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.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What's really in the Brown proposals

We are hearing such a lot of noise about the sacred cow of "Contemporary Resolutions" being slaughtered that the other aspects of the "Extending and Renewing Party Democracy" have been ignored.

The package as a whole is actually a coherent one deserving of its title. It's a shame a few siren voices have reacted with such venom towards proposals that came out of the soft left and the Cruddas campaign rather than from the right of the Party.

The full package that went through the NEC this week is:

Part One:Involving every party member in policy making
• A duty on all party units to engage and consult with their members and in their communities
• Support for holding local policy forums in constituencies and the holding of Regional Policy Forums
• Invitation to every member to take part in discussions on policy
• More opportunities for party members and the National Policy Forum (NPF) to debate current as well as future policy
• More feedback on the work of Partnership in Power (PiP) so that members can follow the debates
• Extending opportunities for online engagement at a national and local level
• Local parties to work closely with trade unions on local engagement and campaigns
• Socialist societies and other Labour-supporting groups to be involved in supporting local activity where possible

Part Two:Strengthening the institutions of our policy making process
• Greater ministerial engagement with the National Policy Forum, policy commissions and local policy forums
• Greater clarity on timetable for consultations on policy documents and on the meetings of key Partnership in Power institutions
• Utilise new technology where possible to improve communication on the work of the NPF and policy commissions, improve feedback on their work and communication with NPF representatives
• Joint Policy Committee to take on an enhanced executive role in relation to the operation of Partnership in Power and the NPF
• Increased number of NPF constituency and affiliate representatives on the JPC and Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) Chair to be ex-officio JPC member
• CAC to be expanded to include NPF representation
• New contemporary issues process at Annual Conference
• Ballot of the membership on the party programme

Part Three: An outward looking, engaging party
• Local parties to engage and co-operate with local community groups, NGOs and campaigns
• Local parties to maximise member involvement
• Encouragement and support for new members and for young members
• Support for local parties to innovate in devising methods of engagement
• Duty on Labour representatives to take a lead in promoting local engagement

On the most contentious bit, the process replacing Contemporary Resolutions is:
"The Contemporary issues process at Conference:
1. Party units will be entitled to submit one contemporary issue each year, on any issue not substantially addressed through the PiP process. Submitting party units will be able to provide a statement that sets out what the issue is and why the issue should be prioritised in the National Policy Forum.
2. After the deadline for the submission of issues, the CAC will consider whether the issues submitted meet agreed criteria, and group the issues by subject. The CAC report to Annual Conference will outline progress to date on each issue.
3. A priorities ballot will then take place at the start of conference to determine which issues shall be timetabled for debate.
4. The top four priority issues selected by CLPs in their ballot will be timetabled, as will the top four priority issues selected by affiliates.
5. Following the ballot, delegates from the submitting organisations for each successful issue subject shall meet with the relevant policy commission co-convenors, and with relevant ministers to discuss the progress to date on the issue and how the issue might be resolved.
6. The meeting will also decide on two guaranteed speakers from amongst the submitting organisations’ delegates who can propose and second that Conference agrees that the issue should be timetabled for detailed deliberation by the NPF. If there are differing views on the issue amongst the submitting organisations’ delegates then the proposer and seconders chosen should, as far as possible, reflect these differences.
7. The subject groupings that have been agreed will be properly timetabled during Conference week and, subject to the vote of Conference. Therefore each debate will conclude with a vote at which conference will be invited to agree that the issue should be timetabled for discussion deliberation and investigation by the NPF.
8. During the debate on conference floor, policy commission co-convenors will have the opportunity to indicate how the commission will take forward the issue in response to the debate
9. If the vote is carried then the relevant policy commission will fully integrate the issue into their workplan for the year with the proposer and seconder fully engaged in the Policy Commission discussions on this issue over the next year."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent. I assume by the lask of other comments that Grimupnorth, Doctor Dunc, E10 Rifle et al have carried through with their threats and resigned from the Party.

10:41 pm, September 20, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

I think the question is 'how', though, Luke. PiP sounded great in theory but in practice, it didn't manage to involve members at all.

11:05 pm, September 20, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

No such luck anonymous abuser, just been busy, you know, working and stuff. We've discussed it at length on the other thread though.

12:55 am, September 21, 2007

Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

Let's cut through the waffle and concentrate on what has actually happened to Housing policy over the past three years. This is the policy area cited as having been the focus of a special NPF working group for the last two years.

OK, if the new system is going to be such an improvement let's have a report at the 2007 Conference and a vote to decide whether the outcomes have support or not.

I suspect you will have to wait longer for that than Jed's pass.

1:33 am, September 21, 2007

Blogger grimupnorth said...

Er, no. Been busy mobilising support against.....

8:59 am, September 21, 2007

Blogger Hughes Views said...

There are two rather good letters about this in the Guardian today.

It's sad to see that some who think themselves to be on the radical left are falling into the 'the old ways are the best' trap. I suspect that its the commitment being placed on every Labour body to consult with the wider population (and not just the dozen or so out of 75,000 constituents who turn up at meetings) that might be alarming some of the political fantasists and idealists.

9:33 am, September 21, 2007

Blogger Jackson Jeffrey Jackson said...

"I suspect that its the commitment being placed on every Labour body to consult with the wider population (and not just the dozen or so out of 75,000 constituents who turn up at meetings) that might be alarming some of the political fantasists and idealists."

Then you'd be laughably wrong.

But you probably already know that.

What's with "the new ways are always the best" claptrap as well?

10:03 am, September 21, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


my understanding is that the housing policy report is being tabled at conference this week and a vote will be taken on it.

10:09 am, September 21, 2007

Anonymous Dan said...

So champions of the deliberative policy process that the NPF was supposed but failed to be are now championing a party plebiscite on the manifesto on a yes/no, take-it-or-leave-it basis?

Token democracy, anyone?

10:55 am, September 21, 2007


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