Manchester Central left asks members to attend meeting tomorrow for vote on switch to all-member structure

CLP was one of first to be switched to delegate structure after Corbyn’s first leadership victory

Local Labour activists in Manchester Central CLP (constituency Labour party) are encouraging all members to attend an all-member meeting (AMM) called for tomorrow, 13th June, under Labour’s new rules allowing CLPs to switch to regular all-member meetings instead of a delegate basis by a simple all-member vote.

The meeting will determine whether or not to return to an AMM model for CLP meetings – allowing members of all branches to participate even if not delegated by particular branches. The delegate structure has been extensively used by the right to try to retain control of CLP executives and decisions, as it can be ‘stacked’ by the creation of union or affiliate branches who send delegates to vote.

Manchester Central was amongst the first CLPs to switch to a delegate structure after the unsuccessful ‘coup’ against Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2016. Many local left activists have railed against it ever since, believing it denied the left its full democratic voice.

Tomorrow’s AMM comes after a number of contentious incidents. In 2017, the CLP was revealed to have misled members about their delegate entitlements to Labour’s annual conference at a time when key left-right battles were set to take place at the event in Brighton.

Last year, an attempt was made to deselect popular left-slate National Executive Committee (NEC) member Yasmine Dar, who topped the ballot in the last NEC election, as a council candidate. The challenge was successfully resisted, but many local activists saw it as an attempt by the right to ‘take out’ a local left councillor.

The past two years have also seen a running ‘turf war’ over the Socialist Health Association (SHA), an affiliated Labour Society with delegate entitlements to the local CLP. Former national organiser of the SHA Martin Rathfelder was expelled and sacked from his position over alleged interference in local branch elections.

The Greater Manchester branch of the SHA was then suspended with national officers citing financial irregularities, ‘serious problems revealed in the membership base’ and ‘misuse of SHA membership’ to ‘create and influence factional political delegation to Labour Party structures’. Greater Manchester currently holds over a third of the SHA’s entire national membership, a steep increase from only a handful of members a few years ago. Senior members of the Manchester Central right were members of the suspended branch’s committee.

AMM supporters also believe that it will make the CLP more inclusive, as the current system is believed to discriminate against members that are BAME, disabled, young, on a low income or who have caring responsibilities.

In this context, left activists in Manchester Central believe that the meeting on the 13th is set to be a pivotal moment in the history of the CLP and are asking all Manchester Central Labour members to attend.

The meeting is scheduled for 7pm tomorrow, 13 June, at the East Manchester Academy, 60 Grey Mare Lane, Manchester M11 3DS.

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  1. I note the term ‘return’ to an AAM structure. Does not suggest a move based upon principle but upon political balances of the moment.

  2. I wish them well and hope they get a positive outcome.
    My own CLP has always been all member and I can’t conceive of a better more democratic way of working .
    In fact it seems so natural that I don’t understand why it’s not set in the Party rules that all CLPs are automatically all member OMOV

  3. I can think of a few possible reasons why delegate voting might be preferred – high number of shift workers, rural area with inconvenient distances to the CLP, poor transport links, preponderance of elderly members. No idea if those are valid reasons though.
    I think I’d argue for online all member meetings and online voting if a way could be found to make sure non-techy/older people could participate.
    Maybe 5G will make democracy more democratic?

    1. Valid points David and the online voting is a possible solution .My CLP is rural and has that exact problem I am going to raise it at my next meeting, to see what sort of reaction I get . I don’t see there being a security issue as The Party has already used online voting .
      The issue of membership without online access or expertise , then I can only think of maybe ensuring that they have a “buddie” who can bring them to meetings or help them be involved , thats all part of being a Socialist I guess .

      1. Rob and RH, I accept that all options have possible downsides and all leave open the possibility of abuse – but the possibility of discovering abuses is far greater using software analysis – not that I’m an expert.
        The possibility of future algorithms discovering abuses long after the fact also exists – people recognise that possibility having witnessed advances in analysis of everything from the weather to downloading child porn to analysing historic crime.
        I think that possibility of future discovery would discourage most from taking the chance.
        Computers can make democracy work better in many ways – video links that now break up even with BBC expertise will hopefully become cheap, easy and reliable with 5G, making one of the main objections to online meetings & voting redundant.

    2. I don’t think that there’s a perfect solution, either. All have downsides.

      From a personal view (well into old fartdom and health-related restrictions, as well as the ordinary problems of commitment clashes), I would welcome online voting.

      But that does take away the face-to-face participation, even recognising the way in which meetings during the Blair years saw a repetition of the small number of the same old faces turning up. Obviously that, in turn, resulted in CLP and DLP delegates coming from that small group. As a branch secretary during that time, I found that writing up the minutes of such meetings a pretty depressing chore.

      On the other hand, I also remember, in the 80’s and 90’s, large delegate CLPs and DLPs representing a wide range of active and informed members from Branches and Affiliates. That contrasted, as I recall, with all-member meetings which were weighted towards the less well informed or aware. It’s not all one way.

      But, on balance, in terms of participation, I agree that the ‘all member route’ leads to the on-line solution as being the best option.

  4. “The delegate structure has been extensively used by the right to try to retain control of CLP executives and decisions, as it can be ‘stacked’ by the creation of union or affiliate branches who send delegates to vote.”

    Is Skwawkbox aware of the situation at Don Valley CLP’s AGM in 2017?

    This is the perfect example of the above, which led to a walkout by the Left members after delegated union officials were denied a vote. This was subsequently whitewashed over in ‘The Goodyear Report’, in favour of Flint and her corrupt executive’s gerrymandering by Yorkshire and Humberside Labour Party Regional Office (the last bastions of Blairism). He’s the guy who is allowing these MPs to quash the surge in membership through bullying and intimidation during canvassing sessions (for the 2016 referendum/2017 locals, mayorals and GE) to the point where many have quit attending branch meetings/campaigning as a result.

    If The Skwawkbox would like a copy of ‘The Goodyear Report’ – and what we on The Left refer to as ‘Gammy-Gate’ (after Flint, whilst during a vote count, instructed disabled members ‘with gammy legs, stay sat down’) – just ask. To us in our branch it was an utter outrage.

    The worst aspect for me is that the DV exec took the decision to hold ALL CLP meetings from now on (instead of the rotating between branches) in the middle of nowhere, a ten minute walk from a bus stop (for an able-bodied person), that would take a four hour return bus journey from our ward. Apparently, Y&HLP RO think this is ‘acceptable’ (when the Doncaster Trades and Labour Club, one bus ride away for everyone, offered their hall for free – we have to pay for ‘Branton Hall’, each member guilt-tripped into paying £1, when the bus fare tots-up to £15!). I could go on and on about the shenanigans in Don Valley, but you better be prepared to set a few hours aside.

    Another corker is the burying of Corbyn’s appearance in Doncaster during the referendum campaign, no-one from Momentum or People’s Assembly informed; Labour members only getting an email/text less than 48 hours before stating a ‘special guest’ would be attending an event. Less than 40 people turned out to greet Flint, Miliband & Winterton. Had Momentum/PA been informed, there would have been 1000s of people thronging Doncaster Town Centre, just like the 1000+ that queued for Jeremy’s first hustings at 9am on a Saturday morning… I finally snapped at our last AMM and accused Flint directly of being complicit in this… she was quite a sight, shaking her head in a way that would have had Jeremy Kyle sneering at the level of denial

    Oh, and at the last two meetings the exec railroaded over motions against fracking/nuclear fuel – clearly against National Party Policy – plus a motion to investigate Tom Watson’s complicity in accepting cheques from people donating to more than one Political party/opponents (Sir David Garrard/ChangeUK/Joan RyanMP). This was also okay with Caroline, ‘As long as he declares it in the Register’, but clearly she hadn’t read the Labour Party rules on conflicts of interest.

    We need to talk, because something has to be done.

    Good luck to Manchester!

    Yours in Comradeship,
    Tel Sutton.
    Treasurer, Doncaster Labour Group/Campaign Forum
    Vice-Chair, Conisbrough and Denaby Labour Party.

    1. ”If The Skwawkbox would like a copy of ‘The Goodyear Report’ – and what we on The Left refer to as ‘Gammy-Gate’ (after Flint, whilst during a vote count, instructed disabled members ‘with gammy legs, stay sat down’) – just ask. To us in our branch it was an utter outrage.”

      Is flint still accepting bri…errr….’donations’ from lobbyists for WCA frauds/disability deniers, maximus?

      If so, you need look no further where she got that trick from….


      1. Many have been the ‘comradely debates’ between Caroline and I since the moment I was the first to stand up and nominate Jeremy for leader; her husband and PA, Cllr Phil Cole, lodging a formal complaint to have me thrown out of Labour back in 2016 (in response to me calling on them to stop their ‘Trumpton Momentum’ tweets against LP employees within the leader’s office; an offence). If you look at the HoC Register you’ll see CF hasn’t taken money from ‘Sovereign’ (the PR company burying bad news for the likes of Maximus, BP, Bernie Ecclestone) since I explained to her that I was watching where she gets her dosh from in front of a packed AMM… don’t worry – she won’t starve with what she receives for her media-related ‘work’.

        It will be interesting to see how loyal her long-term supporters will be after yesterday’s vote, what with the majority being staunch supporters of a second referendum.

      2. More power to yer elbow, Tel.

        flint is an overt fifth columnist, and her hopefully getting the boot shouldn’t be exclusively about flint’s eu fickleness, she’s just neither use nor ornament. I’ve never liked her. Even less now I’m informed her supporters are staunch remainers.

        It doesn’t surprise me in the least to hear that a leave voting constituency has a remain-voting blairite MP kept in position by remain supporting membership.

        Wonder what the likes of steve h, rh, etc have to say about that?

  5. Andy McDonald just put cat amongst pigeons on politics live and they did not like it
    Get in

  6. Oh fuck
    Knew it couldn’t last,
    What dont they understand about not giving an inch

      1. Andy McDonald Labour spokesman on BBC Politics Live snatched defeat from jaws of victory when asked right at the end about Monday nights PLP Meeting
        We do not need to give MSM any ammunition, pretty basic stuff methinks

  7. We had a vote on this in Hove earlier this year. It was a thoroughly dispiriting event – the move to all member meetings was defeated by a ratio of about two to one with, broadly, younger members favouring the All Member route. All the new members there spoke in favour of the move back to all member meetings.

    Criticisms were raised against the change in that it would reduce the input of Unions, would cost more for venue and it might scare off people who didn’t like addressing large numbers of people. Against this were the detatchment produced by the delegate system and the first-past-the-posty nature of the delegate elections (the delegate system has, for instance, ensured that no Lexit voices have made it from our local branch to the larger meetings)

    A number of hybrid, not quite OMOV approaches were suggested that have been used elsewhere that could have addressed the criticisms, but it was rejected without considering them properly.

    I hope the vote in Machester goes the other way.

  8. Doris Johnson today… “I’m also just a girl… standing in front of a voter… asking him to love her.”
    I almost blubbed like Portillo.

  9. All member meetings are a necessary and democratic way of running a CLP. We are having one in Cambridge. However, equally in my view, is the new rule change which makes the General Committee the ruling body. Anyone got any difficulties with resting control from the Executive Committee? I have asked here before, and am amazed by the lack of fire on this one. It seems to me to be crucial.

    1. Being more out of it these days, I’ve not paid enough attention, but I reckon that the advantages of the GMC being the ruling body outweighs the disadvantages (but beware quorums 🙂 )

      The practicalities are, however, that an Exec. has to be able to take interim decisions without the serial whingers being able to gum up the works.

    2. The more I think about it the more I favour online video participation of all members not present in traditional meetings until such time as traditional meetings at a single location are abandoned.
      Local meetings for a trial period first but in due course even the business of Parliament could be conducted online.

      5G, if it performs as promised, will offer some startling opportunities.
      An official Labour application for each OS could allow not only videoconferencing but availability to the Party of all relevant data – lists of attendees physical and virtual, permanent searchable records of speeches/votes, number of members wishing to speak indicated to everyone in real time so that meetings on contentious issues can be extended until everyone’s spoken. Analysis of up/down votes (or ‘likes’ – ugh) polled over the whole period would indicate which policies, arguments and speakers persuaded whom.
      Just a case of writing the software.

      We’ve called this the ‘information age’ for a long time now but I hope the balance of benefit may be about to shift in our favour.
      5G may take more power away from the MSM and the establishment than social media has.

  10. What you are saying however, is now against Labour Party rules! This is not a matter of choice or preference – it is the rules!! In any case, the points made above about control by the right are much more serious than that of a few whingers, who can easlily be dealt with by simply voting on any matter and ending it there.

  11. Interesting how the tone here changes for the better when we’re not dealing with Brexit. Sensible exchange of ideas and views. No accusations about trolls, traitors or idiots.
    It just shows to me how we’re united on many/most things, and how toxic Brexit is as an issue.

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