“The Tory-lite approach outlined so tediously in Keir Starmer’s Fabian pamphlet can neither address the multiple crises we face nor inspire the necessary voters to vote for it. They therefore resort to expelling members & shutting down structures that might dare to present a different view.”
By Rachel Garnham, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy Vice-Chair.
Delegates are gathering in Brighton for what appears to be the most crucial Labour Party conference since the early days of Blairism – certainly the biggest attacks on Party democracy in a generation. The Leadership appears determined to push through “reforms” constituting a bureaucratic power grab “by fair means or foul” – mainly foul it seems, with reports of more left delegates suspended on spurious, and in many cases outrageous, grounds on a daily basis. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Leadership is incapable of winning the political argument about the future direction of the Labour Party – we know that the Tory-lite approach outlined so tediously in Keir Starmer’s Fabian pamphlet can neither address the multiple crises we face nor inspire the necessary voters to vote for it. They therefore resort to expelling members and shutting down structures that might dare to present a different view.
Despite the Leadership’s best efforts there is still a semblance of democracy left at Annual Conference, which will have the opportunity to reject this rotten and self-defeating agenda though a series of key votes:
- Still to be confirmed NEC rule changes reversing elements of the Democracy Review and making it harder to have a democratic choice of Leadership candidates. REJECT.
- The opportunity to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn MP through a CLP rule change that would allow decisions on PLP disciplinary matters (not breaches of Party rulebook which is a separate process) to be held to account by Conference. SUPPORT
- The opportunity to reject the endorsement of David Evans as General Secretary and ask the NEC to think again. He has so far presided over a regime of factionalism, restrictions of free speech and electoral meltdown. VOTE AGAINST ENDORSEMENT AND DEMAND A CARD VOTE.
- Policy debates will take up the majority of Conference time. We need an agenda that can take the fight to the Tories and put forward measures that will rebuild public services, invest in our economy, tackle the climate emergency, reduce inequality and build peace and justice internationally. This means building on the policies of the 2017 and 2019 manifestos not watering them down, as appears to be the goal.
- Rule changes from the NEC will take our disciplinary processes from bad to worse introducing a new system badged as ‘independent’ but in no sense actually independent, or transparent or accountable, which will entrench factionalism and breaches natural justice. VOTE AGAINST and SUPPORT Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance candidates for the National Constitutional Committee – Anna Dyer, Emine Ibrahim, Annabelle Harle and Rheian Davies – who will support members’ rights.
Delegates will need to be on their toes – there will be a lot going on, most of which is designed by the leadership to take the Party backwards; to concentrate power in the hands of the (mainly unelected) few not the many; and seemingly leave us with a rotting corpse of a Party. This appears to some to be a price worth paying if it means the left can never return to power, and they don’t seem to mind if it also means Labour doesn’t return to power either.
We desperately need a Labour government, and as a first step, a Labour Party that will fight the Tories and inspire an electoral coalition to kick out the Tories and put forward a political agenda that can address the crises of our time. This means an active, dynamic Party where members and trade unions are valued. This Conference has many opportunities to take steps to repair some of the damage inflicted by the current Leadership. Good luck comrades!