Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD)
Phase One of the Party’s Democracy Review covers the role of: BAME Labour; Young Labour; and Labour Party Women’s Conference.
The deadline for submissions this phase is 12 January 2018.
The proposals set out in this paper here (and below) are for consideration and submission to the review
Suggested submissions for the Labour Party Democracy Review on BAME Labour
BAME Labour needs reform
We welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s democracy review as a huge opportunity to renew the Labour Party by increasing participation by it members. Among them are black members who are among the party’s most loyal supporters.
BAME Labour, the socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party, is not operating as a democratic affiliate and is letting down the Labour Party, its members and its supporters.
BAME Labour claims it is open to Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals, but many, including Party members, find it almost impossible to join and participate in.
As Labour’s membership has almost trebled since 2015, BAME Labour membership has reached a new low. In 2010, BAME Labour had 3,363 members, at the time when Labour’s membership was around 178,000. This year membership of BAME Labour had fallen to 731 whilst Labour’s membership has risen to over 550,000.
The case for reform is self evident.
Reforming BAME Labour
There are various ways in which BAME Labour could be reformed. A properly functioning democratic affiliated organisation could be established or Labour Party members could self-identify and in effect become a ‘Section’ of the Party.
Below are set out a couple of alternative reform options (A & B) plus the reform suggestions of a CLP (C) – to assist Party members and CLPs when considering submissions to make to the review.
A) A Labour Party Black Representation Five Point Plan
Currently, BAME Labour has a two yearly conference. This should be annual and the conference should elect a national committee.
Labour’s NEC is asked to submit to Labour’s Annual Conference rule change proposals that will bring about a democratic, accountable, effective and mass-based socialist organisation of Black Labour Party members based on the five points below.
1. The organisation will be called the ‘Labour Party Black Socialists’ (LPBS) and be a membership organisation open to members of the Labour Party, or people aged 14 or over eligible for membership of the Labour Party who, pay an annual subscription to the LPBS and meet the requirement of being of African, Caribbean, Asian and other people who face discrimination on the basis of their colour.
2. The operation and finances of the organisation shall be under the direct control of its members through their elected leadership bodies.
3. The organisation shall have representation at all levels of the Labour Party, to include two representatives on the party’s NEC, NCC, CAC and to Party Conference and the Policy Forum, regional boards, LCFs, GCs and ECs, Women and Youth conferences, elected from the organisation’s bodies at the appropriate level, limited to non-members of parliament (to include MPs, Peers and members of the Scottish Parliament) and assembly members, at least one of whom should be a woman. One should be African, Caribbean and the other Asian.
4. Our aspirations include achieving proportionality of black representation of elected local authority and parliamentary members according to the population of relevant geographical areas, using all-black shortlists and black women on all-women shortlists to achieve this.
5. We will work with Labour to get it to adopt a Black Agenda, drawn up by its black party member through their representative organisation, for its implementation by the party when it is in government.
B) All self-identifying BAME members to be considered members of BAME Labour
1. All members of the Labour Party who self-identify as BAME must be automatically considered members of BAME Labour. The current Socialist Society BAME Labour should be amalgamated into the new section, comprised of local, regional and national structures within the Labour Party, as with Young Labour and Women’s Labour.
2. Ethnic Minority Forums (EMFs, see Chapter 14 of the Labour Party Rule Book) should make up the local BAME Labour groups, and must be strengthened and supported. They should feed up into the Regional and National Structures of BAME Labour through clear and democratic processes.
3. Ethnic Minority Officers should sit on the Executive Committee of their Constituency Labour Party (CLP).
4. The BAME seat on the NEC should be elected directly via One Member One Vote by all BAME members, with additional BAME representation on the NEC and throughout the Party to be discussed during the second and third phases of this democracy review.
5. BAME Labour should hold a biannual delegate based conference, with democratic procedures in place to empower members to shape the direction of the organisation. Policy passed should be fed into the national Labour Party.
6. Current rules regarding BAME Labour elections must be amended to engender greater opportunity for grassroots participation. Existing rules stipulating that Members of Parliament cannot stand for Division II of the NEC covering socialist societies (Chapter 4 of the Labour Party Rule Book) should be clarified to ensure that MPs cannot stand for the BAME Labour seat.
7. Additional funding is essential to ensure BAME Labour reaches its full organisational potential, and should be allocated as a percentage of the fees of the members of the Labour Party who self-identify as BAME. While this data is being calculated, and at all times in the future, enough must be given to cover a minimum of the salary of a staff member dedicated exclusively to the organisation, the costs of a biannual conference, and an activity fund directly accessible by the Executive Committee.
8. The Party must seriously consider strategies for standing more BAME candidates in safe seats. It must also recognise the exclusive culture that All Women’s Shortlists have engendered, to the detriment of selection opportunities for BAME women, and seek to rectify this situation.
9. Questions about race or religion during interviews for selection processes are unacceptable, and must be ruled out of order.
10. There must be a serious commitment from the Party to take allegations of racism seriously, and to implement the recommendations of the Chakrabarti inquiry to ensure appropriate action is taken.
C) A CLP’s views on reform of BAME Labour (passed on to CLPD)
All Labour Party members when they join to be given the option to self-identify as BAME (with options aligned to Census categories), so the Party has a large database of these members.
Existing members to be asked the same question.
All self-identifying BAME members to be automatically part of a new BAME organisation.
This information, currently not collected by the Party, could be used, for example, to invite BAME members to vote in elections, attend events, including conferences, etc.
Members who self-identify as BAME should not have to pay for membership of BAME Labour but should automatically be included in its membership.
There should be a national BAME conference, with elected delegates and a proper discussion on policy. BAME members should be able to vote for their national leadership, and for their representative on the NEC.
Suggested submissions for the Labour Party Democracy Review on Young Labour
Young Labour should have the following functions:
a) Promote political education in line with the Labour Party’s democratic socialist values and principles;
b) Campaign in support of oppressed groups in society, including people marginalised on the basis of one or more of the following: class, sex, gender, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, disability and religion
c) Promote the role of young people to advance democratic socialist values and principles within the Labour Party and society at large.
In order to meet these functions, Young Labour must have the structures which ensure autonomy, accountability, and adequate resourcing.
Young Labour shall have constitutional autonomy, with its own rulebook and standing orders to govern its structures. These shall be decided by Young Labour members and amendable by a sovereign Youth Conference, which could at a later date be complemented by a digital democracy platform which through integration with social media networks could be an aid to democratic political participation.
Young Labour shall have organisational autonomy with access to its own membership lists and the ability to organise its own events and campaigns independently. This is crucial for empowering young members to develop their leadership skills.
Young Labour shall have political autonomy, allowing it to take political positions which are independent from those of the main party.
Administrative functions shall wherever possible be devolved directly to Young Labour, so as to further strengthen Young Labour’s operational autonomy in tandem with its political autonomy. These include, but are not restricted to, the registration and verification of groups, membership services, internal communications and finances.
Young Labour shall be properly resourced to be able to achieve its objectives. It shall receive an annual grant from the central party over which it has control, which may be financed from the membership fees of its members.
Young Labour shall have at least three staff members who are accountable to its democratic structures and mandated to carry out the political objectives of the Young Labour committee, whether on a UK-wide or regional/national level.
In line with the responsibilities of autonomy and proper funding, Young Labour shall have a Treasurer that gives financial reports of the organisation to Young Labour’s annual conference.
Young Labour shall have representatives at every level of the party from branches through to the NEC. The NEC representative shall be elected by a One Member One Vote (OMOV) ballot, in order to allow as many people to participate as possible, and for options for additional representation for young members to be considered when the NEC composition is discussed at a later stage in the Democracy Review.
Young Labour shall be given a mandate to organise and have local groups in education institutions, ending the historic divide between Young Labour and Labour Students.
4. Education and Participation
Young Labour shall be encouraged and supported, financially or otherwise, in running both practical and theoretical political education programmes throughout the country.
Young Labour shall have the powers to establish local groups to allow young people the fora to debate and self-organise, encouraging active participation by the whole membership in laying the groundwork for a vibrant left youth culture and socialist future.
Deprived of both human and financial resources, Young Labour is currently but a mere shell of what it could be. Despite our party having some 110,000 members under the age of 27, Young Labour is still far too much of an afterthought in the minds of decision-makers. Without a solid, visible and coherent youth movement to develop their intellectual and organisational capacities, our young members are little more than fodder for doorstep campaigning, capable of short-term voter mobilisations. In order to fully harness the talent, creativity, and ideological commitment to transforming society of our young members, Young Labour must be allowed fully autonomy, fair representation in party structures, resources commensurate to its membership. The primary objective of Young Labour shall be to make, teach and keep young socialists. We must encourage and develop the young so that they can both understand and change the world, since to do so would require the unleashing of the creative of potential of hundreds and thousands of committed young people moved by the desire to build society anew.
Suggested submissions for the Labour Party Democracy Review on Women’s Conference
1. A Standalone Conference
– A two-day Spring Annual Women’s Conference (AWC)
2. A Delegate Conference.
– Each CLP to be entitled to one delegate plus additional delegates to ensure a diverse and inclusive conference
– Delegates to be elected by Women Members, at a meeting to which all Women Members are invited and where they can vote
3. Non-voting Visitors
– Up to the capacity of the venue
4. Motions and Rule Changes from CLPs
– Each CLP entitled to send one motion and one rule change on topics relevant to Women Members
– Both to be selected by Women Members of a CLP on the same basis by which delegates are elected
– The motion need not be ‘contemporary’
– Both motion and the rule change go to the next occurring AWC.
5. A Policy-making Conference
– Motions and rule changes are debated and voted on
– At least one motion and one rule change to be sent for debate at the Labour Party Annual Conference (LPAC) later the same year
– Rule changes passed by AWC on the organisation of AWC itself to be effective immediately without going to LPAC
6. Timely Notification
– to CLP Secretaries and Women’s Officers (alongside info for LPAC) about procedures, fees, deadlines and help with travel costs
7. Under-represented groups of women
– Removal of barriers to participation
– Disability access to all conference areas
– Support for carers (if appropriate, a creche)
– A range to include policy debates, keynote speakers and fringes
– A balance that does not impinge on the main business of debating and passing motions
– catering to be reasonably priced and plentiful
9. Special arrangements are needed for 2018
– There is insufficient time to organise a standalone in spring 2018 and cancel the one-day AWC planned for September
– There is a proposal from the Democracy Review to hold a specific event to maximise input from Women Members to the Democracy Review – this would be most helpful.
10. Two events in 2018
A Women’s Democracy Day in about May 2018
– To debate the future organisation of Annual Women’s Conferences with input from views submitted to the Democracy Review
– A delegate conference to give it legitimacy and its decisions weight, with delegates chosen as for AWC.
– Visitors up to the capacity of the accommodation
– Decisions will feed into the Democracy Review documents, AWC 2018 and LPAC 2018
– In addition, a debate on other structures, e.g. Regional Delegate-based Women’s Conferences (accessible and interactive events for the women of the region), and the role and status of Women’s Forums
A One-day AWC in September 2018
– To be organised entirely as indicated above for the two-day conference, as to delegates, visitors, motions, policy-making, notification, Under-represented groups of women and activities; except that there would be no rule changes from CLPs in 2018, because the standing orders etc. would not yet be in place.
– a space left in the agenda of the immediately following LPAC for one motion from AWC to be debated and voted on there.
– While the organisation of these two events for 2018 will place additional demands on party resources, it is reasonable that part of the additional income the party receives from our increased membership should be used to encourage member participation and democracy. If our trade union colleagues were also willing to contribute resources we would be most grateful.