Monthly Archives: September 2013

Report from Left Unity National Co-ordinating Group Meeting Saturday 7th September 2013 –Birmingham

There were 29 voting delegates in attendance plus the two chairs and a number of observers.

Chairs for the meeting (Terry Conway and Merry Cross) were volunteered and elected. Minutes of the previous meeting agreed.

There was one matter arising from the minutes; at the July meeting there had been discussion re: the possibility of live video streaming of meetings. Some members had had concerns about this in terms of protecting the privacy of people who did not want to be on film. A member of the NCG had been tasked with exploring the practicality surrounding this but wasn’t available to feedback to the meeting.

 Two other issues were mentioned and briefly discussed before we moved on to agenda items:

Women’s caucus

A women’s caucus has been established. There is a link to this on the national website.

Circulation of the agenda and resolutions

 

There was a call for the agenda for the national meetings to be circulated seven days in advance, along with all resolutions to be put to the meetings. Delegates in favour of this proposal debated the importance of being able to discuss agenda items and resolutions with their local groups first, to help enable these group members to be involved in the process. Delegates against felt that it would discriminate against groups who hold their meetings on a Thursday or Friday as their time for discussion would be very limited, that delegates should decide themselves which way to vote and that the political climate changes quickly and having to wait until the next meeting to submit a late resolution would slow down the process of forming the party. This resolution was passed by 17 to three, with nine abstentions.

Items two and three –timetable for founding conference and agenda for founding conference

 

The date for the next meeting of the NCG was agreed upon –this will be Saturday 19th October and will be in London.

Several delegates expressed concerns re: the proposed agenda for the November founding conference in that it seemed unrealistic that there would be enough time to get through it whilst allowing sufficient debate. There were suggestions around cutting down the number of platforms and resolutions and whether to allow amendments to platforms.

 It was agreed unanimously that standing orders for the November conference would be developed and brought to the October meeting and that this work would be done by the conference organising group, in consultation with LU members who have experience of being involved in this type of work. The October meeting will also elect a standing orders committee.

 

Also passed unanimously was a resolution that the timeframe for the November conference, the agenda for the conference and all material related to this be posted on the national website.

The deadline for signing up for the conference will be 23rd November and everyone wishing to attend must also be a sub paying member of LU by that date.

It was agreed that there will be no amendments taken for platforms. Partly due to time constraints and also because of the impracticalities of agreeing amendments to a platform that may have over 100 signatories.

The process for the election of leaders and positions within the party was also discussed. The delegate from Huddersfield had been involved in developing LU’s draft constitution; within this is a procedure for the election of leaders and officials. This draft constitution is available on the website. It was proposed that the November conference elect a steering committee and that actual elections take place at the spring conference.

There was also discussion re: the involvement of the media in the November conference. Concerns were raised regarding how the party would be portrayed in the press after a conference that was likely to have a high amount of disagreement and heated debate amongst members. This debate needs to happen as part of the process of LU defining what it is and what it stand for and members need to be free to feel they can have this debate without worrying about how the press will interpret this. A proposal not to have the press present at this conference was declined as it was already agreed that they would be involved by delegates at the last meeting.

It was then agreed to bring forward item five –the Safe Spaces Policy

 

This draft policy is available on the national website and is intended to help ensure that LU meetings and events are accessible and feel safe for all to attend. It was agreed to refer to local groups who may send feedback, proposed amendments etc on this policy and for the policy to be discussed again at the October meeting and the September conference and to then be voted on at the November conference.

Deferred item four –proposals for policy workshop conference (Manchester) including BSL costing

 

There was discussion re: how the timetable for the day will work, timings of workshops etc. It was agreed that attending a workshop debating the constitution will not be compulsory.

BSL translation- at least one LU member planning to attend the November conference requires BSL translation in order to participate. This has been costed at £800. It was agreed to pay for this from LU if necessary but that Felicity and Bianca from the NCG will approach various unions and ask them to contribute towards the cost of this. It was also agreed to start a LU inclusivity fund to help pay for future accessibility needs.

Item six –reconciliation report

 

Felicity from the NCG gave details regarding a matter she and other members of LU had been involved in which concerned a failure to reach resolution between two members who had had a significant disagreement. She requested the help of a small party of delegates to read the reports related to this incident and give recommendations for reaching a resolution. Three delegates agreed to do this work.

Items seven and eight –report on founding membership figures & financial report, including Manchester South queries

 

Unfortunately James from the NCG was not able to be at the meeting to give figures re: membership and finances. This will be an item on the October meeting agenda.

Manc S queries –this was a query about how people without bank accounts could become members. Kate Hudson described how there is a process for this to happen whereby a local group can collect cash from members and send to the national bank account on their behalf.

There was also discussion re: which bank to use for LU accounts, delegates felt that the Co-op and Unity banks were the most ethical. One delegate informed the group that these are actually part of the same bank, so either would be comparable.

Leaflets –it was proposed by Kate Hudson (and agreed) that party funds would be used to produce several thousand leaflets and send out to groups for free.

Item nine –Reading LU proposals

 

Reading LU group had submitted two proposals

·         That the basic principles of one member one vote be in place in writing before the founding conference

·         That we have links on the website to the web pages of every local group

The first proposal was not voted on as it was already agreed at the May NCG meeting. Kate agreed to reiterate this in the next newsletter.

The second proposal was also not voted on as not all local groups have websites and it was also felt inappropriate to vote to create a potentially large amount of work for people who are doing LU in their spare time. It was however agreed that any local group who have a website can send the details to the national website who will publish these details.

Item ten –Rugby LU proposals

 

The first proposal from this group related to the agreement in the June NCG meeting to involve left groups, unions etc in the policy making process through the policy commissions and the September conference. This group had agreed with this proposal and called upon the NCG make it happen. Their proposal was passed with an amendment that removed left parties from their proposal and replaced it with left groups (this had been the agreement at the June meeting).

It was noted that the central team do not have the facility to set up links with local groups but they are welcome to participate and many LU groups have made links with these groups and the wider left leaning community.

Their second proposal was that the LU newsletter be used to encourage all LU groups to download and print materials from each commission for distribution to those not on the internet who wish to be involved. This was passed by the meeting.

Item 11 –joint Tower Hamlets LU & Hackney LU Proposal

 

These groups had proposed that articles debating platform statements should not appear on the front page of the website, the rationale being that this creates an instant impression of disunity and argument for those interested in LU who visit the website to find out more. It was instead proposed that these be in a separate section of the website. This was agreed unanimously.

Item 13 –Southwark LU proposals

There were three proposals from this group

1.       That all branches be supported to set up Facebook groups and web pages by knowledgeable activists.

2.       NCG members to coordinate creation of a speakers list of all members who have experience and can speak on different topics to be circulated to branches so they can contact individuals to speak in their area.

3.       NCG members to coordinate the creation of an artists list of all members who have skills in art or culture which can be used at public events, music nights etc.

Proposal one was agreed, Micheline, a delegate from one of the London groups agreed to help with this.

Proposals two and three were also agreed with amendments relating to groups making sure that speakers/performers expensive are paid and agreed in advance. Micheline also agreed to compile these lists with information sent to her. Local groups are encouraged to send this information via the national website.

The meeting closed (on time) at 5pm.

General observations

This meeting had a much more positive feel than last meeting I attended in Doncaster, with none of the challenges to the chair or points of order being raised. There was still disagreement and debate around this disagreement but all of this was done in a civilised respectful manner and the group felt more cohesive, with the meeting flowing well despite obvious time pressures.