I appreciate that you, our local CLP secretary, will not welcome a third open letter from me, but on the other hand: (a) you do not respond to my emails; (b) despite being a fully paid up member I have had no communication whatsoever from you in 2017; and (c) nothing has changed since my first and second open letters. Rather than rehearse my previous requests and suggestions, which remain as blogs on my website (www.grahamscambler.com), I will get to the point.
My fundamental issue with you is the lack of local democracy and accountability. So reluctant were you to respond to the surge in local membership after Jeremy Corbyn’s first election as leader of the party that you: (a) declined to hold a social so that we could all get together and talk; (b) did not inform new members about meetings or send them minutes afterwards; (c) refused to hold a ballot of local members on the second leadership election; and (d) declined to circulate members to ask if any would be willing to share their email addresses to facilitate informal meetings and conversations about policy and so on. Since I informed you that I would no longer be attending pointless meetings to make up the numbers I have heard nothing from you at all.
This is what I think must change:
- ELECTIONS – you say we currently need only six members present at a meeting for it to be quorate, this despite a membership of over 200. The standard requirement to be quorate is 25% of the membership, so your 6% is historical and no longer appropriate. Region needs to be informed that it will be 25% from now on. Neither the officers nor the management committees were appropriately elected. For the management committees, it was whoever happened to be present and put their hands up. Both the officers and the management committees should face a proper election, involving personal statements, political views and voting on the part of the whole membership. As things stand, they lack legitimacy.
- ACCOUNTABILITY – there is no mechanism whatever for accountability to the membership. Indeed the chair has explained that only ‘active membership’ – that is, attendees – count. I attended for over a year and estimate average attendance to be 15-20. In other words, only 15-20 are consulted about CLP/branch matters. But it is worse than this. Ever since the management committees were formed, I have had no feedback at all about their meetings or decisions, and I assume I am not the only one. This insults the local membership of 200+.
Last time my partner put proposals forward she was shouted at by the chair, who complained of Corbynite entryism, and you summarily closed the meeting without even bothering to take a vote, which speaks volumes. But here goes: I propose the following motions:
- That we hold a meeting asap to which ALL local members are invited;
- That we change the quorate requirement from 6% to 25% of the membership;
- That we agree to hold and organise proper elections for officers and to management committees of the CLP and the branches;
- That we invite the newly elected officers and members of the management committees to hold annual socials and to establish policy events and workshops on an on-going basis;
- That we give active consideration to working together on local issues with other agencies and personnel.
I should add that I have no personal ambitions in relation to any elected position.
I am of course disappointed that Labour’s candidates were imposed on CLPs by the NEC, though I thought our candidate did an excellent job, as did his agent. The overall GE result was perhaps more of a surprise to anti-Corbyn Labour MPs, CLPs, members and to the commentariat than to those of us who have supported Labour’s twice elected leader from the outset. I suspect we will have another general election in the autumn (but who can tell). It would be encouraging if we could put our local house in order in anticipation of a campaign to come.
It will shortly be two years since I re-joined the Labour Party. I am sure that I was one of many who took democratic procedures and accountability for granted before discovering otherwise (centrally as well as locally). It’s beyond time the issues I have repeatedly raised were addressed