Party Constitution Commission

Five candidates for seven places (we will soon reopen nominations)

Kate Hudson

Nominated by Andrew Burgin

I have now completed the maximum three year term as National Secretary of our party. I would like to thank everyone for the support and trust they have shown over this time, since the foundation of Left Unity. Over these three years we have faced many political challenges: punitive government austerity policies, devastation of our NHS, the rise of the far right, racism and xenophobia. We have also seen a big fight back across Europe with the strengthening of radical left parties in some countries – and the election of Jeremy Corbyn as an expression of that same radical anti-austerity wave here in Britain.

Corbyn’s election drew some support away from our party but I shared the view of the majority of members that a clear expression of our socialist, feminist and environmental politics, against all forms of discrimination, is essential on the British political spectrum. This has proved to be the case in a number of areas particularly around issues like anti-cuts, anti-war, anti-NATO, anti-Trident, unequivocally pro-immigration and free movement,  fighting every step of the way on the terms of Brexit. And we are not alone in this political perspective – we are now part of the European Left Party, working in solidarity against our shared problems in the era of Trumpism.

Having a robust and democratic constitution that can help facilitate our work and empower our members is a fundamental underpinning for our party’s activity at this crucial time as we start to grow again. I have a lot of practical experience of the constitution and of how important it is. I would like to have the opportunity to put that experience to good use on our party’s constitution commission. Thank you for your support.

Ed Huxley

Nominated by Brighton & Hove branch, Pip Tindall, John Fitzgerald, Alex Droupin and Anna Bluston

Dear members,

I wish to participate in the review of our national constitution, on behalf of the membership, and hope others will trust me to make a valuable contribution that will benefit the party as a whole.

My strongest concern, since I joined in Left Unity’s first year, has been preserving our democratic structure, and seeing that we work collectively to avoid the erosions of internal democracy that have befallen so many other valuable parties, campaign groups and trade unions before us (leading to their loss of accountability). I am glad we are giving a renewed focus to our constitution at this stage – with limited time at Conference it has been easy to overlook some of the formality of amending our rules and structure, when policy often proves to be the primary focus.

Overall I feel the constitution has very much been fit for purpose, and has not constrained decisions in such a way as to limit our effectiveness. I would like to see all or most of the conditions it lays out remain, though certainly the party structure should be revised to reflect our size and distribution of membership.

In terms of changes going forward I personally would like to see some added safeguards ensuring the day-to-day autonomy of branches (for example if national decisions are made outside of conference) and if possible some additional standing orders to streamline the submission and prioritising of motions at conference. But mainly I just wish to make myself available to help complete the work and ensure the views of the membership are heard.

I will be grateful for your vote! Ed, Brighton & Hove.

John Pearson

Nominated by Stockport branch

I was the author of the proposal to re-establish the Party Constitution Commission (PCC), which was supported by the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) when I served on it, up to March 2015. My branch put forward an amendment containing the proposal, to a motion to 2015 Party Conference from Bath & North-East Somerset branch. The latter branch accepted the amendment and it was passed by Conference. I have served on the PCC during the current year and I would like to continue.

Conference decided that :

Branches and individual members may, at any time submit to the PCC, proposals for amendments to the Constitution. The PCC must give consideration to all such proposals received by it.

That the PCC will produce reports on proposals for Constitutional changes. The PCC will submit these reports to Conference.

The motivation behind the proposal was to save the time of Conference, thus allowing it to concentrate on policy and strategy issues. The PCC therefore has to collate and reconcile the sometimes conflicting proposals generated by branches and members for constitutional amendments. The PCC needs to enter into dialogue with the proposers, upon its judgments as to how these might best be dealt with. If branches and members which had proposed changes are dissatisfied with the PCC’s report, then they may move amendments to it, in the same way that applies to other Commission reports.

The process of operation of the PCC thus has similarities to the way in which the SOC deals with Conference agenda formation and compositing.

I believe that maintenance of a democratic and agile constitution is vital for the Party’s effective functioning and I think that I can play a valuable role if I am re-elected to the PCC.

Ashley Walker

Nominated by Stockport branch

Hello to all my fellow members and the best of luck to all my fellow candidates.

I have decided to put my name forward for a place on the constitutional committee, because I believe I could do good work and serve our party well.

Our constitution is vital to the party and its maintenance is a task of significant importance.

I believe I am suited to this task because I am an honest hardworking individual, who will dedicate 110% of my time and effort to ensure our constitution is maintained to the highest possible standards.

I will work to ensure our constitution truly signifies our collective beliefs and protects and enables our members to continue fighting our good fight.

If I am chosen for the committee I will be impartial and fair when considering amendments to our constitution and examine all sides and consider all opinions.

Finally if I am chosen I promise to perform my duties on this committee to the very best of my ability, I promise to stay true to the ideals of our party and to at all times work hard to ensure all peoples ideas and opinions are included.

All the best Ashley Walker, Stockport branch

Hopefully one of your constitutional committee members

Bob Whitehead

Nominated by Mike Tucker and Bob Williams Findlay

I am a current member of the Party Constitution Commission and the secretary of the Birmingham branch.

I spent many years in the Labour Party, including being a constituency delegate to annual conference and holding many other internal LP positions. With the emergence of Blairism, I took an active part in the Socialist Alliance, Respect, Respect 2, and have been a member of Left Unity since its inception. So I have experienced quite a range of democratic functioning, or in many cases a lack of it.

Overall, Left Unity has been a refreshing change. This is despite many difficulties experienced in its founding, the setting up of functioning branches, and then the loss of many members to the Labour Party. Its positive culture needs to be preserved and developed, especially for new young people.

The PCC has spent a lot of time ploughing through all of the constitutional motions referred by past conferences and they need to be finally adopted or rejected at this one.

The original constitution was probably over-ambitious, coming as it did before the rise of the Green Party and then Corbynism. We now need one more suited to our current size with the flexibility to allow for future growth and new situations.

Standing Orders Committee

Two candidates for ten places (we will soon reopen nominations)

Matthew Hurry

Nominated by Joseph Healy, Steve Freeman and South London branch

I’m standing for this post because I continue to believe the work that Left Unity does is of the utmost importance, particularly in the current political climate, with the rise of the far right across parts of Europe and the rest of the world attempting to normalise and promote xenophobia and fascism.

In the UK, mainstream politics has come to be dominated more and more by the right wing. The working classes in particular have been manipulated and deceived by the parties of the right and the popular media. We urgently need a convincing show of the force from the left, both on a national and international level, and we are in the perfect position to help bring that about.

Left Unity has started to see a surge in new membership, which I believe will continue over the coming months, and we’ve managed to significantly increase our public exposure over the past year, thanks to the hard work and support of comrades. For these reasons, we need to also ensure that our future national conferences are as productive and meaningful as possible.

I’ve been an active member of Left Unity for 3 years, serving on the national council for a year and as a representative for the South London branch for two years, regularly attending branch and regional meetings, and joining comrades on countless demonstrations and other public events to promote Left Unity and the organisations and causes we support.

I’m a member of UNITE ITC branch and actively involved with Southwark Defend Council Housing, Axe the Housing Act, Radical Housing Network, Unite Against Fascism, Syria Solidarity UK and the Republican Socialist Alliance.

John Pearson

Nominated by Stockport branch

I am a candidate for the Standing Orders Committee because I strongly believe that its role is essential to the effective democratic functioning of the party and that I can make a valuable contribution to its work.

I served on the SOC previously, in 2014-15 and I look forward to doing so again. I played a substantial part in all aspects of the work of the SOC and I presented its report to the November 2014 Conference and supported its work during all of the sessions thereof.

Conference is the sovereign policy making and governing body of Left Unity. As we have seen from the experience of the conferences that we have held to date, there is a high level of participation by branches, party caucuses and individual members, in our democratic decision making process.

A high number of motions and amendments have been submitted and there is no reason to believe that this will not continue to be the case. The task of compiling an agenda, in a manner which is seen to be even handed and efficient, is very important. If I am elected to serve on the committee again, I wouldn’t hesitate to volunteer to undertake work such as bringing proposers and seconders together to promote compositing; drafting of agendas; dealing with objections, representations and suggestions from proposers and seconders.

The SOC also has the duty of proposing the standing orders to be used by Conference. When I last served on the Committee I played a major part in developing these standing orders.

SOC members need to work closely with the Conference Chairs to facilitate the efficient and smooth running of Conference. I would therefore press for Chairs’ briefings with the SOC to take place prior to commencement of, and at other important junctures of our conferences.

Disputes Committee

Three candidates for seven places (we will soon reopen nominations)

Graham Gifford

Nominated by Wigan branch

Hello, Comrades,

I have been nominated by Wigan Left Unity Branch to stand again for the Disputes Committee.

I’ve served a previous term on Disputes. participating in (and concluding) four cases, and presenting the Disputes Committee Report to the 2015 Conference, together with a Q&A session. Last year, instead, I served as a directly-elected NC and EC member.

Throughout the past year, I’ve been deeply involved with our Left Unity branch activities – especially NHS campaigning, anti-austerity actions, anti-fascist work, regional devolution issues and, at the moment, regular on-site anti-fracking interventions. I’m currently giving presentations on alternative energy versus fracking to a variety of voluntary sector groups, which enables myself and fellow LU branch members to network with other organisations in our borough.

I was disappointed to see that some national committees either ran short-handed last year, or did not run at all. Because of this, I would like to run again for the Disputes Committee. Although I learned a lot from the NC, there are always a reasonable number of people in attendance there, whereas people seem reluctant to volunteer for Disputes and similar committees. However, it’s important in a democratic organisation that we have a functioning system of arbitration in case of a dispute arising.

Hopefully, a few others will feel likewise, so that we can try to rebuild a Disputes and Appeals process – although, having said that, it would be a great credit to us as a party if we managed never to need it!

Thank-you,

Graham Gifford.

Steve Ogden

Nominated by Stockport branch

I am a welfare rights officer working for the past 17 years in a mental health focus team for Tameside MBC.

I had been employed as an electrician however, since a road traffic accident in 1980, worked in telephone counselling, specialising in incest and child abuse issues. I worked with Manchester Lifeshare, working with homeless people as well as being involved with the first Manchester Crisis at Christmas. I was also involved with setting up a family centre for relatives of prisoners involved in the Manchester Strangeways Prison demonstration.

I became involved in welfare rights as a volunteer at an independent welfare rights service based in Hyde in the 1980’s, eventually becoming the manager which involved supporting and supervising volunteers, paid staff, as well as barristers. My caseload included representing at social security and employment appeals as well as defending people facing eviction or repossession.

On a voluntary basis I was a volunteer with South Manchester Victim Support Scheme as well as South Manchester Credit Union where I was one of the officers with responsibility for overseeing loans.

I was a member of the Labour Party for many years being secretary of Didsbury ward and ethnic minorities officer for the Withington constituency.

I feel that in these roles I have conducted myself in a non-judgmental manner recognising that people are unique, with individual needs and experiences. I have had to be aware of my own bias and experiences.

I am a good listener with the ability to view circumstances and conflict from both sides and apply the relevant law or principles. I am able to work as part of a team to resolve issues; for many years prior to managing welfare rights in Hyde we operated as a collective.

John Pearson

Nominated by Stockport branch

I served on the Disputes Committee in 2015-16, only leaving it because my branch nominated me for a place on the National Council. The Constitution, correctly, does not permit NC members to serve on Disputes Committee.

The specified role of the Committee is to “investigate disputes and complaints about the behaviour of individual party members referred to it by Regional Councils or the National Council, who will be expected to have endeavoured to resolve the specific disputes or complaints before referring them on”. Detailed procedures for how it does this have been approved by Conference.

The approved procedures need to be consistently applied, with care and attention and expeditiously. Justice delayed is justice denied. I would endeavour, as I did previously, to push along the Committee’s work on cases should this prove necessary.

I believe that the role of this Committee is important in positioning and maintaining, at the core of internal Party life, our shared principles of unity, equality, solidarity and comradeship. This is indispensable to our ability to intervene effectively in political work in furtherance of our agreed aims and objectives. Thus, I strongly believe that The DC’s role is essential to the effective democratic functioning of the Party.

Informing the work of the Disputes Committee, must be a recognition that the constitutional rights of both complainants and those complained against have to be heeded and applied. I would conduct myself as a Committee member with that understanding foremost in informing my approach.

I have many years of experience of carrying out trade union branch secretary and shop steward roles, which involved representing members within grievance and disciplinary procedures and in the associated investigatory processes. I think this experience places me well to be able to carry out the Disputes Committee role.


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Events and protests from around the movement, and local Left Unity meetings.

Wed 22 March, 18.30
Meet the European Left Party in Manchester

Presented by Left Unity with speakers Heinz Bierbaum, Waltraud Fritz and Stephen Hall. An opportunity to build a radical left movement across Europe.

6.30 – 9pm at Home, 2 Tony Wilson Place, First Street, M15 4FM.

Thurs 23 March, 18.30
Meet the European Left Party in Leeds

Presented by Left Unity with speakers Heinz Bierbaum and Waltraud Fritz. An opportunity to build a radical left movement across Europe.

6.30-9pm at The Tetley, Hunslet Rd, LS10 1JQ

Sat 1 April, 11.00
Leeds March for the NHS

Marching to oppose cuts and to reject the STP’s, calling for an yearly 4% increase in funding, to end privatisation and ensure that good quality free health care is provided for all.

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17-24 June
Stop Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain

Oppose Trump’s visit. He is a racist and a misogynist and a supporter of torture and a preacher of hate. Event by Public Reading Rooms.

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