Refounding Labour – New Rules: an example

This is how the new rules could apply to the Westminster parliamentary constituency of Greenwich and Woolwich. This paper has been circulated to branches for consultation.

A new rule book was agreed at 2011 Annual Conference. While our Constituency Labour Party (CLP) objected, on the grounds that most of the changes had not been subject at all to consultation, and that we had just a few days’ notice, nevertheless they were approved and must be implemented. Key decisions for the CLP are:

Annual Meeting (AGM) Dates – under the new rules this should be held in or after May. Branch AGMs are not set down by the rules (January is deleted) but advice is they should be after elections. Currently, we have the Branch AGMs in early-mid January and the CLP AGM at the end of February. We could:

  1. Hold Branch AGMs and CLP AGMs all in May
  2. Hold Branch AGMs in May and the CLP AGM in June
  3. Hold both the Branch and CLP AGMs in June

Delegate or General Meetings – Currently, we have a delegate General Committee (with delegates from Branches and affiliated organisations but we open all GCs to all members and have made a number of them all-member meetings with invites to everyone. Though any voting is by delegates only, the one exception being when we did our leadership and National Executive nominations. Two options:

  1. We can keep the current delegate structures allowing a fair representation across all branches and affiliates, but opening meetings for wider participation and have a number of all-member meetings
  2. We could have General Meetings only, with no delegates. The full membership would then elect the Officers and executive as well as take decisions on resolutions. Thus no delegates would be elected, and any member could attend, vote and stand. Members would be able to attend and vote at both their Branch and constituency meeting; it may therefore blur their distinctive roles.

Officers – The CLP currently has 8 Executive officers. The new rules provide for a base of just 5 with a number of co-ordinators (functional officers) though there is the option to have more Executive Officers if we choose.

  1. Have just 5 Executive officers (Chair, Vice Chair Membership; Vice Chair Campaigns; Secretary and Treasurer of which at least two must be women
  2. Have 6 Executive Officers (above 5 plus Equalities Officer) of which three would be women. The Equalities Officer would co-ordinate the roles currently carried out by Ethnic Minorities Officer, Women’s officer, Youth & Student officer and Disabilities officer)
  3. Retain current 8 Exec Officers with at least 4 women. This would need approval

Co-ordinators we need to refresh the functional officer roles as Co-ordinators. This may mean we want to rationalise the roles and rather than having job shares to have teams.

 

Local Campaign Forum (LCF) – The new rules replace the Local Government Committee with a re-focussed Local Campaign Forum for co-ordinating council elections, selections and liaison with the Labour Group. The CLPs in Greenwich will need to collectively determine their preferred model but in general it will meet less frequently and be much slimmer (currently 65 members altogether). The Management and Executive Committees can be replaced by a single unitary body. Options include:

  1. A unitary LCF of 10 Party delegates (4 G&W CLP), 1 Co-op plus Group Leader and Deputy. This could be supplemented by a Borough Conference open to all Labour councillors and either all members or all CLP GC delegates which would be at least annual but possibly more frequently to help develop policy and policy commissions which would draw from the wider membership and be co-chaired by Party and group co-ordinators.
  2. A unitary LCF of 17 Party delegates (7 G&W CLP), 2 Co-op plus leadership. Again, this could be supplemented by a borough Conference and policy commissions
  3. A Management Committee of 39 Party delegates (16 G&W which could be 2 per BLP plus Chair and Sec); 4 Co-op and Group leadership. This would need a separate Executive.
  4. A Management Committee broadly as currently of 55 Party delegates (22 G&W CLP) plus 5 Co-op and group leadership. Again, a separate Executive.

 

Conference rule change proposals – rejected

As these can be hard to find I’ve listed them below, with separate
percentages for constituencies and affiliates.  All were rejected,
though a couple came close to 50% among CLP delegates. 
1 -        replace clause IV with new wording (proposed by Castle
Point, Ceredigion and Dagenham & Rainham, opposed by
the NEC because Refounding Labour showed no demand for
change).  Lost with 12.4% in favour (21.1% of constituencies,
3.6% of affiliates);
2 –        establish a Labour party code of ethics (proposed by South
Ribble, opposed by the NEC because standards are already
set out in codes of conduct and staff contracts).  Lost with
20.1% in favour (29.6% / 10.6%);
3 –        establish a charter of members’ rights (proposed by
Hyndburn, opposed by the NEC because most items are
already in the rules or guidelines).  Lost with 18.1% in favour
(24.7% / 11.6%);
4 -        allow CLPs to send a male delegate to conference for two
consecutive years where they cannot find a woman
(proposed by Winchester, opposed by the NEC because the
rule was amended in 2008 so that CLPs can send another
man after two years if they are still unable to find a woman. 
Further change would dilute women’s representation).  Lost
with 7.4% in favour (12.7% / 2.0%);
5 –        debate constituency rule changes in the year that they are
submitted (proposed by Dewsbury, opposed by the NEC
because a year’s delay allows them to be considered fully. 
Delegates contrasted the 15 months which the NEC
demands with the hours that they were given to digest
Refounding Labour.  They were told that the rule was set in
1968 and had served the party well, though any rule which is
43 years old would normally be considered ripe for
modernisation);
            The vote was lost with 28.2% in favour (44.5% / 11.9%).  I’m
surprised that this made it past the conference arrangements
committee, as Lancaster & Fleetwood submitted the same
amendment last year, lost with 22.7% in favour, and
proposals cannot be brought back within three years;
6 -        increase the number of NEC constituency places from six to
eight, with one representative elected from Scotland and one
from Wales (proposed by Beverley & Holderness, Stratford-
upon-Avon and Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale,
opposed by the NEC because “CLPs are already adequately
represented” and the Scottish and Welsh leaders have a
standing invitation to attend NEC meetings).  Lost with 20.6%
in favour (39.5% / 1.8%).
An amendment from Rotherham, Sheffield Central and Wentworth
& Dearne to allow Young Labour group officers to contact their
own members was withdrawn, but the thrust of Refounding
Labour is towards better communication across the party, and I
hope this will be solved through other means. 

Conference report – 26/29 September 2011

Overall the mood was positive, and it’s always encouraging to
meet like-minded people committed to the same ideals.  Ed Balls
gave a fighting speech as shadow chancellor, and Ed Miliband
was applauded, particularly when he challenged the Tories over
the NHS.  As he said, it was not an attack on business, but on
business-as-usual.  I cannot entirely explain the reaction of some
people to Tony Blair’s name, though it may have reflected general
frustration, spilling over from Sunday, at being unable to express
views in any other way.  Many attended Ed Miliband’s question-
and-answer session on Wednesday, figuring that they were more
likely to be called by Eddie Izzard, despite attempts to give
precedence to “ordinary people”, than in the main conference. 
Star of the week was Tom Watson MP for pursuing the Murdochs,
starting at a time when few others would risk their political career.    
Constituencies will get detailed reports from their own delegates. 
However I have always said that conferences are best judged by
members at home, not those in the hall, and I am interested in
what  made it through to mainstream TV, and what impression it
left, if any.  Should we concentrate on new policies, perhaps
years before we can implement them, or on holding the
government to account?  And how do we get messages across,
when as an opposition we do not command the agenda? 

Refounding Labour — the Damp Squid. Members are as Important as Ever — Yet They Are Leaving Us Again

The first wave of Refounding Labour reforms were voted through yesterday after deals were done between the leadership and the unions. But does any of this amount to much at all? The watered-down proposals on restored supporters really does not amount to much at all to the point that I wonder what on earth is the point of it all?

By all accounts the NEC itself had precious little time to debate the Refounding Labour proposals so I suppose we can’t be surprised that conference didn’t either. At the NEC meeting three members voted against the proposals, Ann Black, Christine Shawcross and  Johanna Baxter. All three did so because of the weight of heir (e)mailbags — all of which were massively hostile to the proposals. Given where the Party is at the moment it may seem weird to ignore such hostility but in reality this was nothing like Ed’s Clause 4 moment.

Just how practical is any of this stuff? Registered members get 3% of the electoral college come a leadership election. Is this really significant? There are real practical problems in opening up more localised selections — Councillors and MPs — to include registered supporters. A selection meeting in my part of the world can take hours because of the problems in verifying membership. This is also a part of the world in which we have constant problems with the buying of mass memberships, particularly amongst those who qualify of the reduced weight. What’s to stop anyone using community organisations registered with Labour to do precisely the same thing?

Last night I put some of these concerns to a long-standing member of the NEC. I was told that in all probability these changes will never actually happen because they will be so difficult to implement in practice. Indeed, the NEC has spend much of the last few years quietly disposing of the ideas of Gordon Brown for Party reform which were simply impractical.

Which brings us back to members. Remember the great days of last year when membership was booming? Not so now, in fact, the Party has lost over 10,000 members I believe since the early summer, despite Ed’s heroics over Murdoch, etc.

Membership will continue to fall while Members themselves get nothing for their Membership and where their views and opinions have such little value.

Labour must see Members as one the key building blocks in Party renewal. This will mean doing things differently and no doubt reforming our structures and procedures. But it has to be seen that members are seen as important partners and not just cheap Labour for leafleting and voter ID (as important as those are).

With membership falling again this Party faces the same problem that it has faced for a decade or so now, that more and more work falls on less and less people.

I have no sense that Labour supporters — let alone members — really favour a  US style system and presidential politics. Nor is there any sense that the vast number of members are anything but massively opposed to the State Funding of political parties, and suspicion remains that we are holding on for Christopher Kelly to recommend such a system.

Our renewal — our future — will depend on members. Our task is to make their voice count and to the inspiration from their passion and political drive.

More than ever — despite refunding Labour:

Labour =  members.

 

LDN Conference Newsletter Now Available

LDN’s first newsletter, since changing name from Save the Labour Party, is now out. This will be distributed to all members as either an electronic or a paper version, however, it can now be read/downloaded from this site.

Labour Democratic Network Newsletter — Conference 2011 Edition

Refounding Labour – a Member’s Charter in the works

In the battle to decide what sort of Labour Party is needed to represent the progressive majority it would be easy to overlook grassroots initiatives that pre-date Anno Ed (AE). As followers of Refounding Labour know, it is proving a struggle to keep track of those that post date AE. Among the recommendations in the LabOUR Commission interim report (2007) were proposals for a Charter of Member’s Rights, an Ombudsperson and a Code of Ethics.

In the bundle of Rule changes proposed by members that is on the Agenda for Conference 2011 is this one from Hyndburn CLP in Lancashire for a Charter of Member’s Rights. The Labour Democratic Network committee, which met in Birmingham last Saturday, urges the NEC Organisation Committee (aka Org Sub) to make sure this is incorporated into the Refounding Labour package to be put to members either at Conference 2011 (or a special Conference)as a means of securing a broad consensus about how to reshape the party to better represent the electorate. Here is the Hyndburn CLP rule change:

To Establish a Charter of Labour Party individual and trades union affiliated member’s rights

Add new Rule 2B 5 as follows:

There shall be a Charter of Labour Party Individual and Trades Union Member’s Rights to guarantee the rights of both individual and trades union affiliated members of the Party. This Charter shall be drafted by the National Executive Committee and shall be approved by Conference following full consultation. This Charter shall make provision for the following matters:

  • The right of individual and trades union affiliated Party members to inspect the financial records of the Party on giving reasonable notice
  • The right of individual and trades union affiliated Party members to be provided with full information about the party’s finances on an annual basis.
  • The right of individual and trades union affiliated Party members to determine the Party’s donations policy under the sovereign authority of Conference.
  • The right of individual and trades union affiliated Party members to participate fully in the selection of candidates to represent the Party in elections to public office on an equal opportunities basis and in accordance with the Party rules.
  • The right of individual and trades union party members to be considered for nomination as a Party candidate for election to public office, on satisfying prescribed qual ifying conditions
  • The right of individual and trades union affiliated Party members to participate in the selection and election of all persons nominated to represent the Party in the House of Lords or replacement upper chamber.
  • The right of all individual and trades union affiliated Party members to participate in local and national party governance by taking part through being elected as delegates to appropriate institutional bodies including Constituency General Committees (where these exist) Labour Regional Boards, the National Policy Forum, the National Executive Committee and the Party Annual Conference
  • The right of individual and trades union affiliated Party members to participate in the development of party policy, under the sovereign authority of Conference, and the right not to be excluded there-from except in accordance with the rules of the Party.
  • The right of individual and trades union affiliated Party members to transparency in the policy making process, including clear audit trails and feed-back.
  • The trades unions affiliated to the Labour Party shall collectively continue to enjoy their collective rights under the current Labour Party rules including 50% of the votes at the Labour Party Conference one third of the votes in the party electoral colleges for the Leadership etc.
  • The right of trades union affiliated and individual members of the Party and of affiliated trades unions collectively to complain to the Labour Party Ombudsperson (when appointed) about conduct of party officers, party employees, party representatives, party contractors and party members alleged to be in breach of (i) the Labour Party Constitution or (ii) The Labour Party Code of Ethics(when in place) and to be informed of the outcome of such a complaint.
  • The right of individual and trades union affiliated party members not to be unreasonably disciplined or expelled from the Party, including a right not to be disciplined or expelled for exercising rights contained in this Charter.

proposed by Hyndburn CLP agreed at GC on 16/07/2010

 

Bridgend CLP calls for Refounding Labour special Conference

Bridgend CLP General Management Committee held an emergency meeting on Tuesday 2nd August 2011 at 7.00pm in the OCLP Club Bryntirion, to consider an Emergency Resolution on the Refounding Labour Consultation, recommendations and planned rule changes. The Emergency Resolution detailed below was carried unanimously by the GMC.

  1. Bridgend CLP requests that the planned rule changes and recommendations arising from the Refounding Labour consultation should not be decided by the NEC meeting on 15th September or by the Annual Conference from 24th September onwards but should be decided by a Special One Day Refounding Labour Conference to be held in London in November 2011 after CLPs and Labour Party members have seen the proposed rule changes, and be allowed to respond to them as part of the final stages of the Refounding consultation. Bridgend CLP requests that the NEC and the NPF representatives support this resolution. A precedent for this type of one day conference was set in 1997.
  1. Bridgend CLP requests that the party use the period from the end of the Annual Conference (September 2011) through to the Special One Day Refounding Labour Conference in November 2011 to facilitate full engagement and participation by members and party units and publicise and make accessible all Refounding Labour submissions to inform members and help them further to contribute constructively to the refinement of rule changes and implementation of Refounding Labour recommendations.
  1. Bridgend CLP recommended as part of the Refounding Labour consultation that the policy making process within the party be made more open, transparent, democratic and accountable and is deeply disappointed by the lack of detail in the Summary report to respond to our call and calls from party members generally to democratise the policy making process within the party.
  1. Bridgend CLP requests that a specific statement on the party’s historical commitment to socialist values, ideas and principles be included in the Refounding recommendations and rule changes.
  1. Bridgend CLP greatly appreciates constructive proposals in the summary report such as engaging with communities, development plans, better communication arrangements, creating flexible local structures, empowering younger members and numerous other constructive proposals to ensure the party facilitates political engagement and participation.

Edith Hughes

Bridgend CLP Secretary

 

Hopkin Thomas

Bridgend CLP Chair

Calling all Refounding Labour participants

Labour Democratic Network is calling on all Party units, organisations and individuals to contact Head Office urgently re publication of your submissions, ideally by eMail.

If you support Leader Ed Miliband’s ambition for an open and transparent party, please inform HO as soon as possible that you authorise publication of you submission(s) immediately.

If you would prefer not to have your name published, but think your ideas should be seen by all, ask for publication anonymously.

If you would prefer your submission not to be published at all, please make your position clear, and no one outside Head Office need know.

Peter Kenyon

secretary, LDN

Conference Briefing

LDN is launching a Conference Briefing Service for delegates to the 2011 Labour Party Conference which, this year, is being held in Liverpool on the 25th to 29th September. The service will also be of interest to Conference Visitors and to Labour Party members generally.

The 2011 conference will be debating a number of issues that will be fundamental to the future of the Labour Party; these will include the policy review that is being Chaired by Liam Byrne, and the organisational review — Refounding Labour which is being Chaired by Peter Hain.

As I write — at the beginning of August — the final reports of both reviews are not available and we are do not know the timetable for publication. Information about the reviews, and the subsequent motions that will be put to conference, will no doubt seep out during the summer. The LDN Conference Briefing will keep you up to date with developments and will feature articles, blogs and other resources, that are designed to keep delegates up-to-date with conference issues and conference arrangements.

Finally, we are happy to promote or publish you own contributions. Conact us via. conference.briefing@labourdemocraticnetwork.org.

Sign up to the briefing.

 

Conference Fringe: Revitalising membership – an end to London domination?


Sunday 25th September, 18.00 to 20.00.

The Malmaison Hotel, William Jessop Way, Princes Dock, Liverpool, L3 1QZ

Chair: Andy Howell, Chair Labour Democratic Network

Speakers:

Jon Trickett MP

Cllr. John Merry, Leader Salford Council

Ann Black, Member National Executive Committee

Refreshments provided.

Read more about the fringe and the regional challenge

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