Comments on Campaign Briefing 75, by Ann Phillips

Party member Ann Phillips of Newquay and St Austell CLP has sent us the following comments on Campaign Briefing 75. We thank her for her supportive views.

Campaign Briefing is always an enjoyable read for delegates to Labour Party Conference as it gives information not-forthcoming from the National Party or Regions to individual members, Wards, Branches and Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs). It has become an eye-opener of the many issues that people nationally feel strongly and despondent about, as well as enabling us to read the thoughts of some MPs.

One aspect that habitually comes over is that the Party doesn't follow through with the decisions voted on at Conference, coupled with the issue of the vital link with the Unions. Unions and CLPs are the parts of the Party that are in touch with the rank and file members and also with workers throughout the country. It mentions problems on the selection criteria of favourite candidates who follow the orthodox Party line rather than a wider range of views.

Kelvin Hopkins MP asks, "what are our policies of the future", and of, "re-democratising our Conference from a lifeless rally". Michael Meacher MP gives ideas to promote a real lead for the economy to get a growth and jobs strategy going.

The debacle of Tower Hamlets and the injustices against our members is shameful and unworthy of a Party that proclaims support for fairness, equality and racism.

We can only support Professor Ewing when he asks that we put in place a Labour watchdog - a Party Ombudsman - independently accountable to Conference… What a good idea and long overdue.

Again democracy is highlighted by members on the National Policy Forum, NPF, as it focuses on making their sessions clearer, using perhaps user friendly language and taking them away from the boringly long meetings and, more to the point, using party members as a source. Party amendments are seen as essential in the struggle for a democratic Conference and on a personal opinion, what a struggle it has been and still is.

The Campaign Briefing highlights again the selection and re-selection procedures, particularly when the local party disagrees, as is happening in my own patch. Noel Foy's article analyses National Executive Committee, centralised control of selection and calls for a greater unity of purpose in incorporating increasing working class representation in Westminster. "Fair free from undemocratic interference" is fundamental to this.

Most importantly we must recognise that SUNDAY'S PRIORITY BALLOT is understood by all the CLPs delegates by saying DON'T WASTE YOUR VOTE BY VOTING FOR THE UNION RESOLUTIONS AS THESE WILL GO THROUGH AUTOMATICALLY. Your choice should be from the other resolutions in order to achieve a further range of debate and may be more pertinent for your CLP. Please don't be browbeaten or told by anyone, MP or Party Official, how to vote.

The Campaign Briefing is an eye-opener, the short "bitebacks" certainly are snippets worth reading, as is Tel's Tales, Conference Alert and the review of Mark Seddon's book by Laura Davison called "Seddon's World". I am going to buy it after reading this.

Thank you to Campaign Briefing. It is an excellent publication from the CLPD that raises those issues that are smothered with cloying self-praise and pats-on-the-back mentality that pervades the hierarchy of our Party who do not seem to realise that the mainstay of our Party are the vital, wards and branches rooted in all our Constituencies and local communities nationally.