On 8th February 2021 a new campaign was launched to reclaim democracy in the Labour Party. Labour MPs, Party members, some members of the National Executive Committee and trade unions, including the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, Unite, the Fire Brigades Union, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union, Don’t Leave Organise and Momentum, have all come together to launch a campaign for an emergency Recall Conference of the Labour Party.
There is now a clear crisis within our Party, say the organisers. Instead of bringing unity as promised, the leadership has sown division. Discussion in local Labour Party meetings has been suppressed, motions banned, scores of activists suspended, and anger and disillusionment are exploding across our lay membership throughout the Party. Members are leaving in droves and many more are expressing frustration and dissatisfaction at the attack on democracy and free speech. Many members are saying it doesn’t feel like the Labour Party anymore.
There is a way out of this crisis: Party democracy. Labour’s National Executive Committee has the power under Clause VI of the Party’s Constitution to call a conference. Only the supreme policy-making body of the Labour Party, the National Conference, has the necessary authority to deal with this untenable situation. We cannot simply wait until September’s Annual Conference as the situation is too serious. We need to hold an immediate special recall Labour Party conference that can restore the freedom of speech and debate, allow CLPs to operate freely, reaffirm and reclaim party democracy.
There is no practical obstacle to holding such a conference online as the Party is already planning to hold this year’s Labour Women’s Conference online and last year’s TUC Congress was held online. It is the only option open to us to resolve this crisis, reunite the Party and win elections.
Richard Burgon MP, who chairs the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, said: “This is a grassroots campaign we should all support. The Labour Party must be democratic, but members are not being treated with the respect they deserve. Many members feel that the Labour leadership is taking the fight to its own membership more than it is to the Tory government. Labour members are part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
Jon Trickett MP said, “Our Party has only ever worked effectively as a partnership of leaders and led. For this to happen, the voices of the whole Party need to be heard, and respected. We do this by means of an annual conference. There hasn’t been one since before Jeremy Corbyn stood down. In the 21st Century, top- down, autocratic styles of leadership do not work. We need democracy, not diktats, consensus, not commands, and we must build a movement, not a monolith.”
Ian Hodson, National President of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union said, “We have a real battle on our hands. We are fighting for the very soul of the Party and are confident we have the bulk of the membership behind such a move.”
NEC member Nadia Jama said, “Labour Party Members are our greatest asset. We can no longer allow their voices to be silenced as the very fabric of our Party democracy is being ripped apart. Conference, our sovereign body for decision making, is the only way out of the mess we find ourselves in. I’m fully behind this call to reclaim democracy by calling fora recall conference.“
Mark McDonald, former Parliamentary Candidate and human rights barrister said, “Our Party is in crisis and we need urgent action to address the many concerns of our members, who feel disillusioned and overlooked. The best way to do this is by holding a Recall Conference at the earliest opportunity.”
Former Parliamentary Candidate and Leeds TUC President Jane Aitchison said, “This country is crying out for an alternative to Johnson and his cronies. Britain needs Labour to fight for the many instead of fighting the left! We must be strong and unite around our democratically agreed socialist policies. We need to call together the mother and father of all focus groups – Labour Party members and trade unionists – Recall Labour Party conference!”
Former Parliamentary Candidate Chris Peace said, “Our Party is built on democratic values and at its strongest and most effective when our members lead the way. I support the call for a Recall Conference as the means to get back to genuine democracy in our Party.”
The organisers are asking members as a matter of urgency to move a motion along these lines at meetings of their Constituency Labour Party and branches of affiliated organisations.
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