Bogus consultation and stage management. So much for transparency

Special conferenceIn the furore over Collins, there have been three main areas of concern. There is concern over the actual proposals and their implications – those have been addressed on this site by Jon Lansman. I would like to address the second and third of these areas of concern – the way the proposals are being railroaded through the special conference, and what the future will be for the trade unions, as organisations, within our party.

The review started with a “consultation” conducted by Ray Collins, the results of which have never been published. From Ann Black’s forensic examination of the responses, it is obvious that a large majority opposed the idea of the primaries. Continue reading

Labour at the crossroads: what the members think

Where next?Consultation on Ray Collins’ interim report closed at Christmas. Since then, media stories suggest that any reforms will be negotiated between the leader and the unions, with members and their representatives sidelined – not exactly the new politics which Ed Miliband promised. Contributors were told by e-mail that

the feedback which Lord Collins receives will help shape the final report presented to our special conference next March”

So I have asked for a summary of responses at the NEC on 4 February, when we agree proposals for the special conference on 1 March. In the meantime I’ve been doing some research. As well as fifty submissions copied directly to me, I’ve read one-third of those filed at HQ, another 150 or so, from branches, constituencies and individuals. It is possible, though statistically unlikely, that the other two-thirds say something completely different, but these 200 do not bear out Ray Collins’ claim that “overwhelming consensus that change is necessary”. Continue reading

Was your constituency vote cast at conference without interference? Check the record

CAC Ballot boxReaders will be aware from previous reports that there is serious concern about the validity of the result of internal party elections held at this year’s Labour conference in Brighton. In the closest fought election for the party conference arrangements committee for many years, two opposition whips were declared elected as representatives of constituency party members following complaints about interference by party staff who are required by their code of conduct to remain impartial.

Delegates have now come forward from six of the party’s eleven regions (now including London which is the largest) reporting that they were advised to vote for the two whips. Fortunately a record of how votes were cast on behalf of each constituency is now available which can be downloaded here. Continue reading

On illegitimate interference by party staff into our internal elections

ballot boxAs Jon Lansman previously reported here, there is clear evidence that full time Labour party officials in most of the country (including Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the eastern region, Scotland and the South West) interfered in the elections to the conference arrangements committee (CAC) and national constitutional committee (NCC) at Labour’s conference in Brighton. It stretches credibility to think that these examples are uncoordinated.

This interference was in direct contravention of the NEC’s Code of Conduct which states “Labour party staff employed by the NEC shall not canvass on behalf of any candidate.” As one delegate said to me: “It is like going to the polling station and the officials telling you to vote Conservative.” It is also worth recording that Katy Clark and I had many more nominations from CLPs than the two whips – the results announced were in reverse order from the nominations received. Continue reading

Labour conference delegates: appeal for information

CAC candidatesThose who have read the Yellow Pages delegates’ briefing (produced each day at Labour conference and available here) will have read that the oversight of Labour’s conference arrangements committee (CAC) elections has this year fallen short of the “open, transparent and trusted” political practice which Ed Miliband and Iain McNicol rightly expect. Unlike in Falkirk, there is incontrovertible evidence of misconduct and machine politics, for which the responsibility lies not with trade unions but elsewhere in the party.

Evidence has already been provided to the Party’s General Secretary that one young delegate was called to a meeting with a party official in his region and, within earshot of two witnesses (one of whch was me), told him “we are supporting Heidi Alexander and Tom Blenkinsop“, the two candidates who were declared winners of that election on Tuesday morning. Further delegates have since been identified in that region that were similarly entreated by that official as well as, so far, in four other regions concerning five other officials. This is in contravention of the staff code of conduct that expressly forbids party staff from canvassing. Continue reading