Compositing

Labour Conference starts on Saturday! I thought I’d document my experience and lessons from the compositing meeting that I attended last year. I was badly stitched up last year and here are some lessons.

The motions to be included in the composite motion will be issued in a CAC report. Read them all, it will be a clue as to the dividing lines between the organisations. Some of them will be identical.

Work out who’s on your side and then make sure they’re represented by someone who cares. In my meeting last year, delegates were voting to exclude words in their own motion.

Take some words into the meeting, the front bench will. In our case, they used five words from our motion, one of which was “the”. Once in the meeting its too late to recover if they propose egregious surgery.

Speaking rights are valuable; you may be able to swap words for speaking rights, it was tried in our meeting but it’s not easy; you can only buy one vote in this way. (Two actually since there’s mover and seconder).

Understand the meeting procedure, Citrine is no help. The Chair, a member of the Conference Arrangements Committee, wasted time, took no amendment motions to re include excluded words and didn;t ask for votes against, since he knew that the majority of the meeting had voted in favour.

The Chair is not neutral, you need to understand their agenda and the new CAC doesn’t take over ’till the end of Conference.

However, and I wish I had known this last year, the meeting can agree to put more than one motion through. You might need to be a large Trade Union to get away with it but at least one of last year’s meetings put through two motions.

Compositing

Antisemitism (in the Labour Party)

I have just written a blog article on one of the rule changes likely to come up at #lab17. Stories have been circulating about how the Labour Party might change its rules to ensure that racists are excluded and that racism is eliminated from the Party.

  1. The new rule proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement makes racists acts liable to disciplinary action and It removes the free speech defence from racists acts. It may also define holding beliefs as a racist act.
  2. Other policies of the Labour Party, the [potential?] adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism would make criticism of Israel an antisemitic act; the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee in it its report Antisemitism recognised this in its proposal to explicitly create a free speech defence for debate about Israel.
  3. I wonder where the rule changes proposed by the Chakrabarti Inquiry have gone. They would be a better basis on which to eliminate racism from the Labour Party.
Antisemitism (in the Labour Party)

Trade Unionists speak

The local Trades Council asked those seeking to be  Labour’s Candidate for Mayor to answer a short set of questions; they present the replies in this document, “Judge for yourselves who will be the Mayor we need!”. They asked questions on Cuts, Education, the Living Wage (in the Town Hall and procurement portfolio), employment rights, housing, training and council/union relations.

Richard Abendorff, a member of the Trades Council and the Labour Party, writes,

There are clear dividing lines, Paul Bell opposes cuts, opposes privatisation, promises to in-source services, opposes privatisation via academies, supports Union rights, will prohibit zero contracts, he will re-establish the town hall trade union negotiating structures and put the Chair of the Trade Union side on the Cabinet.

He also plans to abolish the Mayoralty. His plans are based on concrete promises, not based on aspiration. If not a first choice for Trade Unionists, he must be a second choice.

Trade Unionists speak

BackBell

The Labour Party’s Lewisham Mayor selections ballots have been issued, by post and email. Ballot papers for eligible Labour Party members in Lewisham to vote for who our candidate for Mayor will be will reach you over the next few days.

It’s crucial that to get out the strongest possible vote to help the Corbyn-supporting candidate, Paul Bell, win.

Paul is the only candidate

  • Who voted for Jeremy Corbyn either time and consistently supported his leadership
  • Who is committed to fighting to abolish the undemocratic mayoral system which has caused so many problems in Lewisham
  • Who has plans to rebuild the council’s relationship with workers and trade unions, stop academisation, stop privatisation and ‘insource’ services, build many hundreds of council homes and launch a fight against cuts and austerity.

Unsurprisingly, all five candidates are talking left – but it’s necessary to look beyond warm words to politics and policies.

Paul’s full manifesto is published here, on his web site and visible via this http://bit.ly/PB4M-Manifesto SURL.

BackBell

Paul Bell & Schools

Paul Bell, one of the people seeking to be Labour’s candidate for Lewisham Mayor has announced his education policy and promises.

He promises,

  • I will as Mayor oppose new academies and free schools, maintaining Council control of schools wherever possible
  • I will as Mayor protect teachers’ jobs and maintain smaller class sizes
  • I will as Mayor secure affordable childcare for working families
  • I will as Mayor ensure every local child has the chance to go to a school a reasonable distance from home
  • I will as Mayor bring Lewisham ‘young people’ service back in-house for the benefit of the community
  • I will as Mayor introduce a Lewisham Fair Workload Charter, to improve conditions for teachers.

 

Paul Bell & Schools

Labour & Brexit

On Labour & Brexit: up till last week, Corbyn & Starmer were talking about negotiating the best Brexit terms, in Starmer’s words,  no worse than membership. Corbyn’s interview over the weekend raised the possibility that Brexit would mean exit from the Single Market. This has caused a furore in the Labour Party and amongst some of its new friends.

This heat of this debate was raised by Barry Gardiner’s article in the FT stating that in a post EU existence the Customs Union was a problem but McDonnell says that nothing is off the table, and Starmer in a speech to Labour in Business repeats his six criteria and again states that nothing is off the table.

On Tuesday, my branch of the Labour Party debated this and voted, in part as a reaction to this debate, to remain in the Single Market and to take the issue to conference. In my speech, I seconded it, I argued that Conference had a policy, which I have mirrored here which was to ensure that the exit terms ensured no diminishing of workers, consumer, citizenship and migrant rights and that if the terms of exit breached these conditions that a second mandate (from Parliament, a General Election or Referendum) must be sought and that remaining in the EU is to be considered. This policy was established after the referendum. The 2017 Manifesto, approved by the Clause V meeting stated that,

Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first.We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations.

So three days later, I can accept that outcomes are important not structures and that an EEA/Swiss style deal might be acceptable to me provided we seek a second mandate.

I added that Labour are in opposition, and that the most likely way to get a third election is to defeat the Tories in the House of Commons. Stating that we would do in Government is premature and we are unclear which faction of the Tories will vote with us or abstain. It would be more sensible to retain our ambiguity on these issues.

In terms of timing, we, i.e. the British People, are running out of time. It may well be that the only option available by the time government falls is to revoke the Article 50 notice. Pretending that we can negotiate a Brexit deal & transitional agreement in 12 months is almost certainly a mistake.

Labour & Brexit

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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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Expulsions

I went to visit some Labour Party friends in North London last night; several of them have been “auto-excluded” from membership. This has to stop. I have developed a rule change motion [ Download here … ] or http://bit.ly/2sFM6t8.

Rule changes are submitted with a supporting text justifying themselves; The text is posted below, but in summary

The problem with the rule is in three words, automatically, support and organisation. Automatically denies the accused natural justice, support has no threshold of proof, ( tweets i.e. 128 character phrases have been taken as sufficient) and organisation can be anything, there’s no qualification of opposition or unacceptability.

If you agree, it would be good to get this on the Conference Agenda, it needs to be passed at an appropriate CLP meeting and submitted to LP HQ by July 7th.


“The Labour Party campaigns in and with communities and their organisations. It also works with other political parties although currently only the Co-op Party. Not all relationships of supporting & joining organisations other than official Labour organisations are prohibited by the rules.

Unity in electoral campaigns and compliance with the rules should be the required level of commitment. Registered supporters are asked to agree with the aims of the party and not belong to an organisation opposed to it. This should be the standard for membership.

Prohibition of support of organisations other than affiliates creates a chilling effect for joining and support of such organisations. It means working with organisations such as Hope not Hate, Liberty, Green Peace or Amnesty International may render members liable to automatic expulsion.

Automatic ineligibility is currently interpreted as allowing expulsion by administrative action. The accused is processed in secret, unable to challenge evidence, present a defence or request an appeal.  These are all breaches of the rights to natural justice. This is unacceptable in a democratic party.

This has been used in a factional manner where long-term members and Green Party converts have been expelled. Disciplinary action taken varies; members of other parties who hold public office wishing to join are usually accepted.

The purpose of this rule change is to end the arbitrary, partisan and secret exclusion of Labour Party members, so that all members that abide by Labour’s rules, are entitled to join and remain members of the Party.”

Expulsions

Centre Left Grassroots Alliance

The Left slate for the open national positions in the Labour Party. These are for the Conference Arrangements Committee and the National Constitutional Committee.

Vote Left 2017

Conference Arrangements Committee

The Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) has a crucial role in influencing the running of conference, and therefore requires candidates who will represent the wishes of members.

The center left candidates requiring nomination are Seema Chandwani and Billy Hayes for the two CLP reps on the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC).

Seema Chandwani is a CLP Secretary (Tottenham CLP, Labour Party Membership Number: L1187007); and Billy Hayes is the former General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union (Mitcham and Morden CLP, Labour Party Membership Number A065571).

The election for these reps will be by a One Member One Vote ballot this summer.

National Constitutional Committee.

The Left Candidates  for the two CLP reps on the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) are Anna Dyer and Emine Ibrahim.

Anna Dyer is a sitting member of the NCC (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn CLP, Labour Party Membership Number L0081865) and Emine Ibrahim is a CLP rep on the London Region’s Labour Party Board (Hornsey and Wood Green CLP, Labour Party Membership Number L0150489).

The election of these reps will be by CLP delegates at the Annual Conference in September. The nomination process will be for most CLP’s the mandate for the delegates.

Click here for pdf leaflets: Billy Hayes; Seema Chandwani; Emine Ibrahim; Anna Dyer.

Centre Left Grassroots Alliance

Osterley

A day out in Brentford and Isleworth campaigning for a Labour Victory; this is the second most marginal Labour seat in London. Fab company, the team came from all over London.

I met my first voter who loved Corbyn but was abstaining because he couldn’t stand the local Labour candidate’s anti-brexit position.

A comrade came across someone who claimed to be a life long Labour voter who was leaving us because we plan to repeal the Tories inheritance tax give-aways. They have set the start point to  £850,000 up from £325,000. This makes a difference in London and plays to my argument that tax bills deter not only those that will pay them, but those that hope to do so too. We tried the triple lock and dementia tax, maybe should have tried the abolition of tuition fees. (I wonder if this is the sort of stuff that the Tories are putting out through their Facebook advertising campaign, now if there was only a crowd sourced rapid rebuttal site that I could post this to.)

Osterley