Paddy Lillis, the NEC chair who has been chairing Labour’s first conference session this morning, has already been demonstrating contempt for democracy.
The vote this morning to accept/reject the ‘Conference Arrangement Committee’ report, in which the CAC attempts to justify its decision to ignore some of the most key issues raised by Labour constituency parties and members, was voted on by a show of hands that had a huge number of ‘reject’ hands raised – at the very least, it was tight and probably more than those voting to accept, so a proper ballot was required. People at various heights and angles around the hall have confirmed this.
Lillis declared the ‘accept’ vote ‘overwhelmingly carried’.
Subsequently, various people stood to ‘reference back’ (i.e. object to and put to a delegate vote’) the fact that the NEC’s (National Executive Committee) proposed rule changes are offered as a ‘take it or leave it’ package, rather than allowing members to vote individually on rule changes. This means members have to reject good changes if they want to reject very bad ones.
Lillis simply waved off these objections: “It would take time to discuss them all. If you object to any of the changes, you’ll just have to vote against them all’, or words very close to those.
Given that rule changes proposed by the NEC include crowbarring in 2 extra NEC members to negate Corbyn’s democratically-elected majority of representatives on the committee, it couldn’t be clearer that the party Establishment is trying to force through rules it knows the majority of delegates and members would object to.
It’s essential that any Corbyn-supporting delegates at the conference vote down the package, regardless what other measures it contain, to prevent the cynical use of this manoeuvre to retain a control of the party that those behind it have no democratic right to.
With every day that passes, it becomes ever clearer that removing the remaining anti-democratic, right-wing elements of the Labour party structure is not bullying. It’s a democratic imperative.