Conference Day Zero: Refounding Labour (Part 1)

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.

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3 Responses to Conference Day Zero: Refounding Labour (Part 1)

  1. I am glad to see that your conference updates have begun this early. Even I didn’t expect a post from Glasgow.

    I haven’t studied the re-founding proposals in detail, but my impression is that some of the changes are important ones. I’m glad that the supporter’s list is better than we feared. I agree that these proposals seem to have been rushed but I’m not sure that they are bad either.

    I think though that they should have taken more time over drawing up the changes, and given more time to discuss them. Then we could have had votes on the individual changes (or at least the individual principles that are being introduced (which might each cover a few changes).

    But though I think this, I am not sure that the changes are bad, or that they should be voted down. Some of the changes are necessary – it’s been ridiculous that Labour’s major strategy has been based on software that many small CLPs (who could make good use of it) couldn’t afford.

    • jruddy says:

      Well, I’ve not heard any convincing arguments in favour of the LGC changes yet – I’m off into the Delegates Welcome Reception now, so will no doubt have my arm twisted! We’ll also see who has been reading the blog!

  2. Pingback: Conference Day One: Refounding Labour | John Ruddy's Politics Blog

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