Labour Must Listen to Members & Affiliates


“Party members & unions have real experience of the problems the Tories have created & know what a government needs to deliver.”


By the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy

The voices of elected delegates are being marginalised at this Conference. Proceedings have been dominated by platform speakers and panel discussions. A small number of composites have barely been discussed. And when Conference agreed a policy on ticket offices and rail and energy infrastructure that is better than the leadership’s policy, we were simply told it won’t be implemented.

Tory support has collapsed, so a Labour government is within our grasp. Unfortunately, Labour’s leadership is not advocating polices capable of tackling the scale of problems – relating to the economy, cost of living, climate change and rebuilding public services. The agenda of big business, which the Tories are implementing is, of course, worsening the situation. Tinkering with that agenda and rebadging it “Labour” won’t lead to success.

Party members and trade unions have real experience of the problems the Tories have created and know what a government needs to deliver.

No doubt, it may be difficult to secure better policies, but we can’t afford to give up. The stakes are high. The Party needs to listen to members and affiliates, as we can point the way to success – not first term failure.

Stop Turning the Clock Back on Equalities

During the 1980s, members fought through Labour’s women’s and black sections for serious action to address under-representation, including through all-women short- lists, and for a more progressive policy agenda to address racism and inequality. Under Tony Blair’s leadership and “Partnership in Power”, active democratic equality structures were abolished or run down.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, and the Democracy Review, more women, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and Disabled members were inspired and empowered to get involved. New structures for Disabled and BAME members were created (but, shame- fully, never enacted by the current Leader- ship despite being enshrined in the rule book). The Labour’s Women’s Organisation gained a proper structure which should be empowering and inspiring a new generation of women members and candidates and put- ting women’s priorities at the heart of Labour’s policy agenda.

Instead equalities have been under- resourced; the Women’s Committee and Young Labour have no support, with organisation of Saturday’s Women’s Conference treated as an afterthought and inconvenience. Issues of institutional racism, sexism and ableism, underlined in many cases by the Forde report, remain denied and unaddressed.

The removal of equality officers as voting members of Executive Committees is just the latest in a long line of examples of how the current Labour Leadership has no interest in engaging members and trade unionists who are women, young, BAME, disabled or LGBT or promoting dynamic, inclusive, self-organised democratic structures that can engage with diverse communities and voters. As Susan Matthews of Unite so eloquently put it on Monday, Labour’s leadership is turning back the clock on equalities.

But women, BAME, disabled, LGBT and young members must be listened to for a Labour government to be successful. The NEC should reverse these changes as soon as possible and implement the rulebook to engage our diverse membership.

Listen to women Hearing the powerful resolutions from Labour’s Women’s Conference yesterday (violence against women and girls; equal pay) and powerful contributions from members of Labour’s Women’s Committee like Unite’s Ruth Hayes and GMB’s Sonya Davis underlines how important the Women’s Conference and Committee is as part of Labour’s structures. This year’s Women’s Conference has been last- minute, poorly communicated and under- resourced. Labour must do better if it is to truly deliver for women.

  • The 2 articles above are reproduced from CLPD’s daily bulletin at Labour Party Conference. Read all the bulletins from this year at

Featured image: Press photographers at the 2016 Labour Party Conference. Photo credit: Rwendland under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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