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And another Lewisham Deptford GC, this time it’s a Special one, convened to deal with (some) Conference business. So in the best traditions of the Labour movement we started with a rules row.

The Secretary had, unlike in previous years, removed the election for a women’s delegate from the agenda. I felt that by not putting a women’s delegate election on the order paper, the organisation was taking a backward step. I can’t really believe that the feminists have changed their mind, they’ve always been so keen on the “…at least 50%…” rule. The agenda also proposed that the CLP only send three of its 12 delegate entitlement. The Chair now understands that when rulings are challenged, as we say in software testing, we are critiquing the product not the author and is very calm about it. However not everyone else in the room has got that yet and are keen to help him out by ensuring that his line is understood, . We voted on whether to have a women’s delegate or not and voted not to, actually we voted to send one, but not by the ⅔ majority required.

We then had an argument about the delegation size. To my mind it was unfortunate that the proposal from the floor was to fund three delegates, but to send twelve and then make a conditional commitment to the remaining seven that we might find the money. This would mean that people would be standing not knowing how much it would cost them which will exclude people. I have said before that the only way to control cost is to control numbers. I also suspect that 12 is too many, although I’d be interested to know how much we spent on the election.

Policy development is as important as fighting elections as this last election and the impact of the manifesto showed. It’s a shame that even a left leadership seems none to keen to share the making of manifestos with the membership, but their minds have been on other things. Luke Akehurst of Labour First had suggested (or maybe something stronger) that they argue for minimum sized delegations. I am not sure why, I and allies felt it should be larger. In the cold light of day, sending 14 is financially unsupportable, the influence of an individual delegate is tiny, it’s a very large conference and very few people get to speak. It’s easier to be called to speak if you are known to the chair, or your line is known to the chair. While I believe in Conference Sovereignty, there must be a better way of doing this. The final point to make is that now we have ½ million members (or more) perhaps the delegates’ expenses should be funded by head office.

Anyway, after an hour of this palaver, we moved on to the votes. It was close, but the left did well, better than last November at the AGM. The delegation has a left majority, we nominated both Left candidates for the National Constitutional Committee, which is elected at Conference by delegates and voted for a split ticket to nominate Chandwani and De Piero, who beat her running mate on the right slate on the toss of a coin for the CAC positions.

We ran out of time to discuss motions and rule changes of course.

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3 thoughts on “six two

  1. Dave says:

    So having slept on the procedural wrangling and having read the rules on delegate entitlements carefully I have come to the following conclusions.

    The rule ensures female representation within the open place delegates cadre with a round down interpretation of 50%. This, to me, suggests that if sending an odd number of delegates, a CLP should send an additional women’s delegate, if sending an even number, in which case at least half will be female, then the additional female delegate becomes optional, at least in terms of delivering a 50% female representation. Therefore CLPs should send an even number of delegates plus a youth if entitled.

    No large CLP can afford to send a full delegation on expenses. Lewisham Deptford is entitled to 14 delegates and if the Conference is held up North, that’s £1,000 per person, each and every year. We’re not the biggest party in the country either. Either, now the Party is flush, HQ should pay the delegate expenses, and/or we should change the delegate scale, possible reducing the point at which the first delegate is earned and lengthening the scale that additional delegates are earned. (Maybe reversing the numbers, one for 500, and then one per each 750 additional members.)

    It should be noted that small and distant parties don’t bother to go, this should be addressed.

    Delegates should be expensed on a fully, necessarily, exclusive basis. People should not be asked to subsidise the party on this basis, it excludes people and weakens the mandate.

    Perhaps CLPs should have a training fund that they use to subsidise visitors. It could be capped and restricted to one payment. (This could be done by the Party centrally).

    Money would be eased if the NEC increased the capitation remittance, currently 3% rising to 5%, to local parties.

    1. Dave says:

      I found this rule today, Chapter 7.XI.4 “It shall be the duty of the General Meeting of this CLP to ensure that at least 50 per cent of their delegates to other Party bodies (where delegate entitlement is more than one) shall be women.”

      So, send an even number of open place delegates, plus the women’s delegate, plus the youth. This guarantees at least 50% women.

  2. Dave says:

    On the delegate entitlements, as conference grows, and we sent four last year, entitled to 14 this year, and the numbers from the 2016 membership surge haven’t been factored in, there’s going to be problems with venues, not just seating people, but feeding them, screening them at the door and providing sufficient toilet facilities.

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