Why the time has come to build a democratic Labour Left Alliance

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn put his name forward to stand as leader of the Labour Party there has been a massive campaign to undermine and remove him by the Tories, elements of the establishment and the right in our own party, with backing from the overwhelming majority of the mainstream media. Of the numerous unfounded smears thrown at Corbyn – being too scruffy, not bowing deep enough, being a Czech spy etc – those around antisemitism have been one of the most consistent avenues of attack.

They have not had everything their own way – Moshé Machover was readmitted to the party after a major campaign and their attempts to move against Lisa Forbes, now the MP for Peterborough, before and after her election have not succeeded. Momentum nationally is no longer on the side of the left in these battles and this has become increasingly clear – as has its own lack of democracy.

There is an urgent need to take steps to unite the genuine, democratic Labour left. We are committed to making this process open, democratic and transparent. We want to involve as many principled local, regional and national Labour left organisations and union bodies as we can.

We are not saying anyone should resign from or disaffiliate from Momentum to participate. But one of our concerns is that if we don’t act now people who joined to support Corbyn will leave in disillusion. The need to move at pace must be balanced with the need to build in a democratic and sustainable way. Several national organisations got this endeavour started, and now there are several dozen local groups signed up to this initiative, and we are having positive discussions with many more.

We strongly encourage all signatories to join the Labour Party and we also welcome those who have been suspended or expelled as part of the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn. We encourage all comrades not already members of local Labour Left groups to get involved in one or help set one up. We will gladly help you to find a speaker, advertise your meeting or assist in any other way we can.

Labour belongs to us – let’s unite and fight for our party!

Click here to read and sign up to the appeal!

All motions received on the subject ‘Our structures/constitution’

A) Proposed draft constitution

submitted by Labour Against the Witchhunt and Sheffield Labour Left
-> please send comments and proposed changes to info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org (last update: October 10 2019). PDF version available here.

Labour Left Alliance – our rules

  1. Our aims
  2. Individual supporters
  3. The Organising Group
  4. The Steering Committee
  5. LLA conference

1. Our aims

The Labour Left Alliance was set in July 2019 to bring together groups and individuals on the Labour Left in order to build a democratic, principled and effective alliance that: 

  • organises democratically and transparently;
  • both supports Corbyn against attacks by the right, and is independent and able to criticise the leadership when necessary;
  • opposes racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all other forms of discrimination and is consistently internationalist, a stance which by definition includes support for the democratic and national rights of the Palestinians;
  • opposes attempts to conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism and opposes the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and the left;
  • campaigns to radically transform and democratise the Labour Party and the trade unions;
  • campaigns for the implementation of trigger ballots (as a step towards mandatory reselection) so that the Parliamentary Labour Party better reflects the pro-Corbyn views of the vast majority of members;
  • supports and encourages struggles now against austerity and all forms of oppression;
  • supports the free movement of people.

We believe in the free and open exchange of ideas and viewpoints. We do not have ‘party lines’. But once LLA has agreed a particular action, a campaign, a leaflet etc. we ask that supporters do not sabotage or undermine it.

2. Individual supporters

We expect all LLA supporters to be members of the Labour Party and encourage all those not already involved in local Labour Left groups to become active in one or help set one up. Our aim is to organise every single supporter in an active local or regional Labour Left group. We also welcome, on all levels of the organisation, those who have been suspended or expelled as part of the witch-hunt against the left and Jeremy Corbyn.

Individual supporters are requested to pay a minimum of £10/year to help secure the funding of LLA.

3. The Organising Group

The OG is made up of representatives from all the groups whose affiliation to the LLA has been accepted by the OG. It is up to local and national groups to decide how their representatives are chosen or if and when they should be replaced.

  • All national trade unions can appoint up to three representatives once they have paid the affiliation fee of £500/annum.
  • Any local or regional trade union or Labour Party body can appoint one representative once they have paid the affiliation fee of £100/annum.
  • Every broad left national organisation or organisation representing special interests or particular groups of members with over 200 members can appoint up to two representatives once it has paid the affiliation fee of £200/annum.
  • Every broad left national organisation or organisation representing special interests or groups of members with under 200 members can appoint one representative once it has paid the affiliation fee of £100/annum.
  • Every bona fide local group (including Momentum groups) with a minimum of 10 signed up LLA supporters can appoint one representative once it has paid the affiliation fee of £20/annum.

All representatives on the Organising Group have to be signed up supporters of the Labour Left Alliance.

Groups/organisations/trade unions that are affiliated nationally may also affiliate their regional or local branches, but these cannot send representatives to the OG to avoid duplication and overrepresentation.

The OG should meet at least quarterly, in a face-to-face or an online meeting. It can also make decisions via email or other agreed communication channels by a simple majority of those voting within a given timeframe. It produces regular minutes/reports to LLA supporters. If possible, meetings should be scheduled well in advance (at least one month).

All decisions at all levels are made by a simple majority of those voting (excluding abstentions).

The OG can set up working groups and sub-committees on any particular subject. These work closely with the relevant officer on the SC.

4. The Steering Committee

The Organising Group, at its first meeting after conference and then annually, elects a Steering Committee of the size of its own determination and in order to fill at least the following positions, which have the following responsibilities:

  • Secretary and assistant secretary: Overseeing the implementation of decisions made by SC and OG; drafting email bulletins and other communications with members; compiling and distributing minutes; assisting the OG in organising its meetings etc.
  • Chair: Prepares agendas and chairs meetings of the SC and, on agreement of the OG, meetings of the OG; assists the secretary with overseeing the implementation of all decisions of the SC and OG, etc
  • National organiser: Main contact for affiliated local and national groups; helps to set up and run new local Labour Left groups etc.
  • Campaigns officer: Pulling together, sharing and publicising local experiences, motions and campaigns; seeing through any LLA campaigns agreed by the SC/OG.
  • Treasurer: self-explanatory.
  • Social media coordinator: Overseeing the social media team; making sure there is a steady flow of content produced for public FB page and Twitter etc.
  • Trade union organiser: Organising LLA supporters in different unions; works to get local, regional and national unions affiliated to the LLA etc.

The OG can elect and recall members of the SC at anytime and by a simple majority. Where a position cannot be filled, the OG can co-opt somebody from outside the OG.

The SC is in ‘permanent session’ and makes decisions via face-to-face meetings, or any other agreed ways of communication. All decisions are made by a simple majority of those voting within a given timeframe (ideally, between 24 and 72 hours).

The SC produces regular minutes and work reports for the OG. These should be produced at least monthly, but more regular at peak times.

If there is a serious disagreement on the SC, the issue should be brought to the OG to be resolved.

The SC will discuss any motions or proposals that have been submitted by affiliated, bona fide national or local groups and any motions or proposals submitted by a minimum of 25 individual members. This includes motions and proposals on national campaigns and policy. The movers of those proposals will be informed in writing of the outcome of the discussion. Should the movers disagree with the way forward/the decision by the SC, they can submit their proposals to the Organising Group, which will have to discuss it at the earliest opportunity.

Proposals to change or amend the constitution should be directed to the OG, which will decide if the matter can be decided by the OG or if a special conference should be called.

The SC is accountable to the OG, which can overturn decisions made by the SC at anytime.

5. LLA conference

LLA conference meets at least once a year, but the OG or a petition by 10% of individual supporters, can call a special conference at anytime and on any subject.

Conference makes decisions on:

  1. political strategy
  2. campaigning priorities
  3. structures and constitution

The OG establishes a Conference Arrangements Committee for the purposes of deciding speakers and the agenda and to determine whether motions are within the remit of LLA etc.

The OG decides on the ratio for the election of delegates. It will allocate all members to a particular area where a democratic meeting will be held for the purpose of electing conference delegates and deciding on motions and amendments. 

All affiliated local or national groups or any 10 LLA members can submit one motion and one amendment on each separate conference heading.