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MPs Must Represent Labour Party Membership

(September 1977)

From Militant, No. 375, 30 September 1977, p. 11.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The most important Party issue at this year’s Conference as far as Constituency Parties are concerned is control over their parliamentary representatives.

This is reflected in over 80 resolutions on the final agenda. The motivation that lies behind the move for more control over Members of Parliament by the Party is, of course, the abandonment of the 1974 election Manifesto by the government, and the utter lack of respect they have for Conference decisions. For instance, even before the Conference had discussed the question down for debate last year Callaghan and Healy were assuring the City that if the Conference decided the banks should be nationalised they wouldn’t implement such measures.

This demonstrates the blatant disregard for the rank and file shown by many member of the Cabinet and Parliamentary Party, yet not one of them would be where they are today without the self-sacrificing work of thousands of unpaid activists of our Party. There are far too many in top positions in the Party and in Parliament who use the movement to advance their own careers. In their lifestyle they are a million miles removed from the problems that are faced by working class families, many of them spending more on one meal than a pensioner has to live on for a week. This is why this paper will continue to fight for the labour movement to have the right of recall over all its representatives, who should be paid a wage no higher than that of a skilled worker plus necessary expenses vetted by the movement. In this way we will get a leadership prepared to fight for socialism and the working class.


We support the present moves for automatic reselection as being a step in the right direction. The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy have done a good job in highlighting and campaigning round this issue. But unfortunately we don’t think they have given enough thought to the rule changed they have recommended.

For instance, the amendment that is proposed doesn’t say who is to decide when the selection conference is to take place. One would have thought that this is too important to leave open to interpretation. This must be a decision for the General Management Committees to make.

Also, if we look at the way they propose to amend the present rule (Clause XIV section 7) it is done in such a way that deletes paragraph (B). This paragraph gives the General Committees the right at any time at a specially convened meeting to intimate by resolution its desire that their Member of Parliament must retire at the next General Election.

No matter how difficult this may be in practice it can be done if all the procedure is correctly followed and the necessary support is there. Why delete this paragraph, so essential as a safeguard against the misuse that will undoubtedly be made of the vagueness of the automatic reselection procedure?

To give one example, let us assume in a given case it is decided that a reselection conference takes place twelve months after a General Election and the Member of Parliament is reselected. Then shortly afterwards he votes against the wishes of Conference and for the retention of the House of Lords, or comes into conflict with the General Committee over some other issue. How is he or she then going to be removed? We could, without paragraph (B), be saddled with them for a further eight years if two Parliaments went the full term.


Therefore we urge support for the Wokingham rule amendment which retains Paragraph [B] and includes the right for the General Committees to decide when the automatic reselection conference takes place.

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