Shortlisting

New Cross Labour held its Councillor short listing meeting yesterday. This was at noon in the Albany and we were expecting a low turnout from those who work and those with a social life. The meeting was enlivened by being leafleted by supporters of Old Tidemill Gardens and the Save Achilles St campaign.

Because it’s a Labour Party meeting, it started with two points of order, moved by me.

The first was about New Cross’s position in the schedule, the rules, Appendix A.iii.f states that the LCF shall ensure,

the agreed order for selection meetings (i.e. first priority to Labour seats, second to winnable seats and last to other seats)

New Cross should not be in the middle of the schedule, and Brockley which was first is not our safest seat, in fact it should have been last because it has the Green Party Councillor. Ian McKenzie came up with some old bollocks about how they’d considered it properly and the LCF had the right to do what it wanted … I said it didn’t have the right to break the rules, McKenzie denied that the rules mandate the order. (See above).

I then sought to discover whether the Branch Secretary had withheld the start time from the membership.  Notice of the day of the meeting had been available for about a month, but the time and place were only notified 7½ days in advance. Being on a Saturday, many people were not present, due to either work commitments, reasons of religious observance,  or other social commitments. It is almost certain that Ian McKenzie will have proposed the time in his initial circular, so I want to know why Redmond Garvey refused to ask the member that asked him for the start time, and whether he told others. i.e. did he or Ian McKenzie act in a partisan way by releasing the start time to some and not to others.

The candidate applications were distributed and this apart from 30 sec. moving speeches, and in this case the campaigning literature is all members get to go on. The candidate statements in some cases are not written as campaign statements and Ian McKenzie, the Procedures Secretary has prohibited the circulation of alternatives, another cause for complaint.

At this point, one of the attendees walked out. She felt that with the level of information available made any decision was insufficient. I hope she had a good a lunch.

Vicky Foxcroft, the MP and New Cross Ward member then moved that the meeting consider the three incumbents … I moved a point of order that the consideration of the incumbents was mandatory, and that Vicky was just using the opportunity to weaken the challenger’s presence, as to be considered they needed to be moved and their supporters get the chance to speak for them. By moving their candidacy, she with the MPs reputation took the opportunity to neutralise or reduce the impact of challenger’s speeches, and also establish an alibi for what was about to happen to Paul Maslin. Ian Mackenzie, usurping the Chair, stated that incumbent councillors needed to be moved at this stage of the meeting. (I don’t agree!)

I moved that Matt Hanson, an environmental campaigner and housing/planning expert be considered. I then moved that Rebecca Lawrence, an NHS, anti-cuts and tireless Labour campaigner be considered. Rebecca has also seconded motions supporting Forest Hill school at the CLP GC. I pointed out that unless we agreed to re-elect one (or more) of the incumbents then these candidates could not be considered. Ian Taylor nominated Jack Lavery, the CLP’s LGBT Officer and coincidentally, not!, a guest at our last branch meeting.

There are others I might have considered nominating, but they had been asked by Brenda Dacres not to come to New Cross and despite developments have chosen not to go back on their commitments.

So knowing who the alternatives are we then move to the confirmation/trigger ballots for the incumbent councillors. The votes were as follows

Candidate Yes No
Joe Dromey 30 12
Brenda Dacres 34 8
Paul Maslin 20 22

This needs to be studied by those who wish to suggest Maslin has been purged by the Left in the branch. We can assume 10 people who voted to confirm Joe Dromey, switched to vote No for Paul Maslin.

This meant that the meeting now had to construct a short list for Paul Maslin’s place, although he had to be on the list. The Labour Party’s rules state that the short list must consist of 50% women, rounded down, in this case, so much for the absolutism required by the CLP Secretary of Brockley branch. Since Rebecca was the only women nominated, the maximum short list size was three, and Maslin got one place as an incumbent and Rebecca Lawrence got one place as the only woman.

The meeting then had to choose between Matt Hanson and Jack Lavery, and chose Jack Lavery 28 – 12. (1 person had left the room, and one ballot was not returned.)

This means that the short list for one vacancy at the next meeting will be Lavery, Lawrence and Maslin.

We finished the meeting with little spat on how time limits for speech and questions would work. It started with asking where the rule that each candidate got the same questions and segued to where Ian McKenzie got the authority to say that all candidates have to be asked the same questions. He claimed it was on page 72, but opinion be divided.

Shortlisting

Shenanigans

Three branches of the local Labour Party elected their GC delegation by placing gender quotas on classes of delegate, Secretary, Open Place & Youth and thus elected a valid delegation under the rules as stated in Chapter 8.

The  training on AGMs issued by the Party makes it clear that meeting the branch gender quotas is a matter for the branch.

There is a Chapter 15 rule that states that efforts should be made to ensure the delegation is gender balanced, but because it’s Chapter 15, this remains a matter for the branch. (These are rules for a meeting.)

The Secretary thus has no standing in determining if the delegation is valid. Nor any authority to order a recount. To attempt by decree to rule that last year’s delegation should be reinstated is arbitrary, capricious, perverse and irrational. It is these things even when backed by Region’s advice. It is also in complete contradiction to Rule Appendix 7.IV.6 which states that a delegates term lasts until the beginning of the next AGM.

Shenanigans

Vote for me (again)

I am standing for IT Officer of the CLP. I am part of the Lewisham Deptford for Corbyn Slate. This is an important job as the Labour Party remains on an election footing and moves away from Nationbuilder. We need IT we can use, and that works starting with a trust worthy email system. We need a web site that works for the party and a democratic, engaging and kind social media presence.

I believe the Labour Party needs to turn to the Left and support the current Leadership and the 2017 manifesto. The party needs to be more democratic, and listen to its members, in 2015, while Secretary here, the question I was most asked was how to I contribute my ideas to the Party’s manifesto. I don’t think the current CLP leadership has answered that question.

I voted for Dianne Abbott in 2010, and Jeremey Corbyn in both 2015 & 2016.

I am an exceptionally qualified IT professional, a Chartered Fellow of the BCS and Certified Information Systems Security Professional. I volunteer at New Cross Learning as an IT worker.

Please vote for me and other candidates looking to build a more inclusive and socialist party.

Vote for me (again)

Right to vote

You are a member of the Labour Party where you live/reside. The system of record is the Labour Party’s membership system. Lewisham Deptford’s Vice Chair Membership has posted a reminder on how to ensure this record is up to date.

Ring’em on 0345 092 2299

short links@ http://wp.me/p7KCVW-Lm or https://is.gd/oiP1sh

I am told that you can amend your own address on membersnet.

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Right to vote

Labour Pains

Last night’s General Committee was due to catch up on the motions backlog and receive reports from our Conference delegates. The agenda was packed as usual with the addition of a guest speaker from Unite who spoke mainly about Racism in the SE London NHS.

The meeting got off to a bumpy start when one of the delegates asked Vicky if the Momentum meeting speaker MP, Chris Williamson had asked her permission to speak in the constituency and if she had a view on the fact that a man was supporting Kath Dunbar, the Left candidate for women’s officer at the November AGM. She seemed particularly upset that a man was getting involved in the Women’s Officer election.  My understanding is that Chris did speak to Vicky. Given the incumbent Women’s Officer was imposed by the Centre-Right majority in opposition to the women’s forum nominee at a vote that included the male delegates, this is the last place I’d start.

The delegation reported back, that they’d interpreted their mandate as a requirement to vote to include the Brexit topic in the priorities ballot and had done so, in some cases against their personal inclination. They reported on the rules debate, but not highlighting the Brighton Pavilion’s refusal to remit their motion. The spoke at length about the change in the disciplinary rules, which has been reported elsewhere; basically, acts of racist or discriminatory speech are now against the rules, and will be dealt with under Chapter 6 processes, previously there was an absolute free speech defence.

An important event at conference was the exercising of the procedural motion to refer back paragraphs of the National Policy Forum report, this was new tactic enabled by a rule change in 2016. Conference referred the policy on Welfare cuts because it didn’t promise to reverse the Tory cuts and referred back the section on Education because it was insufficiently strong on democratic control of schools. I missed this but would have particularly enjoyed it as we had proposed this as a central piece of our opposition to Grammar schools and been badly stitched up in the Composite meeting and our words removed.

Rebecca focused on Woman’s Conference; it was the first time that it had been a policy making conference and Rebecca revealed that new rules had been written to enable the delegate to Woman’s Conference to obtain a mandate from female members only. Neither she nor I know why we didn’t do this.

The three of them reported on the fringe events and policy forums; it’s much easier to speak at these. When Maisie Sanders reported that she, like several others in the CLP including me, had attended the Stop the Purge meeting, chaired by Mark Sandell, the excluded ex-Chair of Brighton District Labour Party, she was interrupted by Mel Ward, who accused her of supporting a proscribed organisation i.e. the AWL by attending the meeting and by selling the Clarion which she wrongly alleged was an AWL paper. After about 15 secs of this, Rebecca Lawrence walked from the back of the room, and interrupted Mel Ward’s attack and expressed her disgust at the speech and her determination to stand in solidarity with Maisie; she was joined by Anshu.

The meeting had been advertised as an attempt to catch up on our backlog of Motions; it wasn’t to be. We had two emergency motions both on planning issues. I moved my motion on Tidemill Gardens development. For those following this, you’ll know that the New Cross councillors were split with Cllr Joe Dromey being given the unusual privilege of addressing the Planning Committee where he spoke in favour of the planning application; Councillor Dacres supported the objections. As I moved the motion, Cllr Dromey heckled me twice to the extent where I asked him to stop by pointing out that shouting at people while speaking wasn’t how we did things in the Labour Party; it would seem not everyone agrees as it is the second time he’s done this, although not to me.

A motion opposing the Silver St. development was also moved. In this case, the central reason for opposition is the height of the building and the light pollution i.e. shadows on current resident’s gardens.

It interests me that after Labour Conference, it would seem that support for private sector led regeneration by Labour’s members is on the wane. Councils are going to have to catch up.

ooOOOoo

Anshu’s report has been posted on face book and is mirrored here.

Labour Pains

Tidemill

I am proposing the following motion to the Lewisham Deptford Labour Party General Committee.

This CLP resolves to send the following motion to London Regional Conference

“This Conference notes

1. The passing of Composite 5 on Housing at Labour Conference 2017
2. Jeremy Corbyn’s leader’s speech in which he stated “Regeneration under a Labour government will be for the benefit of the local people, not private developers, not property speculators … [&]… councils will have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment scheme can take place.”
3. That Lewisham Council Strategic Planning committee approved planning permission to redevelop the Old Tidemills School site involving the redevelopment (destruction) of 16 council houses and the loss of Tidemills Community Gardens.
4. That further planning permissions involving the loss of council houses in Lewisham Deptford have been prepared.
5. That Councils have a duty to follow the direction of the Mayor’s Housing Plan

This Conference calls on the Mayor of London to call in planning permissions granted which involve the destruction of social housing”

This CLP instructs the Secretary to write to the Mayor of London informing him of this motion calling on him to “call in” the Tidemills Planning Application.

Tidemill

Local Leadership

It will come as no surprise that I am talking about who should stand for office in Lewisham Deptford CLP. The Labour Party publishes a series of useful guides and job descriptions for CLP & Branch Officers on its members site, membersnet, which can/must now be accessed via the single sign on site, my Labour. Having a look at these might help some comrades understand if they have the both the time and recognise that they have the skills required from their everyday life. I am consistently shocked at how much personal admin the paperless world of today requires when dealing with the utility companies, banks and insurance companies. We all  have useful skills in this area.

Local Leadership

Deliberation

Here’s a little diary on last nights Labour Party General Committee for Lewisham Deptford, its main purpose was to prepare for Conference by submitting a “Contemporary Motion”and hopefully to begin to clear the motions backlog. There were seven motions waiting to be debated, some having being proposed last year. (It’s one of the contentions between the current CLP leadership and its opposition that their poor management of time is deliberate and designed to frustrate members making and developing policy. There hasn’t been a single ordinary motion debated this year ) .

Youth Violence

One classic trick to is to ask a guest speaker, and yet again, this was done. It was a pleasant surprise to here Jonathan Toy speak on youth violence. He has published a book “Silent Voices”, several years ago it would seem. He started by arguing that the central problem is trauma and he had stories to back this up. One sound bite, that I tweeted due to its resonance was that,

Kids carry knives because they’re scared.

Toy spoke of the discrimination, the loss of hope and the turn to criminality, mainly drugs and the inappropriate policing strategies focused solely, or largely, on enforcement. He told stories about the way in which ‘decapitating’ the gangs merely creates an updraught.

The presentation was interesting and the clearly based on deep experience and knowledge, some of it gained by his own admission on failure. Delegates to the meeting in a Question & Answer session contributed their knowledge on cuts in programmes exacerbating the problems, and reducing the care young people need. Bill Jefferies, said

…the good work of individuals can ameliorate the circumstances of other individuals, but those good works are not a solution to the problem. As the problem is not individual but social and so needs a social, collective solution.

In questioning, he was asked about the political will in the electorate for more understanding and less punishment, suggesting that strong enforcement is not just based on weak will and police management doing what they know. Toy is hopeful that the Lammy Review will be a starting point for change in programmes and approach. My concern is that this will take money and that is unlikely to be forthcoming under this government.

5 minutes about Parliament

The decision to invite a guest speaker meant that Vicky’s MP Report was truncated to 5 minutes. This is unfortunate as it was the first GC after the summer break and the 2nd Reading of the “EU Withdrawal Bill” had taken place earlier in the week with a small Labour rebellion leading to a comfortable Tory majority, as had the Tory stitch up of the parliamentary committee seats and Angela Rayner’s successful motion to stop the increase in Tuition fees.  MPs reports, where a CLP is lucky enough to have one, are important parts of the agenda and a critical piece of relationship building between the MP and their party. Five minutes is not enough time. I should add that Youth Violence is an issue of great concern to the constituency and its neighbours and one that Vicky has invested time and effort in.

#lab17

Three motions were proposed, one opposing military exports to Saudi Arabia, to work to improve human rights in Saudi Arabia and that Labour establish a shadow Defence Diversification Agency to plan for the civilian reuse of Britain’s military engineering capabilities. A motion supporting the UK’s remaining in the single market & customs union, written in response to Corbyn’s Marr interview was also put to the meeting. There are some who believe that arguments for Labour to support the single market are designed by the Blairite rump in the PLP to weaken the leadership; I am of the view that what’s right is right and that the UK should remain in both and that if the Leadership have doubts then they should be told by the membership what it thinks. The final of the three motions was based on the Labour Campaign for Free Movement’s model motion . The mover of the last of these motions concentrated on the Government’s squeeze and tightening of the no recourse to funds and Lewisham Council’s role in immigration raids and deportations. These three motions were all carried with very heavy majorities.

The meeting then voted,  by a very small majority, to send the motion on the single market/customs union to Conference, as we are only permitted one.

Talking to first time attenders who had been warned about the bad atmosphere that can occur, they said it had been a good and interesting meeting and the warnings unwarranted. I wonder if that was due to the absence of Dromey, Cooper and Lord Roy Kennedy.

Deliberation

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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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