Labour’s National Executive Committee meeting on 18 September will be the last place the democracy review is discussed and amended before it is put before the 2018 conference.
It is unclear exactly how the varying proposals will be voted on, or how they may interact or conflict with rule changes which are due for debate at this conference.
Hopefully the NEC will provide clarity on this point but delegates will probably not see the review until the eve of conference. To help support the democratic process, the review should be published as soon as possible following the NEC meeting, and at the conference it should be moved in parts allowing delegates to make proper decisions. The last time a review was undertaken, Refounding Labour, delegates were only able to see the document less than a week before publication and it was voted on as a whole by the conference.
The press have been mostly focused on Momentum’s support for a version of mandatory reselection, which comes from a rule change rather than as part of the review.
There is an ongoing debate on what will happen with the trigger process for MPs. It is almost certain that no proposal outside of the democracy review, such as Labour International’s rule change for “Open Selections” will be adopted. The Unions are unlikely to put their weight behind any proposals that are not covered in the review. John McDonnell hinted heavily when interviewed on the Today programme on 11 September that he does not believe there will be significant changes to the current trigger process, which he then went on to defend as reasonable. Unlike McDonnell, Solidarity believes that mandatory reselection is a fundamental method of accountability for MPs, councillors and any other elected officials. McDonnell is busy trying to calm down growing tension with the Labour right and in response to the recent no confidence votes against a number of sitting Labour MPs.
The National Policy Forum is set to be scrapped, a welcome change and one that has been a key demand of the left since it was setup under Kinnock.
Those elected to the NPF as of 3 September, will hopefully never meet! While abolition of the NPF will mean conference regains its sovereignty over policy, activists are still going to have to push for it to be enforced.
Despite a genuine commitment to party democracy, all policy that came into the 2017 manifesto, and since, has come from the Leaders and Shadow Cabinet offices. A lot of these proposals have been popular with members but they have failed to take into account actual policy the Labour Party has. Similarly the votes won at conference in 2017 have hardly been mentioned let alone become policy or even campaigns.
The change in NEC elections is reasonable, to have a by-election in the case of a member stepping down rather than the highest loser getting an automatic place. Scottish and Welsh reps could now be elected by their conference delegates and in the event of the UK leaving the EU, the place for MEPs would be replaced by a dedicated place for a disabled member. A welcome development but representation for disabled members should exist regardless of Britain’s relationship with the EU.
Rather than at the level of the leadership and governing of the whole party, some of the controversy was generated by a GMB-backed proposal that Labour members in an area would elect their own council leaders rather than the labour group. Not surprisingly the Councillors reps on the NEC are unhappy, both are right wingers.
Sadly these proposals are now shelved awaiting further consultation.