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Tuesday’s Yellow Pages at Labour Party Conference 2016

yellowpagestuesday270916Download the Yellow Pages here. This Campaign Briefing is sponsored by Unite.

TSSA Emergency Motion: Support Reference Back! 

TSSA has submitted an emergency motion about the package of rule changes the NEC is putting to Conference today. The key proposals in the TSSA emergency are set out below. It has been ruled out of order by the CAC on grounds that are not clear. The CAC will report their action to Conference this morning. The raft of 15 rule changes from the NEC that is being rail-roaded through Conference on one single card vote is totally unprecedented. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this is little other than factionalism – this only three days after Jeremy’s victory and appeals throughout the Party to come together. The TSSA emergency spells out a way of proceeding based on discussion and consen-sus.

  • Please support TSSA’s reference back. We need to build a more democratic party together.
  • If the TSSA emergency motion is unsuccessful –Vote against the stitch up!

The TSSA motion addresses the CAC’s recommendation that the NEC party reform proposals be considered and voted on as a single item. It calls for these proposals to be considered along- side other party reform proposals from the Party Reform working groups and from TULO. It calls on the NEC to convene a special meeting to consider all proposals and then to convene a special conference. It seeks to ensure a balanced set of changes are made that unites the Party around a new settlement and ensures women, black and minority ethnic groups, disabled, LGBT and young people can organise effectively.

National Constitutional Committee, vote Chris Williamson 

We need people on the NCC who will deal fairly and justly with all discipli- nary cases referred to the NCC.
Make sure you go straight to the ballot area first thing this morning and collect your ballot paper. Already this week there have been reports of single delegates collecting ballot papers and voting before other CLP delegates arrive. This will ensure constituen- cy mandates are respected. Don’t lose out – make sure you get the ballot paper first.

NEC: all smoke and mirrors

Sunday’s CAC Report 1 contained the statement that “the NEC agreed a package of rule changes at its meeting yesterday, which will be voted on as a single item.” At Monday’s NEC, several members objected to this statement, saying the NEC had certainly not agreed to one card vote on all 15 of the (mostly unrelated) rule changes set out in the Appendix to CAC Report 1.

The rule changes are a very mixed bag, including issues relat- ing to affiliations to CLP AGMs; a national annual women’s confer- ence; probity of Labour Combined Authority Mayors & Police Commissioners; annual levy to the party by Labour Group members; NEC seats for Leaders of the Scottish & Welsh Parties; eight TU members of the TULO Contact Group being able to attend Clause V meetings and Scottish & Welsh ECs to be responsible for adminis- trating the selection of PPCs.

In response to the objections, it was argued that the Refounding Labour document had been put as one package to Conference a few years ago. It was then pointed out that this was a coherent group of proposals and involved only one or two rule changes, whereas today we have a dazzling kaleidoscope of subjects. It was further pointed out that this bizarre procedure is not only unprecedented at Annual Conference, but must surely be unprecedented anywhere in the labour movement.

This point was endorsed by the most senior NEC member, who was very worried, in terms of proce- dure, that we were moving into totally unchartered waters. At the end of the debate the Chair of the NEC resolved that a vote should not be taken at the NEC and he turned to next business. The senior NEC member then raised a procedural point – namely that this bizarre procedure must not be accepted as a precedent of any sort and that in future, rule changes should be considered separately. The NEC Chair accepted this point and asked for it to be minuted.

CAC Report: East Devon’s Final Push! Support Reference Back! 

First thing this morning, the East Devon delegate will take the rostrum once again in a final push for due process and party democracy. Their brilliant yet long overdue rule change will allow constituency & TU branches to interview & nominate candidates ahead of the parliamentary long list. She has been challenging the CAC for quoting the 3-year-rule, pointing out this rule should only be invoked fol- lowing a constitutional amendment. It makes no reference whatsoever to a conference report, such as the Collins Review. Support the East Devon delegate in her campaign to give Conference the right to hear the motion on conference floor.

Rule changes: support more say for members! 

Today Conference will debate rule changes (also known as constitutional amendments). Please support:

  • Sheffield Heeley
    • The change being proposed by Sheffield Heeley CLP would enable Conference delegates to amend documents from Policy Commissions when they get to Conference. The original Partnership in Power documents prom- ised that Conference would be able to amend documents – but it has never happened. “Take it or leave it” documents have been the bugbear of the National Policy Forum process. Democratise the NPF – support the Sheffield Heeley rule change!
  • Mid-Norfolk (+6 others)
    • Delegates have the opportunity to change the rules to allow CLPs, trade unions and Socialist Societies to submit BOTH a rule change AND a contemporary motion. To suggest this would unleash a torrent of rule changes is ludicrous! CLPs and affiliates should not have to choose – support the rule change from Mid-Norfolk and six other CLPs!
  • Bury North
    • This rule change would cement the intention of the rules and ensure that there should be at least four contemporary resolution priorities selected for debate at conference by BOTH CLPs AND affiliates – eight in total. Support Bury North!

Breath of fresh air on Trade Deals, By Len McCluskey General Secretary, Unite

The NEC Statement on International Trade marks a welcome step change in our Party’s thinking on the new generation trade deals. TTIP, CETA and TiSA are free trade treaties that have at their heart the locking in of irreversible privatisation and the de-regulation of employment and human rights and environmental and occupational health and safety standards. This privatisation and de-regulation will be protected by a system of quasi- courts open only to multinational corporations that will give the corporate sector the right to sue governments that legislate in the interests of the 99% at the expense of the 1%.

The European Commission and Canada are in a mad scramble to get the CETA treaty signed as soon as possible – they claim they have reformed away the problem issues, but nothing could be further from the truth. They claim they will protect workers’ rights, but experience shows that unions in Latin America have had to campaign for seven years to get a hearing. Changing the name of the corporate courts from ISDS to ICS should not fool us – these courts will not give citizens or unions the right to challenge the multinationals. TTIP, CETA and TiSA will not allow us to “take back control” – they will hand sovereignty to the corporate sector.

A new direction is needed. We took the first step in this new direction when Labour MPs won the point in the Queen’s Speech debate to keep the NHS out of TTIP. The NEC Statement takes us further: it allows our Party to stand with millions of our fellow citizens across Europe who have exposed and cam- paigned against TTIP and CETA.

20 Comments

  1. Bazza says:

    I think left wing democratic socialists need to get control of this obscure Conference Arrangements Committee.
    I would allow the Leader of Scottish Labour & Wales and the ELP Leader and Shadow Cabinet reps and PLP reps to attend the NEC but with non- voting rights and with 500,000 Labour members would I would argue for 15 CLP NEC reps elected OMOV (up from a measly 6) and that would be one CLP NEC rep per 30,000 members.
    So I say: JUSTICE FOR THE 500,000!
    Went to a very good local Momentum Meeting tonight and a speaker made the excellent point about trying to get more trade union members to attend Labour Party meetings and I remember how much this enriched discussions when I first joined in the late 1970’s.
    It is up to each of us to define ourselves and I am proud to be a Left Wing Democratic Socialist but my favourite writer is for one reason Rosa Luxemburg because Rosa argued the best thing we should all bring to the table is our independent critical thinking; it pains me when some rely on manoeuvres to beat ideas.
    Democracy and ultimately voting on ideas should rule.
    It is an affront to humanity when ideas are crushed by procedural tricks.
    Power to the grassroots in Labour and diverse working people internationally! X

    1. David Pavett says:

      I largely agree. It seems that the left was out-maneouvred in the warfare over additions to the NEC. Why was there no proposal, and campaign, to double the CLP seats from six to twelve? The number of seats directly elected by half a million party members is now a ridiculously small part of the NEC.

      Worse though is the left’s own political instability. Clive Lewis abandoned opposition to Trident instead of telling the conference that the ussue was still to be resolved by party-wide discussion. The opportunist nature of the reversal was clearly indicated by all that defence of the realm rhetoric which was delivered without a single military reason being given for the retention of Trident.

      Then there was the backtracking over selection at eleven. The original Socialist Educational Association motion committed Labour to ending selection at eleven. This was watered down to say only that Labour opposes more selection. This was the position under Tristram Hunt/Ed Miliband and it was justified in the compositing discussion on similar opportunist grounds to those used by Hunt. We therefore ended up with the Shadow Education Minister telling conference that selection is “toxic” to children while Labour declines to commit to removing the source of the toxicity.

      (The transcripts of both speeches are on Labour list.)

      These are surely worrying signs of a less than firm sense of political direction.

      1. C MacMackin says:

        Agreed. The u-turn on Trident was particularly outrageous. It seems that the members are to have no say in the matter. Maybe Clive Lewis is following Paul Mason’s analysis that you could take on either neoliberalism or NATO/the military, but not both at once. However he should come out and say so in that case.

        This, along with the left’s lack of reaction, to me indicates two things. First, as you say, a worrying lack of coherence on policy. Second, they seem completely unwilling to criticise the leadership when they disagree. Momentum produced a mock manifesto for the next election during the conference which, among other things, called for the complete nationalisation of the entire energy system and for nuclear disarmament. I fully support both of these, but Corbyn has been failing to back the former since he’s been elected (preferring cooperatives, feed-in tariffs, local ownership, a proliferation of small providers into the market, etc. instead) and now disarmament seems to be off the table too! Why aren’t Momentum screaming about this? They would be if a Blairite said we shouldn’t do them. The leadership will be under tremendous pressure to compromise on their policies, especially if they win a general election, and the only way we can possibly hope to counterbalance that is by openly voicing criticism that is to the left of what Jeremy is willing to say.

        1. David Pavett says:

          Yes, the emphasis on the small-scale and the local at the expense of talking about the global monopolies worries me. I am all for encouraging small scale, local enterprise and initiatives but we should note the quip “Goldman Sachs don’t mind if you raise chickens”.

        2. Danny Nicol says:

          Clive Lewis’ credentials for being a stalwart of the Left are dodgy indeed. Note also his over-the-top support for NATO, a “progressive” organisation whose military obligations we must “of course” fulfill. That would mean going to war in defence of the Erdogan dictatorship in Turkey. British troops losing their lives to preserve a ruthless dictatorship is suddenly somehow “progressive”.

          1. C MacMackin says:

            Agreed. I get that trying to leave NATO would open up a whole can of worms (a la A Very British Coup) but, even if you consider it tactically unwise at this time, there is no need to gush support for NATO the way he did. Clive Lewis may well be economically left-wing, but it seems he is still a soldier when it comes to foreign policy.

  2. Danny Nicol says:

    Might I make a suggestion?

    The Left’s response to the Scottish and Welsh seats affair was not good.

    Momentum needs some sort of Emergency Unit (I’d volunteer to be a member) to deal with such matters as last-minute rule changes proposed by the NEC. It needs to utilise its vast mailing list and try to mobilise its members overnight to deal with such proposals. There needed to be an email in everyone’s inbox the morning after the NEC meeting telling them precisely what had happened (the substance of the proposal remained hazy for several days) and imploring them to get delegates mandated. That did not happen. Instead the emphasis was on obsessing over securing Jeremy’s re-election, even though that was rather obviously already in the bag. With no nationwide mobilisation, we were sunk.

    Perhaps we would have been sunk anyway, since another lesson is that the Left isn’t strong at Conference (see e.g. UNITE’s abstention). But the fact remains that the Left had its eye on the wrong ball and was royally out-maneouvred, and that the lack of a Left NEC is now going to have some pretty horrendous consequences.

    1. David Pavett says:

      I largely agree with you. I think the left should have campaigned on the need for a balanced NEC, the dangers of ad hoc changes, and the need for much greater representation for CLPs i.e. the NEC nembers directly elected by party menbers. The NEC structure was riduculous and is now even worse.

      P.S. There is no mechanism for “mandating” delegates in the LP. Members should elect people they trust. If they can’t do that they are stuffed anyway.

      1. Colin O'Driscoll says:

        I couldn’t agree more. The opinion polls consistentently showed a 2 to 1 majority for Corbyn. This was also reflected in the CLP voting for nominations. It was conceivable that massive gerrymandering would have made the victory smaller, but to purge a third of the membership would have been practically impossible, would have led to legal challenges, and, even if they had, canvassing would not have made any difference. So they concentrated on carving the conference.

  3. Hazel Malcolm-Walker says:

    I was not impressed by the ineptitude of the Momentum leadership this conference.
    We won the battle of getting aJeremy re elected, and we are now in real danger of losing the war against the blatcterites.
    We have a staff that is young and enthusiastic. But they are very inexperienced as well.
    What is the point of having a hub if you are ignoring conference, and the machinations ?
    Age and cynicism always win against youth and enthusiam, why hasn’t Jon Lansman made a better balance to his team?
    ultimately, this is down to him..

  4. Bazza says:

    We should all read Labour’s rules 2016 (to be updated to 2017) and just Google this and then see Wikipedia then scroll down and they are there.
    There are 71 pages in chapters ie on Branches, Constituency Labour Parties, Women, Labour groups, Conference etc.
    I suggest you read them over a number of days at a chapter at a time as I did.
    Then print them off and take them with you to Labour meetings.
    Empower yourselves as a great old Left saying goes: “Knowledge is power!’
    Solidarity!

    1. Colin O'Driscoll says:

      And get yourself a copy of the Citrine Book on Chairing meetings.

  5. Bazza says:

    Just read Labour Rules 2016 on Wikipedia re ‘Election Conference Arrangements Committee’ (CAC) – see page 17 – and pretty odd!
    CAC consists of 7 members (at least 3 must be women).
    5 can be nominated by affiliates and CLPs (at least 2 women) and elected at Conference on a card vote.
    2 further ones can nominated by CLPs (one should be female) and elected OMOV.
    Members of Government/Parliamentary Committee ineligible to stand.
    Elected for 2 years.
    Any vacancies next person highest votes co-opted.
    CLPs allowed to nominate maximum of 5.
    Perhaps all 7 should be elected OMOV and 5 CLPs and 2 Affilates OMOV and elected annually?
    Make MPs inegible to stand.
    The Left needs a gender balanced slate of 5 for CLPs and a slate of 2 (one male/female) for affiliates.
    Read the rules, study them, become experts in them, print them out, take them to Labour meetings.
    We left wing democratic socialists have the passion to transform UK society and the World – but we need to be organised too!
    Solidarity!

  6. Bazza says:

    Footnote – get rid of these silly 3 year rules – situations can change rapidly.
    We need to transform Labour rules to involve and empower our massive 500,000 membership!

    1. David Pavett says:

      Well, now that would have to be done with an NEC with a right-wing majority. (How was that allowed to happen? The left was completely outflanked by the right despite the upsurge in Corbyn-supporting members.) I am not saying that makes it impossible but it certainly doesn’t make it easy. What approach do you suggest?

      1. Danny Nicol says:

        David asks how an NEC with a right wing majority was allowed to happen. That would doubtless make a good subject for an article on this blog.

        The rule change whereby the leaders of the Scottish and Welsh Labour Parties now have the right to appoint NEC representatives is of course the key. Approved by the NEC only the week before Conference, the Left had just a few precious days to mobilise against it.

        The Left has, of course, a large organisation in the form of Momentum which exists to support Jeremy Corbyn and his project. It now has 19,000 members apparently. Momentum could have ruthlessly prioritised marshalling its forces against the rule change. But the organisation seems to have other priorities: rallies, street stalls and gatherings. It held a festival (no doubt a hell of a lot of work to arrange) “The World Transformed” on the weekend of Labour Party Conference.

        The Right wing will continue to run rings round Momentum unless and until it develops the guile and cunning to prioritise the things that the Right astutely prioritises: control of the levers of power within the Party.

      2. Bazza says:

        Hundreds of resolutions from CLPs, affilates calling for reform of the NEC and Conference so Labour is grassroots-led and takes account of the 500,000 plus members – we need to start the Momentum for change from below.
        Some ideas:
        Leader on NEC with voting rights.
        All MPs, Councillors, Scottish & Welsh Leaders, ELP etc. with non-voting rights.
        Deputy Leader (or 2 Deputies -one male, one female) to be a non-MP and non-public representative but a grassroots CLP member/s or trade union affiliate with voting rights.
        Then as a ratio of one rep per 30,000 15 elected CLP reps OMOV with voting rights (at least 7 female).
        Don’t have figures for trade union affiliates but perhaps 8 places OMOV with voting rights and at least 4 female.
        Combined Socialist Societies 1 or 2 reps OMOV with voting rights (if 2 – 1 male, I female).
        Young Labour 1vote OMOV with voting rights.
        How about that to start a debate David?
        Hope no-ones fainted as I call for grassroots, bottom up, left wing democratic socialist empowerment.
        Certainly food for thought.
        Then all Labour members are equal and no member becomes a self-appointed VIP who think they are more equal than others.
        I am not certain re all of this as the finished deal but I think the thrust of my democratic argument is in the correct direction.
        Solidarity!

  7. Bazza says:

    Mine are only ideas to be discussed and amended, added to or even rejected and perhaps this can be a problem of some – they are rigidly precious about their ideas.
    But in attempting to think you should also reflect further on your own ideas which I have done.
    I should perhaps be more specific on some – whilst I would like our Deputy Leader to be a non-MP or senior Labour or Union representative I may have been a bit harsh on councillors (who are more grassroots) so they and ordinary members, trade unionists, affililiated grassroots perhaps could be Deputy.
    Secondly perhaps I should not be thinking of a either or for Deputy – one Deputy or 2 (one male, one female).
    My thinking on one Deputy was that we could have an alternative gender rule for Leader and deputy but I think I am coming down on the idea of a male AND a female deputy?
    All these ideas are a work in progress.
    Solidarity!

  8. Matty says:

    Lots of people here complaning that the left didn’t campaign enough on things like NEC. I see from the CLPD website that in 2015 there was a model motion to expand CLP NEC places to 12. It wasn’t on the 2016 Conference agenda so either no CLP put it forward or it was ruled out of order by the CAC.

    1. peter willsman says:

      Yes Matt,a rule change on this subject was defeated in 2015,which means it is now out for 3 years.

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