Labour’s 2018 conference will take place in Liverpool starting on 22 September. Brexit and the issue of left antisemitism will be the biggest and most divisive issues.
The 2017 conference was dominated by pro-Corbyn delegates, many of them at their first conference; 2018 is set to be the same. One would hope that after another year of left leadership there will be less sycophancy for Corbyn and more critical thinking from delegates.
There is welcome evidence of such a shift.
Currently over a dozen — but likely many more by the September deadline — have submitted anti-Brexit motions that call on Labour to back another referendum on the deal with a voting option of “remain”. A sizable number of left delegates will support these motions. It is no coincidence that Momentum is considering a membership consultation — the first under the new constitution — on the stance it should take on Brexit.
The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy has put forward its own policy on Brexit, essentially the current leadership line of not taking a position but declaring that the Tories will handle it badly.
At last year’s conference Momentum and CLPD lined up to lobby delegates to prevent discussion on Brexit and free movement motions. Momentum’s shift and the drafting of the CLPD motion suggest they know Brexit cannot be kept off the conference floor. They hope to win the debate and try to heavily water down the composited motions that make it to conference floor.
Anti-Brexit, pro-free movement delegates will make sure that the strongest possible composites is taken to conference floor and will be lobbying delegates to back the view shared by the majority of Labour members and an increasing number of Labour voters.
A number of local parties have put forward motions on abolishing academies, grammar and private schools, restoring local government funding and dramatically restructure the benefits system and for radical action on climate change. All of these have been promoted by the Clarion magazine.
At the women’s conference on Saturday 21 September there will be an attempt to get Labour to adopt the “nordic model” on sex work, that is to further criminalise sex work. Sex worker activists and allies are coordinating to oppose this and to put forward a policy of decriminalisation and sex worker rights, long championed by John McDonnell and several Labour affiliated unions.
A motion from Rother Valley Labour Party argues Labour should oppose changes to the Gender Recognition Act and to “uphold the Equality Act.” This motion also aims to marginalise trans women in the party. It will hopefully be exposed for that, however cautiously worded the motion it is.
Labour should continue to support the right to self identification for transgender people.