Wednesday’s Yellow Pages at Labour Party Conference 2016

yellowpageswed28sept2016Download the Yellow Pages here. This Campaign Briefing is sponsored by CWU.

Let’s hear from the PLP 

Jeremy’s victory on Saturday meant that Conference started on a high for most of us. It was noticeable (especially at the rostrum!) that there were many delegates and visitors who were experiencing our Party’s sovereign body for the first time. They are eager to learn. This created a sense of excitement. Many policy seminars were quite well attended, as were many training sessions and, of course, fringe meetings were lively and well attended. CLPD had some 250 at both our fringes. Last year our meetings were, not surprisingly, somewhat euphoric. This year the participants were more focussed. There was also a determination to achieve some worthwhile change in our Party and in society in general.

Party members are wanting to engage and are looking for ideas and direction, so that we can take the fight to the Tories. It was recognised that this requires all of us to have a commitment to a considerable degree of unity. At the same time it was recognised that we are developing a coherent and effective pol- icy programme. As we saw throughout Conference, Jeremy is energetically responding to party members’ enthusiasm – as, for example, in the ten pledges setting out the framework for Labour’s campaign and a Labour Government. This frame- work will be the basis for policy making at the National Policy Forum. Conference was told that it was intend- ed to hold a full NPF within the next few months. The NEC will examine ways to give more power and influence to party members and to reform party structures accordingly.

At Conference CLPD also made progress with its party democracy agenda. The victory on Tuesday of the Sheffield Heeley rule change was par- ticularly noteworthy: future Annual Conferences will be able to vote in parts on documents, without having to accept them on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. The many rule changes put forward at the last minute by the NEC were something of a curate’s egg. But the fact that the sitting leader will automatically be on the ballot paper in future leadership elections was particularly wel- come, as was the agreement to have an effective women’s conference with a direct input into party policy making.

There was also a down side to Conference. Despite the many calls for party unity, it was not clear that the Party’s “moderate” wing is taking this seriously. At the NEC we saw an attempt to railroad through a fundamental change in the Party’s structure. It seems clear that this was essentially the “moderate” wing attempting to control two further seats on the NEC, in response to the progressive wing’s gaining two CLP seats. The putting together of 15 disparate rule changes into a “package” and then having one vote on the whole lot is not only unprecedented in the UK labour movement, but also throughout Europe.

Yet again the hard right Labour First caucus held its rally in an upstairs room of a pub. Thus allowing them to claim their meeting was “packed and over- flowing”. Some 20 years ago Yellow Pages shared its pitch outside Conference with productions from Labour First. It is notable that this year the hard right ideologues have returned. This was very much a mixed blessing.

During the week Jeremy continually emphasised his commitment to building party unity. Many delegates stressed that this required a similar commitment from the PLP, for example an ending to the undermining of our party Leader. There are some positive signs that the PLP are taking this seriously. It was cer- tainly clear that Conference is committed to this objective. Jeremy is clearly up for it, let’s hear from the PLP!

CLP delegates given the brush off by Cllr Gary Heather, Islington 

First, a delegate informed Conference that NEC members had told him that the NEC had not agreed that Conference should vote on all of their rule changes as a package. The delegate then asked the CAC Chair if this was the case, but his question was ignored. Another delegate made the point that reference backs moved by delegates on points related to the CAC report should be voted upon individually and not as a package. Again, this point was dismissed by the CAC Chair without providing any justification. The 2016 Conference Delegates’ Report states very clearly that a “part of a report” can be referred back to the CAC. Delegates do not have to accept or reject the entire CAC report.

To make matters worse, when the delegate called for a card vote the Conference Chair would not allow it. This is a blatant deviation from party rules. The Delegates’ Report specifies that “votes will be by a show of hands unless a delegate requests a card vote.” The delegate’s request should have been respected. It would certainly aid conference democracy if there was better guidance for delegates on how conference works and proper conference standing orders.

A delegate’s view by Richard Price, Leyton & Wanstead CLP

As a veteran of trade union conferences going back to the 1980s, but a first time delegate to Labour Conference, the first thing that strikes me is that, despite gaining an ongoing verbal commitment to “4+4”, this is still not a genuine working conference. Just two delegates from the floor were allowed to contribute on Composites 1-4, rendering real debate almost meaningless. There is also a serious democratic deficit. At crucial points on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the CAC and the platform ensured that grassroots democracy was extinguished, whether it was the spurious ruling out of order of the East Devon rule change, the unconstitutional refusal of card votes and the insistence that the dog’s breakfast of a “package” of NEC rule changes had to be taken as one vote.

Throughout Conference, there were heartfelt calls for unity and stern lectures that without power none of our great aims can be achieved. But the sense I got from the Progress/Labour First wing of the Party is that civil war will be ongoing, that they don’t accept the validity of Jeremy’s second landslide mandate, and that they will fight, fight and fight again to preserve the Party from socialism. The most surreal moment? The sight of a section of delegates wildly cheering in favour of nuclear weapons.

The Saga of East Devon (Part 1) 

Having only just rested after her seven hour journey up from East Devon, the delegate was stunned to hear that the CAC had binned her CLP’s much needed rule change. This seeks to give constituency branches & TU branches the right to interview and nominate candidates ahead of the parliamentary long list. The CAC had been rewriting party history by claiming that the Collins Review was a constitutional amendment – when instead it was a conference report and thus completely irrelevant to the 3-year-rule. Most folk would have been left devastatingly demoralised and gone off for a pint in the Baltic Fleet… but not the East Devon delegate! Her indefatigability shone through as she took to the rostrum on Sunday morn- ing, the minute after the CAC had moved their first report. Delegate after delegate echoed her campaign for justice, democracy but above all due process! The Chair of the CAC refused to take a separate vote on the issue, but instead invited the East Devon delegate to meet the CAC…

The Saga of East Devon (Part 2) 

The East Devon delegate went up and down the escalator like a Weston donkey throughout Sunday afternoon and yesterday morning, hoping to track down the CAC. It wasn’t until just before the end of conference yesterday that the delegate managed to scrape an appointment. At the start of this meeting, the Chair of the CAC informed the East Devon delegate that the final deci- sion had already been made, and that her fellow delegates would indeed be denied the chance even to read her CLP’s modest proposal. Despite this, the delegate gave an impas- sioned yet precise case as to why those in the conference hall should be given their right to hear this rule change. She was 100% correct in the fact that the 3-year-rule makes no reference whatsoever to conference reports such as the Collins review.

Yesterday at the NEC

  • Dennis Skinner is retiring from the NEC at the end of Conference and was given a standing ovation. Dennis responded by giving one of his impromptu and rousing speeches.
  • The new NEC Chair is Glenis Wilmott, Leader of the Labour Group of MEPs. Andy Kerr of CWU is the new Vice Chair.

Monday’s Yellow Pages at Labour Party Conference 2016

yellowpagesmonday290916Download the Yellow Pages here. This Campaign Briefing is sponsored by UCATT

Report from CAC Chair: Support Reference Back! Support the East Devon delegate!

Yesterday, after the report from the Chair of CAC, several dele- gates challenged the CAC’s rec- ommendations. In particular, the delegate from East Devon object- ed to the unjust ruling out of her CLP’s rule change. (Delegates are unable to verify this because, having been ruled out, the rule change has disappeared into a bin in the CAC’s room.)

The rule change would make the selection of PPCs much more democratic. Constituency branches and TU branches would have the right to interview candi- dates before making a nomina- tion to the long list. The reason the CAC has given for putting East Devon in the bin is that it is ruled out under the three-year- rule. According to the CAC East Devon’s proposal was covered by the Collins Report and this was discussed in 2014.

But the new three-year-rule says “When Conference has made a decision on a rule change” no rule with the “same or similar primary objective” shall be admissible for three years. The CAC does not have a leg to stand on – Collins did not involve a decision or vote on a rule change with the same or sim- ilar primary objective. The dele- gate from East Devon is fully jus- tified in objecting and moving Reference Back.

National Auditor elections: Vote for Sina Lari

Advance notice – Tuesday
National Constitutional Committee:Vote for Chris Williamson

Today’s policy debates

Invest – to grow and raise living standards

Today Conference will have the opportunity to discuss Labour’s economic policy. Under the Tories the economy has stagnat- ed, living standards are falling and the Government is failing to eliminate its deficit.

Under Jeremy’s leadership, Labour has forced some notable u-turns on Tory austerity policies, including on tax credits and dis- ability benefits. Our MPs should concentrate on attacking the Government to inflict further defeats on its policies.

Labour should plan to establish a National Investment Bank and carry out a £500 billion public investment programme in infra- structure, manufacturing, green and new industries, building one million homes in five years. The Government deficit should be cut by raising its income – by growth not austerity. To succeed in gov- ernment Labour will need credi- ble fiscal rules, borrowing for large scale investment while bal- ancing the current budget over the economic cycle, as proposed by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Today is an opportunity to raise these important issues and support Unite’s proposal for a cohesive, properly funded indus- trial strategy.

Child refugees

Today Conference will debate Child Refugees. This is a chance for Labour to show our internationalism: we reach out to the victims of conflict, not those who profiteer from the conse- quences of war. We are not ashamed that we want to see the world’s resources shared fairly among all those in need, both refugees and those kept in pover- ty at home: that’s the way we can begin to turn back the tide of the racism that fuelled “Brexit”.

Speaking Out by Huda Elmi

How can Labour translate its large ethnic minority vote into meaningful representation, equal opportunities and engaging the marginalised in inclusive policy making? Without real commit- ment to empowering BAME members, simple lip service to anti-racism is superficial at best and actively damaging at worst. Transparency in democratic structures will help engagement in communities disenfranchised by the “white, male bubble” of Westminster.

A vital first step has to be a genuinely democratic and accountable Annual Conference which gives members faith that the decisions they make will have an impact. Especially in the wake of Brexit, communities like mine are failed by expensive passes pricing them out, attempts to manipulate and fix votes by staff, and confusing procedural manoeuvres like “take it or leave it” votes.

Join CLPD to be part of that democratisation!

Dignity in retirement

“We’ve all got to work longer” is a phrase undoubtedly coined by someone sitting behind a desk. If you’re a construction worker this phrase is just a plain, old-fashioned threat. The pension age is rising to 67 by 2026 and 68 by 2044. This would be a joke to a construction worker, if it was remotely funny. Recent TUC research shows that currently half a million workers have left work five years before they can collect their pension due to medical reasons. Nearly half of 60 to 64 year olds have stopped work before their official pension age.

Construction workers cannot work till they are 68 years old. It’s not physically possible. Like professional sportspeople, construction workers can feel their physical abilities start to wane from their mid- 30s. The only difference is – con- struction workers have to stay in the game. Not only that, given the increase in the pensionable age – the game just went into extra time. We are told one in four people in Britain will now live to 100 – but what about the other three? At what age will they be checking out? And what jobs are they doing? Government statistics show doctors and accountants are outliving builders and cleaners by as much as eight years, which is why UCATT is fighting for a flexible pension age.

As Jeremy Corbyn has said: “Living longer doesn’t mean we are able to work longer in physically demanding jobs. Construction workers cannot be expected to work into their 60s.” We are asking party conference to support our contemporary motion this week in order to ensure Labour adopts the principle of a flexible pension age for physically demanding professions. It’s a cam- paign we need to win otherwise thousands of construction workers’ latter years will continue to be blighted by poverty, misery and depression. What price the cost of dignity for the British construction worker?

Campaign Briefing is produced as a service to delegates by:
CLPD, Left Futures and Labour Briefing (the magazine of the Labour Briefing Co-operative)

Sunday’s Yellow Pages at Labour Party Conference 2016

yellowpages2016Download the Yellow Pages here. This Campaign Briefing is sponsored by ASLEF

Sunday’s Priorities Ballot: start taking on the Tories! 

In today’s priorities ballot, CLPs and the unions can each choose four sub- jects for debate. The unions have already agreed to prioritise Employment Rights, Industrial Strategy, Public Services, Energy, so these issues will be discussed by Conference. The CLPs’ vote can select an additional four top- ics for debate (giving eight debates in total). CLP delegates should not vote for any of the four subjects chosen by the trade unions.

  • All sections of the Labour Party must campaign with NHS users and workers (including the junior doctors) for adequate NHS funding, an end to privatisation and integration of the NHS with a social care system.
  • On housing, we must campaign against the implementa- tion of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and commit to a Labour alternative: a mas- sive increase in the supply of housing, including council housing with proper tenure and genuinely affordable rents, and rights for private tenants.
  • Jeremy Corbyn announced in his victory speech yesterday that Labour will hold a national campaign this coming Saturday for inclusive education and against grammar schools. Sign up at: content/action-on-education
  • Conference should back calls led by Labour Peer Alf Dubs for a more humane approach to child refugees.

To vote in the priorities ballot you go to the ballot area in the Exhibition Hall between 10.30am and 3pm. After the priorities ballot, compositing meetings on suc- cessful topics will be held from 6.30pm in the Exhibition Centre. Delegates must attend and need to agree composites which establish clear policies setting us apart from the Tories.

11AM Sunday – Support CLPs, Support reference back 

The Conference Arrangements Committee has ruled out an important rule change from East Devon CLP that would allow Branch Labour Parties and branches of affiliated organisations to interview prospective parliamentary candidates and make nominations to the long list. The ruling out has been justified under a spurious interpretation of the “three-year rule”. However there has not been a rule change on this issue in the past three years and this rule change would be a minor but welcome addition to the selection rules. We should at very least be allowed to debate it. Please support any delegate moving reference back to the Conference Arrangements Committee report to get this rule change back on the agenda. Contemporary motions opposing austerity and expulsions/exclusions of members have also been ruled out because they “do not meet the criteria” despite recent reports of the worsening economic situation and falling living standards. Alternatives to austerity and investment for growth are not adequately addressed in the conference documents and are urgent topics for debate.

Structures set to be debated – Christine Shawcroft 

At the first NEC meeting of Conference, Jeremy Corbyn was congratulated on his win and welcomed back as Leader. A marathon NEC earlier in the week had put on one side the Deputy Leader’s proposal that the Shadow Cabinet be elected by the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to allow for negotiations. At an NEC meeting on Saturday evening, this proposal was dropped – at least for now – pending a full discussion of possible rule changes on electing the Shadow Cabinet and the structure of the NEC, to be held at an NEC “away day” in November. The NEC held earlier this week had also agreed to add two new places to the NEC: one nominated by the Leader of the Scottish and one by the Leader of the Welsh Labour Parties. There was a suggestion at yesterday evening’s NEC that the November “away day” should discuss how these two NEC places should be filled – by selection or election. Unfortunately this suggestion was misinterpreted as an attempt to overturn last Tuesday’s decision – and the Chair closed down the discussion and moved on. It is likely, therefore, that a rule change adding these places to the NEC will be included in the rule changes coming to Conference on Tuesday Morning.

One leader, one vote? 

Early on Tuesday morning, the NEC will be proposing a rule change so that the Leaders of the Scottish Labour Party and the Welsh Labour Party can each pick their own representative to the NEC from their respective front benches. Members, supported by CLPD, have campaigned for years for Scottish and Welsh involvement in the NEC – but this has always been on the basis of demo- cratic representation. By contrast, the NEC’s proposal is ridiculously restricted. It would also alter the NEC’s political balance. It has been suggested in the media that this is the hidden agenda behind the seemingly “innocent” proposed rule change. There is a serious danger of yet further internal battles – at a time when our members want the Party to turn outwards and fight the Tory Government. This is the message Jeremy has stresed. Given the endorsement he received yesterday, Jeremy’s call should be echoed throughout the Party.

A note on party staff

Party officials are like civil servants. Our staff are there to ensure conference runs efficiently. They are not there to interfere in any way with delegates’ political decision making. This is spelt out in their terms and conditions of employment. Any infringement should be reported to CLPD at once. We will ensure appropriate action is taken. CLPs are fully entitled to mandate their delegates – all the trade unions mandate delegates.

Congratulations Jeremy! 

Another resounding victory for Jeremy Corbyn was celebrated at a packed Campaign for Labour Party Democracy rally last night. Diane Abbott MP praised Jeremy’s courage and fortitude and called on everyone to unite in fighting the Tories, sentiments echoed by Margaret Greenwood MP. Jeremy won with an increased share of the vote and a clear lead in every section. Jeremy gained 61,792 more votes than last year, including an increase of 9.4% in the members’ section.

Light at the end of the tunnel – Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF

Like most people in the Labour Party, and labour movement, I’m delighted that Jeremy Corbyn was yesterday re-elected as leader of the Labour Party. It is now time for everyone – especially those in the PLP who have spent so much of the last year undermining Jeremy – to get behind him, turn their fire on the Tories, and get ready for a General Election which could be just around the corner. Not least because we have such a good message to take to the country. Take transport, for example, the subject of a plenary session in the conference hall this afternoon. You don’t need to travel on Southern Railways – or Southern Failways as they’ve been dubbed by disgruntled passengers – to see that privatisation hasn’t worked.

On every measure put forward by John Major 20 years ago, rail privatisation has failed. Fares, and pub- lic subsidies, have soared – we now have the highest fares in Europe – while trains have got more crowded and, in most parts of the country, much older. I know why the privatised train companies like the failed franchise system – they talk about ‘risk and reward’ but realise there is no risk, it’s all reward – and that’s why we need a Labour government committed to putting our fragmented railway back together as a modern, integrated, publicly-owned system fit for the 21st century.

Jeremy – and this hasn’t always been the case with Labour Party leaders in recent years – is proud to talk about public ownership. He understands that ordinary people are suffering in the Tories’ Age of Austerity and wants to rebuild Britain as a fairer, more modern society, with a more productive economy that delivers for the many, not the few. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

Campaign Briefing is produced as a service to delegates by:
CLPD, Left Futures and
Labour Briefing (the
magazine of the Labour Briefing Co-operative)

Pete Willsman’s Guide to Labour Party Conference 2016

Inside Labour Willsman from NECThe Conference Agenda

The following business will comprise the Conference timetable:

  The National Executive Committee (NEC) Report and possible late NEC statements that can be issued to delegates during conference. In 1997 under the Partnership in Power document it was agreed that the NEC Report would include, “a report on the resolutions and comments on organisational and campaigning matters submitted to the NEC during the previous year”. This agreement has never been properly honoured and we need to address this oversight.

  •   NPF Report, including reports from the seven policy commissions of the National Policy Forum.
  •   Contemporary Motions and Emergency Motions that cover matters that would not otherwise appear on the conference agenda.
  •   Proposed rule changes from the NEC and from CLPs. (The rule change proposals from CLPs were submitted last year, but by convention (known as the „1968 Ruling‟) are not tabled until this year. This convention does not apply to rule change proposals from the NEC).
  •   Election for the CLP Section of the National Constitutional Committee (NCC).(Details are set out in written reports from the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) (ie. the initial Delegates Report and daily CAC Reports). The CAC is in near permanent session during Conference and acts as the Standing Orders Committee. Delegates have the right to present any queries directly to the CAC itself. Delegates who feel strongly about a point should insist on this right.)

    [If CLP secretaries have any general conference queries before conference they should contact Conference Services on 0845 092 3311 or]



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