Make Labour’s rules up as you go along is still the 4.5%er preference

Steve RotheramLast night, the parliamentary Labour party debated and agreed to ballot Labour MPs on a rule change from Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey – two of the MPs who last year nominated Liz Kendall – which sought to eject from his place on Labour’s national executive Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton who nominated Andy Burnham.

The justification is that he was elected to that position by MPs as a backbench representative and he is now PPS to the party leader. The fact is that the status of a PPS, frontbench or backbench, has never been very clear. What is clear is that it hasn’t stopped a PPS – to the leader or otherwise – being a backbench representative on the executive before. Ann Snelgrove was in that position from 2008 to 2010 including as PPS to Gordon Brown whilst he was leader. So far as I know, no-one questioned this at the time.  Continue reading

Labour First are wrong: debate is not a distraction

LABOUR FIRSTBuried at the bottom of a model motion circulated by the right-wing Labour First is a call to ban any changes to the Party’s selection process until after the General Election. This would mean that no rule change could be submitted to conference until 2021 and would not be debated until 2022. This is the constitutional equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears, shouting “I can’t hear you” for the next seven years.

I happen to think that the current trigger ballot system works reasonably well. It allows constituencies to hold their MP to account and speeds up the re-selection process allowing constituencies longer to campaign for the reelection of their MP, thereby increasing the chances returning them to parliament. Continue reading

Report of yesterday’s Scottish Labour executive

Inside Labour ScotlandJim Murphy’s last day at the office resulted in the predictable media spin over substance, but in fairness any shortcoming in his ‘report’ was entirely appropriate.

Jim’s report on Scottish Labour’s political future was neither a report nor did it have very much to do with Scottish Labour’s political future. It was a series of papers on some internal mechanisms, not the political strategy we need to go forward. Not even a look at the bigger constitutional changes that the party needs to consider such as a more federal or even independent Scottish Labour Party. That’s not a criticism, because the party doesn’t need another quick fix and it’s not Jim’s role as the outgoing leader to offer that vision. Continue reading

The return of Degsy – welcome or not

DegsySo Degsy’s back, for now. Deejays, aka Derek Hatton, was always a bit brash so re-joining Labour 30 or so years after being expelled would not be something he’d want to do quietly. So even though he says “I just want to be a party member…. I have no intention of being a main player. I have not joined to stand as a politician“, it’s not something he’d do without making a splash. In the Liverpool Echo, and on the telly. And so it is not so surprising perhaps that it has attracted the attention of Labour general secretary, Iain McNicol, who has objected to him joining. But however unsavoury a character I find Degsy, I cannot think of a good reason for keeping him out. Continue reading

Ann Black’s report from Labour’s executive in September

NEC Report ABNational Executive Committee, September 2014

September was a strange month, with the lead-up to annual conference dominated by suspense over Scotland. The NEC meeting scheduled for Tuesday 16 September was moved to Glasgow so we could all pitch in, and then cancelled as bad weather disrupted travel. Many staff and activists came straight from the campaign to Manchester. Opening the women’s conference on Saturday Harriet Harman welcomed Scotland’s decision, and said that independence was backed by 54% of men, but only 43% of women: whether the difference relates to caution about financial risks, dislike of personalities or something else has yet to be explained. She mounted a strong defence of all-women shortlists, the only method that had worked in lifting women’s representation in parliament from 3% when she was first elected to around one-third today. The day went well, particularly the sessions where members queue at the microphones – no having to “catch the Chair’s eye” – allowing a wide range of issues to be aired including food banks, the NHS, domestic violence, the gender pay gap and job-sharing for MPs. Continue reading