Yet again at the Party’s 2009 Annual Conference in Brighton there were many examples of full time regional officials putting illegitimate pressure on CLP delegates to vote in line with a right wing agenda. Under their terms of employment all Party staff are expected to be impartial civil servants. Unfortunately, all too often, many seem to see their role as acting as out riders for the Blairite and hard right Labour First caucus. Under Blair this despicable behaviour had the full support of No 10 and was particularly aimed at preventing CLP delegates from supporting ‘controversial’ motions from the Unions. The Brown office do not seem to be so keen on paid officials corrupting party democracy.
- The Priorities Ballot for Contemporary Issues should produce four subjects chosen by the Unions and four additional subjects chosen by the CLP delegates. In the past regional officials have pressurized CLP delegates to vote for the Union priorities so that they effectively waste their votes. At Brighton, in some regions officials properly explained to new CLP delegates how the system works and warned them about wasting their votes. Unfortunately in other regions it was the same old story of first time delegates being led up the garden.
- In some regions (eg South East) reports were given to CLPD of officials encouraging CLP delegates to vote for the right wing slate of Carey and Twigg for the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC).
- The right wing were desperate to defeat the rule change introducing one-member-one-vote (OMOV) for the National Policy Forum. Reports were received of officials in the South East, South West and Yorkshire Regions taking selected CLP delegates out of the hall to a private room to meet NPF Chair Pat McFadden, who pleaded with them not to support the dreaded OMOV.
- An NEC member met two CLP delegates in the ladies loo and was horrified to be told that this was the only place where they could go to avoid the constant harassment from regional staff to vote against OMOV.
- A first time CLP delegate made the following written statement to CLPD – “I was approached by a regional official who inquired who I would be voting for in the CAC election. He said ‘Our advice is to vote for Stephen Twigg and Margaret Carey’. He then went on to inquire as to my thoughts on the rule change on OMOV for election for the NPF. He said ‘Why change a situation that works well?’ This abuse of party democracy shocked me and should be investigated.
- The NEC’s official Code of Conduct for internal party elections (given to all party officials) included the following – “Labour Party Staff employed by the NEC shall not canvass or distribute literature on behalf of any candidate.”