Edited by Frank Bonner from Steve Hudson’s report for Labour Germany.
Labour International Review / Branch Building
The LICC is actively pushing branch building all around the world. New branches are springing up everywhere, which is fantastic! At the same time, however, the LI review (a survey of all members) revealed various points we need to address:
Gender balance. Unlike Labour as a whole, which is much better balanced, LI is 69% male, 31% female. We urgently need to review our structures, our outreach and our representation to give women a fairer voice.
Isolation: 77% of members at the time of the survey were organised in neither groups nor branches – giving them few means of actively participating in LI. The aim is to have all members covered by a branch using video technology as required.
Purpose: There wasn’t always clarity about what a branch was for.
The following points were generally approved:
- Giving Labour supporters abroad a home
- Canvass and outreach to UK voters abroad
- Reporting on the positives and negatives of foreign policy solutions to Labour
- Joining up activists and campaigns across borders
Membership: There is a need to have a close look at who is eligible to join Labour.
Raising LI’s profile – agreed that we need to make our voice more clearly heard in the party through greater activity.
Democracy in Labour International. It was generally agreed that we need to drastically improve our democratic arrangements particularly in relation to elections. Getting more people into branches will also help.
Labour Party Democracy Review
Submissions on the third phase of the Labour Party Democracy Review are due in by 28th June. Amongst the ideas considered were:
- Decentralised power, horizontal democracy and instant recall
- A new generation of office-holders reflecting social demographics (& earning worker’s wages)
- Transparency, democracy of information
- Public ownership, giving people the economic and political control of their own lives
On how we make policy:
- Transparent democratic of control of policy creation, allowing popular input, and allowing communities to define their own desired outcomes
- Abolishing the NPF, making Conference decisions mandatory, and founding democratically-elected Policy Assemblies to create policy in defined areas
- An ongoing review process
On Electing our Leadership:
- OMOV (re)selection by local members, abolishing shortlists, and using STV / AV
- Local candidates for local constituencies
- Multi-seat constituencies to guarantee gender balance and diversity
On How We Work:
- Increased online OMOV and interactive debates
- Sortition (i.e. members councils randomly selected, like jury service)
- Empowering local communities to shape their own policy – including financial power.
Equality & Diversity / Campaigns
Katy filled us in on the forthcoming referendum on repealing the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution, which outlaws abortion.
There was general agreement that this was a campaign that Labour International could and should be getting involved with – defending women’s rights over their own bodies, and – as an added side benefit – increasing LI’s profile in the one country (Ireland) whose citizens are currently allowed to join Labour without restriction, wherever they live.
We should also look at using Labour International’s international reach to join this campaign up with similar campaigns abroad – most especially the current fight for abortion rights in Poland.
On campaigns, Joe had prepared an online video presentation – showing the skill set we need to get our message out successfully!
For the next general election we can’t expect the Tories to make the same mistakes again: their campaign is likely to be short and sharp.
The challenge is in reaching the 5.5 million UK voters overseas – of whom only a small percentage currently vote. If the Tories pass Votes for Life, overturning the 15 year rule, this is an enormous constituency which Labour hasn’t begun to reach out to. The key here would be data.
Beyond electioneering, there are lots of campaigns we can get involved with, for instance:
- Abortion rights campaign (especially LI Ireland & Poland – see above)
- Campaign in support of LI’s motion on mandatory reselection for sitting MPs
- Campaigns for workplace rights (e.g. Deliveroo, McStrike) internationally.
Sunday morning was devoted to a session on Brexit, with two speakers giving opposing points of view. Finn Geaney of the Irish Labour Party and Dublin Trades Council, who spoke in favour of the EU, and Mick O’Reilly, former leader of Unite in Ireland, who spoke against it. This was followed by a lively discussion
Finally we also agreed on an emergency motion condemning the bombing of Syria.