Last year the SKWAWKBOX revealed the gerrymandering of Labour’s 2016 annual Conference in Liverpool by right-wing factions in the party and how this – along with some frankly unlawful rule-breaking – allowed right-wingers voted off the NEC (National Executive Committee) to rig the make-up of the post-Conference NEC against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
This year, the ‘Blairites’ (a catch-all term for the right for the purposes of this article) were already planning their moves for the 2017 Conference in Brighton as early as New Year’s Day (in fact, in some areas, unlawful rigging attempts were already being made) and this blog appealed to left-wing members to be alert and ready to act.
Now one of the main – and almost certainly not the only – methods for this year’s rigging has started to reveal itself and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for the party need to be aware and to make sure they are neither fooled nor out-flanked.
The basis for the Blairite operation is – to put it bluntly – quite simple: lie to members
Local Labour parties are arranged as ‘Constituency Labour Parties’ (CLPs). Sometimes these CLPs hold monthly ‘all-member meetings’ but more often they are arranged as ‘branches’ (usually based on council ward boundaries), with branches sending delegates to the main CLP meeting to represent them.
A branch-based CLP in central Manchester with a largely pro-Corbyn membership but a right-wing-dominated executive is misinforming its branches about the number of delegates they are entitled to select and send to Brighton for this year’s Conference.
Labour Party rules on Conference delegates are quite clear, if a little dull:
So a CLP of 749 members would be entitled to send one delegate, while one of 750-999 could send one more and one of 1499 could send four.
In addition, CLPs can also send a youth delegate and a women’s delegate, as long as they have at least 30 young (u-25s) members and/or 100 female members.
The Manchester constituency has well over 1500 members. Assuming all these were all up to date with their subscriptions as of 31 Dec last year, it would be entitled to send five delegates – plus (since it will certainly have over 100 female members and 30 young members) delegates representing the party’s women and young members. So, seven in total.
The CLP executive committee has told its branches that the CLP is entitled to send… ONE.
The potential effects of this lie are immediately obvious if you have a grasp of the rules. The Manchester CLP we’re discussing has a substantial pro-Corbyn majority and is likely to select pro-Corbyn delegates. If the members fall for the lie and send just one delegate to Conference, the pro-Corbyn delegate count in Brighton will be reduced by 6.
Now let’s imagine a CLP with an anti-Corbyn balance – or, more likely, one in which the anti-Corbyn faction has engineered such control (organisation and rules-based takeovers are a stock in trade of the Right) of the CLP’s officer positions and structures that they know they can arrange the selection of anti-Corbyn candidates. Knowing the rules, they select and send their full delegate count.
If this ruse is repeated across the country, pro-Corbyn members would lose the vast majority of their voting power at Conference, while the anti-Corbyn minority can achieve a delegate majority at the Conference that their supporter numbers do not merit.
Informal conversations with other local CLPs indicate that this is not a one-off and Corbyn-supporting NEC members are reported to be deeply worried about the phenomenon.
If you are a Labour member, you need to be aware of the rules – and to make sure that you are neither fooled nor outflanked. Conference delegate rules are in section three of the rulebook and a full copy of the current rules is available for download at the end of this article.
- Make sure you ask your branch and/or CLP secretary when your delegate selections will be taking place
- Make sure you and your pro-Corbyn CLP colleagues all attend that meeting and select pro-Corbyn Conference delegates
- If your CLP has a branch/delegate structure, make sure that your delegates understand that they are mandated to vote for the Conference delegates that your branch supports and check the notes/minutes of the selection meeting to ensure that they have done so
- Find out from your CLP secretary how many members (with details as well of female and youth members) your CLP has – and if you are/have been misled about your delegate entitlement, inform the SKWAWKBOX so it can be publicised and communicated to the right NEC members who will not brush it under the carpet
- Do these things now, so right-wing members of your branch/CLP/executive can’t fix things before you’re aware of it and then just hand you a fait accompli
The 2017 Conference is the opportunity for real Labour members to undo the damage imposed unlawfully in 2016 and to set the party on its true course going forward. This is not just a theoretical exercise – it’s vital for the future of the Labour party and for the people of this country who desperately need a strong, real Labour government.
Please take note – and take action. If you’re not sure you understand it, or you’re not sure your CLP’s executive are acting properly and honestly, speak to an experienced member – or message this blog and the writer will advise or arrange advice for you.
And share this, so others are aware, too.
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