As the SKWAWKBOX observed in January, delegate application packs for Labour’s 2017 Conference have now been sent to unions, affiliates and CLPs (constituency Labour parties) this month. The Conference this year takes place in Brighton.
Delegate selection meetings are already taking place and the SKWAWKBOX is receiving regular reports of undemocratic and downright deceitful tactics being used by the right-wing faction to lever right-wing delegates into the Conference in spite of most CLPs having a clear majority of pro-Corbyn members. Some of those accounts will follow over coming days, now that the by-elections are over.
As the SKWAWKBOX showed at the turn of the year, Labour First – along with Progress and similar factions – are desperately organising to try to ensure that they cram as many anti-Corbyn members into the delegate count as possible.
They outflanked the majority left-wing members for the 2016 Conference in Liverpool with hugely damaging consequences for Labour’s ability to present the electorate with a genuine alternative, voting through an unlawful, anti-democratic rule-change to place two unelected, anti-Corbyn members onto the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
It’s essential that they do not succeed again in 2017 – especially in view of one of the most important rule-changes to be debated at Conference in years, which some are calling the ‘McDonnell Amendment‘.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is sponsoring a rule-change that will lower the number of nominations required for an MP to stand in a leadership election – which will make it almost impossible for right-wing MPs to prevent members having a left-wing candidate to vote for in any future leadership contest.
This is not only essential for the future of Labour as a genuine alternative to the dishonest austerity-consensus – it is also vital for the party now, because if the right-wing factions know they cannot engineer a leadership contest without a left-wing candidate that will receive massive support from the members, they will have far less incentive for the disgusting, damaging undermining of the party and its democracy that has been their hallmark so far, to the clear detriment of Labour’s electoral prospects.
It’s essential that the McDonnell amendment succeeds, for the sake of the Party and of the country. ‘More of the same’ inspires no one – but that’s exactly where the right-wingers want to drag Labour back to.
To get it passed, every CLP needs to select solid, left-wing delegates for the Conference. The equation is simple – left-wing members far outnumber right-wing in the party, so if the Left stays informed, gets organised and turns up, good delegates will go to the Conference.
The hopes of the right-wingers depend on stealth and, frankly, dishonesty – trying to organise early, catch their opponents off-guard and in some cases, simply hold unlawful, closed meetings to get their delegates selected before anyone can react. If this has happened in your CLP, don’t accept it. Contact this blog and the SKWAWKBOX will do its best to help, or to put you in touch with others who can help, you to fight it.
Those who want to stand for selection as delegates must have been members for 12 months ‘by the closing date for applications’. This has not yet been published, but if you’ve been a member for less than 9 months as of now, you’re unlikely to qualify.
HOWEVER: you do NOT have to have been a member for 12 months to vote for your preferred candidates – or to help organise with fellow members to make sure you win the vote.
What you need to do: (union or affiliate members see end)
- If your CLP has a branch structure and a delegate main-CLP meeting, contact your branch secretary. If you have all-member CLPs, contact your CLP secretary
- ask them when the branch and/or CLP delegate-selection meeting will take place – do not accept anything other than a straight and prompt answer, as some CLP execs may try to keep ‘unhelpful’ members unaware of dates and deadlines
- find out what the deadline is for nominations
- find out how many delegates your CLP – this varies according to the size of your CLP
- organise: make sure the left-wing members in your branch and/or CLP nominate enough candidates to fill the whole slate – this needs to include a youth member. Try to select even numbers of male and female nominees etc in case your exec tries to use this as an excuse to interfere
- make sure that all your local pro-Corbyn members attend the branch/CLP delegate-selection meeting.
If you and your like-minded colleagues do all these things, you should carry the vote – because there are more of you than of the right – or overturn undemocratic selections if they’ve taken place.
If you don’t, you can be sure that the right-wing will be whipping its supporters into full attendance to hijack the proceedings.
And then, because the McDonnell amendment is not the only important business at the Conference:
7. Agree, pass and send in your motions and proposed rule-changes, to influence the Conference agenda – find out when these need to be in, read the rules to understand what will and will not be accepted as a valid motion and make sure not to miss out. Being at the Conference is the first step – having the right things to discuss and vote on is just as vital.
Affiliated union members or affiliated society members – the same principles apply, but talk to your union/society representative to find out exactly how union/society delegates will be selected – and dive in. The right is already attempting to use the Co-operative Party as a vehicle for packing CLPs with more of their faction, so again, get organised and fight it.
It’s 100% sure that the right will be planning all kinds of trouble, damage and mischief for the 2017 Conference. It’s up to all members of good will to get involved and stop them.
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