Ten successes already in the bag at #Lab18

For all the uproar around a couple of specific issues, Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool, which still has two days to run, has already seen a number of successes for member empowerment on a scale that members would hardly have dared dream about just two years ago.

Sometimes we forget how far we’ve come.

In 2016, the last time Conference took place in Liverpool, Jeremy Corbyn had just been elected as leader for the second time – but outgoing right-wingers were launching a ‘silent coup’ by anti-democratically adding two further places to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) and filling both of them with unelected representatives of right-wing leaders in Scotland and Wales.

The right also held a substantial majority among delegates, leaving the left hamstrung and trying to fight a rearguard damage-limitation action.

What a difference a year or two makes.

In 2017 in Brighton, Labour’s left-wing majority saw the first sign of what could be achieved if it matched the right for organisation, as a decisive left majority saw new member representative places added to the NEC, the approval of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘democracy review’ and other victories won with almost anti-climactic ease.

But even if there has been disappointment at the democracy-review recommendations that were not approved by the NEC last week for this week’s Conference agenda, this year’s event has already eclipsed last year’s success in terms of member empowerment and the broadening of the party to reflect the Labour movement – and it’s only halfway through.

Here are ten landmark successes already achieved this week:

10 changes.jpg

The changes to parliamentary selection processes and the removal of the ability of affiliate organisations to hamper member decisions about their candidate are huge compared to the previous cumbersome and easily-rigged ‘trigger ballot’ process – but the new rules preventing failed right-wing NEC candidates walking onto the committee if a member leaves, the quarantining of damaging deputy leader Tom Watson, the addition of an NEC representative elected by disabled members and the other changes are no less seismic in their way.

The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn and its annual conference are not perfect and nobody can even be 100% satisfied – nor should we be.

But the party is a new type of force in politics, combining popular vision, member empowerment and movement-wide solidarity with organised labour in the unions in a way that no other party can hope to match. And we must not become so used to our successes that we fail to appreciate them and their importance in the hurly-burly of the drive toward change and government.

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  1. Small successes are better than no successes I suppose.

    In essence this is a titanic battle between the ruling class and the working class which is akin to a giant tug of war. A move in the right direction is hard won.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if strings were being pulled from outside; perhaps from the CIA, MI5, the EU etc etc…

    1. nah. the only strings bein pulled were from union leadership. happens all the time in the US. grassroots push really hard for a gain, unions claim to be on board, then tada! they’re not. it’s usually the Building Trades that shiv the grassroots in favor of billionaires who get the public funding for their big palaces and then have to put them up. from Building Trades, it grows across the entire AFL-CIO in a very corrupt fashion, thus the unions are almost always in opposition to grassroots democracy in the US. this is one reason union members don’t vote with union endorsements for Democrats – union members in the US long ago drifted from their leadership in this way. this dynamic is a big reason for the legendary “Reagan Democrat”.

      1. I respectfully disagree, especially after learning about things such as the British American Project and Ruth Smeeth being outed in Wikileaks as being a protected US informant.

  2. It is difficult to be overjoyed when the membership have been ignored. Against the wishes of the membership, the adoption of 2 important items from the Democracy Review were sabotaged by the NEC. So much for being a member led party.

  3. What is the point of this godawful boasting? What purpose does it fulfil exactly?

    A more reasonable assessment would also include:

    1. No mandatory reselection of Labour MPs We still have a trigger ballot.
    2. PLP retains veto over leadership candidates
    3. Blairite National Policy Forum remains intact
    4. Three year rule on constitutional amendments remains intact
    5. One year rule on constitutional amendments remains intact
    6. We still do not have a Conference based on policy discussion and decision. ‘Ten motions’ is hardly a substitute for the pre-Blair system whereby any topic on which 10-12 CLPs submitted resolutions was guaranteed a debate.

    1. it’s actually stunning how a half a million new members can just rise up and then be kept down by such a tiny fraction of entrenched establishment. i keep sayin some gandhian tactics are in order, it’d be nice to see them. power isn’t going to just give itself up.

  4. Danny the point is we on the left have come a long way in returning democracy to the labour party all good things cannot be built in a day but we must continue building however long that takes

  5. “Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3.”
    “You can’t always get what you want.”
    But progress and the battle continues.
    I remember being given a book by an old Leftie and perhaps the title still applies:
    ‘To Struggle is to Live!’

  6. Off message I know but can Skwawkbox find out who authorised the police escort for Ms Berger and on what grounds?

    1. You raise a very good question.

      The whole thing looked like a cynical stunt to me designed to smear the Labour Party. A Daily Mail photographer just happened to be there. I am sure that this is mere coincidence.

  7. The Blairite virus still determines Labour Party policy; the class war is over. The concept of of quotas is an affront to democracy. Be careful what you wish for, you may replace Watson with Phillips; Cooper; Creagh; Kendall; Berger; Harman or Smeeth. If you agree with quotas, you agree that selection is limited & chosen for you by elites, chosen simply for what they are, not who. Quotas are just another platform for the bourgeoisie to climb the ladder. You will find it difficult to deselect the appointed deputy leader.

    1. The only one in that list who’d only come closest to getting elected – and even then it’d be at a distance away from the eventual winner, just like the leadership election – would be cooper.

      I doubt most (if any) of the rest would even make the shortlist. Agree with the crux of what you’re saying, though.

  8. My father had two favourite quotes….

    ‘The best is the enemy of the good’ and

    ‘If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly’.

    Mine is “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

    Skwawkbox probably likes ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water’, ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’ and more significantly…..

    ‘Pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will’

    Maybe some people don’t remember (or didn’t know) what the LP was like in May 2015 GE and how quickly a structure that was designed to block the LW has been shifted.

    “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”

    And Skwawkbox does an invaluable job in helping many of us to remember (thanks again)… and the ‘struggle’ against ‘power’ continues.

  9. Point 9: And Labour needs to debate Trident replacement. I think that there has been no debate allowed since 1989.

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