September 2019 CAC Report

This report covers two meetings, one held on Monday 16th September and the other yesterday (Wednesday 18th September). It also includes things that happened between the two meetings.

Monday’s Agenda:

  • Time Table
  • NEC Statements
  • Mitcham and Morden Rule Change
  • Brighton Pavilion Rule Change
  • Scrutineers and Tellers
  • Motions to Conference
  • NEC Ruling on Organisational Motions
  • Conference Pass Rejections

Timetable: The CAC were given a copy of the latest draft of the timetable. I raised concerns that an earlier draft of the timetable was sent to all Delegates in the Delegates Pack, however that was the first members of the CAC had seen it. It was acknowledged that this was not right and apologies were accepted.

The timetable has subjects at the top and these are explained as follows:

  • There are themes at the top (i.e. Rebuilding Public Services)
  • Under those each NPF Policy Commission Theme will fit
  • Under that will be the subject grouping.

So under ‘Rebuilding Public Services’ it could include NHS, Local Authority Cuts etc. The themes were devised prior to knowing what motions had come in and are just to add structure to the event.

NEC Statements: Billy raised concerns that the NEC statements were yet to be presented to the CAC and thus the Delegates. He felt that this also meant that Delegates had yet to see them and were unaware if there are any ‘consequentials’.

Consequentials: this is where an NEC statement is voted upon by Conference and if passed, it leads to a Rule Change (Constitutional Amendment) falling automatically as a consequence. This was a concern last year.

It was agreed the CAC will ask the NEC for their statements ASAP to give Delegates time to understand the consequences and that the consequences like last year were clearly printed.

There is another debate to be had on party democracy on how the NEC can compile a statement of proposed rule changes after CLPs submit theirs and these are voted upon first.

Morden and Mitcham Rule Change – This CLP had submitted a Rule Change in time, however due to an admin error it was not included in the pack in July 2019. It was agreed to accept this rule change and allow it to be heard this year.

Brighton Pavilion CLP Rule Change Appeal – This rule change was ruled out of order in July as it was stated that it covered a rule already voted upon in the last 3 years. You can submit a rule change on the same rule already changed in the last 3 years as long as it does not overturn or substantially impact upon in the last 3 years.

For example: if Conference voted in 2017 that all CLP Secretaries should be given 1kg of free chocolate by the party, a rule change can come in 2018 which retains that right and proposes something else – i.e. ‘and Chairs should do the minutes at least 3 times a year’ however if a rule change came in that then called for ‘no food to be given to any CLP officers by the Party’ – whilst this is not exactly the same rule change, it has an impact on the rule passed in 2017 – it will remove (overturn) the 2017 decision if passed.

The CLP had submitted a written appeal which was very in-depth and explained the technicalities. The appeal went to vote and I did not vote, instead I aired my concerns that we did not have sufficient time to read and understand the appeal, and that we should ask the CLP to present their appeal on Wednesday as the nuance of their cases was probably better explained verbally.

The Chair agreed to take this proposal to vote and it was lost.

Scrutineer and Tellers – The list of scrutineers and tellers were agreed from CLPs. We are still awaiting scrutineers and tellers from Affiliates and Trade Unions. I asked that we reviewed the process of how these people were selected in future as I did not believe it was transparent.

Motions to Annual Conference – We agreed to rule out all of the motions which exceeded the 250 word count. Brighton Pavilion had submitted a motion of 250 words and added a footnote, they had enquired whether footnotes were allowed and if not it can be removed. The CAC agreed to accept the motion with the footnote removed.

There were 398 motions submitted, this was double the amount last year. There were currently 53 subject groupings. The CAC then participated in long debates to see whether we could merge some of the subject groupings together to give them a better chance in the priorities ballot. At present with 20 potential debates in the priorities ballot, there was a 40% (ish) chance a motion could be selected.

I pushed for the single Youth Service motion to me merged with the motions on Mental Health which were predominately about Mental Health and Young People to ‘Young People’s Services’. The CAC voted and agreed, however then I retracted as I realised this left the motion from Sheffield Hallam as a stand-along and this put this at risk when it was closer to the other Mental Health motions. I then proposed to merge the Youth Services motions with Local Government Austerity but then retracted as I felt it diluted the Youth Services motion. It was very tough.

Billy then advocated for the merging of the Freedom of Movement motions with the Detention Centres motions. This led to a lengthy debate, again whether it diluted the motions main point, I spoke in support of merging it to a single category of ‘Immigration’. It went to vote and it was decided that it should stay as two separate items.

NEC Ruling on Organisational Motions The CAC were given a letter from the NEC Organisational Sub-Committee which stated that Organisational Motions were still to be referred to the NEC and not tabled at the Conference (i.e. they did not meet the criteria) – I am paraphrasing, it actually did not give interpretation of the rulebook, but stated that the removal of the ‘Comtemporary’ criteria did not mean that organisational motions were now accepted. Based on this, we were unable to allow any motions which were on organisational matters to be tabled.

Conference Pass Rejections: The CAC were informed of two cases. These were for noting. Rejections on grounds of failure of Police Security checks are not shared with the CAC for confidentiality reasons. Failure to meet the Police Security Checks are automatically rejected.

As the two cases involve individuals I will note state the details in my report.

In between Meetings

Immigration Motions: Billy and I were heavily lobbied by people who felt that the motions on Freedom of Movement and Detention Centres should be merged. I spoke to the Chair of the CAC and emailed the rest of the CAC to ask if we could look at this again on Wednesday, the Chair agreed.

Missing Motions: I was emailed and contacted heavily by quite a few CLPs who believed their motions had not been received or that they had not heard the outcome. The volume of queries was concerning. The Conference Team investigated and found out that some motions were being submitted through the old system on Members Centre and not the new link on the website which was sent to all CLP Secs.

Some we had approved on Monday did not receive the email to inform them of our decision – as all of these were approved on Monday and they were sent another email to confirm this. I understand all has been resolved.

Part Two – Wednesday 18th September 2019

Wednesday’s Agenda:

  • Policy Officers
  • Compositing
  • Conference Charity
  • Immigration Motions
  • Macclesfield Appeal
  • Brighton Pavilion Appeal
  • Chairs for the Conference Sessions
  • Additional Motions
  • Disciplinary Rule Changes Relating To Anti Semitism During Shabbat
  • Reference Backs and Emergency Motions

Policy Officers: The CAC were introduced to the 8 members of the Policy Team, who will be with us in the composite meetings. Each member of the Policy Team led on each of the NPF Policy Commissions.

Compositing: We were given a briefing on compositing and how we will logistically work potentially 20 debates! Composites will happen over two evenings and there will be 10 each night, 5 in one batch and then the other 5 in another batch. This meant that each CAC member would do at least 2 composites each and possibly 3.

It will be made explicitly clear to Shadow Ministers that the composite belongs to the members, and does not require formal sign off or agreement from Shadow Minsters.

It was discussed on Monday whether CAC members should be exempt if their CLP or Union had submitted a motion on the subject. It was agreed that CAC members should declare at the start of their composite who they were and who they represented.

I informed the meeting that like the previous 2 years I will not be the Chair of the Composite where my CLP had submitted a motion. Whilst this is not a requirement, I have always felt that this was a conflict.

It was confirmed that delegates will get access to a PC/Printer if they wished to draft a composite ahead of the composite meeting (so no more scrap pieces of paper). The room is Room 15 at the Brighton Centre. I asked for this in the review last year as I felt that CLP Delegates were at a disadvantage to present draft composite motions at the composite meetings.

We are still exploring how we can enable delegations which are in the same composite can contact each other ahead of the meeting – however we might not figure this out in time for this year.

Conference Charity: This year’s Conference Charity as voted for by the CAC is Make Change Count (click here). Money raised as part of this campaign will be shared between the charities: Brighton Housing Trust, St Mungo’s, Sussex Night Stop , Equinox, Antifreeze, The Clock Tower Sanctuary, YMCA Downslink Group, Umbrella Brighton & Hove and YMCA Brighton.

All money donated will go directly to people sleeping rough and will be used to provide food, access to shower facilities, healthcare, clothing and support from outreach workers to move people away from the street as well as a wide range of practical help to suit individual needs. No funds raised will be used for administration of the charities.

Make Change Count have an advert included in the conference brochure, a crowdfunding page, a video to promote the charity which will be shown at conference and on digital screens around Conference as well as posters. Nancy Platts will inform the conference how to donate and give information on the charity during her speech.

Immigration Motions: The chair allowed us to debate the concerns members had raised about the two separate groupings. The debate was lengthy and heated, and boiled down to a vote on whether we should allow an appeal on subject grouping as this was not offered to anyone else. I voted to allow the appeal as I felt that CLPs had appealed our decision and the absence of a process of appeals was our oversight. It was voted not to allow appeals on subject groupings.

This then led to two further debates; the first was that we should introduce subject grouping appeals in future and the second was how CLP Reps felt that due to the way we were elected (OMOV) our profile was higher amongst the membership and this meant CAC decisions fell to Billy and I to publicly front. There are many members who actually believe that the CAC is just Billy and myself.

There was a heated discussion about ‘collective responsibility’ and I argued that ‘collective responsibility’ also meant that there was a responsibility not to leave Billy and I to face decisions alone and that the different voting systems gave us an unfair consequence to our decisions. I called for a meeting with the Chair, Billy and I to discuss this and other concerns in more detail – the Chair agreed and we are arranging a meeting during Conference.

I also made it clear I will continue to let members know how I voted and what decisions I took in CAC meetings in my monthly reports, I did not see this as a breech of ‘collective responsibility’ – I am accountable to the electorate (members). In any elected role I hold, I always inform those who put me in that position how I voted.

However I accepted that either Billy or I did disclose on Social Media what the vote result was and this meant how others voted was apparent. It is up to other CAC members to inform or choose if they inform the electorate how they voted.

Macclesfield Appeal: Macclesfield had appealed the CAC’s decision that their motion was referred to the NEC based on it being ‘Organisational’. I voted against hearing this appeal as this also had no process and if it was to be heard then it contradicted the earlier vote on the Immigration Motion. The CAC agreed that this appeal should not be heard – however that we should introduce an appeal on this too. We agreed we would look at an appeal process for every decision we make on motions and rule changes.

Brighton Pavilion Appeal: We agreed the appeal from Brighton Pavilion, which we had offered them on Monday. After hearing the [written] appeal we agreed the motion could be submitted.

Chairs for Conference Sessions: The CAC were circulated a list of Chairs for each session of Conference. It was agreed that the CAC will write to the NEC to ensure the panel is diverse in terms of Gender and Ethnicity. It was also agreed that the Chairs are informed about not using Gender Pronouns when selecting speakers.

The same rules apply this year which is the standing up and/or waving of large objects to get the Chair’s attention will not be allowed. It was also agreed that anyone chosen already will be sent back once their card was scanned to avoid different Chairs choosing the same delegate accidentality.

Standing Orders:  The CAC were given a copy of the draft Standing Orders, which were agreed at the NEC on Tuesday.

I made comments on: Composites tabled by delegates, clarity on what can be referenced back, consistency of a deadline of the reference back and still enable people to Reference Back at the start of the debate, clarity on what constitutes a ‘point of order’, suggestion of a potential triage of a ‘point of order’ to avoid people shouting “point of order” only to say something which is not a ‘point of order’. Clarity on how card votes are called and confirmation that all Constitutional Amendments (rule changes) are card voted by default.

It was stated when I asked that the Standing Orders were going to be published in the CAC 1 report and not in the rulebook, which meant that members could not submit a Constitutional Amendment – however members could submit a Constitutional Amendment of Chapter 3.1.G if they wished to change the rule which stated how standing orders were presented (i.e. that it should be part of the rulebook) – am I even making sense?

Additional Motions: Those who contacted me and the CAC team on Tuesday, your motions were found on the old system and were presented to the CAC. We made a ruling on each.

Concerns About Rule Changes on Anti-Semitism taking place during Shabbat: I raised concerns from the JLM that a rule change on Anti-Semitism was being discussed on a Saturday (during Shabbat) which excluded observant Jewish members. I also stated that I could not find the rule change that was being referred to and this could be an NEC statement? Either way, this needed to be seriously looked at if it is the case.

I strongly feel that the voice of Jewish members should be heard if this was being discussed and that is beyond just hearing the voice of speakers on the stage, the practice of Shabbat means that observant Jewish members could not even hear the debate remotely via TV or the internet in live-time.

It was unanimously agreed that the CAC write to the NEC to ascertain that if there was a rule that was specifically about Anti-Semitism/disciplinary cases which included Anti-Semitism and ask if this specific rule change could be moved to Sunday or elsewhere on the agenda.

Reference Backs and Emergency Motions: The deadline for this is 19th September 2019 at noon. Delegates can still reference back at the start of the debate, we only introduced the deadline to give us a rough idea for timetabling and prevent a queue of people.

Emergency motions should be sent to cac@labour.org.uk and not to me! I am getting a few emergency motions sent to me, and I have no idea why!! Stop! Please!  

The next meeting is on Friday 20th September 2019

I may not have time to write a report for this meeting, however I am taking questions on Twitter @seemachandwani or email me and I will hopefully pick up the questions in time. Delegates and visitors can come to the CAC office if they have problems during Conference.