A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Renewing the Party

I spent yesterday evening debating against Graham Bash of Labour Left Briefing at my CLP GC in Hackney North & Stoke Newington.

The subject was Gordon Brown's proposals on renewing Party democracy, plus a more general reaction to Brown's first month.

As you might expect, I was upbeat and welcomed the way things are heading.

Graham presented a gloomy picture of a Party in terminal decline, about to be subjected to a regime of control-freakery that he described variously as "Orwellian" and "Kafkaesque". It is fair to say that Graham thinks Brown is more of a threat to the left than Blair was because he will be more focused on the internal politics of the Party. You can read Briefing's position on the proposals here.

We voted on the proposals one by one:

Proposal 1: greater support to local Labour Parties in holding Policy Forums etc. PASSED 14-0 (3 abstentions)
Proposal 2: Strengthen the NPF with a regular work plan etc. PASSED 15-0 (2 abstentions)
Proposal 3: The JPC will take on an enhanced executive function etc. PASSED 9-8
Proposal 4: Annual Conference to be given a more substantial role in directing and monitoring the work of the NPF, 12 new NPF reps elected at Conference etc. PASSED 8-8 on chair's casting vote
Proposal 5: A new contemporary issues process replaced contemporary resolutions. FELL with no votes against and 1 abstention
Proposal 6: The final policy documents agreed by the National Policy Forum will be the subject of an OMOV ballot. PASSED 8-7
Proposal 7: Support for local parties and Labour Groups to consult and engage their communities. PASSED 12-3

Then we added our own Proposal 8: CLP Representatives on the NPF to be elected by OMOV: PASSED 11-2


Anonymous susan calder valley CLP said...

Don't quite understand vote on contemporary motions.... was CLP in favour of replacement or not......????? (sounds like not)

10:03 am, July 27, 2007

Blogger Jackson Jeffrey Jackson said...

CLP was against getting rid of contemporary motions.

Luke, why don't you post up the Leabridge motion which was also passed?

10:11 am, July 27, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

As Rory says CLP was against getting rid of contemporary resolutions.

We also passed this text - which Graham felt contradicted some of the voting, but I thought wasn't necessarily incompatible with it:

"If we are to rebuild the Party and reinvigorate our campaigning activity and electoral fortunes, members must have ownership of the policy-making process and be able to demonstrate to the community that our elected representatives act on party policy.
- Our representative annual conference must remain as the sovereign policy making body of the party.
- Party units must be able to submit contemporary resolutions to Annual Conference.
- Annual Conference must have the final vote on policy documents developed by the NPF.
- The National Policy Forum (NPF) and party policy making process to be made more democratic and accountable, and allow much greater involvement of party units and members.
- NPF policy documents should be subject to amendment and reference back by party annual conference.
- All party units must retain their current rights of involvement in the party’s policy making process."

10:19 am, July 27, 2007

Anonymous Andrea said...

what's wrong with policy documents agreed by the National Policy Forum passing through an OMOV ballat?

10:22 am, July 27, 2007

Blogger Jackson Jeffrey Jackson said...

Andrea, do you mean individual documents rather than a full manifesto?

That wouldn't be a bad thing unless it replaced the ability of party bodies to amend documents. A simple Y or N ballot is no substitute for a process of amendment and debate but could follow it.

10:47 am, July 27, 2007

Anonymous susan calder valley said...

glad you voted against getting rid of contemporary motions.....the resolution good too.

11:11 am, July 27, 2007

Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

The problem with the OMOV ballot on the NPF policy documents or the Manifesto is that it is tokenistic - some say Albanian politics.

Experience with the Manifesto OMOV ballot in 1996 was low turnout (initially) followed by a bill for £500,000 to get turnout and support up over 50%.

Much better to deal with the underlying problems of policy formulation, and use indirect indicators - rising membership, rising activism, numbers of local policy forums, voter ID returns, standing in polls, election results - to judge whether the policy package is a winning formula.

11:47 am, July 27, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...


For a traditional lenninst operating on a 'vanguardist' perspective (the working class can never move beyond a trade union consciousness) the most important thing is for an educated cadre to seize the upper eschelon's of the party machinery and then make a series of transitional demands, progressively more unmeetable under capitalism, and thus educate the masses and casue a reoccuring series of political and economic crises, each more serious than the last, until revolution occurs.

Basically they just don't like the proles because the proles never agree with them.

11:59 am, July 27, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Forward with resolutions! How the capitalist class trmebles when they hear of the resolutions of our uncrushable Labour Movement! Words will smash imperialism! Our glorious composites will liberate the toiling masses! Don't forget to refer back the report of the running dogs of the standing orders committee!

What a joke.

Truth is, the Labour far left love to pass resolutions because it absolves them from actually doing anything.

4:10 pm, July 27, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a bizarre, unfounded piece of weirdness.

8:27 pm, July 27, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

This sounds like it was a good discussion with nicely polarised (if rather stereotyped - right vanguardists joyous, protectors of the class dour) and a reasonable set of results too.

Far better I think than Luke simply getting his way with no discussion as would presumably happen if the left were purged. Well done to JJJ for forcing the LA to post the Leabridge motion.

11:31 pm, July 27, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

PS I hope that young Bash wasn't moaning about CP not sorting out his hotel requirement for September 2008???

11:34 pm, July 27, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...


When will Hackney Council leave Broadway Market alone? You have no mandate to go in there and destroy a thriving and sustainable community.

Of course, as a Hackney councillor, we never see any community discussion on this blog, just Labour committee tedium. Why don't you go back to being a political assistant, representative politics is obviously not your thing.

2:29 pm, August 01, 2007

Anonymous Ravi said...

On a slightly related point, I have been invited to attend a trigger vote in my constituency (Liverpool Halewood and Garston CLP).
Our MP is Maria Eagle. I may have political differences with her (top up fees, foundation hospitals and Iraq. I also asked if she could nominate John McDonnell- though I knew it was a longshot!) but she has always been very friendly to me, even her put down letter was very nice! She is well known in Liverpool (well all my collegues at work seem to have heard of her) and she is a good constituency MP. On top of all that she got me my wheelie bin, hardly a vote to renationalise the railway but its all good in my book!

2:53 pm, August 01, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ravi, that compares interestingly with "cuddly", "lefty" Frank Dobson. Though not my MP, a couple of people I know contacted him extrremely politely to see if he would nominate McDonnell and got a reply along the lines of "no, as I think an election contest would be bad for the party". When they wrote back pointing out the flaws (and lack of democracy) in this theory, they got another, much ruder letter, along the lines of "bugger off, and I don't care if you never vote for me again because I've got a massive majority anyway."

3:19 pm, August 01, 2007

Anonymous Andrea said...

"and I don't care if you never vote for me again because I've got a massive majority anyway"

it's not that massive anymore...and that kind of attitude is exactly what produces 10% swing to LDs (even if the LDs didn't apparently worked the seat in 2005)

3:45 pm, August 01, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

17 people at a Hackney Labour Party General Committee? Even for
August that's pretty pathetic. I joined the Labour Party in the 1970s and was an active member in the 1980s when we had hundreds at GC meetings. Graham Bash was there then, no wonder he's depressed.

It's no wonder you are getting beaten by Respect in Tower Hamlets!

11:23 pm, August 13, 2007


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