? It is still awful. “Tom stressed that collectivism is at the heart of what we do. We seek to break down the wall that creates ‘us’ and ‘them’”. I imagine that people get round to answering their emails while this sort of thing is being said.

    EU. In what way has Labour played a “leading role” to “bring transparency to TTIP negotiations”. What has it demanded? Does it want all negotiation issues to be made public? Does it still offer general support to TTIP? Does it still limit protections to the NHS and not the whole of the public sector and the ability of governments to set social policies that big business may not like?

    The General Secretary praised Alan Johnson’s EU work as being in a “safe pair of hands”. My words would be “low-key” and “lack lustre”. Labour’s campaign doesn’t even offer a list of speakers.

    NPF. The organisation and materials for the NPF discussions for Conference this year have been feeble in the extreme.

    Is it correct to say that the International Policy Commission “is responsible for Labour’s policy development in this area”? My understanding is that it contributes to that development but that this contribution goes to the NPF for debate and possible change before finally going to Conference. The Commission does not therefore have ultimate responsibility for the policy.

    I was surprised to read that “the JPC had also agreed that a general question about Labour policies at the 2015 election should be included in all seven priority issue consultation documents.” The time when members were able to discuss these issues in their branches to go forward to their Constituency General Committees has no passed for most members. Responses are required by 8th June. Yes we are invited to send individual contributions to Your Britain and Labour is Listening but there is no feedback on these and it is unlikely that they are all read in any kind of systematic way, if at all. The situation is a mess.

    Yvette Cooper “met with our Greek colleagues in Athens”. Which colleagues was that? Syriza? PASOK? All? It would be nice to know

    Peter refers many times to written reports. Are these available to the rest of us? I have asked this before but have not yet had an answer.

    1. John Penney says:

      Well put on all points, David. The NEC looks to have been akin to one of those uneasy periodic meetings of a large extended family, brutally fractured with age old deep resentments and general grudges about “things said that can never be forgiven” in the past. Polite , and frankly laughable” claims that “everyone is starting to pull together” , are about as credible in the current Labour Party, as the claim that that fractious extended family are now “all sweetness and light” and now “completely past all that unpleasantness at Auntie Nora’s wedding in 1963”.

      The Labour Party is , beneath the laughable, emollient , “we’re all pals” verbiage, a simmering cauldron of completely incompatible philosophies and objectives – an undeclared internal civil war, just awaiting the moment to break out in earnest.

      Grasp that underlying reality and the need for Momentum to finally stop farting about and avoiding the need to seriously organise to take on the Labour Right politically and organisationally, should become very evident. We are still in the “lull before the political storm” in the Labour Party. As of course are the Tories internally. Lots of serious argy bargy ahead. Lots of right Labourites could still end up “doing a Reg Prentice” and crossing the floor to join the Tories, in the febrile political ferment in the two main parties in the period up to the 2020 general election – particularly once the Blairites finally grasp that the newly Left-oriented Labour Party membership isn’t going to desert the radical politics of Jeremy Corbyn – or indeed the man himself, any time soon.

      1. Danny Nicol says:

        The matey attitude between Left and Right surprises me not. I increasingly think that Momentum are just as pro-capitalist as the Blairites. Whilst the Blairites trumpet the virtues of neoliberal globalisation, Momentum supports capitalism by not having policies that would actually undermine it.

        1. David Pavett says:

          Danny, I don’t think you are right. I am sure that the natural inclination of a crushing majority of Momentum members – and leaders – is anti-capitalist. I think that the real problem is that the great majority of them have only the vaguest idea what this means in any sort of detail and that they have even less idea of what an alternative form of social organisation would look like.

          The albatross of the Labour left is its near total lack of a critique of contemporary capitalism (or any sort of capitalism come to that) and its consequential lack of a basis for a path to an alternative form of social organisation. In this respect Momentum, and I speak as a member, on current performance, is getting by on a wing and a prayer. This is not a basis for meeting the challenges that a real opportunity to start the process of social change would present.

          Disliking extreme inequality, the cheating ways of the rich and the power of the corporations is a good initial motivation but it just won’t by itself produce the effort that will be required to come up with a clear vision of social change.

          I admit that, while I don’t think Momentum is pro-capitalist, I fear that if the left doesn’t rapidly change its lack of interest in theoretical and policy work the historic opportunity offered by the election of Jeremy Corbyn will be missed. I voted for him and I continue to support him and those around him but I can see few grounds for optimism about the likely outcome. Even at the organisation level of campaigning for NEC elections the right is now outflanking the left.

          1. John Penney says:

            A very insightful post, David.

            What is it with the contemporary Left and its amazing lack of interest in socialist theory ? If (to quote an old Leninist trope we used to have drilled into us young cadre on the ultraleft in the 70’s) the “Party is the memory of the class” – in the current era following 30 years of neoliberalism inflicted defeat for the Left – the Left in general, and the Labour Party in particular, is suffering from severe memory loss !

            It’s true that the Labour Party has historically never been a hot-bed of socialist theory development – although during the 1980’s Bennite/Alternative Economic Strategy era there was a goodly amount going on.

            Today , on the tiny ultraleft “Leninist/Trotskyist” fringes of the Left in the UK there has been a complete cessation of theory development – in favour of a retreat into an almost religious “veneration of the Marxist texts” – and obsessional focussing on a few highly selective “issues for unlimited indignation ” – of which the obsessive postings by a tiny numbers of individuals across Left Futures debates , on Israel /Zionism is a prime example. As is the retreat into the endless self absorption of so many on the self identifying “Left” with Indentity Politics – as opposed to class politics.

            During my recent political experience as a then Left Unity member, an organisation that really has politics so completely “Corbynite” as to now be irrelevant, I was amazed at how loath most members were to engage in political debate and theory development. When developing Left Unity’s Economic Strategy most members seemed to have forgotten , or were unaware, of the key differences between a free enterprise capitalist economy and either a socialist one – or even a transitional mixed economy operating under a transformational Left government.

            Too many, particularly younger people who see themselves as “on the Left” seem to have an ideological framework that is actually much more ” radical bourgeois Liberal anarchist ” than actually socialist – with a contradictory rag bag of policy objectives ranging from “Citizens Income” to uncritical environmentalism, and a buy in to the dominant “shrink the state” ideology – which is more in line with the contradictory , entirely non-socialist middle class “policy bundle” of the Greens than anything rooted in the socialist traditions of collective mass action and solutions.

            Unless Momentum (of which I am a member) quickly starts to develop a comprehensive socialist (of a radical Left Keynsian transitional type) alternative policy narrative to provide the ideological backbone for “Corbynism” , it will dissipate in the thankless endless grind of positional battles with the well entrenched and well funded Labour Right in the CLPs.

          2. Danny Nicol says:

            I think many on the Left definitely don’t want the commanding heights of the economy to be publicly owned, others may never have seriously considered the idea of a mainly publicly-owned economy because of having grown up entirely within the culture of rampant neoliberalism and a cowed Left. But it is difficult to know who is in which group and they kind of blur into each other.

            I do not think Momentum’s leaders are definitively anti-capitalist. Take Jeremy. His commitment to public ownership was excessively modest even in the leadership campaign, after which he seemingly gave Lisa Nandy her head over the ownership of the energy sector. So we are left with the snail’s pace public ownership of railways. Less public ownership than the Callaghan government! As for John McDonnell he now sounds alarmingly Ramsay McDonnell on occasion.

            Be this as it may, what opportunity is there to raise the need for a change in the dominant ownership of the economy within Momentum? At my recent Momentum meeting I had a disagreement about the EU with a young man called Santiago. He was from Momentum head office. Afterwards Santiago asked me why I’d complained that Mometum was top-down. I said ideas and policies should filter upwards from the Momentum rank and file, with a conference dominated by resolutions like the old style Labour Party. Also, there should always be the opportunity for argument before any decision being taken – unlike in Momentum’s recent EU referendum-by-email.

            I am gloomy about Momentum becoming that sort of organisation. If it were to do so, there might be mileage in pursuing socialist theory via policy proposals, for instance through a model resolution proposing the extension of public ownership to cover all utilities and all of the NHS plus the banks and financial institutions. This could create the opportunity for debate about the idea that you cannot have socialism without discarding capitalism.

    2. David Pavett says:

      I read Peter Wilsman’s report very carefully. I raised a number of points about and also asked several questions about its content. I also asked a very simple question about the availability to the rest of us of the documents referred to.

      The answer so far has been complete silence.

      It is a sad reflection on the quality discussion on the left that it is felt to be acceptable to simply ignore people who do their best to respond to reports like this in an informed and considered manner. In what way does this silent treatment contribute to efforts to make the Labour Party more democratic?

      1. peter willsman says:

        David,the docs are NEC docs and are not circulated beyond the NEC.Quite a few of them are later used as the basis of docs that may go to NPF/Confce/CLPs/members etc etc.If there is ever something you don’t understand then phone me up/send EMail to CLPD.PW.

        1. David Pavett says:

          Peter, thanks for the response.

          I don’t see why NEC documents should not be made available to members (except for confidential matter and you haven’t given a reason why it should be so.

          As for questions arising from your report I think I stated quite a few of them above. Had I wanted a private reply I would have written a private note to you. Your report was published for all to read. So were my points and questions. In the spirit of open politics I think any response should be made equally openly.

          1. peter willsman says:

            David,CLPD is involved in campaigns 24/7,we have an EC of 62 and I work some 70 hours a week.I limit myself to about 45 mins a day in the Cyber Cafe.I do a Report for members and I deal with about 5 or more members’/CLPs’ queries a day. It would be nice to sit about writing comments on blogs,perhaps I will do that when I’m too old to do anything else.

          2. John Walsh says:

            (this all seems familiar and a nice illustration of empiricism in action)

            Presumably, the 62 strong CLPD EC includes groups of members exploring such things as critiques of contemporary capitalism? How could we find this out and engage with the debates?

            It’s an important question from a new member perspective – among the 200,000 are many, many people with the wherewithal to contribute (from what I can see, though, if we haven’t gained our activist brownie points then we’re not really welcome. This is a sad state of affairs, such a missed opportunity – but that’s just me ‘sounding off’ again).

          3. David Pavett says:

            @Peter Wilsman, May 28, 2016 at 8:22 pm.

            I am sorry Peter that your response to questioning of your report contains goes no further than the innuendo/abuse and straight nonsense that you seem to think is appropriate when faced with any probing of what you have written.

            Innuendo/abuse. “It would be nice to sit about writing comments on blogs,perhaps I will do that when I’m too old to do anything else.”

            The implication is clearly that people who question you have the luxury to “sit about writing comments on blogs” whereas you, by contrast, are a very busy chap.

            I am active in local campaigns and in the Labour Party. I am not going to get into a competition about who does the most but it takes up a lot of my time. But I also believe in the importance of being really clear about the ideas and policies on which our politics is based. That means a certain amount of what you disparagingly describe as “sitting around”.

            My view is that openness requires that people in positions of political responsibility should regard it as part of their role to respond to considered questioning of what they do and what they write. You apparently don’t see it that way.

            Straight nonsense. You decline to answer my questions publicly but undertake to do so privately. That makes no sense politically. Also you elevate yourself above those who “sit around” contributing to blogs (please note that Left Futures respondents) and yet your report on this blog was significantly longer than my questions. You presumably had to write it from a sedentary position.

            I find it difficult to resist the conclusion that when it comes to understanding the requirements of a genuine open politics you don’t get it. A small group of CLPD activists deciding what they think is best for the rest of us is no substitute for genuinely open debate which it seems you regard as “sitting around” writing and talking.

            Your stance lends itself to the view that activism is the real meaning of politics and that thinking, talking, writing about what that activism is for is a secondary activity to be indulged in when we “are too old to do anything else”.

            I voted for you for the NEC but this sort of stuff increases my desire to see a left-slate produced next time which does not come from a tiny group from within a tiny group deciding for the rest of us.

  6. Bazza says:

    “It was completely unacceptable to use anti-semiticism/racism as a factional political tool.”
    In a post on here quite a while back wasn’t it claimed that a Young Labour NEC ‘Progress’ candidate posted something dubious about a Left candidate on Facebook or something?
    I think the new national ballot sounds a good idea.

    1. John P Reid says:

      Yes the hypocrisy is sickening, a the ClPd saying that Labour first candidates shouldn’t go through their past history on line to find regrettable quotes,

      1. Bazza says:

        Good that you accept it was a regrettable quote from the Right Wing Young Labour candidate but it was against her opponent in an election.
        Elections should be about policies and ideas.

  7. Interesting that Jewish Labour endorse the candidate standing specifically on a lets screw the party leader platform@lukeakehurst

    1. Newmark is such a narcissistic idiot. The smart cats like Gardner, Rich and Johnson would never have made such a mistake. And now Luciana Berger is parliamentary chair of an org endorsing candidates running on a specific ticket to screw over the Party leader. Ffs wake up and smell the roses.

      1. And this is the man that the good Baroness would put in charge of the Re-Education Gulags we will all be required to attend.

  8. peter willsman says:

    David,the slate is decided by negs.between a no.of national orgs.(each have their own ways of drawing up their own proposals).That is the most sensible way of doing it and there is no reason why this should change.You say you are very active in our Party.At the moment there is an intense battle with the Right in our Party for control of the NEC and of the CLP Section of Annual Confce.The basic activity for every comrade is to work flat out(as the Right are)on the following-to get the 6 on our slate nominated by your CLP/neighbouring CLPs;to get a rule change from your CLP/neighbouring CLPs to defend JC or extend Party Democ;to get a good delegate to Confce from your CLP/neighbouring CLPs.David,please confirm that you are focused on these vital tasks and I will apologise,because I obviously had the wrong impression of you.Yours,PW.

  9. peter willsman says:

    To, David and my friend John W-as KHM said in the Theses on Feurerbach,the point is not to only interpret the world,the point is to change it.Or,to put it another way,’action speaks louder than words’.

  10. David Pavett says:

    @Peter W, May 31, 2016 at 3:56 pm and 4.12 pm.

    Like many others I believe that the drawing up of a left slate must in future emerge from the shadows and be done in the open so that it us seen to be a democratic process and not a laying in of hands by a tiny number if people.

    My CLP supported 5 out of the 6 on the left slate. It also supported a paper I wrote critical of the Education Commission’s NPF paper on the subject. Finally, it supported a rule change to remove a threshold requirement for an incumbent leader. We also elected a full complement of Annual Conference delegates which includes some momentum members.

    I don’t agree with the way you seem to think of working “flat out” for nominations and rule changes. I believe that we should work for those things, and I do, but that we should not neglect theoretical and policy activities at the same time. You are mistaken to think that the right is working flat out for organisational objectives. It is working hard for them but is simultaneously doing a great deal of policy work. (I have pointed this out many times on Left Futures.) Like nature ideology abhors a vacuum and right-wing policies will all too easily flow in to the vacuum currently found on the left.

    No one who has made a serious attempt to study Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach could possibly interpret the eleventh thesis in the way that you do. The previous ten theses explain that the idea of philosophy as pure contemplation is an illusion. Philosophy and all theory is always bound up with practical social life whether the theoretician understands this or not. So it is very clear that what is rejected in the eleventh thesis is not philosophy or theory as such but rather philosophy and theory which is not consciously linked to social practice. And even if actually understanding the theses proves too hard then the whole if Marx’s life is the clearest possible example of the practical importance of theoretical work. He placed a rather high value on what you seem to think of as “sitting around” writing. Today’s Labour left could learn much from his example.

  11. Peter Willsman says:

    David,negs.between national the only sensible way of drawing up the slate.Perhaps you could sit around and draw up how you think it can be done and then I will be able to criticise it.At the moment you just make vague assertions.You may not realise it, but the Right are totally focused on gaining control of the NEC, and then JC will be a sitting duck.Last night the Blairite Jim Murphy ambushed our Rhea-see R’s article.It’s excellent what your CLP has done but you sidestepped my point.Did you play a major role in what your CLP did?CLPD has several contacts in your CLP, so I’m sure they will tell me of your personal contribution.The motion your CLP chose was, of course,a CLPD model, so it’s good that we are pulling together David.KHM did not see himself as a philosopher,rather as a scientist/social scientist.He wanted to set out the ‘laws of motion’of the capitalist mode of production for the benefit of the working class struggle ie in their pure state rather than any specific country.He was always complaining to FE
    that it would be so much better if he could get the ‘economic shit’out the way.His constant focus was on political organisation,witness his constant critiques of other political activists.As we know,he wanted a more broad based political Movement,witness the First International.At least one of his daughters took this up via the ILP/Lab P and his son joined the Lab.P-unfortunately it was a little too early or he would have been a very useful CLPD member.

    1. David Pavett says:

      Peter, you seem to have a heightened concern with people who “sit around” commenting. I have tried to explain to you before that “sitting around” is actually a physical accompaniment to some essential political activities. I am sure that you do it too. I also believe in the importance practical political activity. Why else would I be in the Labour Party? It is certainly not for the buzz of challenging debate and the excitement of well organised collective research.

      I feel no need to justify my level of activity to you. Ask your contacts what you like. I prefer to take people at their word unless I have a good reason not to. I told you that I am active in my CLP and that should be good enough. What kind of jaundiced questioning is this?

      I didn’t want to say this but your repeated insistance on the importance of the NEC elections (I agree) and on your hard work and that of the CLPD without the slightest hint of doubt or self criticism prompts me to point out that you have something of a cock up to deal with this time round. (1) You continue the tradition of decisions made by tiny numbers of people in “smoke filled rooms” (maybe without the smoke these days), members of CLPD tell me that even they were not consulted about NEC nominations. (2) We have been given totally insufficient grounds for voting for the people on the slate. Where are articles in which they all set out their views? Or would that involve to much “sitting around”? (3) Livingstone was a bad choice even before his stupid Hitler outburst. (4) Your research on Eastwood for Rhea Wolfson evidently was lacking. The whole approach has been a left version of right-wing opaqueness and control freakery. I voted to support the slate nominations but, like many others, with some reluctance. I sincerely hope that you are getting the message. This is not the way we should be operating to support a more open and honest politics in the Labour Party, and I know that I am far from being alone in holding that view.

      It appears that you have only a very limited knowledge of Marx. I pointed out the problem with your previous reference to his views. Instead of replying you have moved on to another set of dubious claims. I don’t see the point of such exchanges.

      1. peter willsman says:

        David,as I have already said,CLPD AGM ,many years ago ,decided that the EC would make the proposals for the slate.The AGM is our sovereign body and any member can bring a motion to
        change any policy.
        Ken Livingstone is not perfect,but he comes top every time.In your ivory tower it may not be much of an issue,but I’m afraid that in the real world it is rather important that our candidates win.We could put forward David Pavett,as near to perfection as we could get,but you would not do as well as KL and would,almost certainly, lose.Fixer-Luke would be very pleased if we replaced KL with DP.Rhea is a superb candidate and may even be closer to perfection than DP.Our Scots comrades are pulling out all the stops and the battle is not over.In the short time available the CfS did everything assess the situation in Eastwood and we were right to accept their advice and back Rhea,given how excellent Rhea is.When Rhea is elected you will have the pleasure of watching someone who could even out- do DP(and me come to that!). There are many interpretations of the work of KHM and we must discuss it sometime.As Old Moor himself said,”I am not a ‘Marxist’ ”.Yours,PW.

        1. peter willsman says:

          David,also I have asked you to set out how you think the slate should be drawn up ie specific details not vague waffle.I notice you ignore that request.David,walk the walk as well as talk the talk.Yours,PW.

          1. C MacMackin says:

            Come on, this is trivially easy to answer. Anyone interested in running on the Centre-Left slate who is a member of one of the organisations involved would put themselves forwards (presumably with a seconder) and produce a manifesto. Hustings could be done over the Internet. Then every member of the organisations involved would vote on their preferred candidates using a ranked ballot. This could also be done online.

        2. David Pavett says:

          Peter, my original contribution thanked for your report but asked several questions. You only answered one (with a purely bureaucratic ‘that’s the wsy it’s done’).. You said you didn’t have the time to answer people who “sit around” making comments (great democratic stuff!). Now you have spent more time accusing me of this and that than answering ne would have taken.

          1. Your answer to criticism of the slate selection is purely bureaucratic. You just say that’s the way we decided to do it.

          2. Your other answer is that I wouldn’t have been a good candidate is both ridiculous and anti-democratic. Do you say to people who criticise George Osborne “could you do better as chancellor?” I can hardly believe that you think that such a childish response is in order.

          3. You claim that you considered Eastwood CLP sufficiently carefully. It doesn’t look that way.

          4. You say Rhea W would be a “superb candidate”. Maybe she would, I have no way of knowing. I looked for material by her in which she explains he views but found virtually nothing. The same is true of others on the skate. It is ridiculous that people being put up for national office are providing so little to help the rest of us judge their views. But that is not what is about is it? Essentially we are asked to take the views of the CLPD EC on trust. This is not good politics and is not democratic.

          5. You previously said the slate had to be agreed by various unamed groups. Now you say it is decided by the CLPD EC (also unknown to most of us).

          6. C MacMackin is right that it is not at all difficult to think of a far more democratic and effective way of proceeding. We could have detailed statements of the views of everyone wanting to stand put on line. We could then vote by one of several means (in our groups such a momentum, on line, by ballott form). With a will to open the process up ways and means would be found. I suspect that the truth is that the will is not there among those engaged in the present system of laying on hands. I suspect too that the reason for this lack of will is because those same people are every bit as much control freaks as the despised Blairites and cannot envisage a process which may have outcomes that they haven’t fixed in advance.

          Along with many others I believe that it is time for the left to start practicing the open and honest politics it preaches. We need to put the era of backroom deals and control freakery behind us. Think about it.

          1. peter willsman says:

            David,I can’t believe you are as ignorant of the slate process as you make out.Since 1997 the slate has been put together by the CLGA.The latter is made up of National orgs that are on the Left and Centre Left.(Over the years the orgs have changed,as some have waxed and waned).Every such org is entitled to join.Each org puts names forward and sends reps to the negotiating meetings,which can sometimes stretch over several weeks,until a consensus is reached.How each org chooses the names to put forward is up to each org.CLPD’s governing body is our AGM and this laid down that our EC(open to all members) is responsible for the 6 names CLPD puts to the CLGA.There are major problems with an internet ballot.First of all a lot of members are not on the internet,perhaps 10/20%.CLPD has a firm policy that no one must be treated as a second class citizen.Then there is the problem of who is entitled to vote?How do you stop Right Wingers voting?How do you stop people using false identities etc.The LP had many staff working 24/7 for many weeks doing verification.Who is going to do all this work and do the envelopes for all those not on internet.Then,if the result is close and there are complaints because the system is full of holes,who is going to investigate and make the decision?See Matty for more points re this.How do we identify all the members who are not on internet?.CLPD would not accept any system that does not treat every poss.voter equally.It is often those at the opposite end to the well off middle class who are not on the internet(and the elderly).We will not allow them to be ignored.The LP is based on equality not elitism.

          2. C MacMackin says:

            Only 10-20% of your members are online? I have a very difficult time believing that. It is true that older people often aren’t (although even many of them are surprisingly tech-savvy) and I suppose your membership may be skewed in that direction (although, if it is that heavily skewed, then you are not going to be a viable organization for much longer anyway). There are very few people on low income who can not access the Internet. Most of us can do it through a public library if worst comes to worst. Nearly everyone has a smartphone these days, which also provide connectivity. Even if none of these work, the Handivote system I link to below could, in principle, work with mail-in ballets.

          3. David Pavett says:

            Peter, thanks again for your reply (June 9, 2016 at 12:06 am). It is good that you have put a defence for the current process because, in my view, it makes clear that this is a defence of the indefensible. I think that you are so immersed in the mechanics of the process that you cannot see it critically. Please just note this: it is a system in which is totally opaque to most of us. It results in us being asked to vote for people about whom we know nothing. How can that be right?

            As I said, if there were a will to make the selection more democratic it could be done. Every system will have its problems but it is extremely conservative to try to dismiss all alternatives as if the present system was satisfactory. Besides you didn’t actually look at all the possibilities mentioned by me and C MacMackin. Also there are answers to some of the objections you raise.

            The really postive thing which could come out of this is that well before the time for the next NEC slate an informed debate should be organised to carefully consider all the main alternative methods of making upbthe slate. This could clear the air and could lead to wider participation. It would be great if you could agree that such an informed debate would be helpful. What do you think?

          4. Matty says:

            In reply to C MacMackin “Only 10-20% of your members are online?”
            No, it is quite clear that Pete has written that 10-20% are offline.

          5. C MacMackin says:

            Sorry, I didn’t read carefully enough the first time. That makes much mores sense. I’d amend my previous comment, but that doesn’t seem to be possible.

          6. peter willsman says:

            David,thank you for your reply,CLPD is always up for informed debate-every year we spend a day at the AGM having such debate and have done for over 40 years.Heather and Dave will tell you all about it.You could come along,AGMs are open to non members as participating observers.I have a friend,Audrey,who has been a Party member all her life and is now 94.Audrey has always fought for a socialist LP.Audrey is happy with the post and thinks it keeps CWU members in jobs.Audrey does not bother with the internet.There are lots like Audrey,up and down the Party,as you will discover when you have been with us longer.(By the way,Dave has wandered off,perhaps you could use your powers of persuation to get him back from Greens).But if you think I’m going to let comrades like Audrey be neglected because they are not on the internet,you’ve got another think coming.

          7. C MacMackin says:

            You’ll notice that I had indicated that postal voting could work as an alternative to Internet voting for those who don’t use the Internet. That said, basically your entire argument now is that an undemocratic approach which virtually none of the grassroots can engage with is better than a more democratic approach which a small minority of the grassroots might have trouble engaging with (although we could likely make allowances for said people). This is ridiculous. It’s like saying that the BBC shouldn’t have introduced television because it’s unfair for those who are visually impaired. Maybe Audrey won’t be able to cast a vote online (although in all probability she’d have grandchildren who could help her with that) but, even assuming no postal system was brought into place, she wasn’t able to cast a vote before anyway.

            Since you don’t seem to be willing to think about the mechanics of how all of this could be done, I’ll spell it out for you. CLPD would create a bunch of business cards, each with a unique (long) number on them. These would be put into unmarked envelopes. These would randomly be distributed to members via branch meetings. Only the recipient of the card would know their number. There are techniques called check-sums to ensure that random numbers can’t simply be used. In principle they could be mailed out, but this would require the recipient to trust that no one had noted the number being sent to them. When a decision needs to be made (such as selecting candidates), members could:
            1) Go to an online ballot, where they type in their number and caste their vote.
            2) They call a phone line (they could likely just leave a message), reading off their number and placing their votes orally.
            3) They mail an anonymous letter containing their number and their vote.
            Once the election period is over, the numbers would be placed online with the vote associated with it. This could also be mailed out upon request. People could then check that their vote was recorded accurately. Voila. The CWU gets to keep carrying Audrey’s letters and she gets to have a direct say in decisions.

  12. Matty says:

    I’m no expert but I doubt that having an internet ballot is trivially easy. What about all the verification needed? Party membership would have to be checked, there would have to be safeguards to prevent people voting with multiple identities. How would you prevent Labour First/Progress types from signing up to cause mischief. Safeguards to prevent hacking and fraud would be needed. How much would this all cost?

    1. John Walsh says:

      It’s true that there would be issues to iron out, but this is the point about getting going with such things – we’d learn along the way and develop systems that suit our needs. Also, with C MacMackin’s suggestion that “every member of the organisations involved would vote on their preferred candidate”, this would work fairly easily with, for example, CLPD members – it wouldn’t be difficult to verify this aspect. As for cost, I’d thought that one point about different conceptions of membership is that many new members come to the Party wanting to use their professional skills (rather than go off doing the orthodox ‘activists’ stuff). As such, it would be free – I’d swap coding and system design for door-knocking every time and would consider it just as useful to the overall effort.

    2. C MacMackin says:

      Well, I was referring to the concept as “trivially easy” more than the implementation. However, there does exist software for internet voting. There is also a rather interesting proposal using texting on mobile phones (which could likely be adjusted to use email instead) that has been used some at University of Glasgow:

      1. peter willsman says:

        In reply to CM,you seem to be saying that only members of Left Orgs will be able to vote,presumably in one overall vote.Many comrades are members of lots of Groups, who is going to check this out.And what about all of the Lefties(quite a few not on internet)like dear old Dave Pav.who may not be in any Group.How are these given a vote,do they self define as Lefties? and again,see all the problems set out by Matty and me above,As I have said sev.times,every Group can have a ballot of it’s members now.CLPD’s AGM took a contrary view as far as CLPD was concerned.Your argument sounds a bit like those who want a referendum on every significant issue, because only direct democracy is proper democracy. Whereas, I do not want the elderly and sections of the working class treated as second class citizens.Your answer to this seems to be,in effect ”Tough”.At the moment,members of Left Orgs are all in exactly the same boat.They can,through the democratic structures of each for OMOV ballots within each org.Then there is discussion between the Groups and consensus reached.I have asked Dave come to our AGM, so we can have an informed discussion.It would be useful if you could look in too.Yours in comradeship,PW.

        1. C MacMackin says:

          It would not be difficult to coordinate between groups when drawing up the list of people who can vote so as to ensure no one is listed multiple times. If people want to vote then they would need to join one of these groups–to me that seems reasonable. It may be good to make more of a concerted effort to reach out to the broader left and get them involved, but that’s a different issue to figure out a solution to. Which specific problem do you feel that I have failed to address? I believe that the system which I have described and linked to would work.

          Yes, I am a believer in direct democracy, as a long term goal, and I make no apologies for that. That said, what I am arguing for here isn’t direct democracy–it’s a primary process. Just as I believe that candidates in general elections should be voted on by members of the CLP, I believe that candidates in the centre-left slate should be selected by a vote of the members of those organisations. I have outline above exactly how this can be done so as to include those members who do not have an Internet connection. (Incidentally, for all your talk about people being able to come to the AGM, you don’t seem to have considered that this might be difficult for those on a low income or with mobility issues–it’s almost like they’re being made into second class citizens.)

          I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make saying that any organisation could use OMOV. That I should agitate for them to do so? Well, developing these sorts of arguments on here is a start to that, although granted a very small one. As for the negotiations you describe, I’ve got to say that I am not a fan of such things. They tend to be less accountable than directly voting on a candidate for everyone to see. At the very least, are minutes of these negotiations made available? I haven’t heard anything in this regard.

          1. peter willsman says:

            CM,CLPD pays travel as nec’y.All our members are equally valued.A couple of years ago one comrade celebrated her 90th birthday during her year as Chair.Our Young CLPD Group do their own thing without interference. It is a matter of personal judgement.My view,after nearly 50 years in our Party, is that negs.,leading to consensus between all Leftie forces, is the best/least worse process re slate making.The CLPD AGM has taken the same view.

          2. David Pavett says:

            @Peter W, June 13, 2016 at 5:38 pm

            The trouble is that most of us have no information about these “negs.,leading to consensus between all Leftie forces”, as C MacMackin pointed out.

            We don’t even know what these “forces” are. I know CLPD members who feel the same. Do you think that the answer is that anyone interested can go to your meetings?

            How many people were involved in the negotiations? How many people did they consult with before the negotiations? Do you not feel that a better way is needed for next time?

          3. peter willsman says:

            David,in relation to choosing Rhea the orgs.involved/consulted were M’tum,LRC,Lab.CND,CLPD,CfS (and WLG were kept informed).No CLPD member has ever expressed those thoughts to me.Please give me their name(s)-rather than making these assertions-and I will have a chat.As I have said before,all our ECs are open to all members.I will make a point of inviting this nameless person(s)to every EC.We have agreed to have an informed debate.I am looking forward to seeing you at our AGM,so that the some 100 present can be part of the debate.PW.

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