Labour’s all-out war on members’ democratic rights
Labour has launched yet another assault on local member democracy – and at a national scale – in its all-out war on its members.
This time, the tip of the iceberg has emerged in the Truro and Falmouth constituency, with regional party officers hijacking a meeting to install right-wing officers – and ramming through a decision, with no process, to reduce the number of the CLP’s (constituency Labour party) delegates to Labour’s annual conference in September to prevent any left-wing members taking part.
Regional officers prevented many left members from even getting into the online meeting – including the constituency’s most recent parliamentary candidate, Jenn Forbes. Left-winger Alex Falconer, recently expelled from the party for membership of a perfectly legal left-wing group, outlined events in a series of tweets and stating that:
- regional officials took over the meeting, excluding prominent left wingers, including Forbes
- the delegation to conference was reduced in number order to exclude left wing members
- no members were allowed to speak against this manoeuvre, supposedly in the “interests of efficiency”
In a post on her Facebook page, former general election candidate Jennifer Forbes elaborated, including pointing out that the conference motion had not been circulated to members in advance – a blatant flouting of the party rules requiring a minimum of seven day notice:
In the run up to the AGM the [then left-led] executive tried exceptionally hard, and put in many hours to achieve a fair AGM in often difficult circumstances against a campaign of poor conduct designed to achieve ‘regime change’.
Several attempts to obtain votes outside the rule book were dealt with. There were no issues with the AGM that couldn’t have been resolved with a good faith conversation with staff. All issues that were claimed on social media to be the cause of the suspension of democracy (around the failing email system) were subsequently replicated & added to.
A great many members received no notifications of the revised date. The shortened timescale [for notifying members of the meeting] excluded even more. The local rules which take pre-eminence were not followed, with regard to positions available & most importantly meeting times.
Members with childcare responsibilities struggled with the unconstitutionally early start time, this is not the proactive equalities agenda we should expect from the Labour Party. No notice was given doors would be locked, which is in any case a flagrant breach of the party’s own guidelines (see below) designed only to exclude. This alone is reason enough to void the AGM.
It can never be permissible to exclude valid members from participating in a democratic process. Many socialists were excluded this way.
A motion, previously uncirculated was passed, without speakers against permitted to be heard, which again conveys the unfortunate perception of a deliberate intent to exclude socialist from representing the local party at conference.
We call on all members to add their names of support below, including and especially the newly imposed executive. In particular, as a respected local member, vice chair of the regional board and Labour group leader we would urge Jayne Kirkham to publicly support good conduct within the party and use her positions to assist in undoing this sorry mess, for the good of us all.
The conference move seems clearly a part of the nationwide manoeuvres by the right to gerrymander the balance of delegates to this year’s party conference in Brighton, with the primary aim of a reversion of Labour’s rules to the old ‘electoral college’ system that gave a handful of MPs the same voting weight as all the party’s members – and the confirmation of the disastrous David Evans as general secretary.
When he was a Blair adviser, Evans once wrote that “representative democracy should as far as possible be abolished in the Party”. It seems the party has taken his words enthusiastically on board and the shameful events in Truro and Falmouth are the latest manifestation.
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