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.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A seamless transition

The usual suspects have gone straight from bemoaning betrayal by Blair to bemoaning betrayal by Brown.

Brown tabled a fairly innocuous set of party structural proposals at the NEC meeting on the day he became leader - the document is here - designed to give members more power in policy making - which you would think would be popular:

"Proposal 1: A commitment to give greater support to local Labour Parties in holding Policy Forums and creating a duty on the NPF to better consult, engage and involve party members in policy discussions.
Proposal 2: Strengthen the NPF with a regular work plan and meeting schedule, an open and constant dialogue with ministers and a greater ability to provide feedback to party members and stakeholders.
Proposal 3: The JPC will take on an enhanced executive function in relation to the operation of the NPF and the PiP process, meeting every two months. A new group of JPC Officers will lead the committee and have regular meetings with government ministers to ensure ongoing dialogue.
Proposal 4: Annual Conference to be given a more substantial role in directing and monitoring the work of the NPF. 12 NPF representatives will be directly elected by Conference in order to reinforce the links between the two institutions in light of the new contemporary issues process.
Proposal 5: A new contemporary issues process through which party units would be able to submit issues, following proper consultation, for consideration in the priorities ballot at Annual Conference. Each issue that succeeds in the ballot will be debated at Conference and be included in a work programme in the relevant policy commission.
Proposal 6: The final policy documents agreed by the National Policy Forum will be the subject of an OMOV ballot.
Proposal 7: Support for local parties and Labour Groups to consult and engage their communities."

We need to think carefully about the detail of this, but the thrust is a genuine effort to give members more power over real policy making - as opposed to the meaningless political theatre of contemporary resolutions at Conference.

The knee-jerk reaction and howls of outrage from Peter Kenyon and Susan Press about this and about the new mechanisms for involving backbench MPs more in the manifesto-writing process suggests there are some in the party who are more interested in perpetuating a culture of grievance, betrayal and distrust of the leadership, just because they are the leadership, rather than taking at face value what they are trying to do.

People of a less cynical disposition can submit constructive comments via their Party MpURL.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

Thanks for the plug. If I had been chair of the National Executive Committee then the Brown paper bounced through the NEC on 24 June would have been referred to Org Sub. It has little to commend it. I could paste the 26,121 - word LabOUR Commission Interim Report into the Comment section for 'consultation' on 'Extending and renewing Party Democracy. But instead it was put through the proper channels to the NEC with a covering letter from our chair, Angela Eagle MP. Separate statements from both the LabOUR Commission and Save the Labour Party about the Brown paper can be expected shortly.

1:35 pm, July 02, 2007

 
Anonymous Michael said...

It's more than a bit worrying that only individual submissions will be accepted rather than by Party units.

It seems that nothing has changed at the top despite protestations to the country.

1:58 pm, July 02, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Michael

of course party units can send submissions. Just write to Peter Watt.

2:08 pm, July 02, 2007

 
Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

"of course party units can send submissions. Just write to Peter Watt."

That is some what disingenuous of you. You may have a hotline to Peter Watt. But the rest of us mere members are still awaiting acknowledgements, let alone replies.

The resources simply aren't in place at HO, and there is no plan to put them at the disposal of servicing party democracy.

2:22 pm, July 02, 2007

 
Anonymous tim f said...

"The resources simply aren't in place at HO, and there is no plan to put them at the disposal of servicing party democracy."

This is an interesting point. Personally, at a time when the party's resources are stretched to breaking point, I'd like to see them used on campaigning and winning elections rather than on internal matters - even when those internal matters are something as important as consulting the party about the next manifesto.

When it comes to the crunch, I hope and expect winning elections will be the priority for those who get to make the decisions about allocation of party spending, too.

So we should be careful of any changes which get rid of straightforward procedures in favour of methods that take a lot of resources (esp time or staff resources) to function properly. Simple procedures that every party member can understand at a glance and participate in without lots of spare time are almost always preferable, in my view.

3:28 pm, July 02, 2007

 
Blogger grimupnorth said...

Luke, yes it sounds inocuous. But we have learned from past mistakes. The devil, as ever, is in the detail.
Point 1: This hasn't even been discussed by the NEC, never mind approved....#just foisted on us as usual. Worst of all is.....
Proposal 5: A new contemporary issues process through which party units would be able to submit issues, following proper consultation, for consideration in the priorities ballot at Annual Conference. Each issue that succeeds in the ballot will be debated at Conference and be included in a work programme in the relevant policy commission.

What does this mean?
1. NO CONTEMPORARY OR EMERGENCY RESOLUTIONS.
2. No votes at all at Conference ( so no point in going )
3.No embarrassing defeats for the leadership (no wonder Luke's a fan)
Yes, it's Welcome to Albania all over again. Not content with getting to be Leader without an election, Gordon now wants TOTAL CONTROL over the Party. Debating issues without adopting policy platforms is anti-democratic nonsense and, as the NPFs have shown time and time again, a waste of time . It's also, surprise surprise an attempt to get rid of the last pitiful shreds of Party democracy and REAL Labour policy.
Which issues have been debated in recent years at behest of CLPs and trade unions ? Iraq, railway re-nationalisation, NHS privatisation, secondary picketing and trade union rights.
Under this control freakery, any dissent would just be buried and ignored.Oh, and you could forget rule change motions too. Stifling the last vestiges of debate, as Gordon intends,, is NOT acceptable. I urge everyone to express this in the strongest possible terms on the website

6:09 pm, July 02, 2007

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

It can be well meaning and also wrong Luke. I think ascribing evil motives to this is silly. Just deal with the facts of the proposals. And they're not too clever. There is already a rallification of conference and decisions count for little. There is also a drop off of CLPs sending delegates.

But having said that delegate selection is a very long way from being democratic (at all points in the political spectrum).

I will be interested to see the LC and StLP responses and to debate these changes within the Labour Party units and affiliates to which I belong.

Presumably Bournemouth is on old rules.

9:01 pm, July 02, 2007

 
Blogger grimupnorth said...

It's not about "evil motives" -this is the logical next step in New Labour's deliberate control freakery and "rallification" of Conference. I have been to four conferences in the last five years so I don't need telling what's going on here.No, it's not clever. But to pretend Brown isn't aware what the implications are is pretty "silly" too.

7:50 am, July 03, 2007

 

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