Sincere apologies for the delay in my monthly report, I recently stood for a Local Government by-election and it was a full on campaign schedule. I also used to use Campaign Creator to send my reports and now I have to go over to Organise and it took me ages to figure out how to upload my own list!
The CAC met on December 4th 2018. The meet was in three parts, the first was a post event briefing, the second was an AGM and the third was a regular CAC meeting.
Post Event Briefing
This was attended by the CAC pre/during conference and newly elected CAC members. We covered the following points:
- Compositing and Shadow Minsters: I raised concerns that some Shadow Minsters had informed delegates that they had the final sign off of composites. This is simply not the case. Delegates must reach a consensus and the Shadow Minister is there for advice and guidance. They can of course express why they don’t believe the policy is viable or even legal and delegates need to consider that before reaching a decision.
- Draft Delegate Compositing: I raised concerns that draft compositing was not a level playing field as delegates could not meet before hand to produce a draft composite. It was agreed that delegates in the same categories will be introduced to each other in an email ahead of the priorities ballot so they can start to develop a composite. Delegates will also be given access to a PC and printer. This way delegates can also table a composite or composites at the composite meeting.
- Use of Technology at Composites: Many delegates reported to me that they found keeping up with the changes in composite was difficult. As someone who chaired a composite meeting, it was tough for me to keep up. Then we had to wait for a new version to be printed only for people not to be happy so we did it all again. I have suggested that the changes are done on a large screen for people to visually keep up, these will be looked into.
- Selection of Speakers (delegates called to the stage): This received the lowest score on the feedback survey. It should be noted that delegates acted impeccably with the new rule not to bring large objects to catch attention and stay seated. But many felt disappointed they had not been chosen. The CAC felt the disappointment would be better if everyone felt the selection of delegates was done well, and not being selected was just unlucky. It was agreed that the events team will present options for the next meeting for the CAC to look at and agree.
- Seating in the Conference Hall: I expressed strong concerns that delegates should have been seated with their CLP delegation and it was not acceptable they were grouped within their regions. There were strong assurances this would not happen again.
- CAC Reports and Documentation: It was agreed once again that CLP Secretaries will be emailed the CAC documentation sent daily to delegates so that they can play the important role of communicating to members. There was a discussion at the level of paper used at conference and a system to ask delegates to request paper copies at time of registration was discussed. Many delegates read the CAC reports on their phone/tablets.
New Conference Arrangements Committee: The 2019 CAC members are::
o Harry Donaldson
o Mick Murphy
o Lynne Morris
o Tracey Fussey
o Emily Rowles
o Billy Hayes
o Seema Chandwani
Harry, Mick, Lynne, Tracey and Emily are elected in the General Division, they are elected to serve for two years (even years 2016/2018/2020 etc.) The election for General Division is by ballot of Conference Delegates.
Billy and I are elected in the CLP Division, we are elected to serve for two years (odd years 2017/2019/2021 etc.) The election for the CLP Division is by One Member One Vote (OMOV). Nominations for the CLP Division start in January 2019 and closes in June 2019. Our election takes place over the summer.
- Election of Chair of CAC: Harry Donaldson was elected unopposed. There are no other positions on the CAC. The Chair of the Women’s CAC is normally elected at the AGM but as the Women’s Conference is now a stand-alone conference, and it’s due to take place in February it was agreed the current Chair (Jayne Taylor) continues until the Women’s Conference is over.
General CAC Meeting:
This meeting looked at the 2019 Conference.
- Venue: It’s important to note that venues are booked years in advance to secure the dates. Therefore this year the conference is in Brighton. The Events Team spoke candidly about their concerns with the Brighton venue:
o Poorer Disability Access: The building is not as new as Liverpool and comes with a myriad of disability access issues. The CAC welcomed the improved feedback from Disabled Delegates, but recognised the improvements were partly thanks to the building in Liverpool.
o Seating: The party is a lot bigger and CLPs are sending larger delegations. There is a possibility not all will be able to fit on the conference floor and some delegates will be seated in the balcony. This has a range of problems in relation to getting to the stage. The Events Team will be presenting the CAC with a range of options at subsequent meetings.
o Different Venues: The CAC were firm in their support for the Events Team to seek other venues in the future, including the option of staying in Liverpool every year.
- What happens to motions/reference backs? I know, I am still asking about this! The response is, they go to the National Policy Forum (NPF). My response was, my CLP can pass a motion at GC and send it to the NPF! There was a mixed message discussion where policy once passed on the Conference floor is policy and Brexit was cited as an example. But when I queried my CLPs 2017 Housing motion (as an example I have full working knowledge of), I was told it was sent to the NPF. I then stated that the NPF report did not cover it, hence why my CLP in 2018 Conference had to Reference Back and now I want to know what happened to that? The CAC was informed the NEC is reviewing the NPF following the Democracy Review. However, I felt that the integrity of the Conference the CAC are responsible for, must include what happens to the motions – that’s the purpose of Conference. I will be continuing this conversation and be speaking directly to CLPs who submitted a motion (non-Brexit) to find out what feedback they have received.
- Changes at Conference: The Democracy Review proposed several changes which were voted upon and passed at Conference. This included 20 topics for debate from the current 8. Below are the changes agreed and/or to be agreed:
o Longer Conference: As the Women’s Conference is no longer taking place on the Saturday but is a stand-alone Conference in the Spring. The National Labour Conference will now start on Saturday – Wednesday. CLPs need to note that this will in turn increase costs for an additional night.
o Composites: It will be impossible to hold 20 composite meetings in one night, especially as there are only 7 members of the CAC who have to Chair. Therefore, composites will take place over two evenings.
o Removal of Contemporary in Motions Criteria: As motions no longer need to be ‘contemporary’ they can be submitted at any time from January to September and not wait the NPF report being released in early August. This is probably welcomed news by CLP Secs who have to usually organise a special meeting in Sept.
o Removal of One Year Delay on Rule Changes (Constitutional Amendments): This means the 2019 Conference will hear rule changes submitted in 2018 and those submitted in 2019. The deadline date is still June as Party Staff need to check the legality of the rule changes.
- Registration System for Delegates: I think this was the main thing I was contacted about in the past 12 months. I have suggested the following new system:
o CLP Secretaries to registered delegates: A minimal registration of name, membership number and email of delegates (all on one page as we do for nominations) is done by CLP Secretaries. There should be an option for the CLP to pay in one go, request an invoice or for delegates to pay (all CLPs do this differently). Delegates are then emailed a form to complete with more detail (passport number, photo, previous addresses etc.).
o What this would solve (hopefully):
- Clear lines of responsibility: Hopefully there will be no-more of delegates and CLP Secs assuming the other was doing the registration. CLP Secs do not have to chase delegates to meet the deadline, if they miss it, it’s their fault.
- Payment: Many CLPs like mine pay direct for their delegates, some reimburse their delegates because it’s hard to pay on the registration form individually – this is daunting for those with little finance.
- Conference Services knowing in advance if there is a problem: Conference services will be able to know how many delegates you’re sending (as CLP Secs have completed a form with the full cohort) and not wait til the deadline has passed to see how many you’re sending. They will also know earlier if you have tried to register someone not eligible or not met your Gender Requirements.
The above is being looked at to see if it’s possible.
- Other changes:
o It was agreed that there would be an additional date if a delegate was rejected for CLPs to seek an alternative.
o A robust appeals system will be examined in subsequent meetings.
- Better Relations with Disability Labour: The improved relationship with Disability Labour since the new executive of DL came into place was noted. I informed the CAC that I have spoken to DL and would prefer if they led on raising access issues at Conference. It was agreed there will be a Disability Rep on the CAC as part of the Democracy Review, although it’s unclear how and when they will be elected.
- NEC Development Fund: Delegates with Disabilities can apply to the NEC Development Fund for support to attend and participate in Conference. However this is never really applied to, with only 3 applications last year. I gave my feedback on why and the following will be looked into:
o CLPs may feel they can only apply to the NEC fund once: This is the same fund CLPs are applying to for other things. In reality, funds in the NEC Development Fund are ringfenced for Disability Access at Conference. It was agreed the fund will be renamed so CLPs are clear they can apply to the NEC Development fund for things like a Borough Organiser and to this newly named fund for disabled access at Conference and they can apply to both. They can also apply for disability access for more than one delegate.
o Disabled Delegates are not aware of this fund: It was acknowledged that some delegates do not stand to be a delegate because they are not aware of this fund and only become aware of after they are successfully elected as a delegate. It was agreed more needs to be done to market this fund.
Scottish Delegate Participation:
Firstly can I apologise to my Scottish colleagues, this is one thing I promised to do and have not. I will do so in a few weeks. However, I did present a verbal report to the CAC with the findings and below is also the actions:
- Cost of accommodation: A large number of respondents cited that accommodation costs were the main barrier. A few suggested that the Labour Party should secure hotel rooms at a fixed price as they are extortionate on the open market:
Feedback: It was apparent that CLPs were not aware the Labour Party already do this. They secure prices with a wide range of hotels at a fixed price and there is a special link for CLPs to book via. It was agreed that this needs to be explained more and is probably lost in all the information sent out. This was not only a Scottish problem.
- Cost of transport: A large number of respondents cited that it was more expensive to travel from Scotland and this was a disadvantage for Scottish delegates. It was suggested by some, that the Labour Party should charge CLPs closer a levy to help others further away:
Feedback: It was apparent that CLPs were not aware the Labour Party already do this. All CLPs can ask the Labour Party to arrange their transport and all pay the same amount regardless of where they are travelling from. CLPs who arrange their own travel, still have to pay a pooled fare. So for example when the Conference is in Liverpool my CLP asks the party to sort out transport £92. But when it is in Brighton, the ticket only costs £10 so I book it myself but still have to pay £42 pooled fare to the party. It was agreed this needs to be explained better and this was not a problem just for the Scottish CLPs.
- Cost of pass: One of the common barriers was the pass was too expensive. A few suggested that Scottish CLPs should be given a free pass for a delegate to encourage participation.
Feedback: It was apparent that CLPs were not aware that every CLP gets a one free Conference pass (they still have to pay the pooled fare). It was acknowledged this needed to be marketed better and not just to Scottish CLPs.
There were some who knew about all of the above, and still felt that £400-£600 (travel, accommodation etc), was still a lot. There were also some who pointed out, due to distance, Scottish CLPs had to pay an extra night’s accommodation.
Others felt that attending Scottish Labour Conference was more relevant and that they’d rather send delegates to that instead of national conference.
It was agreed that I will present the full findings of my consultation with the CAC in February and this will be passed to the Scottish Labour Party and the NEC for further discussion. I will email it to Scottish CLPs prior to the CAC meeting.
- Women’s Conference: I have received a few emails from CLPs asking about Women’s Conference. Women’s Conference has its own CAC and the CLP Reps are Jean Crocker (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and Teresa Clark (email: email@example.com) Teresa is a CLP Secretary so is in the CLP Secretaries Facebook Group and is taking questions.
- 2019 CAC Elections: I can confirm that Billy Hayes and myself are both restanding and would appreciate nominations. I am checking with compliance whether I can use this list to distribute my flyer (feels a bit of an unfair advantage).
The date of the next CAC meeting is on 4th February 2018. If you have anything you wish for me to raise, please let me know by emailing me on seema (at) seemachandwani.co.uk
Elected CLP Rep on the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC)