Friday, July 15, 2016

Hard Labour

 Image result for Corbyn, Eagle, Owen Smith

Labour Party members whose email addresses are correctly recorded by the Labour Party should now have received a communication from their General Secretary saying that normal and scheduled CLP (and Branch) meetings are postponed until after the completion of the leadership election – which takes us to the eve of the start of the Annual Labour Party Conference. Whilst I think that this overall move is a democratic disgrace, how can Labour Party members make the best of a bad situation ?

For the General Secretary also says that as an exception to the above rule we can have CLP meetings to (a) support a nomination for the leadership (which I assume can only take place after the close of nominations themselves at noon on 21 July) and (b) for essential Annual Conference Business. From (b) I assume that we can seemingly have a meeting to submit a contemporary and/or emergency resolution to Conference. But we then have a problem, where would the contemporary and emergency resolutions come from, unless they have already been submitted to a CLP ? Not from branches or from a CLP’s EC as these seem to have been closed down until 24 September. Perhaps they could come from affiliated bodies only – which I grant is rather unlikely to happen. Could Contemporary and Emergency motions, however, be moved from the floor of the above form of specially convened Constituency Meeting? Would we even be allowed to mandate our Conference delegate if we could somehow find out what is on the Conference Agenda?

Perhaps a Constituency meeting restricted to considering support for a leadership nominee and to consider the above Conference issues could be authorised by the local Regional Office of the Labour Party – under the complexities of the General Secretary’s ruling. Yet given that we are into a holiday period, such a meeting might not be able to be called until early September.

But we should clearly make use of the limited avenues of inner-party democracy which remain open to us up to Party Conference. The lessons of the current shambles then need to shape future constitutional and political changes in the Labour Party – given that if by then Labour still remains a feasible avenue for the advance of “democratic” socialism.

Added 18 July - This is the line I am trying to peddle with the leadership candidates and some of their supporters .............
"The candidates for the leadership should be pushed to come to an agreement to stand by Labour Party Policies as these have been (and will come to be) agreed by Labour Party Conference. This does not unreasonably bind them. They should be free to suggest changes that they would like to seek in future Conference's policies, whilst sticking by what has been established in the meantime. Furthermore leaders and the PLP can still have a say about the priorities, timing and the detail when acting on Conference decisions. They also will often have to act on new and passing items, without having specific Conference guidance at the time. This is currently the case (until the coming Conference ?) on  policies over the leaving the EU. 

Most of current Conference policies formed the basis of our last election manifesto. Any alterations, additions or elaborations (e.g. on Syria) have only emerged so far from last year's Conference.  Most of Conference policies arise (of course) from the work of the Policy Forums. Prior to the General Election, I summarised these in a number of blog items. These can be found via links to this item.    They should form the basis of Labour"s current parliamentary approach until subject to later Conference alterations.

It is also possible for candidates to press for the further democratisation of the Labour Party. It is also a difficult approach for candidates to argue against when facing the votes of the membership in a leadership contest.

I hope that you can press such a line. It could be a position which any candidate could find it difficult to reject in current circumstances. If the argument is that we have just lost a General Election on these overall proposals, then I am afraid they are the policies as they exist at the moment. If changes are sort, then the Party's internal  procedures will need to be pursued."

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