Renewing Party Democracy

The LP NEC is having an away day to discuss reforming its rules and internal democracy, mainly in the light of the massive increase in membership to more than half a million members.  Here’s my manifesto for a member led party, I hope to supplement it with some ideas on the use of IT to aid in policy development and expressing the membership voice, but in terms of rules reform, we need:

General

  1. Aims and Values that ensure respect and tolerance for all members and put the fight for equality at the centre of the party’s aims and culture.
  2. A membership rule that welcomes people for their campaigning history and allows them to reach out to work with non-members, i.e. Rule 2.I.4.B needs to be abolished, there should be no fear in working with people outside the Labour Party.
  3. A fair, transparent, proportionate disciplinary process according with the rules of natural justice, that has a segregation of duties, between investigation, prosecution, judgement and appeal, and deals fairly, transparently and independently with complaints against officers, including the General Secretary, and staff administering the disciplinary process.
  4. That registered supporter’s fees are based on an administrative charge and that Registered Supporters are entitled to attend Labour Party meetings in a non-voting capacity.
  5. Rules to be published on the internet, available to members in searchable form; rules are to be published the day following the conference that approved them.
  6. To change the allocation of membership fees, CLPs to get 50% of membership fees and the fees to be made affordable.

Elections

  1. Elections to have independent observers who are to report to the Labour Party and its membership. This report is to be seen by all members. This role is designed to act as a check and supervision of the returning officer and the ballot management service.
  2. Regularisation of freeze dates for internal elections and candidate selections recognising that what is sensible for a small electorate is not for a large one; the larger meetings cannot be packed.
  3. Any electronic voting/electronic counting is undertaken in a transparent way; this may require rules amendment. Any new rules should be defining a requirement not specifying a technique.

Policy, Programme, Manifesto and Conference

  1. Conference is the sovereign policy making body. The NPF needs to be reformed, its role to manage continuous development of policy, Conference to elect Commissions, Commissions to take evidence, in hearings and via an internet portal. Front bench to submit evidence and proposals to the Commissions. NPF meets 2 times/annum, once several months before conference and NPF report is to be published to all members and amendments sought for debate at conference. Amendments to the Policy proposals are sought from all organisations entitled to attend conference.
  2. That policy consultations outside the NPF/Conference structures are conducted under new defined rules, and that the evidence submission address/web site is published to all members.
  3. That Conference attendance for delegates to be cheaper/subsidised, (practically, this is around the fee structure for delegations.)

Governance

  1. That the number of CLP Reps on the NEC should reflect the number of LP members, now that there are over ½ million members, the number of CLP Reps should be set to 12.
  2. NEC minutes are to be published to all members in soft copy or braille only. Why not video it?
  3. The Co-Op inter party agreement is to be published with the rules.

CLPs

  1. The abolition of the right of National Unions to affiliate to CLPs, CLP affiliations from Unions is to come from appropriate organisational units with the Union, affiliation agreements are to be contracts for fair and democratic selection of Union or other affiliated organisation’s delegates to CLPs.
  2. Branch delegate entitlements are taken as at 31st June or 31st Dec prior whichever is closer, noting that all AGMs must, by rule, take place after May.
  3. 1st Year Union or socialist society affiliations currently need to be in place 60 days before an AGM, this should be brought into line with minimum required notice for the AGM i.e. 28 days.

I have posted something similar on http://www.your-party.co.uk/

7 Comments.

  1. Had a chat about this last night, and concluded that I should say something about the NPF term of office. I think two years, elected the year that we don’t elect the NEC.

    We should have have term limits on Labour Executive Mayors.

    We should make the Political Education Officer a mandatory position for CLPs with a duty to run a Political Education programme.

  2. Some one asked me why I hadn’t addressed the issue of the rules around the manifesto. There are two reasons, I am more focused winning membership control of the programme, and I am not sure the current rules are that bad. A special joint meeting of the NPF, NEC, [Shadow] Cabinet and PLP is held to agree the manifesto drawing from the programme.

    In re-reading the rules it seems that the programme items need to be approved by conference with a ⅔ majority using a card vote.

  3. And there’s more, the centralisation of power in the creation of slates for the public PR elections (Devolved Assemblies and European Parliament) is too great and insufficiently transparent & accountable. Incumbents should compete with newcomers for their ordered position in the list. Selection panels should propose additional candidates as spares whose names should go forward to the all members ballots.

  4. The Nolan Principles should be written into the rules.

  5. The control framework around the General Secretary and the Regional Directors needs to be more effective. The General Secretary has a toxic combination of duties in the disciplinary process and the Regional Directors permissions to act on behalf of the NEC for numerous governance decisions means that there is no accountability. NEC members can be removed, the Regional Directors cannot.

  6. The co-op inter party agreement is in the Co-Op site.

  7. Labour Group rules must include a whistle-blower and grievance process. The 2016 rule prohibiting the voting against a Labour Group proposed budget must be abolished. Labour Group minutes must be published to the Party, with the permission for secret sessions if dealing with in-confidence data.