Breaking: Labour reduces ‘quorum’ level to just 5% for all CLP/branch meetings


The idea of a ‘quorum’ – the minimum required level of attendance required at a Labour meeting for it to make valid decisions and resolutions – might seem  the dullest, most mundane topic imaginable at first glance.

But for Labour members and observers, in the context of developments this week, it’s huge.

At Labour’s conference, which ended yesterday, delegates from unions and CLPs (constituency Labour parties) passed a new rule recommended by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) regarding the rules for local members to begin a selection process to potentially replace their MP at the next parliamentary election.

The new rules, backed by party leader Jeremy Corbyn, lower the threshold for triggering a selection to just one in three branches in a CLP and remove the ability of affiliated organisations to influence the decision via their own branches. However, advocates of ‘open selection’ – an automatic selection process before each election – were unhappy.

One of the principal objections voiced since the new rule passed is that the number of members who would have to attend a meeting for it to be a valid vote – 25% in Labour’s rule-book, although varied down to 10% in many areas by CLP ‘standing order’ – would be unachievable.

Most local meetings are technically not ‘quorate’, but proceed anyway either informally or in line with the varied ‘standing orders’.

But a senior Labour insider has told the SKWAWKBOX that the democracy review recommendations also passed at Conference have reduced the quorum for all CLP and branch meetings to just five percent.

This means that in a branch of, say, two hundred members only ten need be present for the meeting to be quorate and its decisions consequently official and binding.

Most meetings on the topic of whether to select another MP would be expected to far exceed such a level – and if they don’t, then it’s probably safe to assume the branch members have no particular appetite for change.

This change has huge implications for Labour’s democracy and the ability of its members to begin the process of selecting a new candidate if they’re so minded. But of course, the sword cuts both ways and places responsibility on the shoulders of members with a good MP to organise and turn up when needed to defend them.

As the new quorum figure applies to all meetings, that responsibility applies to leadership nomination meetings and ordinary CLP/branch business, too. Democracy comes with responsibilities as well as entitlements.

Those who have shouted loudest for ‘open selection’ this week should be leading the way if they’re serious about democracy.

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  1. In the CAC document it has 2 versions [Alt A] and [Alt B] one mentions 25% and the other (B) 5% what determines which version is used?

  2. Alt A is for a General Meeting of branch delegates; Alt B is for an All Members Meeting. To trigger a selection meeting requires one in ever three branches to approve yet, many CLPs have no branches so does that mean a CLP with 3,000 members requires at least 1,000 to trigger a reselection move? Sitting MPs can contact all members with their statements and claims, ordinary members cannot, so will it remain an uneven playing field?

    1. So for a deselection/reselection branch meeting 5% would make us quorate, is that correct? That would be acceptable.

  3. “But a senior Labour insider has told the SKWAWKBOX”
    What does this even mean? If Conference has reduced the number necessary for a quorum, surely this should be down in plain black and white, no ifs buts or maybes.
    Has the quorum been reduced or, as Pete Rossetti suggests, has it not?

  4. Is there a link to the new rule book? When there is, please can you publish. Thanks.

    1. Also, does anyone have an editable version of the CLP Rules (chapter 7) and Model procedural rules (chapter 15) that CLPs can edit into a bespoke version? ie edit in the full CLP name/meeting month/etc to replace “{}”, and select the appropriate version of the Alt A/B: stuff, etc. That would be handy for CLPs, compared to copy & pasting stuff out of the pdf rules.

  5. Skwak you are missing the point again , stop flogging a dead horse , OS is a non divisive automatic process that is a positive event every 5 yrs .
    It requires no one to be negative in as much as HAVING to start a deselection process.
    We want our MPs to be the best we can have and OS will keep the best and ditch the rest automatically , its also from an MP point of view a terrific boost to have their mandate renewed each time by their CLP and membership.
    Sorry but I fundamentally disagree that somehow what we have been given by the NEC is somehow better than OS which is I believe what the majority of the membership wants

      1. Perhaps SB is privy to something or info we don’t know ,,,, yet ?
        Over to you SB or is it just that this is one item where as comrades we respectfully disagree .BUt then again there is always next yrs conf and who knows by then we might just have a country to run 😉

  6. This is good news my Branch was considered “too distruptive” to CLP (mostly right whingers) so they broke us into a series of smaller branches. On paper my new local branch has 60 members so a 10% quorum requires 6 members to attend meeting for last 2 meetings since the split only 4 of us have shown up we can’t elect a chair or a treasurer we haven’t been given names of these 60 members we’re supposed to have so we have lost our voice on CLP. Other broken up branches who are quorate are talking about merging.

  7. The new quorum is substituted into the Party Rule Book at Chapter 15, Clause I, D.i.

    It was previously the same for both delegate or all member structures. The new version puts delegate option [Alt A:] as 25% or a fixed number to be agreed with Regional Office.

    For all member meetings [Alt B;] it is now 5% or 75 members whichever is the lower, or a fixed number to be agreed with the Regional Executive Committee.

    by virtue of Chapter 1, Clause X, 1 this now applies with direct effect to:

    A. CLPs
    B. member branches organised within CLPs
    C. women’s forums
    D. Young Labour and Young Labour groups
    E. Local Campaign Forums (LCFs)
    F. local government Labour groups
    G. the Scottish executive, Welsh executive and
    English regional boards, including when acting
    as European Constituency Labour Parties.
    H. ethnic minorities forums

    My view is that this can’t be varied by the NEC under their authority in Chapter 1, Clause X, 2 or 3. The rules in Chapter 15 can be added to by a Party unit but may not be contradicted Chap 15, Clause I, 1. This is now a fixed quorum for all the above listed Party Units.

    However I do think that it would within the rules and legitimate for the NEC to draw up a different quorum for PPC selection meetings, or any Trigger Ballot under its powers to set procedural guidelines in Chapter 5 Clause I, 2 and Clause IV, 1. Similarly an LCF can vary quorum for local govt selections.

    So whether this stays as the quorum for the new Trigger Ballot is going to depend on what selection process procedural guidelines the NEC issue for the Trigger Ballot.

    The other major problem is that the Trigger Ballot cannot be kicked off by members. It requires the incumbent MP to announce they wish to stand for re-election to ‘trigger’ it. So unless the NEC issues a ruling requiring all MPs to make such a declaration by a set date the incumbent has total control over when any Trigger ballot would take place.

    For these reasons I would have preferred open selection and a fixed timetable but this is what we have. Realistically I don’t see much prospect of change in the next 3 years either. So considering we may have an election next year it is time to start lobbying the NEC to request a fixed date by when all PLP MPs must make an announcement if they wish to run again. This would open up Trigger ballots in every PLP held seat. If this is left on the back burner we will end up with last minute selections and a lot of imposed candidates again. So lets grasp the nettle and get it done.

    1. Thanks for this Duncan. Why does all this stuff have to be so complicated! So what we first thought re being able to deselect is totally not true?!

    2. Good grief if this is true ( and I don’t doubt it ) then sitting MPs having the power to decide and not the membership is the most depressing thing I ve read on the whole complicated mess this process is .
      It really , really, needs OS back on the agenda for next yrs Conf . It also means we as members really have to be ultra careful in who we select as MPs , this I hope will improve as there should be no more Blairite clones parachuted into CLPs now.

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