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Ray Apps

Unite Behind Minority Report

(June 1978)

From Militant, No. 409, 9 June 1978.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

As reported previously, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party voted by 15 to 4 to accept the Majority Report of the Working Party on reselection of Members of Parliament.

According to information received to date, the NEC will circulate all affiliated organisations with copies of the Majority’s proposals, together with the Minority Report, for information.

We must now ensure that all affiliated organisations will be given the opportunity to submit the rule changes suggested by the minority as amendments to those of the majority at the next annual Party Conference. This will require that affiliated organisations insist that the NEC proposed amendments are printed in the preliminary conference resolution booklet, circulated to affiliates, to allow for amendments.

The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, at its recent Conference in Oxford, refused to support the Minority report. We find that inexplicable when the report was drafted and agreed with myself and by two of the most ardent and hardworking members of the Campaign – its Vice President, Jo Richardson MP, and EC member Bernard Kissen.

The Minority report was also fought for and supported on the NEC by Joan Maynard MP, who was not only President of the Campaign, but whose record of the struggle for democracy in the Labour Party is second to none.

With the possibility of Constituency Labour Parties actually losing, rather than gaining, powers of control over their MPs if the Majority proposals are implemented [see Militant, No. 406], it is vital that the rank and file of the Labour Party, including supporters of the CLPD, unite in support of the rule changes proposed by the Minority Report.

Rank and file control over MPs

In every Constituency Labour Party in the country demands have been made by ordinary party members that there should be democratic control over Labour MPs to endure their Parliamentary representatives really do represent the policies decided upon by the party. The difficulties faced by Constituency Parties in selecting new candidates in place of sitting MPs (e.g. Newham North East, who had to battle for months against Reg Prentice, who has since proved his contempt for the Party by joining the Tories) resulted in over 60 Constituency Parties submitting resolutions to last year’s Party Conference demanding an easier method of reselection.

The solution proposed in the Minority Report of the NEC Working Party fully answers this need and entirely reflects the sentiments expressed by Party Conference. It proposes that Clause XIV, section 7, of the Constituency Party rules should state:

“If at any time this Party is represented in Parliament by a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party, procedure for the selection of a Prospective Parliamentary candidate shall, as outlined in Section 3, be set in motion not earlier than eighteen months and not later than thirty-six months after the sitting Member was elected to Parliament.

“a] The sitting member shall automatically be placed on the short list unless he or she wishes to retire.

“b] The General Committee may at a specially convened meeting intimate by resolution its desire that he or she must retire at the next General Election. A Member of Parliament against whom such action is taken shall have the right to appeal to the NEC on the grounds, and only on the grounds, that the correct procedure is carried out.”

Ray Apps was member of the NEC Working Party on Reselection.

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Last updated: 8 August 2016