Labour’s National Executive Committee has agreed to cancel the party’s annual conference, which was scheduled to take place in September. Labour NEC member Alice Perry says that “a policy conference can take place online instead”, but with no details of what this means.
The mainstream media has quoted “Labour sources” saying that the leadership does not mind losing an opportunity to rally support because it also means avoiding clashes with and challenges from the left. No conference means more time and space for Starmer to continue moving Labour to the right with minimal opposition.
There seems a very strong risk that the “online policy conference” will be a Blairite-style consultation exercise, not a meaningfully democratic decision-making body. We should demand details urgently.
A real online conference necessitates that CLPs will be allowed to meet online for business, including electing delegates and agreeing motions.
The organisers of the statement calling for CLP business meetings to be reinstated (see here), now signed by over a thousand party members, say: “After the [19 May NEC] meeting we have heard that guidelines for restarting meetings will be created ‘soon’.”
Again, we need to push on that.
More important than getting than a better online conference is getting a real-world conference as soon as possible. We should demand planning begins for a physical conference in the first half of 2021. A conference made up entirely of delegates and key observers (without exhibitors, lobbyists, the great and the good, etc) would be safer and easier — and no bad thing in itself, at least once.
We should not let Starmer continue without democratic accountability and challenge until September 2021!