Analysis Announcement

Streatham Labour left appeals for help to fight right’s assault on ‘one member one vote’

‘Chuka’s mates’ at centre of stealth attempt to change local party’s rules of democracy, say left members

Democracy is under attack once again in Streatham Labour, according to left members of the constituency party (CLP) – and they have asked for help rallying support. The attack is in the form of a renewed assault – part of Keir Starmer’s general war on party members – on the democracy of a CLP that had to be democratically wrestled away from the right when the unlamented Chuka Umunna was its MP, with a massively significant and completely transparent vote in favour of switching the CLP’s decision-making meetings to an all-member (AMM) ‘one member, one vote’ system.

By contrast, the right’s attempt now to force it back to the old ‘general committee’ structure – one that has routinely been used by the right to neutralise left-wing membership majorities – is being conducted as opaquely as possible.

A Streatham member described the situation:

We understand that CLP Officers intend to hear a motion on the 27th January at 7:30pm proposing to exclude up to 90% of local members from voting at our monthly constituency meetings.

The motion to scrap all member meetings was put forward at the last Lambeth Co-Op AGM in November but not publicised at the time.

Streatham-based members of Lambeth Co-Op have raised concerns that this item didn’t feature on the agenda in advance of that meeting, whilst others report not receiving meeting notice at all. There are also outstanding questions over whether Lambeth Co-op has paid its affiliation fees for 2021, with our CLP Officers refusing to answer whether or not this is the case.

From start to finish, officers have played fast and loose with the rules and sought to keep the proposed rule change as quiet as possible. The rulebook clearly states that upon receiving such a motion from a branch or an affiliate, “the CLP Secretary shall declare the next-but-one scheduled meeting to be a special all member meeting” to decide whether to change the structure.

Our CLP Secretary is claiming he received this motion literally moments before our last November AMM meeting – which was inquorate. He also claims he disclosed this motion at the end of the meeting – something which is untrue and would otherwise have triggered strong reactions from the left.

Even if it were true, to argue that a passing reference to such a major decision about our democracy in front of an inquorate meeting constitutes a “declaration” hardly satisfies the letter of the law and it tramples over the spirit of the law.

It shouldn’t be too much to ask that members receive proper advance notification of a vote that could totally alter the democratic balance of our local party.

Pushing ahead with this meeting quicker than the specified time frame in the rulebook is bad enough. Perhaps even worse is the fact that our CLP Secretary is suggesting we discuss this as a 10-minute add-on to our next meeting (January 27th) rather than as a “special” meeting as specified by the rules.

Buried in a recent email from our CLP Secretary (16th Jan) was an acknowledgement that “we will be debating the structure of the CLP” at our next meeting, but zero effort has been made to inform members about what this means.

Compare this with Streatham Labour’s decision to move to AMMs three years ago, which came after a thorough debate at branch and CLP level, proper consultation of trade unions and socialist societies and both sides making their case in print and online.

So what’s it really about?

In a really good and detailed article outlining what’s at stake and how the GC system was systematically abused in Streatham, local members Linda Milbourne, Jeremy Isaacs & Rod Smith wrote:

“Under the GC system, branches vote annually for delegates, who in turn vote at monthly CLP meetings. This means members newly arriving in a CLP have to wait until the next annual general meeting for the chance to become a delegate. In Streatham, the GC system formed an effective barrier to newer and particularly more transient younger members – often renting on short tenancies – taking their place in party decision-making structures. It meant that older, more established members were over-represented and created a situation where the CLP was promoting positions and making decisions that a majority of its membership simply didn’t back.

It was a system of elite control, with two classes of members attending monthly meetings: a minority with voting rights and a majority unable to vote. No doubt those advocating for a return to the GC will claim that the AMMs have too many attendees to be manageable, but this overlooks the fact that all Streatham members were allowed to attend monthly CLP meetings under the old system – the difference was that only delegates could vote. The purpose of a GC isn’t crowd control – it’s about restricting the franchise at the top level to members trusted to endorse the position of the group in control of the CLP. It is about maintaining and concentrating power.”

Fundamentally, it’s about restricting top table decision-making to members who can be trusted to endorse the position of the group in control of the CLP – it’s about insulating those at the top from accountability and limiting transparency.

The move follows a series of meetings at which CLP officers have refused to take questions or procedural interventions, conducted closely contested votes by show of hand and refused to hold a ballot on the full slate of delegates nominated by local branches for last year’s Regional Conference.

At the end of the day this is about democracy and the principle of everyone having the same voting rights.
Whoever’s running our CLP, they should be elected by and accountable to all members.

As we struggle with declining levels of membership and activism, prepare for upcoming local elections and attempt to re-engage party members after the hammer-blow of the pandemic, sneaking through this big change, which seriously undermines our party democracy, is the last thing we should be doing.

Another member told Skwawkbox:

This is all about Chuka’s mates wanting to have things back how they like them again and making sure the rest of us don’t get a say or inconvenience them.

Left members in Streatham are asking all local Labour members who support democracy to attend the CLP Zoom meeting at 7.30pm on 27 January to stop the suppression of the hard-won – and properly won – ‘one member, one vote’, open and transparent AMM system. The meeting can be joined via this link at the appropriate time.

If you’re a Labour member in Streatham, do everything you can to attend. Whether you are or not, share this article widely so those who are members hear about it and can mobilise.

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  1. Hmm, and *THIS* is the Party that SteveH so avidly supports!

    And WHO but fascists do all they can to subvert democracy! AND purge the left every-which-way they can think of!!

    PS And for your information, SH posted 34 out of 87 comments in the thread prior to this one – ie 39% of the comments (and posts about 500 comments a week on average).

      1. Allan – …and yet here you are again trying to goad me into a response. One has to wonder why. 🤔

      1. Allan – …and yet here you are again trying to goad me into a response. One has to wonder why. 🤔

        Probably for the exact same reason nobody is
        compelled to respond to you.
        despite you using the very same tactic, time after time, after time.

        Shut your whining, victimised grid, hypocrite.

    1. Allan – Didn’t the self appointed guardians of ‘the left’ disenfranchise themselves by resigning their memberships and now they have been reduced to making a public appeal for support. Perhaps not their cleverest move.
      What are you going to do the next time Labour have a leadership election. There would be absolutely no point in anyone from the SCG standing, ‘the left’ simply don’t have enough votes any more. They’ve all left (no pun intended)

      1. Poor BlueSteveH just can’t get rid of his “Left” problem! There are still more “Left” Members than you can swing a stick at, admittedly less than is usually the case for the Purge, Witch Hunt, Anti-Socialist Bullying, Intimidation, etc, etc by The Nasty Party The Neo-Labour Party PARASITE TORIES, but still enough to persistently overthrow you TORY FILTH in votes, when and where it matters! The best of all is our, “The Left’s”, biggest ‘thank you’ will come from outside The Party and YOU can’t do a single thing about it! We have walked about for 5 years too long with YOUR TORY SCUM Party’s rusty nails stuck in our eye! Time for Justice!

      2. SteveH
        How would you know you cant add up
        If they have cancelled their Direct Debits and not told the party, they can pay the arrears and vote
        New Labour had less than 200,000 members, JC had 650,000, now for the last time you complete pillock how many fingers am I holding up

      3. Typical sycophantic and desperate piece of pathetic spin Mr Heep. Trying to turn the expulsion and bullying of huge numbers of members out of the Party into one which claims they are to blame for resigning.

        You are not just a hypocrite and a fraud but also a liar.

  2. Tough on members, tough on the cause of members: Peace and justice.

    We must oppose Keir Starmer and everything he stands for.

    How can we not?

    1. Is this another of those cases where not enough members turn up to branch meetings to make OMOV viable.

      1. And here it is…it never fails to fail.

        Read the article, oaf, then get back in the bin.

        Our CLP Secretary is claiming he received this motion literally moments before our last November AMM meeting – which was inquorate. He also claims he disclosed this motion at the end of the meeting – something which is untrue and would otherwise have triggered strong reactions from the left.

        Even if it were true, to argue that a passing reference to such a major decision about our democracy in front of an inquorate meeting constitutes a “declaration” hardly satisfies the letter of the law and it tramples over the spirit of the law

      2. Is this another of those cases where not enough members turn up to branch meetings to make OMOV viable.

        OMOV would work and be appropiate if only two or three members turned up. OMOV doesn’t stop woking when turnout is low (of couse, it’s more effective the more members turn up and vote).

  3. And this too, is Corbyn’s fault, because it’d have been easier if he’d done ‘x’ instead of ‘y’…

    Yes, I’m referring to YOU, Mr One-member-one-vote…

    For clarification, and the avoidance of all ambiguity, let’s hear it, soft ollies 😒 let’s all hear your precise definition of democracy; the one that exists in your warped world…Again.

    (In the extremely unlikely event he furnishes us with one, I’d strongly advise the rest of you to take note of any forthcoming answer, judge accordingly, and never cease to remind the brat of his imbeciltiy and hypocrisy In future)

  4. What’s up, wee gobshite?

    Don’t you feel compelled to respond?

    Pffft! 😒

  5. For someone supposedly enjoying their retirement on a far-flung, sin-drenched Caribbean island, you sure do waste a lot of time on here provoking irascible responses, rather than doing more productive, absorbing and amenable things with the time off you’ve supposedly earned.

    Still, you’ve got your young goats to amuse you, eh?😙🎶

  6. Toffee – So you’re agreeing with me that this another of those cases where not enough members turn up to branch meetings to make OMOV viable.

    1. Errrm…No.

      Idiot. Read the article again and at least try to comprehend what went on.

      Hint: I bolded the relevant bit to make it less taxing for ya.

  7. In certain constituencies there has been a strategy employed by the RW which has been designed to slide members into voting for a delegate system. They will:-
    Fail to turn up at meetings to ensure that there is no quorum.
    Leave meetings early to avoid having a quorum for items they don’t like but would lose the vote.
    Bemoan the heavy responsibility placed on officers by so much business being placed on their shoulders.
    “Solve” the problem by getting members to vote for a delegate system.
    Bingo – objective achieved.
    Of course the “problem” could have been addressed by having a smaller quorum which would have prevented meetings being inquorate but, of course, that would have “placed power in the hands of a small number of people” – Mmmmmmm?

  8. If members and former members simply posted on SKWAWKBOX examples of recent manipulation of CLP governance by a factional interest group, we’d quickly see a pattern – and even if only 10 – 25% of all instances examples were identified, we’d soon have certain, hard, quantifiable evidence of the bad-faith, deceit and duplicity that is afoot. (Sadly, there are still some members who do not see the intentional deceit)

    These are not just factional battles for control of CLP’s, they disclose the strategy of the supposed-leadership in their War on Labour, its members, values and purpose.

    1. Well said Qwertboi. In my experience my CLP constantly tried to subvert the rule book on every meeting. The Labour corruption and dishonesty starts from the root and branch of the Party and goes right up to the top. I would suggest the majority of CLP’s are corruptly run. And Mr Turd Polisher can get lost….

  9. And SteveH thinks this Labour party will be open to the idea of PR for Westminster?

    Jeez, naive much?

    Labour’s current leadership are a selfish right-wing clique, only interested in embedding their status as unrepresentative cuckoos squatting in a formerly left-wing party’s nest.

    It’s been revealed the RW Tory defector Christian Wakeford thought “Labour [were] a bunch of c*nts” but that’s apparently okay? It’s the former leader who ‘liked’ a Twitter post pleading for a mural not to be destroyed by the local council, he’s the real villain.

  10. An interesting aside.
    I have been reading about the regulation of Unincorporated Associations (of which the LP is one).
    Intel alia, it is stated that:
    ” Suspension for investigatory purposes is not a penalty and is not governed by the general legal principles in relation to the operation of disciplinary rules in an unincorporated association”. and “The accused member should receive notice of the charges so that he may consider and prepare his defence. He must be afforded a fair opportunity of saying something in his defence.” [N.B. “Saying” not “Writing”] and “Notice of the allegation must be given to the member, detailing the procedural arrangements for a disciplinary hearing. It is not sufficient that a member is given notice of one ground of alleged misdemeanour only to attend the tribunal and be expelled on another ground of which no notice was given.” [N.B. see the phrase “attend the tribunal”] and “The tribunal should also take into account whether the member can reasonably represent himself or requires assistance.” and “The overriding factor should be natural justice. The member is still to be given a fair opportunity to have their say, ask questions and present evidence. The principle is one of fairness.” [N.B. to have their say, ask questions and present evidence.] and “courts maintain a supervisory jurisdiction in regard to procedural fairness but also to the proportionality of any punishment.”

    1. Can’t understand why more don’t pursue this and expulsions(below) more generally. Natural justice demands a fair hearing for those involved. Legally, It seems pretty cut and dry. Even if the mistreated individuals want nothing further to do with Starmer’s party(understandable) they can bring to light their outrageous treatment.

      Exclusive: Bakers’ pres Hodson – ‘Labour told me expulsions unlawful’ (video)

  11. Surely all laws and rules must be followed with reference to a constitution and a bill of rights.And their is the problem….We can refer to human rights but sovereignty of the Crown takes precedent.Put simply this messed up archaic sack of shit is a massive problem for the people but an absolute gold mine for the bottom feeders profession lawyers.

    1. SteveH

      But can Labour convert a Johnson ‘partygate’ backlash into real votes?

      The big polling companies have been commissioned to produce up to 3 or 4 polls a day! – Which we are told is highly unusual , i.e. someone clearly wants to drive home a message Labour are polling better.

      But when polling day comes Labour’s left think of the rotten treatment of the membership, the RW Christian Wakeford, the nasally challenged Rachel Reeves, telling members they are not welcome in her party, or a sneering, smirking, painfully smug Wes Streeting. When they think of that lot will they go put an ‘X’ by the Labour candidate’s name …imo doubtful.

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