Submitted to Momentum
Summary of 2 issues:
• Composition: making the membership genuinely representative and accountable, abolishing the seats held by elected officials;
• Policy-making process: making the process transparent and open, whilst retaining ultimate decision-making in the hands of Conference.
55 CLPs reps, elected by OMOV 5 per region, one must be Young Labour, elected by Young Labour members, and two must be women;
30 TU representatives, at least half must be women elected by affiliated TUs;
22 representatives from Scottish, Welsh & English regional conferences, two from each region, at least one of the 2 must be a woman;
10 local government reps: 4 elected by Local Government Association Labour Group, 4 elected by Association of Labour Councillors (at least 2 of each to be women) and one each from COSLA (Scotland ) & from Welsh LGA;
3 members (at least 1 woman) elected by affiliated socialist societies;
4 BAME Labour reps at least 2 women;
9 MPs, elected by Commons members of PLP, at least 4 women;
6 members of European PLP, at least 3 women;
1 Labour Student;
2 Labour members House of Lords, elected by Labour peers;
1 member Northern Ireland LP;
1 member Labour International;
1 member LGBT Labour;
1 member LP Disabled Members’ Group;
4 officers of Welsh Policy Forum;
4 officers of Scottish Policy Forum;
8 front-bench representatives elected by Shadow Cabinet (at least 3 women);
2 Co-operative Party representatives (at least 1 woman) plus General Secretary of Co-op Party;
Proposal to abolish representatives from local government, MPs, European PLP, members of the House of Lords and the Shadow Cabinet. Representatives from these bodies should be permitted & encouraged to attend & to speak. They have important views & expertise on policy. However, they are not accountable to the grassroots, but to professional politicians. They should not have seats with voting rights.
Abolishing those seats would produce a body of 148 voting representatives, of whom 64 are directly elected by members under OMOV (55 plus the 9 CLP seats on the NEC) and 43 are trade union representatives (30 plus 13 seats on the NEC). The remainder are responsible to their Regional Conferences or to the particular societies, groups etc whom they represent.
In principle, nothing wrong with a dedicated body working continuously on reviewing & shaping Party policy. The alternative in the past was that policies were made solely as a result of motions at Party Conference, considered by the NEC, Shadow Cabinet & Leader & not necessarily followed.
Problems with current system of policy-making:
• Although LP website invites contributions to NPF commissions from any individual LP members, this is not well known, very few take advantage, in any event, it is not known how those contributions are sifted;
• NPF consultative events are poorly attended;
• Shadow Ministers tend to dominate their Commissions;
• In the past, LP Conference was offered each Commission report as a whole, without the ability to amend or refer back parts of the report. This year’s Conference showed the benefit of being able to refer back a specific part of a report.
A more open and transparent system of inviting contributions and then considering then could include:
• More public and transparent programme of consultative events, so that each Commission has a programme of regional weekend meetings, widely publicized to LP members with encouragement to attend and “have your say”;
• Each Commission invites experts to address their meetings & publishes the expert submissions, so that LP members can specifically comment on those submissions;
• The submissions received from LP members and from experts should be published and LP members invited to comment before each Commission meets to draw up its report to Party Conference, so that LP members are no longer commenting on a blank sheet of paper;
• Everyone putting in a submission should be kept informed as to what has happened to it;
• Commission reports published sufficiently in advance of Conference for LP members to be able to comment on those reports through their CLP structure and thus mandate their delegates.
Liz Davies is a Labour Party activist and housing rights barrister. Member of Southampton Test CLP and Unite the Union. Previously secretary for Hackney North CLP (2017–2018). Co-author Housing Allocation and Homelessness law and practice (Luba, Davies, Johnston and Buchanan, 2018, LexisNexis) and Honorary Vice-President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers. Her professional profile is here. She cannot respond to queries about legal cases through this website.Read full bio