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No Backtracking on Re-selection Change

(January 1978)

From Militant, No. 389, 20 January 1978, p. 2.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“If the National Executive Committee does not come back to next year’s Conference with a proposed rule change that would allow for automatic re-selection, then I would have to consider whether I wish to remain a member of that body any longer.”

That was the answer Ian Mikardo gave in his reply on behalf of the Executive to those of us at the Labour Party Conference last October who, despite the vote in favour of the principle of automatic re-selection, raised doubts about the intentions of the National Executive Committee as a body extending democratic control over Labour Members of Parliament.

Our fears that they would backtrack on this question, it seems, are being confirmed. The NEC has passed the question over to the Organisation Committee, which has a right wing majority. They are to consider the formation of a working party that would include Members of Parliament.

What does the NEC require a working party for? Not to draft a rule change, you can bet your life! The purpose of a working party can only be to delay, confuse and probably frustrate the wishes of the rank and file. Will its aim not be to bring to this year’s Conference the findings of the working party which – surprise, surprise – will contain a series of options, all of them falling short of what the rank and file of the Party are demanding? Such a move would delay the required rule change for yet another year.

There has been too much delay already. Enough is enough! There will be an explosion of anger from within the ranks of the Party when they realise what is happening. Resolutions will flood into the NEC.

The composite resolution that I moved at Conference was clear enough – automatic reselection once in the lifetime of a Parliament, and the retention of a rule, such as the present paragraph B, that allows the convening of a special General Management Committee meeting in a constituency to discuss the motion of no confidence in their Member of Parliament.

NEC Pledge

The NEC made a pledge to Conference that they would bring forward a rule-change proposal based on this composite to this year’s Conference. The NEC must be made to honour this pledge.

If the Executive Committee continues to allow itself to be leaned on by Cabinet Ministers to frustrate the wishes of the Conference, Labour’s highest body, then a campaign to intensify the struggle for democratic control must be launched without delay. Such a campaign should include all those members of the NEC who were genuine in their pledge to Conference.

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Last updated: 20 August 2016