Democratic reforms – what conference agreed

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This is far from a thorough summary, let alone an exhaustive one, of every constitutional change passed at Labour Party conference. It indicates what we regard as some of the most important changes, and the votes cast for them. We will publish a more comprehensive survey, as well as analysis of the significance of these changes and the votes on them soon.

Note: Constituency Labour Party delegates have half the votes at conference and delegates from affiliated trade unions half.

Threshold for opening up parliamentary selections lowered

Conference agreed the NEC’s proposal to lower the threshold for opening a constituency selection contest from a majority of all party units (ward branches and affiliates, primarily affiliated union branches) to one third of either wards or affiliates. That makes it much easier to get a contest. However CLP delegates revolted against the fact that fully ‘open selections’ (ie an automatic selection in every CLP before every election) were being kept off the agenda. 90.5pc voted to discuss open selection, but were narrowly outgunned by almost 98pc of union votes. As a result about 66pc of CLP delegates voted against the NEC’s 1/3 or 1/3 proposal, in protest.

Leadership nominations altered

Conference agreed the NEC’s proposal to maintain the 10pc of MPs necessary to get nominated to stand for leader (it was 15pc when Corbyn first stood), but add a requirement for support from 5pc of CLPs or 5pc of affiliated unions by membership. However, once again 70pc of CLP delegates voted against the change in protest at the failure to lower or abolish the threshold for MPs’ nominations.

Policy motions – contemporary criterion scrapped, number increased

Conference overwhelmingly agreed the NEC’s proposal to remove the contemporary criterion for submitting policy resolutions to conference. Now motions will no longer have to refer to events taking place after the publication of the National Policy Forum report in early August. Conference also agreed that conference should be able to discuss a larger number of topics each year.

One year delay on rule changes scrapped

Despite 61pc of union votes being cast against, the proposal from several CLPs to abolish the practice of delaying rule changes for a year after their submission was easily passed with 90pc of the CLP vote and 65pc overall.

Conference will now have standing orders

Despite 69pc of union votes going against, conference voted 64pc overall and with 99pc of the CLP vote for a CLP proposal to introduce standing orders outlining “procedures for: the conference timetable, procedure in debate, motions, composite motions, emergency motions, withdrawal and remittance of motions, reference back, point of order, chair’s ruling, suspension of Standing Orders, voting, including full procedures for card votes, ending debate and the role of the CAC. These Standing Orders will be presented to the first session of each Party Conference in a CAC report for agreement by the conference.”

Other changes

Young Labour will now have an annual conference which can submit motions and rule changes to national conference. However, more details about the structures and processes remain to be sorted out.

The conference also agreed NEC proposals on a charter of members’ rights and on reforming local, regional and equalities structures.

It agreed to significantly expand the National Constitutional Committee, which adjudicates constitutional arguments and also deals with many disciplinary cases – from 11 to 25 (eight new union seats and six CLP ones).

Discussion of changes to local government and policy-making processes have been postponed till next year.

Three CLPs which had submitted the rule change to remove the nonsensical ban on support for “a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” remitted it because they feared defeat. However, a watered down version from a fourth CLP went ahead and was defeated 3-1; but despite confusion and not much campaigning around it – which we will explain elsewhere – it received 48pc of the CLP vote.

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