Unravelling the NEC decisions.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party met on Tuesday 18th September to discuss amongst other things, the recommendations flowing from the Democracy Review.
Although no formal report has been made, comments have appeared in the Press, on some websites and from members of the NEC who were in attendance.
I have attempted to trawl through these comments and decipher what was actually agreed. Here is my summary;
- Contemporary motions
Currently CLPs can submit one contemporary motion to Conference. In order to qualify as a contemporary motion, it must conform to certain criteria. In brief it must be on a topic not covered in the National Policy Forum (NPF) report and it must be related to an issue which has arisen since the publication of the NPF report.
It is proposed that in future the contemporary motion criteria will be abolished. Instead CLPs will be free to submit motions on any topic. It is not clear whether CLPs will be limited to only one motion although that appears to be likely. Trade Unions with more than 100,000 members may be able to submit two motions.
On the other hand it had been proposed that CLPs may in future submit both a motion and a rule change in any one year; that the 3 year rule for rule changes be abolished; that the 1 year delay for CLP/TU rule changes also be abolished. The single vote on all of these proposals was tied and therefore not carried.
- Topics for debate at Conference
Currently trade unions and CLPs hold a ballot to decide on 4 topics to be debated at conference. The unions and CLP representatives usually seek to avoid overlapping so this means that 8 topics can feature on the conference agenda.
It is proposed that in future affiliates and CLPs can each vote for 10 topics to appear on the Agenda. This means that there is the prospect of debates taking place on 20 policy areas determined by conference rather than conference being dominated by debates around National Policy Forum reports.
- The National Policy Forum
It had been suggested that the National Policy Forum would be abolished and that in it’s place there would be a series of NEC Policy Committees to which would be invited CLP representatives.
The NEC agreed to defer a decision about changing the role of the party’s national policy forum, instead opting to kick off a wide-ranging review of the way Labour makes policy.
- Electing the leader
Various formulations have been trailed regarding the number of nominations required for a candidate to get on the ballot.
What had been floated at the last meeting of the NEC was a new system which would allow a candidate to get nominated with the backing of just 5% of MPs (the current threshold is 10%) so long as either 10% of local constituency parties, or 10% of unions, also nominated them.
This time the NEC considered a proposal that a future leader would require not only the support of 10% of MPs and local parties but would now also require the support of two trade unions that account for 5% of ‘affiliated’ members. No agreement was reached at the meeting and the issue will be revisited when the NEC meets in Liverpool on Saturday evening (22nd September).
This will make it difficult for any candidate to get on the ballot without trade union support.
- Selecting candidates for Parliament
The mandatory reselection proposal – all MPs having to go through full contests versus challengers – seems dead. The Leader’s office appear to back a reformed trigger process where either 3/10 of branches or 3/10 of affiliates can trigger a contest.
Starting a selection process
In order to have a full selection process, members of a CLP (constituency Labour party) will need to vote for one in a third of their branches. Union members can also cause one if a third of their branches – but, unlike the current situation, their vote has no impact on the democratic outcome in the CLP branches.
The branches’ decision will be by a simple majority in each branch – either a majority of the members who turn up to vote, or possibly including postal votes, depending what is agreed on Saturday.
If a third of branches vote for a selection, there is a selection.
No agreement was reached at the meeting, and this will be reconsidered on Saturday.
- The National Constitution Committee
The Democracy Review proposed that the NCC be increased from 11 members to 25. This was accepted unanimously. The Democracy Review also made the very fair and sensible proposal that the CLP members should have a larger share of the new seats so that on the NCC there would be parity of seats between our political and industrial wings. This proposal was overwhelmingly rejected.
- Additional NEC places
Two new places will be created on the NEC for a Disability Rep and a BAME rep. They will be elected by a 50% affiliates, 50% members electoral college
- Registered Supporters
The abolition of registered supporters and their voting rights in leadership ballots had been proposed – only full members and affiliated supporters from unions and socialist societies would get a vote. This was deferred pending the meeting at conference on Saturday.
- Conference Arrangements Committee
The Democracy Review made the very fair and sensible proposal that the CLPs should have 5 seats so that on the CAC there would be parity between the political wing (CLPs) and the industrial wing (trade unions). (They currently only have two seats). This proposal was defeated by a significant majority. The Democracy Review also proposed that a seat for a disabled member be added to the CAC. This was agreed.
- Regional Boards
Regional Boards will revert to their long-standing name of Regional Executive Committees. Also, Standing Orders for Regional Conferences will be put to Conference. The NEC will also make recommendations for codifying rules and procedures for selections, standing orders, accountability and relationship to the Party for regional government in England.
- Local Government
This entire section – which would have seen dysfunctional Local Campaign Forums replaced by more robust structures of accountability – was kicked into the long grass. The matter was deferred to the 2019 Conference at the earliest.
- CLP and Branch Structures
Rule changes will be submitted to Conference eg covering the procedures for a transfer from a General Committee to an All Members Meeting structure; procedures for Womens branches, BAME branches, Disabled members branches, and LGBT+ branches; and for the election of the relevant CLP officers by the self-defining members of these groups, to the extent allowed by law; also concerning procedures covering job shares.
More to follow on Saturday evening ……