Number of branches needed to trigger selection could be lower for some CLPs
Labour members eager for the opportunity to choose a new parliamentary representative now have a green light to start the ‘trigger‘ process – and some will face a lower hurdle to successfully force a full selection contest, after the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed a change to the application of the ‘one in three branches’ trigger threshold.
A document being circulated by the NEC to constituency party secretaries outlines the process for fixing a timetable – a process that can begin immediately and which forbids the participation of any sitting MPs seeking re-election:
1 Drawing up a timetable
1.1 Each Regional Executive Committee (REC) will appoint an NEC Representative, who shall usually be a member of the REC, to act on behalf of the NEC in liaison with each CLP in the Region. Names of NEC Representatives shall be made available to members of the NEC and disputes shall be referred to the NEC. The NEC Representative will meet with the CLP Executive Committee (EC), or General Meeting (GM) if no EC is in place, to draw up a timetable for the ballot and agree a Procedures Secretary with the CLP; this could be the CLP Secretary or another officer. The Procedures Secretary will carry out all secretarial duties required during the procedure. The Procedures Secretary must not be employed by or act as election agent to the Member of Parliament seeking re-selection. A sitting Member of Parliament seeking to be re-selected, must not attend the part of any meetings within these procedures at which the CLP/branch is to or may discuss the selection.
1.2 The NEC will nominate a Procedures Secretary when it is necessary because of local circumstances.
2 Freeze Date for Individual Members
2.1 The “Freeze Date” for each CLP will be the date at which the NEC Representative meets with the Executive Committee (or General Meeting if no Executive Committee is in place) to draw up a timetable. Where the NEC determines there are special circumstances, or when there is an unforeseen delay to the commencement of the process, an earlier freeze date may be fixed by the NEC.
3 Organisations entitled to take part
3.1 The affiliated organisations entitled to return a ballot will be those that were affiliated to the CLP as at 31 December of the previous year and had paid their affiliation fee for that year at least 35 days prior to the closing date for the return of ballots. Immediately after the first meeting of the CLP EC or GM with the NEC Representative, the Procedures Secretary will publish a list of organisations affiliated to the CLP as at 31 December of the previous year and will contact any whose affiliation fees for that year have not been received to remind them of the
deadline for receipt of payment. Any dispute as to the eligibility of an affiliate to return a ballot shall be referred for determination to the NEC Representative.
3.2 The Labour Party branches entitled to take part in the trigger ballot process are those in existence at the freeze date.
The SKWAWKBOX has established that branches ‘in existence at the freeze date’ means the same ward-based groups that would meet to select council candidates, even if the groups do not routinely meet as branches.
In addition, a key chance agreed by the NEC’s ‘organisational subcommittee’ this week means that the bar has been lowered. In Labour’s new trigger rules, one in three member branches must vote for a selection contest in order to ‘trigger’ one.
However, the total from which ‘one in three’ will be calculated will be of those branches participating in the vote‘, not of all branches in the CLP. Moribund branches therefore cannot be used by supporters of MPs hoping to avoid a selection contest to raise the bar.
For example, if a CLP with, say, seven branches are eligible to vote but in which only six actually meet and vote, the requirement to trigger would be two branches (one third of the six).
If you are a Labour member, contact your CLP secretary to ensure that s/he is promptly in contact with regional Labour representatives to make the necessary arrangements.
The full procedures document can be downloaded here.
Labour members have a historic opportunity to shape the parliamentary Labour party in line with its left membership – but also need to organise to defend good MPs. Get organising.
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