Night before CLP vote on Wadsworth motion, exec issues new rules banning debate


Black activist Marc Wadsworth, who played a key role in supporting the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, was expelled from the Labour Party after a public argument with MP Ruth Smeeth. This was not, as was widely reported, for antisemitism but on disrepute charges.

Marc Wadsworth

Since then, Wadsworth has been conducting a roadshow to raise support for legal action against the party and others to clear his name – and a number of CLPs (constituency Labour parties) have passed motions backing his campaign.

Rossendale and Darwen CLP in the north-west of England has a similar motion on its agenda for its monthly meeting this evening. Last night at 8.23pm, less than twenty-four hours before the meeting, the CLP’s executive sent out an email to members pointing them to a new ‘Code of Conduct‘ for members that will apply to the meeting:

rd CoC

The Code of Conduct appears to ban debate on all motions, instead putting them to a vote as soon as they have been moved and seconded:

rd motions.png

Local members are outraged at what appears to be a ham-fisted attempt to shut down debate on all motions, just before an extremely contentious one is scheduled to be discussed.

The Code of Conduct appears to lie outside Labour’s rules on various issues, not least that the party’s rulebook (Chapter 7 clause XI) specifically includes debate and discussion in the purpose of the meeting:

2. The General Meeting shall be responsible for establishing objectives for this CLP in the constituency through political debate and policy discussion

The Code of Conduct also contains a number of other issues, including an incorrect description of Labour as a ‘social democratic’ party, instead of the correct ‘democratic socialist’ party – the difference is significant.

Members do not know who has drawn up the Code of Conduct, but there appears to have been no discussion with them about its content.

It may be, of course, that the Code has simply been incompetently drawn up, but any changes to local standing orders or codes must be approved by CLP members/delegates before having any formal standing – and the timing of its issue has raised suspicions that are likely to be raised at the meeting if it is not dropped beforehand.

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 for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


  1. “other discussions or motions presented until a vote is held.
    member(s). Then the chair has the right to ask that member(s) to leave.”

    Something’s obviously missing between those two lines.
    If that’s in the original maybe the writer was cutting and pasting and skipped the final read-through? Common enough mistake.

  2. True to form, the extremist RW faction of our party are again resorting to anti-democratic tactics in their increasingly desperate attempt to cling onto their illegitimate power.

  3. This Code of Conduct is not legally valid under the Party 2018 rules.

    The Model Procedural Rules in Chapter 15 apply directly to all CLPs by virtue of Chapter 1, Clause X.1.A and also Chapter 7 (CLP Rules). Clause VII.2.

    Chapter 15, Clause I, 1 states:

    “These model procedural rules are designed to provide a framework for well-ordered Party meetings. Party units will want to adopt local standing orders to reflect their specific method of operation; however, local arrangements must not conflict with the provisions of these model rules which have the full authority of the NEC and form part of the rule book.”

    Motions are dealt with at Chapter 15, Clause I 2. I. i:

    “No motion shall be discussed at a meeting until it has been moved and seconded. Where a motion has been submitted by a Party unit or organisation it must be Chapter 15 Model procedural rules Page 68 moved by a delegate from that Party unit or organisation.”

    The proper interpretation of this is that once a motion has been properly submitted under sub section H and has been moved and seconded at the CLP meeting it is then to be discussed by the CLP.

    The proposed Code of Conduct appears to directly conflict with this rule in Chapter 15 Model Procedural Rules and would therefore not be valid or even a properly valid potential amendment to the model procedural rules.

    Secondly any change to the Chapter 15, Model Procedural Rules is governed by Chapter 15, Clause I, section 2. subsection O. iv:

    “The general provisions of the constitution and rules of the Party shall apply to this body. No changes shall be made to the rules and standing orders of this organisation except at an annual or special meeting called for this purpose and carried with the support of two-thirds of the members present. No alteration shall be effective until it has received the approval of the appropriate officer of the NEC of the Party.”

    For a valid change to be made to the Model Procedural Rules in Chapter 15 it would need to be done at the CLP AGM or at a Special CLP meeting called specifically to make the proposed changes.

    It would also need a 2/3 majority of the members present. Then finally the changes would need to be ratified by the “appropriate officer of the NEC” (I would assume this is likely to be the relevant RD).

    The CLP Executive has no power whatsoever to just unilaterally issue Codes of Practice in this manner. They are entirely ultra vires (beyond one’s legal power or authority) for the reasons outlined above.

  4. Sorry small word processing error above, the text of Chapter 15, Clause I 2. I. i should read:

    “No motion shall be discussed at a meeting until it has been moved and seconded. Where a motion has been submitted by a Party unit or organisation it must be moved by a delegate from that Party unit or organisation.”

    1. Brilliant Duncan just brilliant nailed it in one now it’s up to the CLP members to kick them out

  5. I had not read the whole code but have had a look at it all now and OMG! Pretty much every section breaks the rules in some way.

    It tries to take power to suspend members which only the NEC can do, it seems to suggest it can punish members which only the NCC can do. Ironically it says if you make a complaint then they will suspend both parties. So you get suspended because you dared to make a complaint! This nonsense also breaches the guidelines laid down in Chapter 6 Clause Ii on how a CLP is to deal with a disciplinary allegation.

    The Chair claims the power to throw people out, which is wrong as that requires a motion put by the Chair and a 2/3 vote to remove a member from the meeting.

    On top of this nonsense the sections on LGBT and Disabled members both are written in my view in a dismissive and borderline discriminatory tone. It refers to LGBT people who ‘self identify’ so seems almost to suggest there is nothing more to LGBT identity than whatever you ‘choose’ to self identify as. This seems a questionable attitude to me.

    On disability it is worse as it tries to impose a duty on disabled members to bring any support aids they have to a meeting. Obviously helpful if they do but you can’t impose a duty on a person with a protected characteristic that is not also imposed on others so arguably it is actually discriminatory under S.19 of the Equality Act 2010.

    In my view it “might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice” towards a protected characteristic which is in breach of rule Chapter 2. Clause I. 8 (2.I.8) and therefore amounts automatically to “conduct prejudicial to the Party.”

    A truly dreadful document in a multitude of ways. Whoever wrote it has no idea of the Party rules whatsoever. My advice is to burn it and apologise to the members of the CLP then the CLP EC should all quit so they can be replaced by people who know what the heck they are doing.

  6. “A truly dreadful document in a multitude of ways. Whoever wrote it has no idea of the Party rules whatsoever.”

    Presumably the dummy who wrote it doesn’t know what “under new management” means either.
    What kind of idiot acts like the fix is still in when the referee that was on your team’s payroll was run out of town weeks ago?

    Not the worst atrocity there’s ever been though.
    I’ve just seen the first few minutes of “Machete Kills.”

  7. Electing Corbyn as party leader was phase-1 of wrestling the Party back from the right-wingers and democratizing it. Phase-2 was wrestling control of the NEC from the right-wingers to reflect the composition of the majority of the membership. Phase-3, and the most difficult, is going to be wrestling control of the local party structures from right-wingers who are so embedded in the structures and who have changed the rules to make it almost impossible to get rid of them that should any attempt be made, we the members run the risk of being suspended/expelled from the Party. So, when the local party structures are so corrupted, I think we are left with no option but to call for their dissolution (surely, there must be a rule somewhere empowering the NEC to act in such an event) and elect new ones under direct supervision of the NEC using the fair and reasonable guidelines quoted by Duncan above. That’s our only hope of democratizing the party at local structures level.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: