I’m writing this at Glasgow Central station on my way to Liverpool for the Labour party conference. I’ve only now had time to read the proposals on refounding Labour sent by Peter Hain to members a few days ago. Apart from the appalling lack of notice delegates have been given to digest this before the vote at conference, it does not appear as bad as I first thought.
The proposals on registered supporters, do not involve giving them rights currently enjoyed by members, and although I wonder about allowing them to join the party at the new local join rate (ie why not become a registered supporter before joining the party – it might save you a few quid), the overall package seems reasonable. However, exactly how many people we will attract is questionable – will it be worth the effort for just a few thousand supporters across the country? Many of these we will be looking at upgrading to members in any case over the next few years, as we rebuild our membership base.
While the registered supporters’ proposal is better than I had thought, the recommendation to scrap Local Government Committees (LGCs) is actually worse. While I acknowledge that in some cases the LGC setup is poor, with a lack of communication, this is surely a fault of those concerned, and can be put right without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The new proposals suggest that policy making should be in the control of the Labour group on the council – without necessarily requiring input from local members. While they would be consulted, there is no guarantee that their input would be used. There is a danger of disenfranchising local members, and this could result in fewer activists.
Because the NEC has decided that these proposals will voted on in a complete package, the effect of these damaging suggestions means that I cannot support the Refounding Labour proposals. One gets the idea that it was done this way ensure the less popular (read unwanted) recommendations get enacted because everyone wants the popular ones to go through. Can anyone convince me to change my mind in the next 24 hours? Maybe, we’ll see.