Arguments for Open Selection

Why We Need Open Selection?


Why We Need Open Selection

Over the last few years, Labour has been re-establishing itself as a campaigning, democratic socialist party, whose key objective is making life better for the majority of people and tackling the excesses of the few.
A key part of the ability to do this lies in the democratic nature of the party. Democracy is not a dry, fixed thing. It is a living, vibrant idea which needs to be worked at and amended to fit the times we find ourselves in.
An important lesson we learnt from the two recent leadership elections is that where we campaign around the day to day issues affecting peoples lives, we bring people into the party when they see the chance to change things for the better for themselves, their neighbours, friends and families. They then mobilise a vote for Labour from those closest to them in the general and local elections.
Labour elects and regularly re-elects people at all levels of its structure, from Branch Officers through to the Party leader. It is a democratic system that ensures people stay in touch with those they represent and are sensitive to their changing needs and concerns. It also provides a simple system for bringing new people into activity and responsibility, as existing office holders move on to other things.
The one area where this sensible and well-established system does not work is in relation to Members of Parliament. The current arrangements do not afford them the constant renewal of their mandate that regular reselection affords to others at all other levels of the party. Given the important role played by MPs, this democratic deficit needs to be remedied. This is why the Labour International Co-ordinating Committee put forward a Rule Change motion last year, which will be discussed at this year’s Conference.
The LICC are in a unique position to advance this argument as we have no MP and therefore have no axe to grind. Under the present system, re-selection battles almost inevitably become acrimonious and personalised. But because our proposed system is automatic, this is minimised. We have put this amendment forward solely because we see it as a necessary next step in the ongoing democratisation of the party that is already underway through the democracy review currently being undertaken by the NEC.
People are often put off politics because they see it as something practised in smoke-filled back rooms; where the decisions are already taken and any consultation is a sham, something that is done to them rather than something they themselves can do to improve their own situation.
Labour has started to address these issues, not least with the way in which the leadership election contest was run by Jeremy Corbyn and his team. But that needs to be replicated up and down the country.
Open Selection is about ensuring that, in every constituency, before every General Election, there is a debate about what Labour has done well, what it needs to improve on, and who is best suited to representing the aspirations of members in that constituency over the period of the next Parliament. It will help MPs keep in close touch with their constituents’ aspirations, and ensure that there are positive actions for MPs to take into the next Parliament.
This constitutional amendment will help strengthen Labour, and make it more democratic and more electable.
The last two years tell us that change is our friend. Whilst the Tories sink into a mire of their own making we are renewing the Labour Party in both its structures and its policies. This motion is a huge step further along that road. We should all embrace it because it brings us closer to a Labour Government that will change the UK for the better.

Why the Labour International Motion


Delivering Democracy Now! 

As the Labour Party advances towards democratic renewal, more and more party members have realised the current rules for selecting and re-selecting Members of Parliament fall well short of the the kind of genuine democracy people expect in the 21st century.

The current arrangements, put in place in the 1990s, are primarily designed to give the Party central control of the choice of MPs, and to make it all but impossible to change the MP if it becomes clear they are not representing the needs of local members and constituents.

Most people agree that this needs to change. The question is how best to achieve that. There are currently two options available to members:

  • Labour International’s rule change motion which will be heard at this years Conference, and
  • Motions from Brighton and Bristol West based on the model Momentum motion, in particular the retention of trigger ballots, which would also be heard at this year’s Conference.

Either option would be better than the current arrangements but there are three very good reasons to prefer the motion from Labour international.

  1. The arrangements in the Labour International Amendment make selection and re-selection a standard part of the political timetable, in exactly the same way that branch officers have to stand for election on a regular basis. The question of the job the MP is doing is not a factor in the timetabling of the selection and re-selection process, thus removing most of the animosity engendered by the current arrangements. By contrast, the Brighton, Bristol West and Momentum proposals do not have this key element of regularity. They maintain the divisive trigger ballot requirement.
  2. The Labour International proposal shifts the centre of gravity from the Party nationally to the local CLP. The purpose of democratisation is to strengthen the links between MPs and their local parties, and remove the animosity caused by trigger ballots. The Labour International proposal deals with this openly and simply, rather than looking for a bureaucratic solution. All members can immediately understand how MPs are selected.
  3. Last, but not least, the Labour International amendment is wholly based on OMOV (one member one vote). The trigger ballot proposal from Momentum does not adhere to the OMOV concept but gives a single vote each to branches, socialist societies etc. regardless of the number of members they have. Democracy demands that every vote should have the same value, and on this crucial issue only the Labour International amendment provides it.

The party will continue, correctly, to press for an early General Election, and it is essential that we are prepared to fight it whenever it comes. The Labour International motion pushes forward the democracy agenda and will help in winning that General Election. It is essential that we do not miss this opportunity to rebalance the party in favour of its members, and particularly the hundreds of thousand who have joined in the last couple of years.


The Labour International Motion


Suggested Rule Change

Replace Clause IV.5 and IV.6 with the following:

“5. Following an election for a Parliamentary constituency the procedure for selection of Westminster Parliamentary Candidates shall be as follows:

A. If the CLP is not represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than six weeks after the election and complete no later than 12 months after the election.

B. If a CLP is represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, then a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than 36 months and complete no later than 48 months after the election. The sitting Member of Parliament shall be automatically included on the shortlist of candidates unless they request to retire or resign from the PLP.

6. The CLP Shortlisting Committee shall draw up a shortlist of interested candidates to present to all members of the CLP who are eligible to vote in accordance with Clause I.1.A above.”

Consequential amendments to be made elsewhere in the Rule Book where the ‘trigger ballot’ is

Proposed: Frederick Gent
Seconded: Jonathan Clyne

  • David Quinn
    published this page 2018-05-26 01:09:58 +0100

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