I got to Conference early today to watch the debate on finance and the rules. This article talks about the rules debates, the balance of forces on Conference floor, what I hope is the end of the debate on racism in the Labour Party and a footnote on the continuing arguments about expulsions, purges and justice.
The session started with the usual arguments over the CAC report. A number of CLPs argued that their motions should be debated. This was so different from last year, Claudia Webbe chaired the session with great poise and sympathy. The CAC report needs to be accepted, and on a show of hands it was too close to call. So it went to a card vote. Claudia had asked to see the votes as Trade Union and CLPs separately, the overwhelming majority of CLPs voted against the report, and the Unions voted for. It was an interesting insight into how it works, and may also have played against Labour First who argued for small delegations to make the card vote easier to capture. The right’s presence on the conference floor was tiny!
The NEC have proposed that there be three more CLP seats and one more Trade Union seat on the NEC and in second rule change they proposed that the number of MPs (& MEPs) required to support a Leadership bid is reduced to 10%. The final rule change proposed by the NEC was about dealing with racism in the Party.
I wrote last week, on the run up to Conference about the NEC considering, finally the recommendations of the Chakrabarthi Inquiry having been influenced by rule changes proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement. The NEC proposed a rule change, weakening the free speech defence in cases of racism or discriminatory behaviour, and placing any consideration of complaints of racism or discriminatory behaviour under the disciplinary process and Chapter 6. It redefines racism or discriminatory behaviour as liable for disciplinary action. The one area of controversy is that it suggests that beliefs are prohibited activities; I think this is only in determining if there has been an offence and is an attempt to include the Macpherson principle, that if someone thinks that there has been a racist or discriminatory incident, it should be investigated.
It’s hard to discuss in more detail without the words. These were issued to delegates by email, the night before. I will try and get copies and post them here or on the wiki. This is unacceptable.
The NEC have announced that they plan to conduct a Democracy Review and they recommended that all other rule changes should be remitted to the NEC with the recommendation that they be voted down if not remitted. Pete Willsman at the CLPD stated that if CLPs carried their motions to the floor of Conference tbey would be defeated and that would mean, because of the various waiting periods that they could not be debated until 2023. The JLM remitted their skimpy rule change, as did the CLP proposing a written constitution for Young Labour; they were complaining about the gerrymandering of the Young Labour annual conference.
One of the Brighton Constituencies had proposed a rule change requiring the closure of the Brighton suspensions and investigations. We need the words, when I get them, I’ll post them here. They refused to remit the motion and when the votes were counted, the motion fell. As observed above, the overwhelming majority of the CLPs voted for the motion, against the NEC recommendation; it was only the Unions that ensured the motion fell. I think Pete Willsman and Jon Lansman had better think carefully about their response to the purge.
I need to review my position on democracy and get it ready for submission, my last and most complete statement is on this blog. I think they’ve stood the test of time.
Some good comrades were ready to keep the Treasurer on her toes, asking amongst other things how much does the Compliance Unit cost; they didn’t get a satisfactory answer.