GCs or All Member Meetings – which should the left support?

By Michael Chessum, Streatham Hill Branch Labour Secretary

What structure should the Labour left back for CLPs?

At this year’s party conference, new rules were adopted which enable local parties to switch between GC delegate structures and All Members’ Meetings (AMMs). In Streatham where I live the GC is dominated by the right, and there are moves to change to an AMM structure. This will get voted on (by all members) later this month.

We’re being asked to choose between a bad system and a worse system. Only problem is I’m not sure which is which!

On the one hand, switching AMMs will abolish the union link in terms of seats at GC (because you won’t need to get delegated from anywhere). It will also mean that members will have to attend two, rather than one, meetings per month, in order to keep up (those who refuse to stand for GC often do so because they don’t have time for two meetings). Branches (ward parties) may stop functioning, and that would mean having no specific forum in which you can hold your councillors to account.

On the other hand, the current system of GC is a joke. Elections to GC happen once a year and are First Past The Post – so the winning slate can sweep the board in wards. So if you’re a new member you basically can’t get involved in CLP level politics until the AGM, and then if you lose your election you have to wait another year. Union branches can affiliate loads of delegates to the GC with very little oversight. Community (the steel workers’ union, whose political office is influenced by Progress) mysteriously had loads of delegates at the AGM this year. No one, other than a tight group of people at the top, has a list of who is on the GC (I’m on the CLP EC and don’t have it). Is there a systematic fraud at GC level? To be honest I really doubt it, but how the hell would I know?

Personally I’d be in favour of a compromise where the CLP AGM is all members but it’s GCs the rest of the year. But apparently that can’t happen.

So – which is bad, and which is worse?

The Clarion will be publishing a range of views and contributions on this issue. The more the better. Please send us your view – to publish or otherwise – at theclarionmag@gmail.com. Also feel free to post comments below.

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