The SKWAWKBOX has covered the anti-democratic tactics of a small group in Liverpool Riverside CLP (constituency Labour party) to smear the membership, disenfranchise the majority of members and to block a demand for an inquiry into the infiltration of the Labour Party by Israeli operatives.
New and equally dark tactics have now been employed to compound the disenfranchisement of most members – and it’s something every member of a delegate-based party and every member who is also a member of the Labour-affiliated Co-operative Party needs to be aware of.
And to fight.
Labour’s rules allow for CLPs to run either on an all-member basis (every member is entitled to attend, and vote in, CLP meetings) or a branch/delegate basis in which members are only entitled to attend their local branch (usually based on their council ward boundary) and the branch elects delegates to represent it at the CLP.
Delegate-based CLPs are easier for the party’s minority – but experienced – right-wing faction to manipulate. It’s notable that the CLPs that supported Owen Smith in last year’s leadership election were almost exclusively delegate-based and supported Smith in spite of Corbyn-supporting members being in the majority.
Labour rules (Appendix 7, Clause II, section 1a) also allow affiliated organisations to send delegates to their local CLP(s). Affiliated unions and socialist societies are examples – as is the Co-operative Party. An affiliated organisation can have up to five delegates.
Which is what a substantial branch can send.
The Co-op manoeuvre
Liverpool – the whole city – has some 148 members of the Co-operative Party in total.
Liverpool Riverside has around 3000 members, so an average of 429 in each of its 7 branches.
Last Thursday, Liverpool Co-operative Party had its AGM. Of the 148 members, 20 or so turned up. A clearly-prepacked slate of five candidates stood for selection as delegates to Liverpool Riverside CLP – one extra member stood, forcing a vote that the executive had clearly hoped to avoid, but was defeated.
Of the five selected delegates, at least four were from Liverpool Riverside’s right-wing ‘old guard’. The background and leanings of the 5th person are currently unknown to this blog.
The delegate numbers per branch were imposed on the branches at the same time as the branch structure was imposed:
St. Michael’s: 8
Mossley Hill: 6
Princes Park: 6
averaging out at 5 per branch.
This means that 20 people, on behalf of 148, selected as many delegates to the CLP as a whole branch of the CLP with 429.
Before Corbyn’s leadership, the number of Riverside members was around 800. Some of those 800 will be supporters of Labour’s leader, as will the vast majority of the newer members.
Yet a handful of people among the minority right wing membership have contrived, via false accusations, imposed anti-democratic structures – and now, via exploitation of Labour’s rules on affiliated organisations – to disenfranchise over 2,000 members and to seize control of the party’s key positions.
Labour’s pro-Corbyn left have numbers and passion. It’s anti-Corbyn right have organisation, a knowledge of the rules and, on occasion a readiness to break them – and they’re using it to retain power in the Labour party to which they have no democratic right.
If you are a Co-operative Party member, you need to find out urgently when your AGM is. If you are a member of a delegate-based CLP, you need to find out too – and, if necessary, not just to join personally but to organise with your fellow constituency members to join in numbers and to attend the AGM to ensure that this trick is not pulled in your CLP, to disenfranchise you and your pro-Corbyn fellow members, who are almost certainly in the majority.
You also need, if you’re a union member, to find out what’s happening in your area and to get involved, so you can make sure that good delegates are sent to your CLP to counteract any successful manoeuvres by the right.
And if you belong to an all-member CLP and anyone in your party tries to suggest a move to a delegate structure, do not permit it – fight it with everything and every member you have. You now know why some will want it – and what the consequences will be.
This is just the latest manoeuvre employed by the right-wingers to keep control of the party and prevent it becoming a genuine alternative to the Establishment. It’s up to you to prevent it – and to share so that others can take action in their area.
There will be further tactics and manoeuvres. The SKWAWKBOX will do its best to inform you of them.
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