Mike Phipps reports from a packed and lively 40th anniversary AGM of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.
Kelvin Hopkins MP opened the meeting with an optimistic assessment of the situation. The Blairites are weaker in this Parliament, he argued, but we still face difficulties in shifting the leadership on economic policy and their cuts mantra of “too far, too fast”.
There were more young members at this year’s meeting and they were very upbeat about the progress made in Young Labour.
But there was gloomier news from Scotland. Jim Mackechnie reported that the Scottish Policy Forum has not met for two years. In this vacuum, Scotland’s Labour leader Johann Lamont MSP can call for an end to universal benefits, with nobody calling her to account.
The Scottish Labour Party has been drastically reorganised. In urban areas, branches have been abolished, making councillors less accountable. Worse, there are just five reserved places per constituency party for affiliated bodies, including trade unions. Elsewhere too, Party structures have been hollowed out.
A motion on economic policy was passed, which I strengthened with an amendment, which was accepted, that called for banking to be taken into public ownership.
Also passed was a motion calling for an urgent investigation into how the democratically elected Labour mayoral candidate in Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, was overturned by the Party’s National Executive Committee and replaced by the third placed candidate. Rahman went on to win as an independent. He should be re-admitted and allowed to run for the Party in next year’s election.