Yet more interference by Labour to impede member democracy
The Labour party is yet again interfering in the democratic processes of local party groups, after recent scandals in Streatham, Bristol and elsewhere.
Tottenham constituency Labour party (CLP)’s annual general meeting (AGM) is being held this evening, or rather the second part of it after a previous meeting was left unfinished. Elections to the key ‘officer’ positions that set the direction of the CLP are held at AGMs and no votes for officer posts had been held in the abandoned meeting.
Local members see the hijack of their meeting as a precursor to yet another attempt to remove popular Haringey council leader Joe Ejiofor, the only Black council leader in London – who is implementing the ‘Haringey manifesto’ that includes delivering 1,000 council homes at council rents and insourcing services – and to control the selection of council candidates.
The Labour right in the area, which now consists of open Blairites along with former ‘lefts’ who are now cheerleaders for Starmer, have been pushing for a change of policy so that new homes built by the council will be let at ‘affordable’ (and not really affordable) rents instead of council rents.
For months, branches and executive committee (EC) members have been asking the party for correct delegate allocations for branches to the ‘GC’, or general committee – Tottenham is organised on a branch/delegate basis rather than as ‘all-member meetings’. The AGM should have been held last December, but was postponed after the branches realised that they had been given incorrect delegate eligibility numbers, which substantially reduced their delegate entitlements.
However, despite repeated requests, accurate allocation numbers were not provided until after the deadline for electing delegates, leaving branches unable to elect their full delegate allocations. This has reduced the left presence at the AGM: the majority of branches are on the left, while many of the affiliate delegates, often from non-functioning affiliate branches local members say have been set up for the purpose, are from the right.
At the same time left union delegates are finding that they are being prevented from joining the meeting, as Unison’s John Burgess has complained on social media:
After the CLP’s chair was suspended in December for allowing debate on a motion of solidarity with Corbyn – with the news as usual leaked to right-wing hacks before the chair himself knew – Labour’s London regional office has hijacked the meeting and imposed the right-backed candidate for chair (who was the only other candidate) on the CLP without an election . The Tottenham EC had decided to reopen nominations to allow a contested election, but regional staff stepped in to over-rule the decision made by duly-elected officers and delegates.
Yesterday afternoon, regional staff issued an edict that no votes will be taken at the AGM itself. Instead, ballots will be sent out after the meeting using the controversial ‘Anonyvoter’ system created by associates of acting general secretary David Evans that has caused chaos in other meetings. This is causing much suspicion that, on top of the above, the balloting process will be manipulated to favour the right-backed slate.
Labour members in the area have also discovered three cases of delegates to the CLP from affiliate groups – including a local councillor – standing as branch delegates to the CLP – which is specifically forbidden in Labour’s rules. This serves to block branch delegate places that would otherwise have gone to left-wing members.
Labour’s rules for delegates to GCs state:
(Procedural guidelines for the general organisation of Constituency Labour Parties. Clause I. General: Clause IV. Conditions for appointment of delegates to this CLP)
3. No person shall act as a delegate for more than one organisation/Party unit.
Yet again the party is treating members and their democratic rights with utter contempt.
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