One effect of Theresa May’s decision to call a June election has been the suspension of normal CLP (constituency Labour party) meetings – although campaign-planning meetings are still being held. This has had a major effect on the scheduling of delegate selections for Labour’s 2017 annual Conference in Brighton.
Many CLPs had been planning to hold their selections in their April or May meetings, but this cannot now take place. As a result, the SKWAWKBOX understands that Labour’s HQ has extended the deadline for applications to the 7th of July.
Most CLPs will therefore have only a single monthly meeting to finalise their delegates between the result of the General Election and the deadline.
The Labour right has already been organising and will be hoping to take most left-wing members by surprise in order to monopolise the selections. Many right-wingers have not let the small matter of a General Election divert them from their planned attempt to seize control of future leadership nominations and elections – and they will be heartened by their apparent success in replacing many outgoing right-wing MPs with more right-wing MPs.
It is essential that Labour’s left is not caught off guard.
This autumn’s Conference will be the battleground for the conflicting aims and ambitions of the left and right wings of the party. The left knows it is vital to secure the McDonnell Amendment to change the nomination threshold for leadership candidates in future elections, to ensure that Labour’s huge left-wing majority always has a candidate worth its vote.
The right-wing wants to defeat the Amendment in order to be deprive the majority of members of a candidate worth their support – but that’s not the limit of their ambition.
Labour’s right is also trying to return leadership elections to the electoral college system in which the votes of a couple of hundred MPs are worth as much as the votes of Labour’s more than 500,000 members. The system was abandoned under Ed Milband and made possible the election of the hugely popular Jeremy Corbyn.
This means that Labour members who support the vision of Corbyn and his team cannot afford to focus only on the General Election campaign but need also to plan and organise to ensure that their clear majority in the membership is prepared and at their CLP meeting(s) that take place between 9 June and the delegate deadline.
Whether Labour win or lose the General Election, this battle must not be neglected. A loss is likely to trigger another ill-advised leadership challenge and a win would be an opportunity for the right to try to seize control of the Conference and of the party’s direction while most members celebrate and look outwards to the restoration of a UK no longer at the mercy of the corrupt Tories.
So, if you support the party’s direction under Corbyn there is no option but to roll your sleeves up that little bit further and – somehow – carve out additional time to meet, discuss, plan and organise in readiness for the period after the General Election to ensure that your CLP sends as many delegates as possible and all of good-will toward Corbyn’s vision.
To fail to do so will be a disaster for the country, as well as for the Left. Here are some tips on how to get it done.
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