Labour constituency challenges undemocratic conference vote

[Image: Getty Images.]

[Image: Getty Images.]

The Labour Party’s ruling National Executive Committee will have to consider a call to nullify the party conference vote on a package of 15 rule changes, including the addition of Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour representatives, after a Constituency Labour Party agreed that party rules were broken in order to have the changes approved.

The motion states that Paddy Lillis, who was chairing the conference at the time, prevented delegates from voting on the changes in the proper manner by refusing a card vote after delegates requested it.

It was supported at an all-member meeting of Brecon and Radnorshire CLP today (October 15).

NEC member Ann Black, attending the meeting, warned that it would make no difference as the NEC may not overturn conference votes. But this ignores the point which is as follows:

The vote was only passed in the way it was because conference’s own rules were broken. It is, therefore, corrupt and should be disregarded.

This is a matter of fact.

Ms Black also tried to say that the motion had been ‘lifted’ from a website, but she seems to have got events muddled. It was drafted at a branch meeting and sent to the CLP secretary, then it was published on This Blog, for the benefit of other Labour branches whose members might wish to pass a similar motion (I understand some do).

There was considerable discussion, with some members arguing against the motion because of the inclusion in the package of the Welsh Labour representative, and one pointing out that the Unite union had to abstain because it could not support all of the measures in the package.

It seemed to This Writer that there was considerable resistance to the motion from CLP officers. The agenda was packed, with two speakers, and the chairperson suggested that the motions might not be considered.

Then they wanted to filibuster it, with three motions for discussion in 10 minutes – so members voted to extend the meeting by 15 minutes to fit them all in.

From the reaction of what, for want of a better word, I’ll call the Labour ‘establishment’ to the motion, I can foresee a huge amount of resistance to it, all the way up. Brecon and Radnorshire is just one CLP out of 650 – and doesn’t even have a Labour MP.

But there was a huge amount of support for the motion at the meeting. If that pattern is true across the UK, then the NEC needs to be made aware of it.

My personal opinion is that the 15 rule changes have no weight and may be freely ignored. If the NEC doesn’t wake up to what its former chair has caused (Mr Lillis was replaced by Glenis Willmott at the end of this year’s conference), perhaps passive resistance of this kind will have a stronger effect.

I would certainly invite all the other CLPs in the UK to consider passing a motion similar to mine (read it in full here), and possibly even to ignore the rule changes that were voted through wrongly.


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7 thoughts on “Labour constituency challenges undemocratic conference vote

  1. mohandeer

    What is the point in having Party Rules if they can simply be ignored to suit the agenda of certain individuals and why bother to offer the Labour Party as the democratic one when it obviously isn’t?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Mostly it is.
      There is currently an effort, by myself and others, to clean out the rot. It may take time and we will doubtless face claims that we are betraying party unity.

  2. paulrutherford8

    We’ve got just such a motion coming in for us at tomorrow’s Preseli Pembrokeshire [Crabb’s constituency], CLP meeting. I’ve just read it and it is the same, but different. I’ll certainly be recommending it gets put to an all member vote, unless it gets passed anyway. It might 🙂

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Make sure that your motion includes full details of what happened.
      I’m a little concerned that my own CLP secretary might, let’s say, edit my motion to include only the part that calls on the NEC to annul the vote because Paddy Lillis prevented conference members from voting in the proper manner. That’s what he did prior to the meeting yesterday and I’m concerned that this may allow certain… elements?… to interpret matters in their favour.

  3. Ann Black

    Life is too short to pick up all the errors online and elsewhere, but here goes:

    1) Lifting the motion from a website. I said this because someone in Lewes submitted a motion with text identical to that on voxpoliticalonline, right down to mis-spelling Christine Shawcroft’s name as Shawcross. Clearly they had the same origin. I don’t believe Mike gave his surname at the Brecon meeting, but accept that he wrote the motion and Lewes lifted it, rather than both lifting from the voxpolitical original. Interestingly after I’d corresponded with Lewes they amended their motion to keep the sense but correct most of the inaccuracies in Mike’s version;

    2) I took no part in running the meeting, either to curtail or extend discussion – I’m not a member and would not dream of intervening;

    3) Ditto the vote on the motion, where I gave my views, but as always it’s up to local members to decide;

    4) However where Mike says that there was “a huge amount of support”, the vote was recorded as 17 in favour, 11 against, two abstentions. I can understand why calls for a card vote at conference were seen as having “a huge amount of support” if that’s your definition;

    5) Mike and other speakers for the motion said that it was nothing to do with Scottish and Welsh representation on the NEC. Which raises the question of why he put them into his motion and why they are mentioned in most of the commentaries here and elsewhere about rule changes at conference.

    There are serious and legitimate concerns here, but it’s helpful to get the facts straight first.


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