Few Labour members may be aware of it, but Labour’s latest rule-book contains a provision to give each of them an opportunity to change their MP in 2018. Usually, this opportunity takes place when an election is called, but possible changes to the number of MPs has meant that the party has set out a timetable for selections independently of a General Election.
Appendix 3 of the 2017 rule-book lays out how the Labour Party will deal with the government’s planned changes to constituency boundaries, which the Tories want to force through to eliminate fifty of the 650 current parliamentary constituencies in a move that is broadly recognised to favour the Tories.
Given the weakness of the government and the likelihood that the DUP will resist the proposed changes because they will favour their rivals Sinn Fein, there is considerable doubt whether they Tories will be able to push the measure through. Regardless whether they succeed or not, however, the rules provide for every sitting Labour MP to face a ‘trigger ballot’ in the new year.
Clause two of Appendix 3 states that:
The appendix goes on to set out the process and conditions for sitting MPs who wish to continue to be candidates and how a CLP and its affiliate groups can vote either to keep the current candidate or move to a full selection, before clause three provides the timetable for the process:
The NEC can vary or cancel the process, but with its current make-up this is unlikely, so essentially members who wish to change their MP (or candidate where there is no sitting MP) have until March to organise to win the vote.
And they will need to organise.
The current trigger-ballot process is complicated and gives affiliated groups from unions and socialist societies a disproportionate voting power, as votes are by group (ward, union or socialist society affiliate) rather than on a one-member-one-vote basis. This means that an affiliate with a couple of members has equal say to a ward-based branch of several hundred people.
In many parts of the country, right-wing unions have already been preparing for the process, with reports in some areas of right-leaning unions affiliating dozens of branches.
The process is likely to change as a result of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘democracy review’, but for now it is easy for rules-savvy groups to commandeer the process by stacking the CLP with affiliate branches.
Labour members who want to change their MP for a candidate more sympathetic to their views and wishes need to use the next three months or so to organise to match the right’s efforts – with the same level of awareness and commitment that they successfully brought to the battle to make delegates to last September’s annual conference representative of the membership.
In practice, this means members of Labour-affiliated unions need to organise to establish branches of their union and affiliate them to CLPs – and others can set up and affiliate branches of the socialist societies that have official standing with the Labour Party.
Mass awareness and mobilisation will be needed for members to succeed in changing their MP if they wish to.
A full copy of Labour’s 2017 rulebook can be downloaded here.
A handy guide to the trigger ballot process was published last year by Novara Media.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.