CLPD: Yes to a Labour Party for members
CLPD held its Annual General Meeting, its 43rd, on Saturday 19 March at Conway Hall in central London. Around 80 CLPD members and supporters attended, and there was much discussion and debate on the way forward for the Labour Party (LP).
Chair Lizzy Ali introduced Kelvin Hopkins MP as first speaker. Kelvin gave his Parliamentary Labour Party report and updated the AGM on the difficulties of having the majority of MP’s unsupportive of LP Leader Jeremy Corbyn, despite his overwhelming mandate from the Party members.
Secretary Pete Willsman reported on CLPD activities over the last 12 months and drew attention to the websites Left Futures at http://www.leftfutures.org/ and Grassroots Labour at https://www.grassrootslabour.net/ for regular information and views on CPLD. Pete reported back on our activities on proposed rule changes to the 2016 LP conference, our fringe meetings at various events over the year, and the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance. Details of the Alliance’s candidates for the Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) elections in 2016 can be found at http://www.clpd.org.uk/
Dominic Curran from Young CLPD reported on the Left’s success in the Young Labour National Committee elections this year. It is the first time in 30 years the Left have taken control of Young Labour.
After lunch Diane Abbott MP spoke of the importance of ensuring Jeremy Corbyn continues as Leader and that the Party goes into the 2020 general election on a Left programme. Diane said we need to get support for the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance in the NEC elections as a step towards elections up to and including the general election.
Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) member Christine Shawcroft gave the LP NEC and National Policy Forum (NPF) reports. Christine commented on some of the membership problems in the Party and that, at a regional Party meeting, some 30 people approached her regarding joining or maintaining membership. Christine urged members to contact her and other NEC members Ann Black and Pete Willsman if they have problems. Many examples of the issues on membership were expressed from the floor.
Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, was our next speaker. Matt had recently re-joined the LP following his union’s decision to re-affiliate to the Party. Both decisions were welcomed by the AGM. The FBU had dis-affiliated in 2004 but, in November 2015, re-affiliated following a special conference. Matt said the FBU welcomed the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader. He said the union supported democracy in the Party and the right of Party members to choose candidates.
Seamus Milne, our next speaker, was appointed as the LP’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications in October 2015. Seamus gave a wide ranging speech and emphasised the important role CLPD and the unions play in the Party.
Claudia Webbe, LP Islington councillor and a Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance candidate in the upcoming NEC elections, gave a powerful speech on the issues facing the Party. Claudia said that since 2010 there had been a cut in the Islington council budget of £150 million and £24 million so far this year. Claudia said Jeremy Corbyn represented social justice and the Tory ideology must be opposed. We must also oppose the Housing Bill. Claudia received a standing ovation for her comments.
Our last speaker was Sam Tarry, Political Officer for the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA). Sam spoke of CLPD representing the mainstream of the Party. He said people wanted hope and a sign of this was the doubling in size of the LP. We need to borrow to build affordable housing especially with interest rates so low. Sam said we need to break up the big energy companies and promote green policies. Sam touched on academies, the Trade Union Bill and Corbyn’s response to the Budget.
Over the day, a number of resolutions were debated. These included the rights of leaseholders, LP conference as the sovereign decision-making body, and the idea of an Older Persons’ Section of the Party. Suggested rule changes were also circulated.
The AGM was closed by Chair Lizzy Ali who re-iterated CLPD’s commitment to delegates to LP conference reflecting the views of the majority of the membership.
Mike Loates, CLPD Press Officer
CLPD campaigns for:
- a real policy-making Annual Conference
- Labour’s representatives in Parliament to campaign for the implementation of Labour Conference policies
- an effective and accountable NEC
- the defence of the Trade Union link
- more progressive Labour candidates for elected office who are women or BAME; and, generally, for an increase in candidates with a working-class background, to counteract the current unacceptable under-representation
- a local electoral college for choosing leaders of council Labour Groups
- an internal Party ombudsperson
- a clear jobs and growth policy in sharp opposition to the Tories and austerity