Motions agreed at LLA conference August 23 2020

Solidarity with Sam Gorst and John Dunn

This Conference notes the twelve months suspension of LLA supporter and councillor Sam Gorst this week by the Labour Party HQ. 

He was previously investigated, but cleared. Sam’s new suspension, enforced after an investigation lasting six weeks, is punishment for a small number of entirely harmless media posts he wrote criticising the two anti-Corbyn MPs Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger for resigning from the party, calling for the expulsion of Margaret Hodge, criticising the Jewish Labor Movement and announcing that he was leaving Momentum. 

Nothing he wrote was even vaguely antisemitic, but it seems to be enough to criticise somebody who happens to be Jewish to be branded “antisemitic”. This is slander and actually makes the fight against real antisemitism and racism much, much harder.

Sadly, these new disciplinary measures (as well as fast-track expulsions) were introduced at Labour Party conference 2019, with the support of Jeremy Corbyn and his allies – proving once again the futility of trying to appease the right and the pro-Israel lobby.

We also wish to express our solidarity with LLA supporter John Dunn from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, who has been placed under a second investigation for being ‘rude’ to Owen Smith – a ‘crime’ for which he had already been found not guilty. The first investigation  came to the obvious conclusion that ”no further action” should be taken. 

We believe that the ongoing and expanding witch-hunt against socialists in the Labour Party is unacceptable. Labour’s disciplinary process is deeply unfair and lacks any natural justice.

We resolve to 

  • Express our solidarity with Sam Gorst and to campaign for his re-instatement. 
  • Express our solidarity with John Dunn and to campaign for all charges against him to be dropped.
  • Campaign for an investigation into mis-carriages of justice against socialists. All disciplinary cases processed during the last five years should be overturned, pending unbiased re-examination. The leaked report proves how biased those running the investigations were.
  • Campaign for free speech on Palestine.
  • Campaign to overturn the disciplinary measures and fast-track expulsions introduced in 2019.
  • Campaign for the Labour Party’s complaints and disciplinary procedures to be overhauled so that disciplinary procedures are carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and be time-limited: charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped. An accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty.
    – Require the publication of data on suspensions such as length of suspension and other key data, including protected characteristics.

Moved by Peter Bloomer (West Midlands LLA, OG) 
Seconded by Tina Werkmann (Labour Against the Witchhunt)


Free speech on Palestine!

submitted by Labour Against the Witchhunt

Conference notes:

1) The circular emailed on August 12 2020 to Constituency Labour Parties by General Secretary David Evans, states that certain subjects are “not competent business for discussion by local parties” – including the so-called definition of antisemitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the forthcoming report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the outrageous settlement payment made to former employees of the Labour Party who participated in the dreadfully one-sided BBC Panorama programme by John Ware, who now co-owns the Jewish Chronicle.The full text of the email is available here.

Conference further notes:

2) Labour party members have NOT been banned from discussing the IHRA mis-definition of antisemitism, the EHRC report or Starmer‘s settlement. The phrase “not competent business” is meant to intimidate and self-censor us, but it is merely hot air.

3) Left wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton explains:

 “The NEC and therefore the GS has no authority in the rules to dictate what is ‘competent business’ for a CLP to discuss. The only authority is in Chap 1, VIII, 3.E: ‘The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings…’ Conduct not content. Conduct is a noun meaning ‘the manner in which an activity is managed or directed.’ That is not the same as the content or subject the meeting deals with. The NEC can issue guidance on how a meeting can be run/organised but not dictate what motions are competent business.”

4) That NEC member Rachel Garnham has stated that the NEC knew nothing about this supposed instruction.

5) Shamefully, Jennie Formby also used the formulation “not competent business” to stop branches coming out in support of Chris Williamson MP. She failed – and dozens of branches and CLP passed motions in support of Chris! No disciplinary action was taken against any of them.

Conference believes:

6) That the ‘leaked report’ quite clearly shows that there was an organised and concerted campaign by right-wingers in the party to undermine and sabotage Jeremy Corbyn and the left. Some of those actively involved in the campaign have now been paid off by Keir Starmer. This is a clear misuse of party funds and an insult to all Labour members and the former employees have brought the party into disrepute. With his email, David Evans clearly wants to shut down debate on this and other important issues.

7) The Labour Party was wrong to adopt the ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), as part of the futile attempt to appease the right and the pro-Israel lobby in- and outside the party. It is designed to conflate antisemitism and anti-Zionism in its list of eleven examples and is an integral part of the witch-hunt against the left.

8) These are clearly important issues that must remain legitimate subjects for debate at Labour branch and CLP meetings. The witch-hunt against the left was one of the main reasons for the defeat of the Corbyn movement, and Keir Starmer is intent on further expanding it. Thousands of left-wingers have been hounded, smeared, vilified and wrongly accused of being antisemites during the last five years, while the number of suspensions and expulsions has massively increased in recent weeks. Standing by is not an option for us. Are

Conference resolves:

9) The Labour Left Alliance will urgently produce a model motion for Labour Party branches and CLPs on this issue. This shall also express no confidence in Keir Starmer and David Evans.

10) The LLA shall seek to build a united campaign with Labour branches, CLPs, trade union branches and other organisations around the slogan ‘Free Speech on Palestine’.

The campaign shall also seek cooperation with the initiative on ‘Free Speech’ initiated by Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Chris Williamson and Marc Wadsworth, which has held a couple of excellent online debates.

Some of the initiatives the campaign could organise:

  • days of action where we protest outside local Labour Party offices and/or Labour Party HQ
  • a campaigning website
  • model motions

A founding conference for a unified entity of the entire Labour left

Submitted by Wansbeck Labour Left

Conference believes:

The left must now come together to form a single, unified and fully democratic entity which is created by and speaks for the entire left and which can get organised in a bold, unapologetic and effective manner.

We believe this starts with a political program around which we can unite. That program is like a red silk thread which runs through our movement and touches and links us all together in one way shape or form.

In the medium to long term there will need to be a re-grouping of the socialist left into an inclusive, non-sectarian, non-vanguardist organisation. This will include many leaving the Labour Party in despair and others currently in one of the many left fragments, but it will coalesce primarily around the myriad campaigns which our class is creating in confronting capital’s crisis, which is the species threatening crisis of our planet.

We reach out to all Labour left groups and the wider left movement, via the LLA, to come together into a founding conference to reignite the left and to re-found our movement based on socialist principles. We stay in the Labour Party and we fight for socialist policies!

The details of a solid socialist political program, whatever is finally agreed, must be the single most important priority. We cannot let personality politics or any preciousness about positions within structures hamper our efforts to bring about the socialist transformation of society.

Solidarity to all comrades on the left. Let’s do this now!


Working with the Youth

Conference notes that:

The youth were enthused by the Corbyn surge and were responsible for a large part of the success in the 2017 general election

Movements such as Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter are also buoyed by the youth

Conference believes that:

The youth tend to be open to radical ideas and are less constrained by the inertia of conservativism and caution that may develop from familiarity with the status quo and/or the attrition of past defeats

The energy and optimism that the youth possess should be encouraged, and embraced to promote progressive politics

If the socialist movement does not engage them, the youth may become disillusioned with events and slip into inactivity or illusions with other parties such as the Greens, SNP, or even the Lib Dems.

The youth must be given the credit and confidence to take a key role in fighting for progressive demands to protect their future, by making them a key part of the democratic activity and direction of the left

Conference resolves to:

Seek to attract the youth by consulting existing or potential young signatories and/or engaging with youth organisations to seek ideas and collaboration

Seek affiliations from university societies and other youth organisations

Seek collaboration with the National Union of Students to coordinate campaigns to oppose the privatisation of academic institutions, tuition fees, and staff wage cuts, and consider creating a communication network of socialist students

Invite prominent youth figures to speak at our webinars or special meetings / conferences


Working with independent journalists and news outlets

Submitted by Rotherham Labour Left

Conference notes that:

The establishment has a grip on the mainstream media and this disproportionately favours the narrative of the ruling class and affects the political awareness of the working class.

Good quality journalism is often attacked with accusations of conspiracy theories, collaboration with competing international state governments, fake news, or other distortions to discredit alternative perspectives.

Some examples of journalists speaking out against distortions, misinformation, imperialism, injustices, etc

  • Craig Murray
  • John Pilger
  • Jonathan Cook
  • Robert Fisk

Some examples of left-wing / independent news outlets that provide an alternative to the mainstream media:

  • Morning Star
  • The Word
  • Another Angry Voice
  • The Canary
  • Double Down News
  • Evolve Politics
  • Novara Media
  • The Skwawkbox
  • The Prole Star
  • Voxpolitical

That the journalist in greatest danger is Julian Assange, who has performed a huge service for the people of the world by revealing the crimes of imperialist governments particularly the US and UK. For this service he has been subject to a decade of persecution and is now in danger of being unlawfully handed over to the US.

Conference believes that:

To tackle the propaganda of the ruling class it is important to promote journalists and news outlets that demonstrate integrity or at least challenge establishment propaganda.

To spread the ideas of socialism it is beneficial to work with prominent left/independent journalists and news outlets to promote and discuss our political positions & activities

That the LLA should act to assist defence campaigns for journalists and others who expose information of value to socialists and the working class.

Conference resolves to:

Establish regular communication with independent news outlets to publish opinion pieces, interviews or editorials on the current political climate or current LLA activities

Invite prominent independent journalists to speak at our webinars or special meetings / conferences, and to publish articles on issues LLA are focused on, including opinions on our perspectives

Develop a list of journalists and news outlets whose material is followed and shared or commented upon either in social media posts or website articles

Strive to fill a role (e.g. Media & Comms Officer) to focus and report on this activity

Seek collaboration with the National Union of Journalists to coordinate campaigns to oppose bias in the mainstream news outlets and consider building an organisation of left-wing journalists

To collaborate with and publicise the campaign to defend Julian Assange plus build support at all levels in the labour movement to prevent him being rendered to the US where he faces at minimum life in prison.


LLA Trade Union Organising Group 10 aims and principles

Submitted by 10 members of the LLA Trade Union Organising Group

We note the withering away of our rights as workers to defend ourselves against increasingly exploitative employers. Workers continue to have pay, working conditions, and health and safety put at peril by the erosion of our rights to organise. We condemn Tory draconian attacks anti- trade unions acts, and the failure of successive Labour governments to repeal them.

As an emerging left force we must campaign stridently for our rights to be reinstated by organising an effective force within the TUs of LLA members.

Therefore, the Trade Union Organising Group adopts the following 10 aims and principles – 

We call on the LLA conference to propagate and support the programme.


Online elements of CLP meetings

Submitted by North East LLA regional pre-conference event

CLP meetings should include a virtual element going forward. This would be a reasonable adjustment to allow ill and disabled members to attend meetings when they are unable to attend physically. With even Parliament being conducted both physically and virtually, this pandemic has revealed the possibilities of inclusion. All members deserve a voice in our Party and it is wrong to return to excluding some simply because they are physically unable to get to a meeting.


Electoral reform

Submitted by Bristol, Avon, & Somerset Left Alliance

Conference notes that

1) the UK is one of only three major developed countries to use a First Past the Post voting system for general elections. Most developed countries, including the world’s most equal and progressive societies, use a form of Proportional Representation in which all votes count equally and seats match votes.

2) First Past the Post has a strong right-wing bias wherever it is used, leading to parliaments that are on average much more right-wing than the voters. This corresponds exactly with the UK’s experience. Most votes went to parties to the left of the Conservatives in 19 of the last 20 general elections, yet the Tories have been in power for 63 per cent of this time.

3) Successive Conservative governments that could not have held office under a proportional system have attacked trade union rights and workers’ rights, public services and the welfare state. Instead of building a society “for the many”, this has created one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, with some of the most restrictive trade union laws.

4) Labour has promised a constitutional convention once in government, but this has not prevented us from pre-empting it by committing to other constitutional reforms such as an elected upper chamber and votes at sixteen. Labour has not yet even promised that the convention will consider electoral reform.

Conference believes

5) The world’s most equal and progressive societies all use forms of Proportional Representation which prevent rule by a right-wing minority and lock in the hard-won victories of their Labour movements.

6) First Past the Post means a small minority of voters decide the outcomes of elections, forcing political parties to focus their efforts on marginal constituencies to the neglect of the millions who live in safe seats. It is unacceptable that there are constituencies that have not changed hands in one hundred years; in which people have been born, voted their whole lives, and died, without ever influencing the result of a general election.

7) There are tried-and-tested forms of Proportional Representation which maintain a close constituency link between MPs and their voters, allow voters to vote for named candidates rather than just for parties, and do so while ensuring that Parliament reflects the people.

Conference therefore resolves:

8) To call for the Labour Party to commit to including the voting system for general elections in the remit of its planned constitutional convention.

9) To adopt a policy of opposing First Past the Post and instead supporting moves to explore, select and introduce a new voting system for Westminster elections.

10) To campaign for this policy within the wider trade union and labour movement.

11) To affiliate to the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform (£10 and then £5 per year).


Creation of a Veterans & Families Network within the Labour movement

Submitted by Merseyside LLA

  1. We recognise that members of the Armed Forces, its veterans and dependants, due to the uniqueness of their socio-economic standing, psychological conditioning and experience, combined with a lack of political or trade union representation, are a vulnerable and underrepresented section of society often with complex needs.
  2. We support the creation of a Labour Party Veterans & Families Network within the membership, with a dedicated Veterans & Families Officer (ex-forces or next-of-kin) within each CLP for them to represent the needs of their members and to report to the group on issues and actions both locally and nationally.
  3. We support full trade union rights and the freedom for members of the Armed Forces to organize as workers.
  4. We will campaign to Improve the welfare of the Armed Forces Community especially its veterans and their dependants through political activity within the Labour Party itself and the wider Trade Union Movement, to ensure that the Armed Forces Community is recognised within all authority directives (this was written in to the Armed Forces Covenant but many authorities are not delivering their commitment) like housing, adult social care, health, family etc and for the lead officers within each Authority Executive to meet with nominated Party representatives to look at actions and solutions.
  5. We will put pressure on Government and the Labour Party to ensure that our Armed Forces Communities, their recognised support networks, organisations both national and local are funded and supported to the correct level ensuring that they have sustainability and quality assurance written into their plans.
  6. We support the Commonwealth Forces and Families campaign in opposition to deportations and discrimination against ex-service personnel.

Britain out of Nato, Nato out of Britain, Down with Trident!

Submitted by London regional LLA pre-conference event

[The title is the full motion – no further text]


Scottish Independence

Submitted by LLA Scotland – Glasgow

The elections to the Scottish Parliament in May 2021 will again raise the issue of another referendum on Scottish independence. The LLA recognises that if a majority of the Scottish Parliament votes to hold another referendum then it is a simple matter of democracy that it should take place without obstruction by Westminster. At the same time the LLA believes that Scottish independence would weaken the working class on both sides of the border and therefore would support a socialist campaign against Scottish independence if there is another referendum.


The Labour Party in Northern Ireland

Submitted by Northern Ireland Labour Left Alliance

Context

Until 2003 the UK Labour Party held up a policy of not allowing residents of Northern Ireland to apply for membership, instead supporting the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) as a “Sister Party”. Following legal advice that the party could not continue to prohibit residents of Northern Ireland joining the Labour Party, residents of the North of Ireland were allowed to join the Labour party. It would take another six years of loose association for the National Executive Committee to establish a regional constituency party, Labour Party Northern Ireland (LPNI) in 2009. Since 2003 more than 2,000 people in Northern Ireland have joined the Labour Party, with nearly 700 supporters, but it continues to deny permission for Labour Party candidates to contest elections there.

The established political parties in Northern Ireland continue to operate on a sectarian basis, fermenting division within the working class. Historically, one of the ways the British Empire maintained power was by not addressing existing divisions within the lands it appropriated and allowing or encouraging those divisions to fragment opposition to its rule. Eventually, the opposition would achieve sufficient unity to overthrow their oppressors, but the unresolved conflicts would soon lead to significant internal conflict – India/Pakistan and Israel/Palestine are the most obvious examples.

Much of the political debate in Northern Ireland is dominated by the question of Irish unification. The class divisions within Northern Ireland needs to be addressed before the question of Irish unification can be properly considered without aggravating existing divisions within the working class and spiraling the current peaceful political situation into one of violence once more. None of the established political parties in Northern Ireland are willing to or capable of addressing these current divisions. Despite having a higher trade union membership per capita than the rest of the UK, a colourful past of direct working class action being taken against the violence of the troubles and showing great acts of solidarity with many working class struggles around

the world, residents of the North of Ireland have been denied their democratic right to vote for the party of their choice for twenty years. In the year 2020, they must be given the same democratic rights as the people of Scotland, Wales, and England.

Conference notes

More than 1600 Labour Party members are currently disenfranchised in Northern Ireland.

Conference believes

Established political parties in Northern Ireland cannot address the divisions within the working class and cannot provide any vision for progressive politics within the community.

Continuing to refuse Labour Party candidates the right to stand in elections in the North of Ireland is undemocratic and a denial of basic human rights.

Conference proposes

The Labour Left Alliance should urge the Labour Party to provide residents of Northern Ireland with the same democratic voting rights as all other members of the Labour Party, encouraging the international spirit of the labour movement across Ireland, basing the decision on the idea of a class struggle rather than that of the national question.