How Blairites rigging 2017 conference delegates – are they doing it to YOUR CLP?

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:

delegates.png

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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14 responses to “How Blairites rigging 2017 conference delegates – are they doing it to YOUR CLP?

  1. Its possible these numbers might matter on requests for card votes (though the chair tends to look at the TU side of the Hall when decinding on them), but it won’t affect an actual CLP vote at conference as each CLP just gets one set of votes to cast however many delegates it sends. Important to be accurate about these things

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    • Not every vote at Conference is limited to one vote per CLP. Most aren’t, in fact – there was only one in 2016, for example, as far as I can recall.

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    • Oh, and ‘show of hands’ votes are never – and can’t be – one per CLP. The CAC ‘pre-pack’ vote went through (unlawfully) on a show of hands. It’s important to be accurate about these things!

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  2. These posts are great. You are proving more than a match for Matt Pound.

    ________________________________

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  3. Getting good at the rules it seems! I still have trouble getting all the rules. Regional still have not sent me the SE region rules after 2 months and the CAC just didn’t respond to my request for a copy of their conference SO. Looks like I will need to point out the relevant case law that makes it an enforceable contractual obligation to supply copies of the rules when requested by a member.

    The point about delegates having a block vote is I believe correct but in a show of hands how would you know a single hand actually was a representative of 7 people? As a suggestion if members are at a CLP meeting that tries to push delegate selection in these kind of circumstances call a point of order and ask for a quorum count. Under Chapter 15 Clause I (D) of the rules which apply directly to CLPs through Chapter 7 Clause XI.1 the default quorum is 25% of members entitled to vote in attendance. If this has not been varied (needs regional approval to do that) then the meeting might be inquorate and any decisions taken are not binding until ratified by a later quorate meeting. This might allow for the delegate selection to be re-opened by a later meeting and altered to pick the correct number.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can get most rules online here which are available to all members so the party is actually in contractual compliance: https://members.labour.org.uk/rules-and-procedures
      with more at
      https://members.labour.org.uk/legal_and_compliance_downloads
      I do worry that members trust in the party is at such a low level that they don’t think this is accessible when it is and you only have to ask around a bit

      A small 10 person Leninist group (which interestingly as since 2015 proposed the abolition of the post of Labour Leader at LRC AGMs) has also posted the full rulebook online here: http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Rule-Book-2016.pdf
      so this shows any oother person can similarly post it online if the wish

      2017 rules changes are in CAC3 report here: https://members.labour.org.uk/conference-documents

      Regional rules are pretty bland just setting out the composition of the regional Board and when its conference meets. I was part of a working party that codified London region rules before I stood down from the regional board last year after 16 years service so have seen a range of regional rules. Trust me they are pretty minimalist.

      The South East Regional director is a member of the CLP I am chair of, so I will mention accessability of rules to her when I next see her

      Hope all that helps

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  6. Hey guys, I’m sorry but this article is misinformative. Each Constituency Labour Party is assigned 1 vote regardless of how many delegates it sends to the Party conference, so if it sends eg. 5, each gets 20% of the CLP’s vote as opposed to each getting a whole 1 separate vote.

    So whether you send 5 JC supportive delegates or 1 supportive delegate, the effect is the same. A problem arises if for example out of an entitlement of 5 we send 3 supportive delegates and 2 unsupportive delegates because that effectively means chipping away the support of the CLP by 40% and reducing the supportive value of the CLP’s vote from 100% to 60%.

    This is not to say CLPs should only send 1 delegate – conference must be a great, member-empowering experience (never been myself as I only just became eligible this time round – 12 months membership prior to delegate elections is required) so if your CLP can afford to send more delegates go for it!

    Big hugs to you all and good luck in elections xx

    Source:
    Labour Party Rulebook 2016 Chp 3, Clause 3, s 3A(ii)
    “CLPs shall cast a percentage of the total voting entitlement as laid down in iv below, on the basis of the actual number of fully paid up members in the CLP at 31 December preceding the conference. *The vote of the CLP shall then be divided equally among the registered delegates standing appointed at the date determined by the NEC; such votes shall be allocated to each delegate to be cast separately.”

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    • You’re part right and part wrong, Mal. On card-vote issues, the CLP has only one vote and on others, a proportional vote. But in shows of hands, the Chair has no idea which CLP a hand belongs to, so more hands are better. If you select only one delegate and get an ‘unsupportive’ one, you’ve got 100% danger of supporting a bad cause, even if the CLP mandates its delegate (tells him/her how to vote), because there’s really no way to be sure that’s what they do at Conference.

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