Members of Streatham CLP (constituency Labour party), which is represented in Parliament by ‘centrist’ Chuka Umunna, have told the SKWAWKBOX that they fear their executive committee is rigging a meeting – called under Labour’s new rules to vote on switching their monthly meeting to an ‘AMM’ (all-member meeting) structure – in order to maintain their hold onto power.
The meeting was supposed to take place in November, as the party’s rules say that if members call for a vote on switching between AMM and ‘GC’ – a delegate-based ‘general committee’ structure – the vote should be done at the first opportunity. However, the November meeting was cancelled without explanation:
Streatham’s executive has already been accused by members, only two months ago, of using anti-democratic methods last October to secure right-wing nominations in Labour’s elections for the National Constitutional Committee.
While both GC and AMM structures have their supporters, GC meetings are generally considered to make it easier for a smaller faction to maintain control, while AMM allows members to have a direct input at a CLP-wide level, not just within their smaller branch. The Streatham St Leonard Branch tweeted a video on Friday about their wish for AMM:
But CLP members claim that many of them had not even been informed by the exec that a motion to switch to AMM had been put forward.
After an acrimonious meeting of the executive, the four left-wing members sent a report to CLP members:
“Update about the AMM Meeting
Last week, the 4 left wing activists on the CLP executive attended its most acrimonious meeting to date. The right wing CLP officers who dominate the executive are furious that Brixton Hill and St Leonard’s branches have triggered the process for switching to a ‘one member one vote’ All Member Meeting system.
Since the rules require that, whatever their views on the matter, they are obliged to hold the next CLP meeting as a special All Member Meeting to consider this matter, they have cancelled the planned meeting on 29 November altogether – so that now the vote on future organisation will now be held in place of the January CLP meeting. They have no power to do so as the rule requires the motion to override the next scheduled GC meeting. To cancel a scheduled meeting is clearly contrary to this rule.
Their purported justification for this was that the meeting had not been publicised sufficiently – despite Brixton Hill and St Leonard’s having emailed them repeatedly for a month urging them to publicise it! This is clearly an abuse of process aimed at suppressing the democratic initiative envisaged by Jeremy Corbyn’s democracy review. The excuses about not having a suitable venue are also nonsense – we had provisionally booked a huge church but despite their own branch meetings taking place in churches, they mocked this proposal, feigning concern for attendees who are not Christian!
Their purported justification for this was that the meeting had not been publicised sufficiently – despite Brixton Hill and St Leonard’s having emailed them repeatedly in vain for a month requesting that they publicise it! This is clearly an abuse of process aimed at suppressing the democratic initiative envisaged by Jeremy Corbyn’s democracy review.
Therefore, there is no meeting in November and the likely date of the AMM vote is Thursday 31 January 2019.”
The SKWAWKBOX wrote to the secretary and chair of Streatham CLP to ask for their comment on these complaints and other issues raised by members:
I’m going to run a story…about various complaints by Streatham members about the conduct of the executive, including:
– the delay, contrary to Labour’s rules, to a special all-member meeting (AMM) to discuss and vote on a switch to AMM meetings instead of GC/delegates
– lack of communication to large parts of Streatham’s membership by the executive
– withholding of information and email access from officers including the women’s forum officer – described as blocking and anti-democratic, although recently reinstated after the arrival of a new London regional director
– an unlawful decision to prevent the election of delegates for the London region conference, instead disenfranchising members by announcing that delegates to September’s national conference would attend the regional version without further elections, when many GC members had not even been informed about the London conference
The effect of these and other manoeuvres is, according to members, an attempt to stifle democracy in Streatham Labour and to disenfranchise many new members.Part of a SKWAWKBOX email to the Streatham chair and secretary
No response had been received at the time of publication. There had already been huge controversy over the election of Streatham’s conference delegates, so sending them without a further vote to the regional conference is deeply problematic.
Members fear that the meeting – which takes place this coming Thursday, 31 January – will be stacked against them, especially because of the inadequate communication, but also because the meeting will be run by a former candidate for the National Executive Committee (NEC) supported by the right-wing Progress and Labour First groups.
It is therefore essential that every Streatham member who can attend on Thursday does so. Venue details are below:
45 Clapham Common South Side
(NB: not the Lambeth College campus on Brixton Hill)
The meeting starts at 8pm but members are asked to arrive no later than 7.30pm to allow time for registration and to ensure they have a vote.
There were serious problems with the conduct of the meeting to elect Streatham’s executive committee in November.
The decisions of the exec to prevent the election of delegates for the coming London regional conference and to bar the women’s officer from email access suggest that the democratic problems in Streatham Labour, which the right it determined to hold onto, are entrenched and ongoing.
The first step in unpicking these issues is to ensure that Streatham switches to AMM, so all members have a direct say in the CLP’s decisions and the election of its executive. If you’re a Streatham member, you need to be there on Thursday night.
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