We are deeply worried about the delay to implement the trigger ballots, which Labour Party conference 2018 voted to reform. Trigger ballots are currently the only way in which Labour Party members can exercise some democratic control over their parliamentary representative.
This is particularly worrying with talks of a snap election or, worse, the formation of a national government. No doubt, Jeremy Corbyn would not be invited to join – let alone lead – such a national government, as the vast majority of MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party have proven over and over again how deeply hostile they are to him and his politics.
The PLP must change and Labour Party members must be allowed to exercise the right to hold their representatives to account!
This is an issue that is of course closely related to our campaign: The witch-hunt against left-wingers in the Labour Party is chiefly a campaign by the PLP and the right in and outside the party to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn by smearing him and his supporters as anti-Semitic.
In January, the Labour Party’s NEC commissioned general secretary Jennie Formby to urgently issue guidelines on how to launch trigger ballots (without such guidelines, CLPs cannot launch proceedings). But then we saw the ‘Independents’ around Chukka Umanna and Luciana Berger split and Tom Watson started to gather his troops. The Guardian reported at the end of February that in an “attempt to stop further defections, Labour could delay the start of re-election battles” and that “Labour is set to put back the start of the formal MP selection process, due to begin in a few weeks, which could have led to vast numbers of MPs facing deselection.”
It seems they knew what they were talking about: The March NEC has come and gone and there are still no guidelines… It would be a disaster if Labour Party HQ has yet again chosen a path of appeasement. Surely the last three and a half years have shown that this does not work! For every step back the left takes, the right makes two steps forward! That’s why we have launched this petition, which has been signed by almost 600 people in less than 24 hours – please sign and share it widely! This is a democratic issue that goes right to the heart of the fight for Labour’s future!
No to a national government! Implement the trigger ballot now!
We are members and supporters of the Labour Party who support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. We believe that with the ongoing chaos over Brexit, there is a real possibility of another snap general election.
While we welcome such an election, we believe there are some real dangers:
1.) Unless the makeup of the Parliamentary Labour Party dramatically changes to more accurately reflect the will and composition of the membership, Jeremy Corbyn could well be held prisoner by a majority of MPs who are deeply hostile to the Corbyn project. As soon as Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader, a majority of Labour MPs plotted against him and attempted to sabotage every move. A witch-hunt was launched – backed by the Tory government and the media – which has seen thousands of members investigated, suspended and expelled.
2.) There is also a danger that anti-Corbyn Labour MPs will join some form of national government – to stop Jeremy Corbyn from becoming prime minister. The PLP must change to stop such an outcome.
We therefore call on the Labour Party NEC to urgently launch guidelines and a timetable to help branches and CLPs to get ready in case a snap election is called. Labour Party conference 2018 voted for trigger ballot reforms – although the overwhelming majority of members actually voted in favour of the much more democratic ‘open selection’ of all parliamentary candidates. It would be deeply undemocratic to deny members the chance to decide on who should represent them (as happened at the snap election in 2017, when CLPs were told the sitting MP would simply remain in place without any democratic input by the local members).
Background: How do the reformed trigger ballots work?
Labour Party conference 2018 voted to introduce two separate trigger ballots: one for all the branches of a CLP, another one for all local affiliates (trade unions, socialist societies, cooperative organisations).
Once the NEC has published its timetable (and only then) are members and affiliates asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to retaining the sitting MP as the only candidate. If 33 % of a CLP’s branches or 33 % of the CLP’s affiliates vote ‘no’, then a full selection process starts – ie, a democratic contest between different candidates, including the sitting MP. Only full Labour Party members have a vote in this next stage of the process.
We will be publishing model motions on this issue soon, see www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org