Labour in crisis – what next? A discussion conference for LLA supporters

Saturday 30 January, 11am – 3.30pm

11am – 1pm
The lessons of Corbynism
Motions:
1. The weaponisation of antisemitism and the witch-hunt (Tina Werkmann et al)

1pm – 1.30pm Lunch

1.30-3.30pm
How could we transform Labour into a party of the class?
Motions:
2. Building a socialist alternative inside and outside the Labour Party (Matthew Jones et al)
3. Trade Union motion (Pam Bromley et al)
4. Proportional Representation (Andrea Grainger et al)


Background paper from Labour Party Marxists (not for voting): Thesis on Keir Starmer’s Labour Party – here

Motions (all  motions received are also featured further below)

  • Motions and position papers are invited on the agenda topics as detailed above.
  • Position papers/motions may be submitted by any 10 LLA signatories as well as any affiliated organisation/group.
  • The number of motions and amendments must not exceed 10 per group/any 10 LLA signatories, with a maximum of 5 for either motions or amendments.
  • Maximum word count of 400 words per motion.

Deadlines:

  • Wednesday 20 January for motions (midnight)
  • Wednesday 27 January for amendments (midnight)
  • Emergency motions may be accepted at the discretion of the chair (decisions on admitting emergency motions can be overturned by conference).

Conference participation and details

Conference will be run as a Zoom meeting (rather than a webinar), to enable greater engagement and participation. Conference is open to all LLA signatories (rather than just delegates).

The proposer and seconder of each motion are chosen by those who submit the motion. The selection of speakers in any debate is at the discretion of the chair.

Conference retains the democratic right to amend motions.

  • Proposing a motion: 5 minutes
  • Seconding a motion: 3 minutes
  • Speaking for or against a motion: 2 minutes
  • Point of order:  1 minute

The conference is open to signed up LLA supporters only, who will receive an invitation to register for the Zoom meeting via email. You can sign up to the LLA here before 28 January in order to attend conference.

Motions and background papers received:

Motion 1: The witch-hunt and the Labour Party

The campaign to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn started even before he won the Labour leadership election in 2015. Millions were inspired and over 350,000 left-wingers joined the Labour Party. This posed a real problem for the ruling class – Tony Blair had worked hard to transform the party into a safe ‘second eleven’ that could be trusted to run capitalism.

But most attempts to undermine Corbyn were like water off a duck’s back. That changed when he was accused of harbouring antisemites. Instead of calling out this lie, the Corbyn leadership behaved as though they believed it – and sought to appease right-wing saboteurs. The ‘leaked report’ shows that in the process they displayed an inability to recognise real antisemitism, while eagerly trying to get rid of activists like Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, none of whom can be accused of even a trace of antisemitism. This campaign quickly snowballed out of all control. Thousands of members have been thrown to the wolves in the process.

Predictably, the witch-hunt has not stopped with Corbyn’s defeat. Keir Starmer and David Evans have used the opportunity to try and get rid of the entire left. The recent wave of suspensions of CLP chairs and secretaries for daring to allow the tabling of motions in support of Corbyn and free speech has to be firmly seen in the context of the ongoing witch-hunt.

In order to avoid making the same mistakes again, we believe the Labour Left must learn some lessons and maintain certain demands/principles:

–    Appeasement never works.
–     We stand in solidarity with all victims of the witch-hunt, not just those who were disciplined in the ‘second wave’.
–     We campaign to overturn the party’s commitment to the IHRA’s so-called definition of antisemitism, which conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism.
–     We need a disciplinary process that is fair, transparent and based on natural justice. The Governance and Legal Unit should be scrapped and replaced with a democratically elected body.
–     We campaign against the recommendations of the EHRC report, which demands that antisemitism cases are outsourced and which leads to a curtailing of free speech.

Tina Werkmann
Roger Silverman
Daniel Platts
Pam Bromley
Carol Taylor
Matthew Jones
Ken Syme
Tasib Mughal
Robert Arnott

Motion 2: Building a socialist alternative inside and outside the Labour Party

We have to understand the attack on Party democracy and the membership structure of the Labour Party (LP) as part of a wider trend of attacks on democratic rights by the ruling class on a world scale. The depth and acute nature of the economic and social crisis of capitalism – given another twist by the impact of the COVID19 pandemic – has meant the ruling class has had to resort to increasingly autocratic methods as social inequality has increased to grotesque levels. The LP cannot afford membership democracy when its leadership and elected representatives are being instructed to take responsibility for increasingly savage measures against the working class.

We understand

  1. That historically the left in the LP has been subordinate to the right, although the accidental election of Corbyn showed that the existing structures allowed the left to take the leadership. The Starmer / Evans regime wants to ensure this cannot happen again and the LP can be trusted by the ruling class.
  2. That the degree of economic, social and political crisis of capitalism means that democracy and free speech are increasingly being closed down, including in political parties.
  3. That the intention of the Starmer / Evans leadership is to drive out the left from the LP and largely destroy the membership structures and democratic mechanisms of the LP. This is effectively a means of splitting the LP.

We resolve

  1. To promote by all means the self organisation of the left inside and outside the LP. The building of “shadow structures”, for example via the Labour In Exile Network, is a promising start to this.
  2. To promote the discussion of political theory and which lessons we need to learn from the Corbyn leadership of the LP.
  3. To work on building a socialist alternative inside and outside the LP, including in the unions, which are likely to be a key element.

Matthew Jones
Tina Werkmann
Roger Silverman
Ken Syme
Sandy McBurney
Tasib Mughal
Pam Bromley

Motion 3: Trade Union Group

This conference notes that an effective fightback in the labour movement will only be successful through mobilising in the unions. We also note the bureaucratic nature of most trade unions in Britain.

They are under the control of appointed, unelected and barely elected full time officers, resting on a compliant lay bureaucracy of committee men and women.

The exhorbitant wages and conditions enjoyed by the officer elite, means that they live in a very different world than the members, that they are employed to represent.

Defence of their jobs, careers and sinecures is prioritized over the interests of the members at every key juncture, leading to a conflict of interest at every level.

The pursuit of the trade union bureacracies vested self interest manifests itself in both the industrial and political arena.

Numerous industrial disputes are not pursued with the vigour and determination they should be.

Their tendency toward unprincipled compromise is a powerful factor in the defeat of many industrial disputes.

In the political sphere, the misuse of the trade union block vote at the 2018 Labour party conference, meant that the open selection of MP’s was not debated.

In the same month trade union delegates to the Labour party NEC had voted in favour of the IHRA definition of anti semitism, facilitating the intensification of the witchunt

The LLA therefore resolves to campaign for 

  • The regular election of all full time officials  Proposed amendment: with the chance of a recall election.
  • For the wages of such officials, to be no more than the average wage of a skilled worker or the average salary of the workers in the workforce represented by that union whichever is the greater.
  • The devolvement of finance and focus, to a branch and workplace level, from a regional and national level.
  • The rebirth of the shop stewards movement in every union and industry.
  • The democratisation of the trade union block vote at Labour party conference.
  • Increased accountability of the trade union delegates to the members of the union
  • To encourage LLA members to become active in their union and to develop new members by offering mentoring/training to encourage effective activism

Pam Bromley
Steve McKenzie
Carol Taylor-Spedding
Bob Hall
Vince Williams
Jonathan Cooper
Maggie Gothard
Ross Charnock
Craig Murphy
Peter Grant
Alec Price
Anna Hubbard

Motion 4: Proportional representation

This conference notes;

  • That the UK, Belarus, USA and Canada are the only western democracies to not have a form of proportional election system.
  • That recent polling shows 75% of Labour members endorse some form of PR.
  • That labour voters are distributed poorly across the country, with many of our voters stacked in safe seats, where their votes do not help us win MPs. Because of this in the 2015, 2017, and 2019 elections the Labour party won substantially less seats per vote than the Tory party.
  • Nearly half the seats in the country are safe-seats which rarely ever change hands, and where there is very little incentive for people to vote or campaign in the general election.

This conference believes;

  • That the First-Past-The-Post electoral system contradicts the democratic and progressive values that the labour left champions
  • That our current electoral system disenfranchises large groups of people in the UK, makes their vote meaningless, makes them feel powerless, and discourages them from getting involved with politics.
  • That our electoral system renders it near impossible to form a new party to the left of labour, and ensures that labour never has any serious competition for progressive votes.
  • That our electoral system forces all far-left, left-wing and centre-left activists into one party, which inevitably leads to massive internal party conflict and division, which damages morale, demotivates activists and weakens our movement.

This conference resolves;

  • To apply to join the Labour For a New Democracy group, which is bringing together different Pro-Pr groups in the party
  • To encourage our members to consider a motion on PR for the next labour party conference, and vote in favour of such a motion
  • To publicly endorse Proportional Representation as a progressive solution to problems in the british left.
  • To pressure the labour party leadership to support PR and implement it during their first term in office

Supporters: Andrea Grainger, Liv Singh, Chris Donovan, Shiraz Hussain, Richard Crawford, Reuben Ramsay, John Bernard, Barry West, Jon de Rennes, Graham Burnby-Crouch, Jenny Almeida