IT MIGHT SEEM A BIT EARLY to be thinking about the details of conference, since contemporary motions cannot be discussed for a couple of months, but this year’s Labour Party conference in Liverpool could be a tricky one.
We can be sure that proposals from the Democracy Review will be prominent at conference, and it shouldn’t be assumed that it will contain all the proposals the left would like to see in the rule book. Whatever Katy Clark and the NEC members in charge of the review think, by the time proposals reach conference they will have gone through several filters which may have diluted them. Not to forget that the anti- Corbyn Wendy Nichols was recently elected vice-chair of the NEC. She will probably chair some sessions of conference – and this also indicates that the left majority on the NEC is far from assured.
At last year’s conference, several of those remitting their proposed rule changes to the Democracy Review warned that they would be back if their concerns were not recognised. They, and their supporters, will need to be on the lookout for proposals which fall short of democratising aspects of the party. We will also need to be on the lookout for manoeuvres such as putting rule changes to conference en bloc rather than individually, which could force delegates to accept poor changes along with positive ones.
While mandating delegates is frowned on these days, there is no reason why CLPs cannot “encourage” their delegations to vote along certain lines. In particular, we need to be raising support across the party, unions, Momentum groups etc, now for the proposed rule change from Labour International which would bring back open selection for all parliamentary candidates in advance of every general election.