Labour groups rally to support Vox Political writer’s bid to restore party democracy

[Image: Getty Images.]

[Image: Getty Images.]

Labour branches and constituency parties across the UK are being asked to support a series of moves intended to restore democracy in the party – and This Writer couldn’t be happier because they are based on a motion that I drafted.

The summer of 2016 was a long and difficult one for Labour Party democracy. There was the rebellion and attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn that ended with him being re-elected as party leader with a larger mandate. And there was the election of six new Constituency Labour Party representatives to the ruling National Executive Committee.

All six places went to members of the Corbyn-supporting Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance (although one of the candidates, Ann Black, has since proved to be less loyal than some of us might have hoped) – giving Mr Corbyn a narrow majority.

It seems right-wingers in the Labour Party decided to dispense with the rule book – and party democracy – and introduced a plan to put two new members on the NEC to overthrow Mr Corbyn’s majority. The idea was that Scottish Labour and Welsh Labour would be given representatives on the NEC, who would be nominated by the leaders of those party groups, who are both anti-Corbyn, rather than elected by their memberships who support the party leader.

The resolution to add these new members to the NEC was passed as part of a package of 15 changes to party rules at the national conference in September. They were pushed through against the wishes of delegates who wanted to vote on each matter separately, and who demanded a card vote. Instead, then-NEC chair Paddy Lillis refused both demands – breaking conference procedural rules in the process. The full story is here.

This is where I became involved. I raised the matter with my local Labour Party branch, and wrote a motion pointing out that Mr Lillis broke conference rules, that the changes he imposed are therefore undemocratic and may not be enforced, and that the decision should be nullified.

That motion was supported by Brecon and Radnorshire Constituency Labour Party and is to be considered by the NEC as soon as possible.

I publicised the matter on This Blog, and I know other CLPs have passed similar motions. I was also contacted by Steve Burgess, a Labour member based near Manchester, who raised issues with the wording of my motion and with my opinion of Ann Black, who was present as a speaker at the CLP meeting when it won members’ support, despite her comments in opposition to it (a dialogue with Ms Black followed in the comment columns of This Blog, ending with this article, after I finally lost patience with her).

Mr Burgess thought my motion needed to be modified in order to pinpoint exactly the faults in Mr Lillis’s behaviour and the breakdown in party democracy that followed. He has devised a series of five motions which he urges Labour Party branches to consider passing and taking to their CLPs, and from there to the CLP representatives on the NEC. He has gained the support of Corbyn-supporting group Momentum in this, and his motions can be found on an unofficial Momentum website, here.

The introduction to the page suggests, “These are the most important motions in the recent history of the Labour Party, since [they defeat] a constitutional amendment that undermines the will of conference to direct and veto changes to the supreme ruling executive body which controls everything from expulsions to shortlists and membership in the Labour Party.”

Some might think that I should be offended by what appears to be an attempt to seek credit based on work that I have done. Well, I’m not offended.

It is extremely flattering to have created the basis for “the most important motions in the recent history of the Labour Party”. It is unlikely that they would have appeared as the do – possibly at all – without my original work.

I think Mr Burgess has produced an interesting and exhaustive piece. It’s a little long-winded – I was told my own motion was extremely long, and it is much shorter than the series of five that he has produced.

My feeling is that other BLPs and CLPs may wish to render the actual motions down to the basic demands, with everything else tacked on as supporting information.

I know several CLPs have already submitted motions based on mine; hopefully more will submit motions based on his.

I’m pleased to have started this but I knew that it wasn’t something I could manage alone, so I am delighted that others are doing their own thing with it.

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:


19 thoughts on “Labour groups rally to support Vox Political writer’s bid to restore party democracy

  1. a friend

    Thanks for writing the article.

    “Momentum Unofficial” or the motions on it, are not affiliated to, authorised by, ratified by or endorsed by “people’s momentum” Or “Momentum”. That forum is run by Steven and a friend. This “unofficial” forum was initially designed to be for members and supporters and friends of Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn to express their views in a place with room for anonymity and aggressively minimised censorship. Open discussion without self-censorship due to concerns about purges.

    I realise that you work at a breakneck speed doing journalism, but at the top of every forum on that website is a statement making it clear that none of these motions are official policy unless seperately ratified by the mechanisms of that group. The word “unofficial” confirmed and couldnt make it more clear that this was not in fact an official or authorised or affiliated momentum site.

    No momentum branch has passed these motions, but there are individuals intending to move them at some BLPs, CLPS and momentum branches in Salford and Manchester at the next meetings. As yet noone to my knowledge has endorsed these motions inside momentum or Labour. Information on those such movements can be added here:-

    I imagine I shall be placing these motions on the MxV momentum electronic democracy proposals fora shortly, but for now I am focussed on getting the first four through my branch and CLP.


    With reference to Ann Black, her level of accountability and transparency is such that while i accept i could be wrong, I beleive she is a straight arrow of the aspergers kind, by which i mean a superior kind of straight arrow, not given to supporting things she knows to be technically wrong.

    She almost always responds to queries i put to her and clearly has a quick, efficient, precise mind.

    It should be noted, and as Ann herself states, that she is only accountable for her actions, not those of others. She is but one of 33 NEC members and I beleive is one of the people Akehurst refers to as “free thinking”, implying that shell always vote with her conscience even when that opposes JC.

    I do worry that Ann has been misled by the party staff under the control of Blair or Blair’s faction inside the NEC and Southside and would react far more aggressively if she were aware of the scale of the purge and other abuses that have been perpetrated including for example the alleged fixing of meeting rules before the “JC on the ballot” meeting where an MP highlighted that the rules in question were illegitimate and the creation of the unprecedented “retrospective freeze” concept by Ian McNicol or forces controlling him.

    I should highlight once more that she acknowledges our concerns on the NEC are “legitimate” and “serious”. WHich, once again I highlight, are huge words coming from someone like Ann, that imply an endorsement of the core of our objections, if not all of the peripheral claims.

    You are not alone in suspecting Ann Black of malfeasance, however. This is to be expected when she is surrounded by an opportunist NEC, General Secretary and party staff whose behaviours can all too easily be confused with her own and may mislead her. Tony Greenstein, other people with greivances against Ann and possibly you should get together and discuss your best cases against her alleged behaviours and ask her about them, especially regarding the expusions and suspensions she participated in.

    Given the impressive display of personal accuracy, transparency and justification of her own actions, I’ll need something concrete and time for her to respond to it before i stop giving her the benefit of the doubt, though. I have always found Ann to be forthcoming.

    In my opinion she truly deserves to be the member of the NEC with the highest mandate, but needs to be acutely aware of machinations designed to deceive or manipulate her coming from the right of the party inside southside, the NEC and party HQ.

    But if theres a case against Ann, it needs to be published somewhere where she has the instantaneous right to reply. And given the potential for party retribution, anonymously if she so pleases. Like The momentum unofficial blog.

    Theres a thread here, called “Ann Black, Angel or Demon”:-


    NEC meetings dont appear to have any official minutes taken or released so theyre murky affairs with reports of various different machinations and behaviours coming from various different individuals, including an absurd level of antidemocratic allegations that gives me the impression that the NEC is controlled by utter snakes. The recent machinations of Lillis and McNicol make it crystal clear.

    The NEC in its current, undemocratic, unelected and changeable at 7 days notice form, is utterly unfit for purpose and should be replaced with an entirely OMOV NEC which can only be changed in structure with a year’s notice to conference, in the same way CLPs are currently forced to. Not 7 days notice or less.

    For now, i’d settle for a 33 member NEC but long term things have to go much further in providing democracy and accountability to members both in CLPs and unions.

    Without this reform we have to ask what the Labour party is good for in any sense as in its current form, right wingers can simply supply a rule change 3 days before conference, ignore the rules, ignore the will of conference, combine it with nice things in a poisoned package pf otherwise good stuff, declare it passed and use the new poisoned NEC to expel or suspend members and CLPs and shortlist more antihumanitarian, tacit austerity & warmonger MPs. In its current form, Labour cannot reasonably be described as “democratic”.

    I am in discussion with the most NEC member with more expeirence of Labour than any other (not Ann) about this currently. If there’s a glimmer of hope anywhere, I’ll say so.


    I should also point out that bawling over the state of things repeatedly, is no substitute for finding functional solutions.

    That the NHS sucks and gets more horrific by the minute along wth war, refugeess, welfare, elderly care and much much more, is all par for the course until democracy is restored and enforced in Labour AND parliament.

    OMOV for the NEC and direct democracy in parliament must happen, or we should acknowledge that we live in an unaccountable, violent, murderous high tech tyranny.

    Too many people are not listening. Those who are ignoring the ever growing tyranny are financially complict with it and should be regarded as part of the threat, especially those who voluntarily participate in the economy.

    These remarks were supplied to Mikes blog at 7:40 AM on Monday 5th December. The fact that his blog makes false claims about the support of Momentum means that publication of these comments is urgent.

    Thank you for your attention.

    Kind regards.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Is that you again, Steve Burgess?
      If so, why are you commenting under a false name?
      Why should anybody believe comments on this subject, made by the person who wrote the motions, under a pseudonym?
      If you visit the ‘Momentum Unofficial’ site hosting the proposed motions, you will see nowhere on the page anything to suggest it is “not affiliated to, authorised by, ratified by or endorsed by ‘people’s momentum’ Or ‘Momentum’. Still, thank you for the information and I have changed the reference to it in the article.
      In any case, my piece did not make false claims about Momentum’s support. The website has Momentum’s name on it and the motions are on that website. Perhaps it is the site that makes false claims about Momentum?
      You are right that “bawling over the state of things repeatedly, is no substitute for finding functional solutions” – that is why my Labour branch and CLP have passed our motion attacking the undemocratic way the changes were made. I wonder, therefore, to what you are referring in that statement.
      I must also correct you in your claim that I have accused Ann Black of malfeasance. While I disagree with her decisions and the way she has defended them, I am not accusing her of breaking any of the party’s rules. She thought she was within her rights to do as she has, and if that is disputed, then let someone else challenge her on it. She may have done so, but that is not my concern at the moment.

      1. a friend


        Given the way disciplinary rules have been used, it isn’t at all clear that people can speak freely in public fora.

        Hence the need for anonymity and anonymous fora.

        I said long ago that abuse of the disciplinary process would lead to a chilling effect on free speech.

        As i said above, the NEC can not be trusted.

        Little old ladies who retweeted a green party policy have been suspended, so lets stop pretending we are all safe to speak freely.

        We operate in an oppressive political environment. Its therefore reasonable to expect people to want a cloak of anonymity when they say so.


        My comment on the symptoms of this oppressive psuedodemocracy simply to highlight that its wasteful to focus energy on speaking about the NHS, war and other growing horror stories while the current political powers remains in place, except insofar as it drives newly awakeing people toward solutions of some potentially viable kind.

        As such just about every left wing article decrying some latest government abuse should direct people to the motions which derecognise the illegitimate rule changes, or some other tactic for instantiating a resolution to the overarching problem. Better still, directing people an overarching tactical analysis of where the faint hopes for democracy might lie not just in the UK, but on this planet.

        If democracy has no chance in the UK and the whole population is forced into economic service of a financial and military tyranny, then the UK population and society as a whole must be written off as a horrific example of just how ugly humanity can become and solutions sought elsewhere.


        The article containing on momentum unofficial is a single thread on a forum of threads, which can be accesses through the tree menu at the top of the forum.

        On every one of the dozens of fora on that entire website, an announcement declares that none of the items posted there are policy of any organisation, specifically including momentum.

        Also, on the page you linked to with the model motions, the word “momentum” appears only three times, all of them in the title and all of them including the word “unofficial” immediately afterward. In the one case where “momentum” has an initial capital letter, the word “unofficial” after it is also capitalised.

        Nevertheless, thank you for correcting the article.


        I am of course very grateful for your work at Brecon and on these motions. I’ve cited Brecon as the source, but will ensure that Steven hears your request to credit you personally. He is one of only two people who can edit thread posts on that forum.

        Thank you also for publishing the earlier commentary and responding to it.

        I hope you, Ann, myself and others can differentiate the minor differences from the major ones and get on with the critical business of identifying a method to introduce democracy into the Labour party.

        These comments were supplied to Vox Political at 2pm on December 5th.

        Best Wishes,


      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I haven’t made any request for a personal credit.
        I am concerned that you suggest I have, and also at some of your other comments which seem – to put it bluntly – paranoid.
        Yes, there have been abuses of power but the answer is to confront those responsible directly, not to hide behind a shell of anonymity.
        I strongly recommend taking a step back and considering whether you are seeing what is there, or only what you believe is there.

      3. a friend

        Steven has included credit for the motion to you personally now within the motions themselves now, Mike.

        I generally regard the idea that a few thousand words or a few dozen hours should not be spent to recover or instantiate democracy in the largest party in the 6th biggest economy on earth to be worthy of contempt.

        If there’s no longer room for serious political analysis in Labour, the people preventing it should be removed from their positions.

        Many of the people still in positions of authority in Labour are people who were happy to remain in the Labour party as it carried out its worst atrocities. Some of them are their authors.

        These comments were deliver to Vox at 2:28 pm on December 5th.

      4. a friend

        People always only “see” only what they believe to be there. No more and no less. As such, if you believe i see something that isnt there, you should specify specifically where and your reasons to think it is not there.

        You should, of course, be aware that its entirely possible I may have access to more or different raw data sources than you do. I was one of the early adopters of broadband internet, receiving it in its first rollout in Britain. I’m used to being more aware of criminality than most.

        I’ve checked and rechecked my working over issues far more controversial than NEC censorship and generally found its the general population which is ignorant and complacent and me that is better informed.

        I am nevertheless glad you direct the allegation at me rather than fail to do so.

        Narrowing it to the first instance of the specific, it seems obvious to me that the deceptions of the CAC, the violations and antidemocratic behaviours of the NEC and the antidemocratic behaviours of the General Secretary, including censorship, are obvious by now.

        Do you dispute that utterly trivial public statements were used to censor people?


        I should mention a second instance of the specific:- the millions murdered in Iraq and now Syria from initial NATO and New Labour invasions. Those are no small crimes.

        Surely by now, the default should be fear?


        Its a wider discussion that might derail this thread if i go into further specifics. I’m happy to discuss my alleged paranoia on another thread. Naturally, if you accuse me of paranoia specifically or generally, my position will naturally be that you are complacent.

        Its up to the initial accuser to highlight the evidence demonstrating that the accused is somehow in error.

        Or we can leave the discussion at the above minimal observations.

        Best Wishes.

      5. Mike Sivier Post author

        Since it would be a discussion that would take us away from the subject of this article, let’s leave it at the minimal observations.
        My point of view is informed by the fact that I have said what I want, when and where I want, and have never suffered any ill-effects.

      6. a friend

        “I haven’t made any request for a personal credit.”

        No. You didn’t. However, you did say this:-

        “what appears to be an attempt to seek credit based on work that I have done”

        I accept, as is obvious, that Steven built on your work.

        Highlighting that you were the original author of the Brecon motion clarifies where your work ends and mine begins. Ensuring that no assertion that anyone seeks credit for your work can be credible.

        Thank you.

      7. Mike Sivier Post author

        If you’re going to quote me, quote me in context: “Some might think that I should be offended by what appears to be an attempt to seek credit based on work that I have done. Well, I’m not offended.”
        That casts it in a completely different light.
        Still, what you do is your business.

      8. a friend

        “Some might think

        a) that I should be offended by
        b) what appears to be an attempt to seek credit based on work that I have done.

        Well, I’m not offended.” This final sentence DOES address the question of a), but leaves the assertion of b) standing unchallenged.

        I and anyone paying attention could find the context since it was written a few paragraphs above. This was not an attempt to omit substance. I mistakenly assumed that you’d instantly become conscious that your complete comments left the question of seeking credit for other’s work unchallanged, even including consideration of the “not offended” statement.

        Therefore I made efforts to ensure that such an impression would no longer be possible by making efforts to credit not just Brecon, but also your individual work.

        Best Wishes.

      9. Mike Sivier Post author

        b) is addressed by “Some might think”, of course. I was referring to what some people might decide and was, in fact, trying to divert attention away from such speculation.
        Unfortunately, you have blundered in and focused on it in such a relentless manner that it now appears to be the focus of this comment column. That is precisely the opposite of what I intended.
        Never mind. It’s done now.

      10. a friend

        Intellectually capable people are perfectly able to remember and sense totally benign aims and value of statements while clearing up ambiguities and potential misinterpretations in them.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      No, I’m the Labour Party. The People’s Front of Judea is away past Momentum and Momentum Unofficial… next to the Judean People’s Front.

  2. Barry Davies

    Not sure exactly what the labour party constitution says about this aspect, but I do find it strange that Wales and Scotland should be given a representative why not Northern Ireland and England as well?

    1. a friend

      Barry, if you follow the link to the motions, you’ll find the constitution is cited and quoted verbatim.

      This was done as a coup inside the Labour party, effectively overthrowing the results of the previous NEC elections which voted two right wingers off the NEC.

      If looked at as a whole, the irregularities and perversions of process and outright constitutional violations can leave no other conclusion.

      Kind regards,

Comments are closed.