by Mick Loates
The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD held its annual general meeting, its 42nd, on Saturday (28 February) at Conway Hall in central London. Over 80 CLPD members and supporters attended, and there was much discussion and debate on the way forward for the Labour Party.
Chair Gaye Johnston introduced Kelvin Hopkins MP as first speaker. Kelvin opened his Parliamentary Labour Party report highlighting the urgent need for the Party to move leftwards. On the doorstep, he said, people in England were voting Green, and in Scotland going over to the SNP, with the SNP calling Labour “Red Tories”. Ed Milliband has moved slightly to the left, but he continues to be surrounded by Blairites.
Policies where Labour could regain these voters are the re-nationalisation of the railways, water and energy, with minimum compensation, and Kelvin pointed out that 95% of the world’s water remained in public ownership.
Secondly, he argued, restore trade rights. Kelvin said that with only one in six workers in private industry in a union, TU rights need to be strengthen to encourage membership and defend employment rights and pay. Thirdly, introduce more progressive taxation. Kelvin called for a levy of 50% tax on earnings above £60,000 a year and firm action taken against tax avoiders and evaders
Secretary Pete Willsman reported on CLPD activities over the last 12 months and drew attention to the websites Left Futures at and Grassroots Labour at for regular information and views on CPLD. Pete reported back on activities on proposed rule changes to the 2015 Labour conference, fringe meetings at various events over the year includiong most regional Labour conferences as well as TUC and the UK Labour conference, and the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance.
Pete led tribunes to those supporters and activists who had died in the last 12 months and Jon Lansman, CLPD executive member, gave a warm tribune to Vladimir Derer, who died on 10 June 2014. CLPD Secretary for many years and one of the co-founders of CLPD in 1973, Jon said that such was Vlad’s influence in the LP that many of us should be regarded as “Vlad-ites”.
Jon Lansman is standing alongside Katy Clark MP in the conference arrangements committee elections this year, and information on his campaign can be found here on Left Futures.
Labour national executive (NEC) member Christine Shawcroft gave the executive and national policy forum (NPF) reports. Christine commented on last summer’s NPF meeting and the debates, or rather lack of them, on Trident and re-nationalisation of the railways. Islington councillor Alice Perry, newly elected local government representative on the NEC, spoke of the difficulties of finding out about the internal processes and elections on the NEC. She also highlighted the cuts to local government funding.
After lunch, incoming Chair Lizzie Ali introduced Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union. Billy spoke of the urgent need for a Labour government, and expresses concerns about the Labour vote in Scotland. He said there parallels with the 1974 general election and the result could lead to another election in the same year.
Billy voiced serious concerns on proposed state funding of political parties, and that it would lead to a lack of engagement in the LP and stop activism. He also praised the “slow and patient” work of CLPD over the years in seeking change in the Party (the text of his speech is here).
Diane Abbott MP spoke of the coming general election, and the three areas we need to address. The Tories want to move from the NHS to a USA style fully privatised health system. On welfare, Diane said the Tory attacks, and bringing back a Victorian era deserving and undeserving poor, was the road to the workhouse and must be defeated. Less than 15% of the welfare budget is spent on the unemployed, and we need a different stance on welfare issues. Finally, she addressed international affairs and that previous interventionist polices meant we were stilling living with the consequences on the Gulf War.
Diane felt Ed Milliband was trying to move to the left and his lower tuition fees policy was a positive move, as was his proposal for a freeze on energy prices. If elected, she said, an incoming Labour Government must challenge austerity.
As prospective Labour Mayor of London candidate, Diane addressed the London housing market, where houses in her constituency of Hackney can now cost £1 million plus. She will campaign for rent controls and defend diversity if Mayor.
Kate Osamor, newly selected Labour candidate for Edmonton, thanked CLPD for its support and hoped we would continue to support her in the upcoming election.
After Young CLPD addressed issues relating to Young Labour and Labour Students, the AGM debated 10 resolutions. This very lively session included the affiliation of trade unions to Labour, mandatory reselection of MPs, and creation of a trade union sister party to Labour.