The moment Paddy Lillis announced Jeremy Corbyn's re-election as Labour leader. He looked crestfallen [Image: BBC].

The moment Paddy Lillis announced Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader. He looked crestfallen [Image: BBC].

Today (Tuesday) is probably the most important day of the Labour Party conference as it is the day when 15 rule changes proposed by the still anti-Corbyn NEC will either be approved or not by conference delegates – en masse, because NEC chairman Paddy Lillis has refused calls for them to be discussed individually.

This means if they are voted down, potentially good changes will be refused alongside those that are potentially bad – such as the imposition of Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour representatives on the NEC, nominated by the leaders of those party groups. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (and this writer) believes that it would be more democratic for the Welsh and Scottish members to elect their representatives, but of course this is not about democracy; it’s about keeping that anti-Corbyn majority in the NEC. After the summer elections his supporters narrowly outnumber the others.

Here’s a list of the ‘reforms’, cribbed from The Guardian:

1 – Clarification that a sitting leader does not need to be nominated by 20% of MPs and MEPs to stand in a leadership election if challenged. This change is being introduced because the current rules are ambiguous. Labour’s NEC decided that Corbyn could stand in the leadership contest without getting fresh nominations, but because the rules were not 100% clear, a Labour member took the party to court in an unsuccessful attempt to get that decision overturned.

2 – Clarification of for how long someone needs to have paid affiliation fees to attend a CLP AGM (60 days).

3 – Tightening of rules allowing the party to exclude people convicted of serious offences from joining, to include people subject to rulings from civil courts relating to their behaviour. This is intended to ensure Labour can exclude people who might be a threat to children but who have not been convicted of a criminal offence.

4 – Giving the national women’s conference a formal role in policy making.

5 – Toughening up penalties for Labour groups that do not follow gender balance rules.

6 – Banning Labour councillors from voting for an illegal budget.

7 – Obliging Labour mayors and police and crime commissioners to report to Labour organisations and conferences.

8 – Changing the way Labour councillors pay a levy to the party.

9 – Adding two members to the NEC, a frontbench member of the Scottish parliament nominated by the Scottish leader and a frontbench member of the Welsh assembly nominated by the Welsh leader.

10 – Allowing the Scottish and Welsh leaders to attend the Clause 5 meetings that determine the party’s election manifesto.

11- Putting the Scottish and Welsh executives in charge of deciding their own Westminster candidates.

12 – Putting the Scottish and Welsh executives in charge of setting rules for the selection of candidates for the devolved bodies.

13 – Putting the Scottish and Welsh executives in charge of setting rules for the selection of council candidates in Scotland and Wales.

14 – Formalising the posts of Scottish deputy leader and Welsh deputy leader.

15 – Formalising the new rule changes affecting Scotland and Wales.

Mr Lillis, chairing this session, has already defied democracy by refusing demands for a card vote on whether the 15 proposals should be debated separately, claiming that a simple show of hands was clearly indicative. This provoked loud protests and TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes came to the stage to protest, saying party rules demanded a card vote. Lillis overruled him.

We’re going to have to check the party rules, folks!

If Mr Cortes is right, then any decision based on Mr Lillis’s ruling must be voided (even if it goes Mr Corbyn’s way – but that’s not a huge bother as he has proposed a special ‘Democracy Day’ in November, if I recall correctly, for all such issues to be discussed and votes taken).

Also it seems logical that a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mr Lillis would also be in order, if he is ignoring party rules in order to push through his anti-Corbyn changes.

The Guardian‘s Andrew Sparrow reckons the rule changes will be voted through, comfortably, as a result of the action by Mr Lillis. Is that what you want?

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