Constitution working draft 4

Welcome back to the Internal democracy constitution.
Following the various comments on the website and on Working Draft 3, we are presenting a Working Draft 4..
This draft has attempted to address some of the controversies that have arisen. We will be posting a document separately listing all the main areas of controversy separately when we have time.
The main changes to Working Draft 3 introduced here are:
We have concluded that there is no realistic prospect of coming to any fuller consensus on the aims section and have therefore largely left this, apart from some very few textual changes regarding unemployed, under-employed and people with disabilities. As far as we can see the whole issue of aims is going to be voted on separately in November and until this is clarified it seems pointless to waste time on yet more redrafts. We may have to revisit this again though!
Taken in comments and removed some sections and also incorporated the Safer Spaces Policy agreed at the NCG as Appendix 1
The issue of the current style of platform debate has become controversial. We have changed this section by:
– renaming the Platforms as caucuses to clarify their desired role and so help ‘detoxify’ the brand (please excuse the capitalist language comrades!?!)
– inserted a clarification on role stressing that ideally caucuses will not become permanent factions – please note though that there are no clauses by which the leadership or anyone else can force caucuses to disband so this will not lead to bans, proscriptions and expulsions
– removed the right of caucuses to propose motions – in other words members of caucuses will have the same rights as every other member ie if 20 members sign a motion.. etc
This is a very contested issue and we have introduced two changes to try to reflect comments received. Obviously opinions are polarised on this so our compromise may not hack it but please consider it with an open mind:
– extended but still limited terms of office
– kept provision that MPs should receive median wage
– said where the excess money would go in a way that will ensure adequate funding for campaigning over a 5 year period AND send a hopefully powerful political message that our reps are genuine public servants and not careerists interested only in promoting themselves and their party
Various changes to try to clarify issues that have been raised.
Obviously we won’t all agree on everything but this is an honest attempt to reach a reasonable compromise on issues that are hotly contested. There are still plenty of opportunities for branches, platforms and individuals to comment and make amendments – see separate post on our proposed process moving forward to the September and November conference – and we still have the option of reverting back to clauses in Working Draft 3 and of course making completely new ones.
All the best
Richard Murgatroyd and James Youd



25 responses to “Constitution working draft 4”

  1. Mike Scott says:

    Hopefully, my comments at the end of Working Draft 3 haven’t got lost?

    Cheers, Mike

    • Richard Murgatroyd says:

      Hi all

      Sorry – technical problems! The new draft(s) will be posted asap.



  2. John Penney says:

    Sounds good, Richard and James. You’ve had an extraordinarily challenging task – carried out with tact and patience , given the pretty fundamental differences in political viewpoints exhibited by the various contributors to the Commission. I think you have done the right thing to suggest that some alternative viewpoints are best presented as completely alternative “Aims and Constitution” proposals.

  3. SeanT says:

    I can’t find the text of draft 4 here, nor of my alternative draft. Have they not been posted yet?

  4. Hoom says:

    Excellent. Thanks for all your hard work.

    Just a few points:

    National Conferences

    You’ll be glad to know this is the only bit I still take some issue with!

    9a) National conferences should certainly be one of our main policy making bodies. Over time however, I’d hope that the implementation of online democracy allows us to take decisions that way. I’m not convinced that national conference should trump that, especially if the latter has a higher turnout (which I suspect will be the case).

    9b) I’d delete this. I don’t see why six or seven members of Left Unity should have the ability to call emergency conferences. By taking this out, it would require the NCC to get the support of branches/members which I think is needed anyway, if a conference is going to be worth having.

    9d) Delete the second sentence. Obviously, if we get 2000 members (which would be great!), we’re going to have to look at what that means for how LU operates. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean moving to a delegate system. By having that in there, I think we’re prejudging the debate too much.

    9e) Delete this as well. It’s a move away from OMOV. No member of LU should have more say due to being on the NCC or having a branch that agrees with them. In the latter case, having the branch support you is going to bring the number of signatories needed closer. That’s all the advantage people should have.

    9f) Reword to “All members will have the right to submit motions, so long as 20 full members have signed their support. NOTE: the figure of a minimum of 20 members will be reviewed and if necessary increased as the national membership increases”. This makes it clear that there aren’t special privileges for platforms and sections.

  5. gerryc says:

    You didn’t post my last or tell me you wouldn’t. I’ll raise at conference. ATB, Gerry

  6. gerryc says:

    As I said, I’m happy with the rules section and some of the Aims section, but I disagree with:

    – Much of the Aims section particularly the first clause (for reasons already stated)
    – the arrangement whereby the convenors are also the authors of the document being debated (like the chairperson who uses the powers of the chair to make his own points), while berating other participants in sententious terms (polemical, non-concrete etc. etc.)
    – the failure to check for consensus (using any reasonable means) at reasonable periods during the discussion
    – the conjecture that the document “commands support” – it’s not reasonably proven
    – the suggestion that those who disagree with things can come up with their own entire constitution (very difficult to come up with and for us all to try/process another constitution tome by conference target)
    – the “given” that all suggestions are welcome except for any about voting – you’ve decided.

    You should make efforts to identify points of contention, to see how those contentions are supported in the group and ultimately adopt solutions which are accepted by a majority of the group. Not doing so would be anti-democratic in practice whatever is preached (“to above all promote grass roots democracy in the understanding that fundamental and radical change can only come with the support and active involvement of the majority …”

    I did post these comments two weeks ago?

    ATB, Gerry

    • Richard Murgatroyd says:

      Sorry all – technical problems continue! Hopefully we will be posting all the stuff soon!



  7. Hoom says:

    Section 7:

    I am passionately against giving the NCC the power to decide whether they will allow people to organise a section or caucus. Self-organisation should be seen as the right of all LU members. It shouldn’t be a privilege, handed down benevolently from above.

  8. SeanT says:

    Richard and James – do you see Appendix 1 as actually part of the draft constitution, or is it intended to be a supplementary or supporting document? It seems to me to be partly a statement of intent and partly a description of good practice rather than a precise and specific constitutional document.

  9. SeanT says:

    Richard and James – do you see Appendix 1 as actually part of the draft constitution, or is it intended to be a supplementary or supporting document? It seems to me to be partly a statement of intent, partly a description of good practice and partly an incomplete set of standing orders for the conduct of branch meetings rather part of a constitution. Were you thinking of having the appendix voted on as a separate document in November?


    • James Youd says:

      Sean, you are correct I need to move it I do see it as a separate document that supports the code of conduct. Standing Orders need to be drafted and it would probably be sensible to put it in there too.

      • Richard Murgatroyd says:

        Geoff Gay of Loughborough LU has asked me to post these comments on the two drafts…


        (1) Absence of any comment on a section implies support, at least in broad terms, for the official draft of that section.

        (2) I feel that an important omission from both the official draft and the alternative draft by Sean Thompson, is that there is no mention of the relationship between the new party and other political parties. The Labour Party rules specify that a member cannot also be a member of any other political party. The First-past-the-post electoral system ( which, as an active member of the Electoral Reform Society and Unlock Democracy, I regard as a profound anachronism – but we are stuck with it for the foreseeable future) , means that any campaign for a particular candidate is automatically a campaign against all other candidates in that ward or constituency, and this is the main reason for the Labour Party rule. But there is another reason why Left Unity should consider this problem : Dual or multiple membership opens the way for external political parties to influence Left Unity, with possibly chaotic consequences, as the Labour Party found in the 1980s ( when the entrists posed as an internal faction, but, in reality, the whole thing was driven by a very small separate political party ).

        (3) When the Labour Party was formed at the turn of the 20th century, there must have been great hopes among socialists and the left. But, in what now seems, in retrospect, an almost inevitable process, it gradually became more and more dominated at the top level by middle and even upper class career politicians. In spite of this, the 1945-51 Labour government was elected on a radical pro-working-class platform and made genuine and largely successful attempts to carry this out. But this hope for a much better future was quite quickly thwarted by a combination of its own mistakes, changing demographics and the dominance of neo-liberalism. Left Unity now looks a bit like the early Labour Representation Committee. How do we know that the rightward trend will not eventually be repeated ? Measures like restricting full-time workers and those in public office to the median wage are a step in the desirable direction, but it is important to consider what other constitutional measures are needed in order to guard against concessions to capitalism.

        (4) There are spelling, typing and punctuation errors in the official draft. I have resisted the temptation to comment on these at this stage.

        Having made those points, I should now like to offer the following specific comments on both the official and alternative drafts :

        In at least two respects I prefer the official draft to the alternative :

        (i) The phrase “common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange” in (2b) of the alternative, has too much baggage, and is rather anachronistic because “production, distribution and exchange” doesn’t fully describe our modern society in which a large proportion of the working population is employed in services. Some people would define services as part of production, but, as a semi-retired teacher ( and still very active member of NUT ), I do not find that definition helpful.

        (ii) It is important to retain the phrase in (2c) of the official draft, ” the way we organise today is a pointer to the kind of society we want to see in the future.”
        ( contd.)


        (i) The official draft does not explicitly mention youth and students sections. Here, I support the view of the alternative draft that these should be an explicit part of the constitution. For the purposes of child protection ( i.e. to prevent parents automatically signing up their children before they reach an age at which they are able to form their own autonomous views ) there should be a minimum (12 ?) as well as a maximum age ( perhaps 24 rather than 26 ? ) for membership of a youth section , and a minimum age for full membership ( 16 ? ). Perhaps membership of the youth section under the minimum age for full membership could automatically confer associate membership ?

        (ii) The alternative draft has replaced Associate membership with Affiliated membership. My view is that both are needed, but I do not think that Affiliated membership should be restricted to trades unions.

        Structure and General Principles

        (i) The alternative draft has deleted the “confidentiality” exception to the open publication of minutes. Perhaps the best solution is simply that matters which require confidentiality should not be minuted.

        (ii) I support the insertions in the alternative draft to include “branches” in the requirement to publish minutes, and to add ” in a timely manner and accessible forms” at the end of this section.

        (iii) I am opposed to the formulation (4viii in official draft ) ” at least 50% of those elected to national committees shall be women ” since this would automatically mean that there generally be more women than men in such positions. A more equitable, and more flexible position would be to stipulate a minimum proportion of both men and women ( say at least 40% of each ).


        The stipulations in (6c) of the alternative draft should be incorporated into the Constitution.

        Networks and Platforms ( or “Sections and Caucuses” )

        (i) I prefer the terminology “Networks and Platforms” in the alternative draft to “Sections and Caucuses” in the official draft. In particular, the term “caucuses” is a USA usage which would be unfamiliar, in fact alien, to most people in this country. Both the official and alternative drafts go some way towards defining these terms, but I think the definitions require further scrutiny to minimise any confusion. In particular, I think that (7iii) and (7iv) of the alternative should be incorporated into the Constitution.

        (ii) I feel that (7biv) in the official draft is too soft : “are not expected” should be replaced by “must not” .

        English, Regional, Scottish and Welsh Structures

        (i) For the moment, Northern Ireland is a part of the UK and should , rather than the provision in (8e) of the official draft, have equal status with Scotland and Wales. Of course, following next year’s referendum, if Scotland secedes from the UK, any Left Unity organisation in Scotland would have to become a separate organisation.
        ( contd.)
        (ii) We should ensure consistency of terminology : the term “local group” is used in (8c) of the official draft. Shouldn’t this be replaced by “branch” which is the terminology used elsewhere ?

        (iii) I cannot see why we need to complicate matters by having two different regional structures. England does not possess completely natural regional boundaries, but the regions in (8c) look more natural than the ones in (12). My Union (NUT) made this mistake, with the result that Leicestershire, naturally a part of the East Midlands, has to send delegates to a regional council based in Birmingham and consisting, apart from Leicestershire, of Greater Birmingham and all its surrounding counties. Also, the regional boundaries will, in consultation with branches or proto-branches and members in the regions in question, have to be clearly delineated.

        (iv) (8b) and (8c) from the alternative draft should be incorporated.

        National Conference

        (i) (9d) of the official draft wants to start with the National Conference being open to any member and then revert to a delegate structure at the 2000+ member point. I am not in favour of an open conference at any stage because, more so than a delegate structure, it skews attendance in favour of activists who have the time, money and motivation to attend. Surely, we would hope to reach the 2000 point very quickly, certainly before the probable time of the first annual conference, probably in Autumn 2014. the alternative draft suggests one delegate per 10 members initially – perhaps one per 5 would be more realistic to start with ? With that possible proviso, I think (9c) of the alternative draft should be incorporated.

        (ii) I cannot support the provision in (9f) of the alternative draft for visitors to participate in National Conference debates, as I feel this would make the Conference unwieldy.

        (iii) I think (9h) (9i) and (9j) should be incorporated.

        (iv) Process for amending motions : The official draft fails to mention this ; the alternative draft mentions amendments but does not address any process for submission of amendments. Such a process must be addressed.

        National Committees

        (i) The alternative draft deletes the Conference Arrangements Committee but retains the Standing Orders Committee and goes into much greater detail than the official draft on the functions and structure of committees. There is probably not a need for two separate committees dealing with standing orders and conference arrangements, but the greater detail in the alternative is, I feel, necessary.

        (ii) It will be necessary to spell out the non-overlap between the Disputes and Appeals Committees .

        National Council

        (i) I support the structure proposed in the official draft rather than the much larger National Council with an Executive Committee in the alternative. I feel that the latter would be unwieldy and , with the idea of branch delegates, almost duplicating the National Conference. If the National Council is meeting at least 8 times per year, there is probably no need for an inner “Executive”. However, I feel that (13.7) and (13.8) of the alternative re trustees should be incorporated, replacing “Executive Committee” by “National Council”. ( contd.)

        (ii) I feel that (12i) of the alternative draft is clearer and more specific than the official draft and should be incorporated. Again, perhaps some of the greater detail in the alternative should be incorporated, particularly (12.6) and (12.7)

        (iii) Bearing in mind my point (iii) in Structure and General Principles, (12e) in the official draft should say “at least one female and at least one male”.

        Accountability ( of internal and external representatives )

        (i) Whereas the official draft only states in general terms that representatives should be “subject to recall”, the alternative, in (16 – c,d,e,f) , spells out a mechanism for recall. I feel that this specificity is necessary and should be incorporated.

        (ii) I feel that the absolute ban proposed in the official draft on external representatives taking no other paid employment is rather draconian. For example, I am employed part-time as an examiner and as an Open University Associate lecturer, with total remuneration of only around £4000 per year. Surely, this type of employment would not do any harm ? Perhaps a better formulation could be, ” Remuneration from any other paid employment shall not exceed 25% of the median wage.”

        (iii) I very much support the provision in (15bvi) of the official draft that elected external representatives should immediately resign as such if they leave the party for whatever reason.

        Finance : I feel that (18a – ii and iii ) and (18b – iii ) from the alternative should be incorporated.

        Safer Spaces Policy

        (i) Paragraph 13 : the sentence : “Venom should be reserved for those who would destroy us” should be deleted, as it is unnecessary and could be regarded as provocative.

        (ii) Paragraph 16. First bullet point : “no adult to teenager sexual contact”. This should spell out the definitions of “adult” and “teenager”. In fact, it should be extended from “teenager” to include all persons below the age of consent.
        Fifth bullet point : this is a difficult one and needs to be looked at again, carefully. For example, why restrict this to cases where “one person is considerably younger” ?

        (iii) Paragraph 17. I am not sure that “rep” is the right word. Should it be “mentor” ?

        (iv) Paragraph 19. Second and Third bullet points : On the principle of “innocent until proved guilty”, the word “alleged” should be inserted before “offence”.

        Policy for Left Unity meetings : point 9 : “illicit” is not the best word in connection with drug use.
        If “illegal” was intended, that is not the right word either, as it fails to include “legal highs”. Any statement like this requires more thought.

        Geoff Gay 06.09.13.

      • Lee Rock says:

        Just read the ‘safe spaces’ appendix:

        What exactly does ‘no adult to teenager sexual contact mean’?

        If an adult is 18 they are also a teenager until 20!

        And even then, are people really suggesting a 20 year old can not have a sexual relationship with a 19 year old?

        Has this document actually been agreed?



  10. SeanT says:

    This is excellent detailed stuff Geoff and you’ve picked up some important omissions that need to be dealt with, in particular those dealing with membership. We do, as you say, need to deal with the eligibility or not of members of other organisations. For example, the Green Party currently forbids joint membership with any other party, while the Labour Party bans bans joint membership of any party which has stood candidates against Labour anywhere. I think that while that is a reasonable starting point, we may need to adopt a slightly more nuanced position.

    Duh! the absence of a minimum age for membership is a glaring omission, what do comrades think, 12? 14? 15?

    There are some points that I disagree with and a lot of other detail that I need to check through (I’m currently granddaughter sitting 200 miles away from all my notes) but there is just one more very small point; there isn’t an ‘official’ draft – Richard and James not only volunteered to convene and moderate this commission but then went the second mile and produced a draft in order to kick start the process. All our contributions are just as ‘official’ – or ‘unofficial’ as everyone else’s.


  11. Lee Rock says:

    Can the Convenors give us the membership figures for each region?

    This would help in discussing both the size of an executive body and any distribution of seats by region etc.

    To distribute seats based on the number of present branches could be very misleading for obvious reasons.



  12. Richard Murgatroyd says:

    Some comments on Draft 4 of the Constitution from Tim Powell….

    On the aims, I like them. They are refreshingly free of the language of class
    warfare and revolutionary strife. I hope they stay.

    3(b) ii. Do you really mean a one-off payment? Surely such friends need to
    demonstrate their ongoing friendship through annual subscription.

    4(a) vii. I think the commitment to at least 50% women on National Committees is
    unwise, given that

    Firstly, 12(e) says that the National Council need only have one woman from each
    region. See also comments on 13(f).
    Secondly, it will appear sexist.
    Thirdly, it is unduly prescriptive on the membership.

    I’d suggest at least 40% shall be women and at least 40% men.

    4(b) The structure cannot be right. It suggests sections and caucuses lie
    between branches and regional structures. Whereas, as I understand it, they
    enjoy no such standing. I am uneasy at any formal standing being given to
    caucuses at all.

    6(e) I think this can be more to the discretion of the branches themselves.
    Perhaps a minimum of 5 meetings a year including an annual meeting at which
    officers are elected.

    8(c). Is a local group a local branch?

    8(f). Why have two different regional structures?

    11(c) I don’t think the sentence is complete.

    12(f) Having male and female Principal Speakers is a recipe for a PR disaster.

    13(f) The female quota issue. Seems to conflict with 12(e) which says that the
    National Council need only have one woman from each region.

    18 How many branches? 25% as per 9(c) and 10(b)
    How much notice? 9(c) implies at least one month. 2 months? 1 month per
    suggested change?

    Other comments
    The electoral system. STV?
    I’d spell out the role of the Complaints Committee and rules governing
    suspension of branches etc for misconduct.

    I really like the appendix. I’d send a copy to everyone who posts uncomradely,
    rude or downright unpleasant comments on the LU website.

    Hope these are helpful.


  13. Richard Murgatroyd says:

    Hi all


    The proposal to elect the regional reps proportionately immediately threw up a fundamentally difficult problem: on what grounds would this be calculated.

    Working draft 4 has not based it on branches/local groups but on the very very provisional number of founding members at the time of posting – we made this clear on the draft by the way.

    Forming the electoral districts was particularly problematic. In the end we provided some extra weighting towards Wales. I’m afraid I don’t have the current numbers but in a sense this is irrelevant. The real challenge is to come up with a system that works moving forward.

    Lee Rock – thanks for your interest in this important aspect of the rules and I know it was your original suggestion that proportionality was an issue. We share your desire to create a viable system of regional representation that is proportional. However, we have found it very difficult to come up with a definitive formula.

    So Lee (or anyone else?) could you draft and propose some concrete, actual suggested amendments for us to consider, including specific reference to the number of reps for each electoral district (including an explanation of which counties/regions would be represented within and by how many reps) and your preferred formula to ensure proportionality? If this involves creating a mathematical formula please could you write an explanation of it as simply as possible and draft it in the form of Appendix to the rules?

    Do you have any idea, roughly, Lee when you might be able to produce this? It would be useful if we had your suggested wording before the September Policy meeting. Thanks for your assistance on this.


    This was discussed at the NCG and as I understand it is still up for discussion as some aspects remain controversial. However as James indicated, our view is that it should an Appendix to the rules (once fully agreed) as a ‘best practice’ document relating to some particularly sensitive issues. But this is not the same as some model Standing orders…


    Thanks to Sean Thompson for drafting the following model standing orders, the vast majority of which I personally think are sensible and based on well-established practice in the labour movement. However, there are a few issues I would question – eg there should be provision for rotating chair and point 9 refers to motions proposed by affiliated bodies – there is no provision for this in Working Draft 4 but Sean’s alternative draft does allow for Trade Union branch affiliation.

    Nonetheless I would suggest this could be the basis of Appendix 2 – how do you feel about this Sean?:

    Model Standing Orders

    These model standing orders are designed to provide a framework for well-ordered party meetings. Party branches may want to adopt local standing orders to reflect their specific method of operation; however, local arrangements
    must not conflict with the provisions of these model rules.

    1. The Annual General Meeting of [name of local party] shall be held each year in [month]. A formal notice of the annual meeting shall be sent by the secretary to all party members entitled to attend at least 14 days prior to the meeting.

    2. Ordinary meetings shall be held on the following regular basis [i.e. the first Tuesday of each month].Formal notice of all meetings shall be sent out by the secretary to all those entitled to attend at least seven days prior to the meeting. Such notice shall as far as possible include an indication of the business to be transacted at the meeting.

    3. Meetings shall commence at [time]. Business meetings shall not be held if a quorum is not present within 30 minutes of the appointed time; always provided that in special circumstances members present may agree to transact pressing business subject to the ratification of the proceedings by the next quorate meeting. Meetings shall close two hours from the notified starting time, except that a particular meeting may be temporarily extended for a specified period with the support of two-thirds of the members present.

    4. The quorum for business meetings of [name of local party] shall be 25% of those members entitled to vote in attendance, or a fixed number agreed with the Regional Committee. The proceedings and resolutions of any quorate meeting shall not be held to be invalid simply through the accidental failure to give notice of the meeting to, or the non receipt of such notice by, any person entitled to attend.

    5. All members of [name of local party] living or registered as electors within the area covered by it shall be entitled to attend meetings and to vote, as well as any members living elsewhere whose membership of the local party has been agreed with the Regional Committee. Other members,potential members and supporters, may attend but shall not vote. When an annual or special meeting is
    not held for any reason or is abandoned without completing the business on the agenda, such meeting must be reconvened in order for any necessary outstanding business to be transacted. Only those eligible to participate in the meeting as first convened, whether or not held, shall be entitled to participate in any further reconvened meeting.

    6. The elected chair of this body shall preside at all meetings, except where otherwise provided for in the rules. In the absence of the chair the vice-chair shall preside, but in the absence of both the secretary or other officer shall call on those present to elect a member to take the chair of the meeting. Should the office holder arrive once a member has been elected to preside in her or his place then she or he may claim, if they wish, the right to preside at the meeting once the current item of business has been disposed of. At the annual meeting the chair shall preside until a successor is elected. The new chair shall take over the conduct of the meeting forthwith and proceed to the election of other officers and further business.

    7. The prime function of party meetings is to provide members, delegates and supporters with the opportunity to participate in party activities through social contact, political debate and policy discussion; to assist in the political self education of members and to further for the party’s objectives in the area through campaigning and the promotion of links with sympathetic individuals and bodies within the wider community. Party meetings shall be drawn up to give due priority not only to organisational matters, but to the introduction of new members and/ or delegates, the discussion of resolutions, party policy items and other matters of interest to party members and the receipt of reports from public representatives.

    8. Original motions for the general meetings of [name of local party] must be received by the secretary in writing not less than 7 days prior to the meeting for which they are intended. Motions for discussion shall be made available to those entitled to attend with the notice and agenda of the relevant meeting,
    except for emergency motions which must be sent in writing to the secretary as soon as the nature of the emergency allows before the commencement of the meeting. Emergency business may be accepted by the majority of the meeting on the recommendation of the chair who shall interpret the term ‘emergency’ in a bona fide manner.

    9. No motion shall be discussed at a meeting until it has been moved and seconded. Where a motion has been submitted by an affiliated body it must be moved by a delegate from that body. Speakers shall address the chair and shall only speak once on any motion except by permission of the chair, providing
    that the mover of a motion or an amendment may reply to the discussion without introducing new matter for debate; such reply shall close the discussion. No speaker shall be allowed more than five minutes, unless agreed by the meeting to be ‘further heard’ for a specified period. Amendments to any motion may be moved and seconded from the floor of the meeting but shall be handed to the secretary in writing. Amendments shall be taken in order with one amendment being disposed of before another is moved. If an amendment is carried, the amended resolution becomes a motion to which further amendments may be moved.

    10. A motion of ‘next business’ shall not be taken until the mover and seconder of a motion have been heard. Any motion ‘of next business’, ‘that the vote be taken’, ‘to adjourn’, ‘of no-confidence in the chair’shall be moved, seconded and put to the vote without discussion; after such a vote the chair need not
    accept a further procedural motion for a period of 20 minutes.

    11. No motion to rescind a resolution of this body shall be valid within three months from the date on which the resolution was carried. Notice of rescinding motion must be given in writing and made available to those entitled to attend the relevant meeting in line with rule 8 above.

    12. Voting shall be by show of hands except where the constitution of the party provides for a ballot vote or where this body decides otherwise. In the event of there being an equality of votes on any matter decided by a show of hands, the chair may give a casting vote provided that s/he has not used an
    ordinary vote. If the chair does not wish to give a casting vote, the motion is not carried.

    13. The election of officers and/ or representatives of [name of local party] shall be by secret paper ballot using STV if necessary. Any quotas for women laid down in the party constitution which apply to this body shall be incorporated in the arrangements for the secret ballot. Ballot votes shall be held at meetings to select candidates and where otherwise provided for in the party constitution; and where requested by any member supported by at least two others. In the event of a tie on a secret paper ballot the chair shall not have a casting vote. Where appropriate, the ballot shall be retaken and in the
    event of a continual tie lots may be drawn. In a preferential ballot the tie shall be broken by establishing which candidate had the highest number of first preference votes or took the earliest lead on transfers.

    14. Any breach of or question to the rules or standing orders may be raised by a member rising to a point of order. The chair’s ruling on any point arising from the rules or standing orders is final unless challenged by not less than three members; such a challenge shall be put to the meeting without discussion and shall only be carried with the support of two-thirds of the members present.

    15. Party meetings and events shall be conducted in a friendly and orderly manner and organised in such a way as to maximise participation from members. No member shall be precluded from attendance because they cannot gain access to the meeting place for any reason. Physical or verbal harassment or intimidation of any member is unacceptable as is any form of discrimination on the basis of gender, sexuality, disability or race. Smoking is not permitted at [name of local party] meetings. Any member acting in an unruly or disruptive manner, in contravention of the standing orders, may be removed from the meeting by action of the chair. The chair shall put such a motion to the meeting, which to be carried shall require the support of two-thirds of those present and voting.

    16. [Name of local party] accepts the principle of minimum quotas for women at all levels of representation within the party and shall take steps to ensure that 50 per cent of any delegation shall be women and,where only one delegate is appointed, a woman shall hold the position at least every other year.

    17. No alterations shall be made to the rules and standing orders of [name of local party] except at an annual or special meeting called for this purpose and carried with the support of two-thirds of the members present and the general provisions of the constitution and rules of [Left Unity] shall apply to it


    Thanks Hoom for your comments. This would be my response to your proposals:

    9a- While I agree that the role of e-democracy and internet debating and voting is likely to become more important – the rules actually make provision for this development ongoing – I think it is necessary to clearly state where the buck stops – in this case the Annual Conference.

    9b – the NC as the leadership body, while strictly accountable, have to be able to lead and inevitably will enjoy some privileges. I would remain of the view that that the NC should have the right to call an extraordinary annual conference if 2/3rds vote for it to be able to meet and discuss wars, plagues, floods and emergencies!

    9d – sorry I don’t agree this prejudges the debate but actually empowers it

    9e – I take your point here but on balance, if our regional structures are functioning properly, with good branch representation, they will form an important part of the democratic structure. So it does seem appropriate to allow them the right to propose motions

    9f – I agree your wording is superior and should be incorporated

    GEOFF and TIM

    Thanks for your detailed thoughtful contributions. I’m too tired to respond now but will do so in detail when my energy levels are back up!

    All the best



  14. SeanT says:

    What is important about the safer spaces document are the principles contained within it rather the wordy and sanctimonious language it uses. I think that the main points of the document are operationalised in the model standing orders and that the document is therefore superfluous. If it is attached to the constitution it will just cause confusion unless it is made clear what it’s status is – is it supposed to be part of our rules, is it a description of good practise, is it an alternative to standing orders? I think it would be better to omit it altogether.

    • TimP says:

      I have to say that I like the idea of having a central document explaining how we are to conduct ourselves and committing members to civility. I also think that, unfortunately, it will be useful. Those on the Left do not always behave and speak as comradely as they should, and in a party which we hope will embrace a range of views, it is particularly important that the need for courtesy and respect is understood from the outset.

    • TimP says:

      Perhaps a statement of principles of one page then referring to a detailed policy document and disciplinary procedures?

      • Hoom says:

        I do think it might be a good idea to send the safe spaces policy back for a bit of revision before attaching it.

        Partly to sort out some of the concerns people have raised- 20 year olds with 19 year old partners being formally outlawed etc.

        But I also agree with TimP that a summary would be useful and SeanT’s point about it being overly wordy. A 1 or 2 page statement of principles would be a more effective approach then trying to cover any possible situation that might arise. With an 11 page document, I think there’s a danger that people will just skim it anyway.

  15. SeanT says:

    The safer spaces document is a dreadful, embarrassing, dog’s breakfast. It’s priggish tone and meandering and contradictory exhortations serve to trivialise the important issues it seeks to address. I know that it is partly the product of the short lived Occupy movement, but it has the feeling of something originating in student politics – and unfortunately none the better for it. The substantive issues that it tries to deal with are already covered by the disciplinary procedures outlined in the draft constitutions and the model standing orders – and workably.

    It has no particular status because it has been raised at the NCG, as that body has no remit to make policy, so I suggest we just leave it to one side as irrelevant to our task. If anyone wants to introduce it, or parts of it, into a motion for Conference then that’s another thing entirely of course.


  16. Richard Farnos says:

    I have a number of concerns with current constitution

    1) it seems to highly centralised with a extremely powerful national Committee and very weak regions – given we are largely going to be a voluntary party regional committees are going to play an important role – may I suggest that there funding is increased to 20% with he nationa; party getting 40 %

    2) I also share Lee Rocks concern around ‘safe space’ policy. As a Gay man that spent half of his life fighting for the equalisation of the age of consent the idea that if 19 boy has sex with 18 year old will be through out the party quite outrageous if not homophobic. Similarly the idea the idea that people with differing power should not have relationships is quite frankly obscured. If enforced – this would mean that if a member of a couple is, say, on the national committee, while their partner is ‘just’ a ordinary member then under the rules they will have to leave the party. Indeed the ‘safe space’ document has clearly been written by people with no real life experience of safe guarding policies and the way to avoid abuse. The proposed policy not only prescribes perfectly legal relationships, (and therefore probably illegal) but goes ‘nuclear’ very quickly. In reality this will mean that abused does not report anything until the situation is critical, for the ‘zero tolerance’ approach deters victims raising ‘awkward’ situations they don’t call abuse. This current policy, which is totally unworkable, far from deterring abuse will be institutionalize it. Evidently nothing has been learnt from the experiences of the SWP. The emphasis is all wrong. Instead of listing a prescribing condemned relationships the focus needs to be on enapowering those who feel abused to get justice and redefine relationships according to their needs, not to that of party.

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