As a constituency labour party (CLP) secretary, I have recently received an invitation from Head Office on behalf of the CLP to submit a contemporary motion for consideration at Annual Conference 2011.
On first sight this is an excellent and timely reminder of a welcome opportunity. Members getting to have a say. But as the worldly wise know, read the small print. So here's the section of the HO memo relating to how the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) will decide what is valid and what is not.
2. CAC's criteria for deciding if a motion is contemporary
In deciding if a contemporary motion is valid (contemporary) the CAC will consider the following points:
- Is the issue already addressed in the Conference agenda?
- Has the issue been dealt with by the NPF and Policy Commissions in their reports to Conference?
- Could the issue have been sent to the NPF, Policy Commissions or the NEC before they published their work?
A motion will be deemed to be contemporary if:
a) It is 250 words or less and deals with one subject.
b) It deals with a topic which arose after the publication of the reports of the National Policy Forum (NPF), Policy Commissions or National Executive Committee on 31 July or has not been substantively addressed in those reports. Copies of the reports will be sent to delegates in early September. In the meantime a list of the subjects dealt with by the policy commissions in 2011 is enclosed together with a summary of the contents of the NEC Report to 2011 Conference.
c) The issue could not otherwise have been raised through the Partnership in Power process.
d) It does not seek to bypass either the National Policy Forum policy-making or National Executive Committee decision-making processes or to overturn or revisit the Party Policy Programme as agreed through the Partnership in Power process, including issues defeated at the NPF which failed to achieve the status of an alternative position at the NPF.
The annual reports of the National Executive Committee, the National Policy Forum and the Policy Forums will be sent to delegates in early September. In the meantime please find attached lists of the topics to be covered on the Conference Agenda and in the various reports.
All clear? Now, I thought the NPF failed to agree anything at its meeting in Wrexham on 25 June 2011, as a report on policy was tabled too late to be given proper consideration. So does this mean anything goes? I think we should be told.
In any event, I am a bit puzzled by HO's timetable. They are proposing to send the appropriate reports to delegates, not CLP secretaries. So what I am meant to tell our members ahead of their branch meetings in the first week of September?. For the eagle eyed and logistically minded, that means my missive has to be despatched to branch secretaries before the August Bank holiday.
Ooh, I am going to have fun explaining this in plain language in my next Secretary's letter to branches, and retaining the will to live.