Labour Party Conference Report 2019
Jane Holland, Delegate
Youth Delegate, Indigo Haynes
Indigo and I travelled to Brighton on the Friday, and on arrival shot a two-minute film called THE ROAD TO BRIGHTON PIER, where Indigo explored Brighton and discussed North Cornwall CLP’s Constitutional Amendment to devolve Cornwall from the rest of the Labour Party, in the same way that Scotland and Wales are devolved. I immediately uploaded this film to our Red Cornwall Youtube channel and you can see it here.
On Saturday morning, we made our way to the Brighton Centre, where most of the conference business for delegates took place, and basically spent the next 5 days camped out there. So much for getting to any fringe events! Debate on motions started quite early each morning and lasted until nearly 6pm, once voting had finished, with a short break for lunch. Sometimes we had MPs speaking on issues or delivering reports, and so-called ‘references back’ or Points of Order constantly interrupted the debates. Plus there was Jeremy Corbyn’s great speech after the prorogation of Parliament was judged unlawful, which electrified the delegates and had us all chanting, ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!’
As delegates, we had to keep track of enormous amounts of information, so we knew how to vote at the end of each day. It was exhausting and demanded massive concentration, but was also hugely enjoyable as we were helping to shape Labour policy.
On Saturday, after the opening speeches, the first order of business on the list were NEC Constitutional Amendments. So we were expecting those to happen before the CLP Amendments. But to our shock, North Cornwall CLP was suddenly called to move its Constitutional Amendment on Cornish devolution! Pressure had also been brought to bear on us, via a series of text messages just prior to this, to withdraw the amendment, as it would almost certainly not be carried. But I had been instructed to continue regardless of pressure, so we did.
Jane and Indigo
Indigo got up to speak, and acquitted herself very well as the first CLP speaker of the whole conference, despite having to wait for the Chair at the start, and then being wrongly allowed only 2 minutes 23 seconds instead of the full 3 minutes available to her! You can see her speech on Steve Haynes’ Youtube account, where it’s had over 300 views to date. Throughout the rest of the conference, we were approached by other delegates who told us they voted for that amendment because they were so swayed by her persuasive argument, and indeed we even garnered 10,000 Union votes, which we certainly never expected!
Delegates from across Cornwall
FOR: 28.58% – 91,000
AGAINST: 71.42% – 229,000
FOR: 0.58% – 10,000
AGAINST: 99.5% – 1,863,000
TOTAL: FOR: 15% and AGAINST: 85%
All rule changes put forward by the NEC (and supported by the NEC) were carried. No CLP rule changes were supported by the NEC; those that were not withdrawn prior to debate were not carried, including our own. Motions put forward by CLPs for debate at conference were narrowed down over several evenings of discussion into a small number of topics, put up for debate as ‘composites’. Since it would take too long to itemise all the motions debated at conference, I shall restrict myself to commenting on Composite Motion 13 (Brexit) and what followed its defeat.
Basically, this motion would have committed Labour to campaigning on a Remain position. Speakers on both sides spoke passionately, and in the end it was not carried, while Composite 14 – a bridging motion which advocates a referendum allowing people to vote on a Labour-deal Brexit, alongside an option to vote Remain – was carried, as was the Leader’s Position on Brexit, closely allied to the terms of Composite 14.
The atmosphere in the hall during the vote was highly charged, to say the least, but much of the noise and angry chanting seemed to be coming from non-delegates up in the gallery. We heard tales of furious Remain onlookers tearing up their placards and shouting for a card vote. Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, said afterwards, “What you’ve seen here is a massive show of support for Jeremy Corbyn,” adding that it was “time to unite”.
We were proud and grateful to have been there in the room where it happened, and to have helped shape both the future of the Labour Party and, if Labour wins an election before we Brexit, possibly the whole of the United Kingdom itself.
Indigo with Len McCluskey
Indigo spoke again on the final day of conference, in support of Composite Motion 22, Mental Health, and got a big round of applause for her speech. The motion was subsequently carried. That speech is also available on Steve Haynes’ Youtube account.
You can also find general film footage from the conference on the Red Cornwall Youtube channel, including a clip of Jeremy Corbyn talking about Cornwall when addressing the South-West Reception. There should be more to come, as I gradually edit and upload it. Do please ‘like’ the videos and leave comments if you can.
Jane Holland, October 2019
AN OVERVIEW OF CONFERENCE BUSINESS 2019
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS 2019
Card vote 1 (NEC) – Multiple Constituency CLPs – 95.52% for, 4.48% against – CARRIED
Allows arrangement of multiple constituency CLPs with NEC approval
Card vote 2 (NEC) – BME Representation in Selections – 97.26% for, 2.74% against – CARRIED
Seeks to rectify minority under-representation
Card vote 3 (NEC) – CLP Officers – 96.91% for, 3.09% against – CARRIED
Sets out CLP officer roles, and mandates required quota for women officers
Card vote 4 (NEC) – Local Government Committees – 81.47% for, 18.53% against – CARRIED
Changes local campaign forums (LCFs) to local government committees (LGCs). Introduces delegate structure of Labour group, CLP and trade union representatives.
Card vote 5 (NEC) – Labour Groups – 84.01% for, 15.99% against – CARRIED
Allows group members to participate in meetings remotely and gives NEC power to require a direct election of the group leader
Card vote 6 (NEC) – Disciplinary Powers – 72.54% for, 27.46% against – CARRIED
Increases NEC powers over the disciplinary process, including expulsion, appeals and amending disciplinary guidelines, etc
Card vote 7 (NEC) – Democracy Review Implementation – 97.29% for, 2.71% against – CARRIED
Updates references to 2018 and 2019 to 2020.
Card vote 8 (CLP) – Devolved Cornish Labour Party – 14.58% for, 85.42% against – NOT CARRIED
Establish a devolved Cornish Labour Party, with an independent conference, policy process and staff.
Card vote 9 (CLP) – Aims and Values – 28.47% for, 71.53% against – NOT CARRIED
Re-introduces the old Clause IV.
Card vote 19 (CLP) – Aims and Values – 31.42% for, 68.58% against – NOT CARRIED
Re-introduces the old Clause IV.
Card vote 27 (CLP) – Election of Labour group leaders – 25.43% for, 74.57% against – NOT CARRIED
Electing Labour groups with a council majority via electoral college of local members and affiliated trade unions, both groups weighted 50%:50%.
SELECTED KEY POLICIES ANNOUNCED AT CONFERENCE 2019
Workplace Menopause Policies
Independent review into far-right extremism
Scrap prescription charges in England
Stop detaining torture survivors
End in-work poverty
End the need for food banks within 3 years
SELECTED KEY COMPOSITE MOTIONS PASSED BY CONFERENCE 2019
Labour’s Socialist Green New Deal (net zero carbon emissions by 2030)
Brexit (public vote)
Working House (4-day week)
Universal Credit and Employment Support (scrapping UC)
Schools (integrating public schools into state sector)
Homelessness (national emergency)
Housing (ending Right to Buy etc.)
Free Movement and Closure of Dentention Centres
Mental Health (£2bn funding)