Labour's Conference Arrangements Committee has ruled out of order almost all the rule changes proposing democratic improvement which were submitted by local Labour Parties to the 2009 conference and which (under an odd rule, dating from 1968, which says that rule changes, except those proposed by the National Executive, must be debated the year after they're submitted) were due for debate at this year's conference.
The pretext for the rule changes being ruled out of order is that they refer to sections of the rules in which, before 2007, "contemporary motions" to conference were mentioned. At the 2007 conference Gordon Brown pushed through a ban on "contemporary motions", saying that local Labour Parties and unions could submit only "contemporary issues" (to be passed on to the National Policy Forum, rather than being voted on at conference). In several sections of the rules, the word "motions" was changed to "issues". That change, claims the CAC, prohibits any other rule changes on those sections for now because of the constitutional provision that no rule change can be re-submitted for debate within four years of previously coming to conference.
This outrageous ruling-out-of-order was rushed through the CAC as an official recommendation, without notice and without trade-union members on the CAC being really aware of what was happening. Now the CAC is not due to meet again until conference.
Moves at the conference to refer back the CAC report should be supported. Even if they don't win, they can create enough stir to stop the CAC trying similar tactics again. If the CAC prevails without protest this time, it will surely do the same again in future years.