Model motion: Implement the reformed trigger ballot

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Model motion: Implement the reformed trigger ballot

This branch/CLP notes:

  • Labour Party conference 2018 voted to reform the trigger ballot, which is currently the only way in which Labour Party members can exercise some democratic control over their parliamentary representative.
  • This was moved by the NEC as part of the ‘democracy review’ and thereby superseded the much more democratic rule change for ‘open selection’ of all parliamentary candidates (which was supported by over 95% of CLP delegates at the 2018 conference).

We also note that:

  • In January 2019, Labour Party general secretary Jennie Formby was commissioned by the NEC to “urgently” draw up guidelines and a timetable for the implementation of the reformed trigger ballot. Without such guidelines, CLPs cannot launch proceedings.
  • In February 2019, eight Labour Party MPs split from the party to form The Independent Group, which is currently known as Change UK.
  • The Guardian reported on February 25 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.”
  • This is indeed what seems to have happened: At the March and May meetings of the NEC, proposals to implement the trigger ballots have not been presented and this important democratic issue seems to have been kicked into the long grass.

We further note:

  • At the snap election in 2017, CLPs were told that the sitting MP would simply remain in place, without any democratic input by the local members.
  • The ongoing Brexit crisis makes another snap election or, worse, the formation of a national government, a real possibility. Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to be invited to join – let alone lead – such a national government, as the vast majority of MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party have proven how hostile they are to him and his politics.
  • Unless the makeup of the PLP 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.

We therefore urge the NEC to:

  • Urgently launch guidelines and a timetable to implement the trigger ballot and help branches and CLPs to get ready in case a snap election is called. Labour Party members must be allowed to exercise the right to hold their representatives to account.
  • Rule out the possibility that Labour Party MPs will participate in any kind of ‘national government’.

Background: How the reformed trigger ballots works

Labour Party conference 2018 voted to introduce two separate trigger ballots: one for all the Labour 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 CLP 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.

For example: A CLP has 10 branches and 10 affiliates. To start a full selection process, EITHER 4 LP branches OR 4 affiliated organisations have to vote ‘no’ when asked if they want to retain the sitting MP.

Proposed rule change motion for Labour Party conference: Open Selection

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Proposed rule change motion: Open Selection

This branch/CLP believes:

  • that being a Labour MP should not be a job for life;
  • that candidates should be selected openly without restrictions before each general election;
  • that all individual and affiliate members should be able to participate in the selection of candidates;
  • that the existing system of trigger ballots prevents this from happening and creates unnecessary antagonisms, turning what should be a normal open process into an implied vote of no confidence in a sitting Labour MP;
  • that a fully democratised Labour Party based on the principle of One Member One Vote is the best way to ensure the election of a Labour government with the strength and resolve to create a fair and just society for the many, not the few.

Therefore this branch/CLP:

  • calls upon the NEC to endorse and support the LI Rule Change motion from 2018 and to reintroduce it as an NEC rule change at the next Labour Conference;
  • moves the following rule change to Labour Party conference 2019:

Replace Clause IV.5 and IV.6 with the following:

“5. Following an election for a Parliamentary constituency the procedure for selection of Westminster Parliamentary Candidates shall be as follows:

  1. If the CLP is not represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than six weeks after the election and complete no later than 12 months after the election.
  2. If a CLP is represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, then a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than 36 months and complete no later than 48 months after the election. The sitting Member of Parliament shall be automatically included on the shortlist of candidates unless they request to retire or resign from the PLP.
  3. The CLP Shortlisting Committee shall draw up a shortlist of interested candidates to present to all members of the CLP who are eligible to vote in accordance with Clause I.1.A above.”

    Consequential amendments to be made elsewhere in the Rule Book where the ‘trigger ballot’ is