New Governance rules for Labour CLPs
I have written a longish blog article consisting of a rule by rule analysis of the changes made to the Labour Party’s CLP rules by its Democracy Review and at Conference 2018. I write about General Committee/All Member Meeting (AMM) sovereignty, Executive Committee membership, Branch & Delegate vs. All Member Meeting (AMM) governance rules, equalities representation and organisation, meeting frequency, job shares and IT & participation. For completeness, I also mention Special Measures & Multi Constituency CLPs. Conference determined that these rules came into force on September 27. 2018, the day after Conference finished.
This article does not include rule text but the original blog article does include, in most cases, the new rule text; my source containing the original text of the rule changes is Conference 18 CAC Report 1, which is on the Labour Party’s members’ net but also mirrored here on my wiki.
The GC/AMM should have been sovereign within the CLP; the rules have been changed to make it clear that this is the case. The EC no longer has any power of initiative and must report its activities in writing to the GC/AMM for approval. This is designed to ensure that decisions are taken by General Committees or All Member Meetings and that the brutal control by a small elite, the minimum size of an EEC until conference was six, is broken. EC’s can no longer, appoint delegates to conferences, decide the delegation size, decide the motions, make national committee nominations, issue conference mandates, or authorise election (or any) budgets. EC’s will have to get development plans, fund raising plans and expenditure plans agreed by the GC/AMM. It will no longer be able to advise the NEC on whether All Women Short-lists are supported. For busy GCs, this will be a challenge in planning GC time.
A second part of the rule changes which effect this is the rule change stating that EC decisions need to be approved by the GC/AMM, and that these decisions are to be available to members via an electronic platform, I think they mean computer storage solution. I have commented elsewhere that this is non-trivial due to ACL/privacy control implementations and will need to be developed by the Party centrally.
One downside of this rule change is that, the EC now has the power to place significant business on the GC agenda; previously it did not have this power. Watch out for ECs that seek to do this via minutes with a view to boring people into ignoring what they’re doing. There is also a danger that the Leadership become too engaged in EC business as they have to deal with it at both EC & GC/AMM. Complaints by well informed people about the amount of time spent on minutes and matters arising is a distraction, it’s through these agenda items that Officers are held to account.
Executive Committee membership
CLP Executive Committees currently must consist of at least 6 members, at least half of whom must be women. The conference passed a rule change to expand the EC. This has the effect of establishing a Policy Officer, promoting the Equalities Officers and TULO, PEO and communications and social media officer to the EC and mandating that branches have representation on the EC. It should be noted that the Campaigns Co-ordinator remains indirectly elected by the Campaigns Committee and is not by default on the EC.
One impact of this rule change is that the gender quota (at least 50%) is now to be applied to an enlarged pool of members and may lead to men occupying more than half of the more senior roles. It is unclear if the branch representatives are to have a gender quota applied to them since a quota is already applied at their election in the branches.
CLP governance models
The key changes are that any (quorate) party unit or affiliate can requisition a meeting to decide to change the governance model. This is basically a choice between a Branch & Delegate General Committee and an All Member’s Meeting. Now the decision will be taken by All Members Meeting irrespective of the current governance model; previously the current governing body would make the decision. I have written at length on this here
Quorums for all member meetings becomes 5% or 75 which ever is lower. That’s under 2% for my CLP if we ran AMM governance, possibly another reason why large Parties should stick with Branch & Delegate structures. There is some question as to whether these rules apply to Women’s or the BAME forums and some organisations may have been operating on lower quorums for a while.
Equalities Representation & Organisation
Forums become branches, so we’ll have to see how delegate entitlements and record keeping works out and see if the new Equalities branches get representation rights on ECs in addition to the Equalities officers. Quorum calculations for equalities branches also could be interesting i.e. how does one do it, given that the Labour Party does not yet have the data to determine eligible membership of these new branches.
If Youth branches get delegate entitlement at GCs, will they keep their additional delegate from the geographic branches.
Branches must now have a women’s officer. The gender quota is weaker after the rule change, as they have added an officer who has to be a woman and kept the reserved number to at least two, so was ½ is now 40%.
Guarantee of meetings
The new rule states that, “all members of the CLP must be given the opportunity to attend at least 8 meetings per year, including at least 2 policy meeting.” This is presumably to address those parts of the country where meetings were not held and politics was not discussed. Too much consideration of dog shit and cracked paving stones, and that’s if you’re lucky and one, you have councillors and two, they turn up. There is however something that I like to call the McTaggert Syndrome. CLPs without public officials are more interested in Policy.
Information Technology & Participation
Conference seems to think that staggered meetings, electronic attendance, online voting and other methods might increase participation. I say, “this is just populist shite! Many of the people who don’t attend may well be happy to attend an AGM and vote for delegates to represent them. On-line voting is hard to do securely and there are many problems with it. Staggered meetings suffer from all the disadvantages of postal balloting; these ideas are based on the idea that the meeting and debate don't matter.
Otherwise coming Soon
A rule enabling the NEC to introduce Job Shares in the CLPs was passed, as were rules instructing the NEC to introduce rules to establish & codify the management of multi-constituency CLPs and to constrain the NEC in dealing with CLPs under special measures.
I reported on the conference debate on this rule change in an article, on my blog, called The Denoument.