Tag Archives: Labour

Some Advice for Left-Wing Delegates to the Labour Party Conference

23 Sep

The motion to create two new members of the NEC, to be ‘directly’ appointed by the leaders of the Scottish and Welsh parties, apparently needs to be approved by Conference in order to stand.

If you are a left-wing / Corbynite / etc conference delegate you therefore need to make sure you identify that motion and vote against it. Simple as that.

Or not.

First obstacle.  Here’s a link to the way that one supporter of the change has tried to sell it, and it’s how the right as a whole will try to sell it.  The aim will be to make it look like ‘devolution’ of powers, and to make anybody arguing against it look like they reject devolution.  After all, nobody wants to argue with something that looks like devolution, right?

It’s not, as is made clear by the fact that no new representation was agreed for local Labour Parties or councils, and by the fact that the new NEC voting members are automatically to be ‘frontbench members of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly’.  More invidiously, the same motion has the Scottish and Welsh party leaders automatically to attend ‘Clause Five’ meetings.  Clause Five is that governing Labour Party policy formation.  Interestingly, the first part of clause five specifies that:

“At all levels the Party will ensure that members, elected representatives, affiliated organisations and, where practicable, the wider community are able to participate in the process of policy consideration and formulation.”

By automatically making the attendee at Clause Five meetings the Scottish or Welsh leader, I think that the NEC is breaching the first part of Clause Five.  Note that it states it ‘will ensure’ that members can participate – whether it’s practical or not.

 

Second Obstacle The way that the Right has normally dominated conferences is by making it difficult, tedious or impossible for ordinary members even to work out where they’re supposed to be.  Failing that, officials and staff will be ‘helpful’ in explaining how motions work and what is being voted on.  They will often be misleading or flagrantly lying.    As for the motions themselves, there’ll be lots of nice-sounding things bundled up with the nasty stuff.  Certainly the safest thing in the vote on the expansion of the NEC (probably advertised as a change in status from ‘advisory’ to ‘voting’ members of the NEC) is simply to reject it wholesale, no matter what subtleties start to appear.

And, not least, there will be a vast number of ‘fringe’ events that directly conflict with the times of the key debates, and there will be votes called at moments when many delegates have left the room, debates appear to be over etc.

The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy say that they’ll be handing out a ‘yellow pages’ outside conference each morning.  I expect Momentum will also be out in force, and should be able to give some similar guidance – although they are running a large fringe event themselves, which may have the unfortunate effect of distracting left-wing delegates who should be in the main conference hall.

Stamina and just being present, not conviction or articulacy or ideas, are the prime ways to win in Labour Party policymaking.

If you can get to speak against it, or are aiming to persuade other delegates, here are some other points you may wish to put:

 

1. The Labour Party in Scotland has only one MP, and it has performed beyond disastrously in recent years.

 

It is, at least with its current leadership, unelectable.  (On a strictly definitional basis, btw, it doesn’t have anyone on a ‘front bench’, as it is the third placed party in Scotland).

 

  1.  The NEC’s motion, by failing to offer the party in Northern Ireland equal status to those in Scotland and Wales, is directly discriminatory against the Irish.  That’s not good.

 

Neither does the NEC’s motion give a voice on the NEC to either England or its regions.  Given that (after Scotland) the area where Labour is under greatest threat is in England, that’s a bit silly too.

 

  1.  The obvious one.  The current NEC has presided over wholesale, and unjustified, expulsions without right of appeal.  They are not in a position to advise anyone on how to ‘devolve’ decision-making. And an NEC that includes Kezia Dugdale and Carwyn Jones on the policy committee will be actively hostile to any real devolution or membership input in the future.

 

Hope this helps. Good luck.

 

If you’d like to expand on or correct any of my points, leave a comment. If it’s useful, accurate and clearly phrased, I’ll display it. If it’s the first two, but not the last, I’ll edit it and send it back for your approval. If you’re a right-winger seeking a shout at someone, you’ll be wasting your type and time. Oh, and I’m not a Labour member, so don’t bother trying to get me expelled.

 

 

 

A Series of Strategic Responses to the Tory Majority, no.5 Political and Community Action 1

10 May

I’ll be returning, repeatedly, to ideas of media strategy.  And seeking to establish routes for resistance to austeriarchy will, I think, tend to force even more returns to the media issue than even I would like.

But let’s look elsewhere for a moment.  Outside Scotland there is no effective parliamentary route for the left to achieve anything.  The ground can shift now.  Two opening suggestions:

1.  Looking for targets and times for effective community and protest action that have good transport links, or organisation, within the region where radicalisation is desired.

Of course, transport links are not simply a given – you can do something about them.  Do you drive?  Especially, have you a minibus license?  If so, there’s something you can do…  Now it’s just a matter of finding someone you can do it for, or with.

2.  Moving informed political and philosophical discussion out of the universities and into pubs, workplaces, squats, temporary autonomous areas, and homes.  The Scots made a discursive society a reality, and have thus been able to upend expectations in two years’ flat.  Philosophy in Pubs is, as I understand it, the organisation most committed to making a thoughtful society.  Have a look at what they do.  If you like it, consider putting on political and philosophical discussions where you are

On that note about transport…  Bad and often worsening public transport offers the possibility of peoples’ organisations, under democratic community control, to create alternatives.  Some could be centred on transport, obviously.  More important, however, is getting events underway in local areas that are clearly, urgently and politically related to the election result and making a positive response.

3.  If you’re on the left in the Labour Party, and you’re sick of the New Labour regime that shouts upon every defeat that Labour must bend over further for business interests, then start researching law and scheming hard.  Would you be capable of organising a left-wing constitutional coup in your party organisation, whether at branch or constituency level?  If so, although it’ll be hard work, the time to look for like minded-people within that party is right now.  If not, consider whether you would be able to draw upon your time in the Labour Party to bring others like out of the party and into a new, membership-list supplied, organisation.

Similarly, pushing your branch into wider community links could best happen right now, whilst people are at a low ebb.  If you’re great at introducing people over beers and you know everyone in your area, then do some bringing people together.

4.  if you’re on the left of the Lib Dems.

There really is no hope for you, is there?

Unless… you go now.  Your coalition delivered the rUK to the Tories and Scotland to the SNP, whilst a catalogue of desperate and ugly deaths attests to what you have done, wittingly or unwittingly.  The only hope there is, is to immerse yourself in the new opposition – I don’t mean parliamentary opposition – with the zeal of a convert.  Otherwise posterity will not forgive you.

Incidentally, haven’t you noticed that the party you’re still in got half its name from a party that cemented Thatcher’s dominance at a key moment in history?  For God’s sake, Go.

Drive, put up posters, organise meetings, stand outside the jobcentres and give out free tea and coffee and listen to how people feel when their benefits get cut.  Argue your (very liberal) rights as the police move you on, and then consider how far we are from a democracy.

It’s the only way to begin to atone.

More soon.  I hope some of the ideas create a spark.  Let me know…