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.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

At Conference

24 hours in Bournemouth already - time flies when you are having fun.

My NPF election looks like it is going down to the wire, with 7 of the 10 London candidates having some chance of getting elected. Voting closes noon tomorrow.

I missed the Chancellor's speech as I was enjoying delicious haddock and chips at the Westbeach on the sea front, which calls itself Britain's best seafood restaurant and deserves the hype.

The debate on party reform was low key, as the four main unions' mature approach to negotiations before conference meant the sting had been taken out of it. The only significant opposition speeches were from Michael Meacher, discredited by his weird leadership campaign, and Tower Hamlets' veteran hard leftie Belle Harris. Hardly a winning oratorical combo.

However, as Tom Watson said in the post-debate briefing for bloggers (an excellent innovation by the party) the ramifications are huge, as we are finally moving towards the style of deliberative policy making favoured by the highly successful Nordic social democratic and labour parties - and both decentralising power to members at the start of the process and giving them the final say in an OMOV ballot at the end. It's going to require a big input of resources by the Party into policy making but hopefully we'll see quality policies as a result.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect some comrades will remain fearful of the Nordic approach to policy making and that they will be marginalised. However I think they have less to fear than they think.

At present we face a situation:

a) CLP's bizarrely not having good online debates on their conference intervention in August just because they don't have meetings.

b) The last minute "we should put something in" discussion following a 30 minute debate at an early September GC. Is this adequate level of debate for the few hundred words submitted?

The problem is that these things tend to be done at the last minute, so half the time model motions are used - which frankly are a bit of a waste of the local knowledge within an average CLP. What CLP's should do is select an issue to promote at least 6 months ahead and then look at ways to promote it, through lobbying NPF CLP and trade union reps as well as debating and writing up a detailed submission. In August, rather than go to sleep, just because there are no meetings, the CLP could have an online debate as to the preparation of its submission and then have a final formal discussion prior to submitting their issue for conference. That strikes me as a more in-depth procedure than 30 minutes or less spent at a September GC once a year.

What is also needed is CLP's to work together on the specialist subjects they have prioritised so they maximise their lobbying case to the NPF. This is no different to what the TU's do at the NPF. Indeed, it probably makes sense for CLP's to seek to become specialists in certain policy areas and to build their knowledge in them to more effectively contribute along with other CLP's in various part of the country they want to co-operate with. Online discussion could make this more practical than the past. In the past some people would have been nervous of this sort of co-operation, but we should encourage it nowadays.

Cross regional networks of "specialist" CLP's could work together on policy. The party could even recognise this with policy development awards for innovation in involving members and the public.

In saying all the above, I should add my CLP put in a motion that did get on the agenda this time and it wasn't a loyalist one. However I do think the new system should make us work a little harder rather than the current process where 95.5% of members of the CLP were not present at the meeting that we agreed the motion. We do need to create wider involvement over a long period, rather than be apocalyptic about the current changes.

Indeed we already have a 100 page online resource of local views on national policy that we can already cull submissions on in future. At some stage we will develop this into a CLP policy wiki for members collectively develop. It would be great if bloggers like you and places like Labour Home develop these much more detailed "Labour Policy Digest" web resources so that CLP and branch activists can draw down ideas for debate and insertion in submissions, rather than only have the 8-10 resolutions coming out of the Derer home in north west London.

11:06 am, September 24, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oi! you dumb f*ckhead. Just how difficult is it for you to type OPOV rather than OMOV? Get with the programme.

3:59 am, September 25, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

The "M" stands for Member so it is OMOV. You're the dumb one.

11:46 am, September 25, 2007


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