Suggested Change to the Labour Party Rule Book
The Labour Party should decide which Labour MPs can seek re-selection – not the PLP
The Labour Party Rule Book 2022 Chapter 5 Selections, rights and responsibilities of candidates for elected public office, Clause IV Selection of Westminster parliamentary candidates, Sub-clauses 5 and 5.A (pg 35) read as follows:
‘5. If a CLP is represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP:
‘A. If the sitting MP wishes to stand for re-election, a trigger ballot will be carried out through Party branches and affiliated branches according to this clause and NEC guidelines.’
Delete: ‘5. If a CLP is represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP:’
And replace with:
‘5. If a CLP is represented in Parliament by either a member of the PLP or by a member of the Labour Party who has not had their membership rights to stand in internal selections to represent the Party as a publicly elected representative suspended under the provisions of Chapters 1, 2 or 6 of this rule book:’
Make no changes to Sub-clauses 5.A through to 5.E
Add a new Sub-clause 5.F, after Sub-clause 5.E:
‘F. This sub-clause 5.IV.5.F, conferring on sitting MPs the rights set out in sub-clause 5.IV.5 above, shall automatically expire at the close of Annual Conference 2025. If any parliamentary selection has concluded in 2022 in which an MP who is a member of the Labour Party was not able to seek re-selection and had not had their membership rights to stand in internal selections to represent the Party as a publicly elected representative suspended, under the provisions of Chapters 1, 2, or 6 of this rule book, then that parliamentary selection will be null and void and a new parliamentary selection will be organised on the basis of the rules agreed at the 2022 Labour Annual Conference, if that sitting MP wishes to seek re-selection.’
Currently the Labour Party has the power, using the provisions of the disciplinary processes, clearly set out in the Rule Book, to prevent a Labour MP from seeking re-selection. Both the National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Constitutional Committee (NCC) have specific powers to suspend a party member’s right to be a prospective parliamentary candidate.
In addition the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) also currently has the power to prevent a Labour MP from seeking re-selection, even when the Labour Party has itself not decided to make such a decision. A Labour MP can be suspended or expelled from the PLP (suspension or withdrawal of the Labour Whip) by a decision of the Chief Whip, under powers that are set out in the PLP’s Standing Orders. Currently the Rule Book allows the PLP decision on the whip to take precedence over the Party’s determinations on disciplinary matters.
Specifically, this means that in situations where the Labour Party has investigated the conduct of a Labour MP, under the Labour Party Rule Book’s disciplinary processes, and the Labour Party has not decided to bar the Labour MP from seeking re-selection, the Chief Whip/PLP can ignore the outcome of the Party’s disciplinary process and in effect bar the Labour MP from seeking re-selection.
The current wording of the Rule Book in effect allows a component unit of the Party (the PLP) to over-rule the decisions of the NEC and NCC – the national Labour Party bodies that are elected by the Party as a whole to make such decisions. Unlike the rules and procedures for the NEC and NCC disciplinary processes, the PLP’s procedures are not determined by the Labour Party through its Conference and as such there is no accountability within the Party for the decisions made. The PLP sets its own Standing Orders, with no involvement of the Party’s CLPs and Affiliates.
The PLP, as a component unit of the Party, not the other way around. It is of course entitled to its view, but not to impose its view on the Party. The current wording of the Rule Book undemocratically permits the PLP to wield powers to impose decisions on the national Labour Party over re-selections. This power of veto by the PLP is not democratic, so should be removed from the Rule Book.
The purpose of this rule change is to allow all Labour MPs, who have not been barred from standing by the Labour Party, to seek re-selection. The PLP would continue to have their powers to set their own Standing Orders and internal codes of conduct, but not have the power to stop the Labour Party from considering the re-selection of any Labour MP that the Labour Party has not itself decided is ineligible to seek re-selection.
It is Labour Party Conference, made up of CLPs and affiliates, that sets the rules that govern eligibility for selection as a parliamentary candidate where there is no sitting Labour MP. The PLP has no powers to set those rules. Labour Party Conference also sets the rules that govern the re-selection process. It is an undemocratic anomaly, in the Party’s Rule Book, that the PLP, which sets its own rules, can in effect take precedence over the national Party’s process in re-selections.
The additional Sub Clause 5.F, proposed by this rule change, would ensure the application of this new rule to all parliamentary selections taking place in 2022, including those prior to the 2022 Labour Annual Conference.
Conference needs to democratise the parliamentary re-selection process!