Labour: left making gains

Submitted by Matthew on 26 July, 2017 - 8:54 Author: Keith Road

Voting has opened in the Conference Arrangements Committee elections where left wing challengers Seema Chandwani and Billy Hayes received four times as many nominations as their incumbents.

There is a good chance that with the strong campaign being pushed by Momentum and others on the labour left that they will win. Their victory would make it far more likely that rule changes including those backed by Stop the Purge and Campaign for Labour Party Democracy will make it through and be up for debate in 2018. This would be just the start for activists who want to shape and change Labour Party policy and democratise its structures.

The full delegations elected by many CLPs still have a chance to debate contemporary motions which can be submitted up until 14 September. Where there are left wing delegations they should ensure their CLPs meet before the deadline to discuss these motions and others that are going to conference and work on ensuring the delegates will vote in accordance with the CLP view. Rule changes like the “McDonnell amendment”, which changes the proportion of nominations needed for a leadership candidate to 5% of MPs and MEPs, are likely to be hotly contested by the right.

News that the NEC has agreed to put 75-80 candidates in place for November, in preparation for another general election are also to be welcomed. These will be selected in key marginals and the left should organise to ensure these selections are democratic and that where possible working class, labour movement based candidates with a record of struggle are selected.

A recent New Statesmen article highlights that progress (sic) is starting to be made for the left in Labour. A quote from Progress Director Richard Angell highlights the change since the election, “Corbyn supporters are no longer the underdog in the party, and understandably people who joined recently are highly motivated to get their opinions across, so they’ve been turning up in droves at local meetings,”

“They’re not brilliantly organised but they’re there, and they turned up with this sense of ‘we told you so’, so they’re starting to win things that they wouldn’t have before the election.”

The challenge now is to become more organised and even better at winning. As the article goes onto highlight where there are active local Momentum groups like in Lewisham, these battles can be won.

Councils against cuts?

The Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees has written to the largest cities outside of London to coordinate some sort of fight over local government cuts. Such a stance appears to go beyond the vague calls to unite against the cuts seen previously, but stops short of calling for open defiance of the cuts programme.

Bristol is currently holding a series of public consultations with the usual suspects of libraries, disabled and elderly peoples’ support services, and others all in the potential firing line. The letter to Council leaders states that; “My view is that we should harness the energy around the campaign and recognise the weakened position of the government. “If we don’t lead this energy, someone else will. We need to shape it into a constructive rather than potentially destructive form of expression.”

Previous attempts to get Councillors to vote against cuts have seen isolated individuals resist and then find themselves expelled from the Labour group, and unable to make a real impact. A resistance that harnesses the power of multiple authorities would be a step forward. The labour movement and national party leadership should urgently seek to overturn current party policy which make setting no cuts budgets as against party rules.