All-Member or Delegate-Only?
The model 2017 rules for the organisation of the Labour Party set out clearly the basis for constituency organisation (starts page 81, Appendix 7 – LABOUR RULE BOOK 2017)
The traditional model for organisation is known as a “delegate structure” – local branch Labour Parties elect a number of delegates, proportionate to the number of members they have. For nearly 100 years, this was the only model permitted by the rules. Sometimes other organisations, such as trade unions, or the Co-operative Party, can also affiliate and send delegates.
But in the late 1990s, as Labour’s grassroots withered and local branch parties all but disappeared, constituency parties were allowed to become “all member meetings” as an alternative. In some areas, this was the only way local Labour Parties were able to survive.
Today, both structures are permitted under Labour Party rules. It is for each local constituency party to decide which model it wants – but that choice has to then be ratified by the National Executive.
The rules make it clear that local constituency parties can change their structural model only at an Annual General Meeting, and that the decision to change shall require a two thirds majority.
Because of the chaotic situation which developed during 2016, leading to the suspension of the North Cornwall Constituency Labour Party, supporters of each, alternative, structural model are now entitled to feel aggrieved: the one thing everyone can agree on is that the rules have not been properly followed.
Therefore, the CLP has agreed that its next Annual General Meeting shall make the choice – between “delegate structure” or “all member.” The Executive Committee is recommending that the choice shall be made on the basis of a simple majority, at an “all member” meeting in March 2018.
The Executive Committee now wants to encourage the widest possible debate within the North Cornwall CLP, with supporters of each model promoting their arguments on the merits of the case.
This website is to be the main forum for information, so supporters of both “delegate structure” and “all member” organisational models should feel free to argue the case here. That does not mean that the debate cannot also take place more widely. But if anyone has any questions, this is the place to ask. You can add your comments or questions in the box below.
Supporters of each alternative model should try, as far as possible, to be detailed in their arguments. For example, if we are to be a delegate structure, then how many delegates, proportionate to the size of each branch membership? If we are to be “all member” then what percentage of that membership should be required to constitute a quorum? At today’s count, the North Cornwall Constituency Labour Party has 667 paid-up individual members.
The most important thing is that when North Cornwall Labour Party members turn up for the AGM next March, they are aware of the issues, and the rules, and feel confident to engage in the debate.
Graham Smith, Chair
Resolution proposing Delegate Only (General Committee) Structure and Resolution proposing All Member Structure