By a 2017 conference delegate
Despite the left-wing surges which began in summer 2015, the 2016 Labour Party conference was the first for many years where things shifted to the right. The right organised successfully to push anti-democratic rule changes first through the NEC and then through conference, while the leader’s office did not even try to get rule changes of its own submitted or organise resistance.
Even coordination of submitting policy resolutions was left to relatively small organisations like the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, socialist groups including Workers’ Liberty, and the Momentum NHS network. The leader’s office and the Momentum office, with their much larger reach, did nothing. In fact they seem to have done little to organise for the conference generally. (For more analysis of what happened and why, see here.)
This year (Brighton, 24-27 September) we must try to make things different.
• Constituency Labour Parties are supposed to select their delegates by 7 July. Find out if your CLP has selected theirs yet, and put your name forward. In many places the right may argue for sending small delegations on grounds of cost. With the hugely expanded party membership, we should argue for CLPs to send their full delegation, including youth delegates. Momentum, to give them their due, do seem to be doing some work on getting delegates this time. (If you’ve missed 7 July or think you will, it’s still worth asking, as some CLPs may be able to send in names late.)
• 7 July is also the deadline for CLPs to submit nominations for the more left-wing candidates for the Conference Arrangements Committee and National Constitutional Committee. See the CLPD website.
• And 7 July is also the deadline for rule changes, which will be heard at the 2018 conference. The Clarion is supporting the rule change promoted by the Stop the Labour Purge campaign to end the expulsion of socialist activists from the Labour Party on grounds of their support for particular organisations or currents within Labour. Please put it to your CLP to send to conference.
See also the 11 (yes!) positive democratic rule changes on a wide range of issues, from how the party leader is nominated to making it easier for CLPs to deselect MPs and send motions and rule changes to conference, which CLPD is working to get submitted to the conference. The question arises: will the leadership and Momentum pull their weight to get these rule changes submitted and passed?
• CLPs that have not submitted rule changes can submit “contemporary resolutions” on policy from the start of August – under current rules (which one of the CLPD rule changes seek to change) these resolutions must refer to “contemporary” events from the start of August. Last year Momentum NHS had success in significantly developing Labour’s NHS policy after getting 22 CLPs to submit a version of its text, despite promoting the resolution on a shoe-string.
We imagine they will have another push this year. CLPD will also promote policy resolutions, as will The Clarion. Watch this space.
• Whether you’re a delegate/observer or not, come and help the left at the conference. If you’d like to work with The Clarion there, get in touch.
For help with or ideas for any of these things, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org