CONFERENCE BOOKLET CONTENTS
SECTION 1: Standing Orders Committee Report: page 1
SECTION 2: Safe Spaces Policy: page 8
SECTION 3: NCG election amendment: page 15
SECTION 4: Aims: page 16
SECTION 5: Party name: page 26
SECTION 6: Constitution: page 27
SECTION 7: Priority Campaigns: page 45
SECTION 8: Electoral Strategy: page 52
APPENDIX: Left Unity Standing Orders: page 53
CONFERENCE BOOKLET SECTION 1
Standing orders committee report for Left Unity Founding Conference
Code of conduct for Lefty Unity Founding Conference
Refer to standing orders committee:
- for advice on standing orders including procedural motions and in case of complaints;
- for order of debate;
Furthermore, SOC recommends that conference attendees:
- should respect authority of the chair during session (except in case of vote of no confidence);
- ensure that debate and discussion should be respectful (for further information on this see safe spaces policy and standing orders);
- should refer to conference arrangements committee for logistics and access issues arising;
- in the event that due to access and time restrictions motions need to be referred to other bodies SOC will advise.
The current Standing Orders Committee (SOC) is composed of:-
Tom Ramplin (Bristol) Elected Chairperson of SOC
Rachel Archer (Hackney) Elected Deputy Chairperson of SOC
Caroline Stevenson (Bristol)
Ray Goodspeed (WalthamForest)
James Youd (Cambridge)
We considered all amendments and motions that were received by Saturday 16th November.
We agreed on an agenda for the day, which was to go as follows:
2) SOC report and recommendations to conference. Conference must also agree chairs as recommended by conference arrangements committee.
3) Election of tellers
4) Safe Spaces Policy. SOC recommends policy to be taken as a straight vote. Either ratified or sent back to be remitted to NC to work out interim policy. 3 mins (moved by representative from the Safe Spaces Policy commission)
5) Amendments from Coventry and Leamington Spa regarding election of new NCG. If amendments pass then a new NCG would need to be elected by the end of the day. We decided that a preemptive message would be communicated to membership, that anyone who would like to nominate themselves for the new NCG (if passes) then could do so by 28/11/13) 3 minutes from each mover of amendments and two 3 minute speeches against. SOC will recommend, however, in advance to Coventry and Leamington Spa to composite. If they agree we will adapt timings and speeches against accordingly. We will also produce document in advance recommending how to carry out said election. 15 minutes
4.1 Section 2 of constitution moved from Internal Democracy Commission. 4 mins to move aims as is.
Lambeth procedural motion to be moved from the floor. 2 mins
Camden ‘resolution’ needs to be taken as procedural to be moved from floor 2 mins
Huddersfield amendment has been ruled as procedural motions so they will have to appeal to the chair from the floor.
Amendments to aims:
Please note: if platforms were unable to verify that 10 of their signatories were founding members by Saturday 23rd of November then their platforms will not be heard.
4.2 Platform 9 ¾ 3 mins (point 4 ruled out of order as it would commit the organisation to an open ended financial commitment.) SOC recommend it is moved formally.
4.3 Left Party Platform (3 mins) + Camden amendment (2 mins) + Manchester (2 mins to move both)
Socialist Platform (3 mins)
Class Struggle (3 mins)
Communist Platform (3 mins)
Republic Platform (3 mins)
Hackney/Tower Hamlets (3 mins)
20 minutes discussion.
All platforms get 2 mins summary + Camden + Manchester 1 min summary at the end.
Vote on platforms.
4.4 Leicester amendment. 2 mins. Vote. Added to whichever platform wins.
As each platform is voted for it becomes the substantive motion. Called in order of signed support.
Break at 12 for 10 mins.
5 Selection of party name
‘Left Party’ 2 mins (Crouch End)
‘Lefty Unity Party’ 2 mins (Rugby)
‘Left Unity’ 2 mins (Manchester South and Central), (Northampton Left Unity)
‘Democratic Voice’ 2 mins (Huddersfield)
To be conducted using the Supplementary Vote system.
We were keen to reflect the concerns of many members and representations that have been made to us regarding the danger that this section is rushed or too difficult to follow, or both.
While it is undeniable that many of those attending will not find debates on the constitution compelling, it is nonetheless clearly recognised that these issues are vital to the future success of the “Left Unity” project. They are also more urgent than considerations of detailed policy and electoral strategy. We have therefore allocated 2 hours to this part of the agenda.
Please note that the success of this section of the agenda depends on the self-discipline of members, in terms of a) keeping to time limits b) not insisting on the full time allocation to move simple and clear amendments, c) willingness to move motions formally (ie without speaking) if the meaning of the amendment is self-evident and a minor matter, and most importantly d) willingness before the conference to get together with branches that have moved very similar motions to present a unified, composite motion. The Standing Orders Committee members are willing to assist this process as much as they are able, and will look more kindly on such motions.
Furthermore, discussion are being held to determine if as many as possible of the amendments can be ACCEPTED by the Internal Democracy and Constitution Commission, provided that they are satisfied that the amendments are matters of “tidying up” or otherwise uncontroversial. If delegates feel that such amendments should NOT be accepted, their comments can be feelings can be made known at the conference. In this event, the accepted amendment would be classed as an INTERIM measure, remitted to the National Committee and more proposals brought to a later conference.
Many of the constitutional issues have been extensively discussed in the last few months, and the fine detail of these discussions cannot sensibly be repeated at length at a conference of this nature. The decisions are the important matters at this stage.
It has been decided to start with a general introduction to the draft constitution from the Internal Democracy and Constitution Commission (IDCC), followed by a discussion divided into 4 main subjects. This may, if time allows, be followed by a “sweeping up operation” of those amendments considered to be less vital or less controversial. While every attempt will be made to vote on each amendment, this cannot be guaranteed. If time is short there may only be time for formal moving of amendments. Some amendments may fall due to lack of time have to be remitted.
In each section the amendments to be included are itemised.
Intro from IDCC – 5 minutes
1. Method of changing the constitution in the future (c 10 mins)
Section 21 West London and Harringey amendment. These two branches need to sort out who is to move.
2 mins to move and three other speakers if necessary. 1 minute response from the IDCC.
2. Gender representation (c.25 mins)
3 mins to move IDCC.
Section 4 amendment from Loughborough
S.4 amendment from Leamington Spa.
S.7 amendment from Crouch End (together with the parts of their s.12 amendment which specifically refer to this issue)
2 mins for each mover. 8 minutes open discussion. 1 min IDCC to respond. Vote.
3. The National or regional structures and the composition of representative national/regional bodies. (c35 minutes)
5 mins IDCC
s.8c amendments from Islington (excluding the part specific to gender)
s.12 amendment from West London
s.12 amendment from Crouch End (can Crouch End and West London possibly composite re this issue?) EXCL. adding a Media officer which is accepted by IDCC.
s.13 amendment from Crouch End re Executive committee(moved with s.12 amend.)
s.12 amendment from Lambeth
s.12 amendment from Lewisham/Greenwich (could this resolution possibly be remitted to National Council in order to work on the detailed system??)
2 mins for each mover. 10 mins open discussion. 2 minute response from IDCC. Vote.
4. The rights of individual members (including age limits), branches, sections, platforms, caucuses etc. (c.35 minutes).
5 mins IDCC
s.5 amendment from Rugby Amendments re individual members submitting resolutions to conferences.
s.7a, 7c and s.3f and s.12d Islington Amendment on ‘sections’ and also including the issue of age limit.
s.7b amendment from Sheffield
s7b ii – amendment from Cardiff
s.7 amendment from Lambeth (can Lambeth talk to IDCC re this being accepted)
s.9 and s.12 and s.21 amendments from Tower Hamlets (all re groups of 20 members having right to submit motions etc. S.7 amendment has been withdrawn). All TH amendments moved together.
All movers 2 mins (16mins (max) in total). 10 mins open discussion. 2 min response from IDCC. Vote.
Please note the following specific cases
s.8 amendment from West London/Waltham Forest (please sort out between you) re Northern Ireland.
s.4 Wigan amendment on the dangers of London-centric organising (asked to remit as the principle has already been accepted but the Wigan wording is both prescriptive in some parts and too vague in others)
s.16 re what to do with salaries of MPs etc over the median wage. Can Islington, West London, Lambeth and Tower Hamlets please negotiate a way out of this complexity! If not they may all fall.
These Amendments will be discussed if there is time. They may have to be moved formally or, if time is very short, be remitted.
PLEASE NOTE THAT SOC IS PROPOSING THAT RESOLUTIONS AT THIS CONFERENCE REMITTED FOR ANY REASON, OR NOT CALLED FOR LACK OF TIME, WILL NOT BE SUBJECT TO THE TWO THIRDS MAJORITY RULE AT THE NEXT CONFERENCE WHICH CONSIDERS THEM, EVEN IF THAT PROPOSED RULE IS NOT AMENDED AT THIS CONFERENCE.
Appendix 3 Coventry (and Leamington Spa) Amendment re New elections of the 10 NCG members at founding conference is to be discussed first thing in the morning for logistical reasons (organizing nominations, voting etc).
The following Amendments have been ACCEPTED by the movers of the draft Constitution. They will not be moved or discussed at the conference.
[Please note that if any founding member at the conference objects to any of these amendments being accepted, then SOC are proposing that the affected clause/amendment will remain provisional until next conference and the two thirds rule will not apply in votes on that matter at that conference.]
s.4 Cardiff re publishing minutes of executive meetings likely to be accepted by IDCC. Hence also s.13 Cardiff amendment (re rights of ALL members to attend Executive Committees) also accepted (alongside Islington s.13)
s.6e Rugby amendment re size of branches reduced from 10 to 5.
S.6 Cardiff, regarding joining where you work or live.
s.7c amendment from Manchester on age limits and rights of young members
s.7b amendment from Hackney re platforms campaigning against policy.
s.8 Islington amendment – ONLY the part relating to gender of delegates (replacing [one man and one woman] with [at least one of whom must be female] Also accepted – follow on amendment to 9d i. on same issue.
s.8 heading and 8d and 8e from Cardiff (and all related amendments regarding the national status of Scotland and Wales). (9a, 9e, 12j,)
s.12d Islington Amendment on role of special sections to organize aspects of work (provided amendment to delete 7a iii is passed)
s.12 National Office Holders and spokespeople ONLY section re Media Officer.
s.13 Islington re members attending Executive meetings (see 4a Cardiff)
s.14 Huddersfield re having a “re-open nomination” option for all internal elections.
s.15 Tower Hamlets (re recording votes, and minimum and maximum wages for “Left Unity” staff.
s.16a West London ONLY re possible suspension of LU members elected to public office for not following the rules policies etc of LU – change [will] to [may]
S.16c West London regarding deletion of 16c) vi regarding Elected members resigning if they are no longer LU members.
s.16c re adding new point vi regarding payment from lobbyists etc.
s.17 Tower Hamlets on Expenses
The timings add up to 2 hours.
Any motions that have not been discussed or voted on in time may be either moved and voted on without debate or remitted, depending on the time available. Composite motions will be given priority.
Debate due to finish at 3.30
We agreed that we would partition this into the following sections. We have attempted as much as is possible to open out space in the priority campaigns and electoral strategy sections to dedicate as much time as possible to open discussions with regard to current and future activity.
7.1 Austerity & NHS
Southwark motion 2 mins
West London motion 2 mins
Sheffield amendment 2 mins
Loughborough amendment 2 mins
Islington & West London composited motion 2 min
Discussion 10 mins
(Max 20 mins)
7.2 TU and work
Sheffield motion 2 mins
Lambeth amendment 2 mins
Birmingham amendment 2 mins
West London motion 2 mins
Manchester motion 2 mins
21 hour working week 2 mins (motion from Hackney arguing that this was out of order was deemed procedural so will have to be challenged from the floor)
Discussion 10 mins
(Max 24 mins)
Waltham Forest motion 2 mins
Loughborough amendment 2mins
Birmingham amendment 2 mins
Discussion 10 mins
(Max 16 mins)
7.4 Climate Change & Internationalism
Glasgow motion 2 mins
Cardiff amendment 2 mins
West London amendment 2 mins
Southwark motion 2 mins
Wigan amendment 2 mins
(Proposers of motion in Climate change, Internationalism & Housing sections to be encouraged to move formally where possible to support space for open discussion.)
The following motions have been ruled out of order:-
- Glasgow Edward Snowden motion referred to policy conference.
- West London ‘Branch Activity’ ruled out of order as was judged neither a campaign priority nor constitutional.
- West London ‘Party Organisation’ rules out of order as fails to meet agreed agenda topics and to be replication of constitutional clause.
As above, any motions that have not been discussed or voted on in time may be either moved and voted on without debate or remitted, depending on the time available. Composite motions will be given priority.
8) Crouch End motion 2 mins
Huddersfield & West London composited amendment 2 mins
Discussion 10 min
In case of over run see priority campaigns section for guidance.
Debate due to finish at 17.00
In the event that any queries or appeals occur with regard to the above the standing orders committee may be contacted by email at email@example.com and we shall be in attendance on the day of conference to assist with the resolution of any issues which may arise.
CONFERENCE BOOKLET SECTION 2
Safe Spaces Policy
1 Left Unity wants to develop a safe and vibrant left and socialist organisation. Fighting for liberation and against oppressions and discrimination should be at the heart our organisation. This policy is aimed at the political realities facing people in the age of enforced austerity. We are there to struggle together
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time.
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
People will come to our meetings angry at injustice and worried by personal circumstances. We want to hear their case and feelings in their own words. We want everyone who comes to our meetings to be welcome, to speak and to be listened to and heeded. We want free and open speech.
2 Left Unity understands that oppression and violence are built into our society.
3 Left Unity is a collaboration of a huge diversity of people who have signed up to a common project of creating a new political party ‘left of Labour.’ This will inevitably bring together people who have been conditioned by the oppressive society to treat each other unequally, without full awareness of the other’s needs and sometimes disrespectfully. For example, racism can be an issue when trying to organise black and white people to work together; sexism an issue when men and woman come together in a common endeavour, and, ablism when those with impairments and those without try and work together. Snobbery and discrimination are real factors when different sections of working people work together.
4 One of the tasks of our new party will be moving our behaviours closer to our principles and beliefs, but this will not happen without ‘struggle’. Struggle here means engaging directly in trying to address these issues.
- Well chaired meetings are essential to democracy and to keeping members safe,
- Accessible meeting places are essential to the right to take part.
Left Unity commits itself to actively oppose all forms of bullying, discrimination and oppression within its organisation and campaigns. We oppose the oppressive actions and attitudes and not the person; “Respect the person; challenge their behaviour.” A person’s behaviour may be problematic, but each person deserves respect.
This policy is intended to help develop and facilitate wide ranging and robust political debate for all our members.
We live in a world beset with problems. Bad behaviour towards each other is part of this society. It benefits our rulers to have us split on lines of sex race gender sexual orientation and much more
The great evils are inherent and foundational to capitalism and are increasing with its crisis.
Discrimination against and neglect of the interests of people with visible and invisible impairments have been a feature of capitalism but this has intensified to a terrible level by this government’s policies.
Discrimination against those with caring responsibilities is long standing but made much worse by this government where 75% of cuts hit single parent families.
8 Violence against Women
Two women a week are killed by their male partners and many more are abused in gender related violence against women and girls. Men are also affected yet the scale of violence against women is qualitatively and significantly different. That is the world in which we as a party will operate.
Sexual violence is a feature of life in many countries, not least in the UK. Our movement is not immune to it. Left Unity will be implacable in its opposition to both sexual violence and victim blaming. Women are vital to our movement and by vehemently and ostensibly proclaiming our stance on this will we keep women safer and effect real education on this matter.
Men too especially as children can be victims of such violence.
When necessary we will take physical steps to ensure the safety of women as happened during the Egyptian revolution.
The poverty inflicted on children and the sexual abuses of children are real and present issues. Power structures have supported and extended this abuse.
Damage to children is built in to the current benefits and low wage system, where many of our children go hungry.
We will stand firmly against any external policies (or those affecting the internal life of the party) that make life worse for children or..
10 Class denigration
The media and education systems denigrate and dismiss the talents of working class people day in and day out. It is our responsibility to reflect the power working people and their communities, and develop a vehicle for working people’s struggles.
Whilst we cannot be immune to problems inherent in capitalist society, we intend to create an organisation committed to consciously and publicly overcoming these issues within our organisation, as well as in society at large.
The inspiration for this Safe Spaces policy comes from different organisations and groups; we thank them for it. Left Unity applies this approach to all our disparate membership.
As a party, as an organisation we aim to defeat these great social ills.
We will accept the formation of caucuses of any “liberation” group, for black people, people with impairments, LGBT people and women as well as for young people at whatever level of the organisation such groups want to organise.
We recognise people’s rights to freedom of religion and belief. We would not, however, expect the party to be used for recruiting or proselytising for any religion or belief
We cannot and will not set ourselves up as being above or beyond the law. When transgressions occur that are within the reach and scope of the legal system, such issues may be referred to law unless the victim decides otherwise
We recognise that law in this capitalist system is often discriminatory and ineffective in defending the oppressed, and some people are at particular risk from law enforcement and the Criminal Justice system. However, good intentions alone cannot outweigh the force of oppression and discrimination in the society within which we operate. Institutions ranging from the Catholic Church to left political parties have been seen to perpetuate or excuse abuse by operating outside of the legal system.
• We will aim for all meetings to be in accessible buildings and such access needs as members require will be made available to the very best of our ability.
• We realise sometimes children will be present at our meetings, and we will aim to provide childcare or assistance with child-minding fees in all meetings.
- Where possible meetings will be held at times that recognise members caring responsibilities.
13b Conduct of meetings
This safe space policy is designed to ensure that meetings take place in a considerate and relevant manner, without participants being undermined for discriminatory reasons.
I. A well chaired meeting is essential to keep everyone safe promote discussion and to progress business… All members are asked to respect the chair and all members chairing meetings are required to be inclusive and democratic.
II. Give each person the time and space to speak. Listen and don’t prejudge them.
III. In large groups, or for groups using facilitation: use the recognised hand signals to indicate you wish to speak. These hand signals will be clarified at the start of each discussion.
IV. Members organising for the party will be expected to behave decently toward each other and try to consider other people’s needs (as would be normal in a well unionised workplace). Venom should be reserved as far as possible for those inflicting real harm on working class communities or individual working class communities
V. Tolerance of other habits and norms will be expected – for example, The Youth and elders might make more noise!
VI. Transgressions will not be ignored, nor situations where transgressions occur.
VII. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable and will be challenged.
VIII. Respect should be give to each other’s physical (and emotional) boundaries.
IX. Members are asked to try to be aware of the positions and privileges we may be conveying, including racial, class and gender privilege. Be will try to aware of the language we use in discussion and how we relate to others
X. If a member who has to fight a particular oppression in this society, requests that you change your use of language, be respectful and change your use of language. Do feel free to ask for clarification on this.
XI. Left Unity endeavours as much as is feasible to ensure that meeting spaces are as accessible as possible to the widest range of people.
XII. Where it is possible, there will be a supervised quiet/safe space room available at every event.
XIII. If there has not been an access break in the previous 90 minutes, or if the atmosphere of a meeting has become counter-productive to reasoned discussion, then an access break of no less than 10 minutes may be taken by everyone.
XIV. Conferences, training events and workshops are alcohol- and illicit drug-free. There shall be no consumption of alcohol in the venue during the specified conference, training event or workshop times.
14 Power structures
- We recognise that some offences and violence have occurred within unaccountable structures of political parties. We will therefore attempt to monitor all power structure developments and ensure effective local and national democracy.
15 Sex and Power Relationships
I. People’s sex and personal lives are nothing to do with the party, unless position within the party is used to secure inappropriate or abusive relationships. We will expect members to keep to rules on sexual conduct within the meetings of the organisation that are normal within the well unionised working environment.
II. There should be no use of political position, power, resources or political pressure to help secure relationships.
III. Responsibility to be shown towards the youth. Young members will do as they choose in time honoured fashion however it is particularly important that our youth are safe in Left Unity. This document will be referred to a youth caucus for further comment.
16 Representation in disputes
Once Left Unity is fully established, each new member joining the organisation should be offered a longer serving member as a ‘rep’. The purpose of the ‘rep’ is to ensure that the new member becomes well acquainted with the workings of the organisation and to act as a point of contact on matters of personal safety and the democratic workings of the party.
E.g. ‘if a member tells the ‘rep’ that a meeting place in inaccessible then it’s the reps responsibility to work with organisers to rearrange the venue’, the onus therefore is on the organisation not the individual.
When a dispute occurs, the aim of the ‘reps’ should be to attempt reconciliation except
a) In matters where it should be so it will be referred to the law with the complainant given maximum support available.
b) Where the offence is very grave within our movement; e.g. associating with known fascists to the extent that the security of activists is compromised. In such matters the presumption of reconciliation will not exist.
c) Where the offence to one member is so great that both being present in a meeting is intolerable.
d) Complaints/Reconciliation should initially be at branch level and informal (a separate document and procedure on conflict resolution will be produced).
e) Formal proceedings should be used if this has not been effective
f) A national safe spaces group will be elected to hear cases that cannot be resolved locally
18 What to do if there is a problem
If you feel unsafe in one of our meetings, conferences or other spaces due to someone else’s behaviour you are encouraged to raise the matter as quickly as possible. Seek a resolution. Ask for help if needs be.
If you continue to feel unsafe you or a friend should contact a safer spaces volunteer on…….
The safer spaces team will initiate a process to deal with the behaviour. There is no guarantee that we will easily find effective solutions to these problems but left unity is committed to support and promote the safety of members from all kinds of oppression and discrimination.
Left Unity will attempt, within the limits of its resources, to keep to levels of security and confidentiality of documents as is normal in a unionised workplace. Confidential matters will not be the subject of chit chat and papers will be safely stored transported and filed. The papers will not be used for any other purpose. Secret complaints though cannot be accepted; the complaint can be kept within a small number of people agreed by both parties
19 Online discussions
We hope to create a space where we can robustly disagree with each other in productive and mutually respectful ways.
Our aim here is to foster a constructive and open conversation on the left about where we go from here. We aim to moderate comments with a light touch.
Personal abuse or excessively abrasive posting can act to kill discussion and debate, creating a toxic space, where many people will be put off from commenting. Sexist, racist, oppressive comments, or comments otherwise inappropriate within the remit of the safe spaces policy, may be deleted or edited, when necessary. Those who are ‘repeat offenders’ may be removed from participation.
We expect moderation of online discussions to be light touch. Equally we expect contributors to show respect for each other and for any oppressed groups. Serious cases where people do not show mutual respect and use the online situation to abuse can be referred to the safe spaces procedures
See reconciliation and resolution policy.
It’s not the policies or the procedures that keep people safe; it’s implementing the politics behind them, day by day. These safe spaces policies and procedures though, support us all in doing so.
It is essential action is swift, impartial and seen to be so, recognising the need to support all members.
There has never been a system yet set up that has not been used more against oppressed groups than by them, so supporting both sides through a transparent system is crucial. This procedure will develop over time, as lessons are learned and integrated into the system.
We must not pretend we can make everything better or provide retribution or revenge. We will though, demonstrate respect, care and concern. Our stated aim is reconciliation
Speedy intervention stops bad practice and bullying developing and becoming systemic; the simpler the intervention the better; one shout of “order” from the floor of a meeting can stop bad practice in its tracks, with little damage done to all.
20 How do I enact the policy?
- You should feel free to speak up for yourself without fear, and to support others in doing so for them. When an incident occurs, an offended member should raise this immediately with the individual or structure concerned. If the individual or structure recognises offence has been given inadvertently, an apology should be given, note taken of the cause of the offence, and the matter closed.
- If you feel unsafe in one of our meetings conferences or other spaces due to somebody else’s behaviour, you are encouraged to raise the matter as quickly as possible. Seek a resolution. Ask for help if needs be.
- If you continue to feel unsafe you or a friend should contact a Safer Spaces volunteer on <phone number/e-mail>. The Safer Spaces team will initiate a process to deal with the behaviour. There is no guarantee that we will easily find effective solutions to these problems, but Left Unity is committed to support and promote the safety of members from all kinds of oppression and discrimination.
- If you wish your complaint will be kept confidential and discussed within a limited number of people. Secret complaints are not manageable.
Complaints not involving violence or sexual abuse will be dealt with through the Conflict Reconciliation procedure, and both/all parties will be encouraged to communicate their concerns in constructive ways – with mediation if required – with a view to restoring the ability to work together effectively in a Space Safe for all concerned. If the issue is more serious, or impacts on more than one individual, the complainant may decide to raise the complaint at Branch level. If so, the following happens;
1. Offended member complains directly or via Rep. Complaints should normally be made within three months of an incident; however, in case of serial incidents, or violent or sexual abuse, this requirement should be waived.
2. Written or dictated and agreed accounts requested, with witness accounts within 1 week of complaint being received. These documents to be treated confidentiality.
3. Conciliation process starts. (Or the matter is referred to law).
4. Conciliators should then be approached and meeting with each person separately with conciliators should be arranged.
5. The parties must be given a chance “vent” or personally explain their case safely with reps. This is to demonstrate that the complaint is being taken seriously. Notes should be taken and each person’s summaries agreed with them.
6. This process should be completed within 2 weeks of being initiated.
7. Decisions; is it within our remit? If the complaint relates to violence or sexual abuse our advice should be to go to the police, but the decision is the complainants.
8. Left Unity understands that the law is far from perfect. Involving the law has greater impact on a complainant from one of the oppressed groups. If the law is involved Left Unity will continue to support members within its limited resources through the process.
9. Reps may also need to be looked after In case of serious violent or sexual abuse particularly, but potentially in any situation.
10. Reconciliation meetings should take place, within 2 weeks of completion and agreement of accounts of the incident(s). Each party will be supported by their rep., speaking for themselves or through their rep.
11. Conciliators must make notes and discuss possibilities for reconciliation whilst trying not to re-open wounds. Conciliators send the reports to the two people for comment within 1 week of the meetings with the parties to the complaint. Conciliators should aim to be impartial
The parties to the complaint will be expected to respond to these proposals for conciliation within 1 week of receiving them.
12. If accepted by both and no further action required, Report complaint to be closed
13. A short pro-forma to review the proceedings (not the issues) will be circulated; results sent to national committee.
14. Branches to send depersonalised annual reports of all incidents and outcomes to national committee.
15. If not accepted, the matter moves to resolution. Reconciliation teams to send a report to the branch (or to a special committee of the branch if one has previously been set up). It can’t be set up just to deal with the case. Advice: Such a committee should be set up once the branch has more than 20 activists, the committee will hear first presentations; appeal is to the full branch. (Taking the situation outside the special committee or bringing to open discussion is akin to gossip and must NOT be tolerated. Members of the committee may though consult in confidence and without identifying the situation, branch or persons involved. A record of the consultation must be made).
16. The reconciliation team report will be considered or, if they wish, each party to the complaint or their rep, may make representations (written or verbal) to the branch or the designated committee.
The options open to the committee are
b) Not Support
At this stage the disputes resolution procedure as set out in the constitution should be referred to.
22. Sanctions against the person complained about are;
1 Warning (to in force for 6 months, an upheld complaint of repetition of the incident within this time period to result in suspension). Warnings shall be in force pending appeal.
2 Suspension (for a period not less than 2 months, not longer than 6 months, an upheld complaint of repetition of the incident within this time period may result in Expulsion). Suspension shall be in effect from the failure of an appeal, if one is made.
3 Another sanction acceptable to both parties
4 Expulsion. Expulsion shall take effect from failure of final appeal.
The process will be dealt with as expeditiously as the situation allows and in accordance with agreed time limits..
Anybody who has been named as a perpetrator of violent and serious abuses will also be offered a ‘rep’ They will not enter meetings or post messages while the process is on-going
Your group should elect or agree the appointment of ‘reps’ for this policy. Each member on joining should be given the email of that ‘rep’.
You will be offered confidentiality for all complaints and given the opportunity to nominate trusted members of the party to mediate for you in any process that follows (though you are also welcome to speak for yourself directly if you prefer).
Complaints involving physical violence, rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment will be dealt with through a survivor-led process, and need not involve any one who the survivor(s) have not nominated as their representative
1. The Appeal process may be initiated by either party to the complaint.
2. Local Appeal should be normal in the first instance, unless in the case of serious accusations relating to violence or sexual misconduct, when the choice may be made by the person appealing to go straight to a national appeal, or where the dispute was first heard by the branch, and so a national appeal is the person’s only recourse.
3. Different people from those who heard the cases initially must hear the appeal. Reports for both sides circulated with the reconciliation report and in the case of national appeals any branch appeal minutes circulated.
4. Appeal meetings must take place within 1 month of the first hearing. The two parties or their reps have the right make a presentation to the Appeal meeting.
5. In the case of a national appeal, first to a complaints committee with delegated powers to resolve the dispute. The complaints committee will elected at the first meeting after annual conference The Appeal meeting will vote on whether to uphold the appeal or not.
6. Final appeal in the case of Expulsion only is to the next national conference. Expulsion will take effect from the date of final appeal. Conference will vote on upholding the previous decision or not.
7. The appeals committee, in the case of National Appeals, or cases relating to serious violent or sexual misconduct shall be required to report on the political lessons to be learned
8. At the end of the proceeding only an agreed minimal record be kept in national records in a closed file.
9. Review of the process; A short pro-forma to review the proceedings (not the issues) will be circulated; results sent to national committee.
- We are all victims of society’s conditioning, misinformation and hurts, but we are also good people trying to reach for something better.
- We need to acknowledge the oppression of human being is endemic in capitalism, and to admit the fact that we will be unawarely acting out these roles towards one another, but we can change.
- Change happens more easily when the people concerned do not feel blamed or judged as this tends to trigger defensive behaviours instead.
We need to ask the following questions when there has been an incident
- What identities the people concerned feel they have? (Disabled, woman, working class etc)
- Who has the more powerful role in relation to the other?
- What behaviours caused the ‘hurt’ or offence?
- What made these behaviours unacceptable within the LU group? (e.g. is swearing unacceptable or just a cultural/class difference?)
- What did the person accused of such behaviours intend by their behaviour?
- What affect did it have on the victim?
- What would the complainant like people to know about how their oppression works?
- Is there any need to change the way the Left Unity group is organised to stop these things happening again?
- What have the people concerned learned from the process?
- Is there any learning which might be useful for a wider discussion on our policies?”
In both discussions and actions around this document it has become clear than we need to develop a policy on Bullying, as distinct from oppression based on particular characteristics. It is hoped that in workshops on this document further discussion on this can be developed
This document will link into and supplement the constitution of Left Unity
CONFERENCE BOOKLET SECTION 3
National Council Transitional Arrangements (taken from Constitution Appendix 3)
a) Upon the adoption of this constitution at the party’s founding conference, the existing Left Unity National Coordinating Group shall take on the role of Transitional National Council of the new party. This body shall operate until the next National Conference, which shall take place within four months of the founding conference, when it shall dissolve and Clause 10 of the constitution will come fully into operation.
b) The Transitional National Council will appoint, from its own number (or in the case of the Standing Orders Committee, from the membership at large), such acting national officers and temporary standing committees as are legally required by the Electoral Commission and as it may deem necessary for the efficient administration of the party. These will include Acting National Secretary, Acting Treasurer, and Acting Nominating Officer and members of Conference Arrangements and Standing Orders Committees, who shall remain in post only until the end of the next National Conference.
c) The Transitional National Council will organise the election by regional ballot of 40 regional representatives to the incoming National Council, apportioned to the different nations and regions in a manner as proportional to the relative membership of the party as possible, and the election by national ballot of the National Officers and members of the Standing Orders, Disputes and Appeals Committees.
42. Coventry Amendment (and Leamington Spa)
Add new sentence at end of section
[For this transitional period, the ten directly elected posts on the existing NCG
will be opened for re-election or otherwise at the Founding Conference
today, with nominations allowed from the floor in the lunch break, and
voted on during the afternoon.]