CLPD Newsletter No.26

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CLPD Newsletter

No.26 (Conference Edition) September 1982

Open the NEC Books

The Labour Movement has always been in the forefront of the struggle for openness in public life. We campaigned to have Hansard published, and as trade unionists our consistent demand is that management open the books. This is quite natural - popular power requires popular knowledge.

But we as a Party do not set much of an example for open government. NEC minutes were first published and NEC votes first recorded only in 1980, and they are still largely inaccessible to the majority of Party members, because the NEC works on the 'committee system'. This means that it takes most of its decisions by accepting, rejecting or referring back the minutes of sub-committees or papers prepared by the National Agent's Department. But all of these NEC papers are 'private and confidential'. In this way, an important attempt to prevent Conference card votes from being recorded could appear as 'reference back of minute 97' of the Organisation Committee. This is unnecessarily obscure. There is clearly a need for further democratisation of NEC procedures.

In 1973 Tony Benn proposed that NEC papers should be made public on the day the NEC meets to consider them. This was narrowly defeated in the NEC and overwhelmingly defeated in the Shadow Cabinet. In the same year, in our founding statement of aims, CLPD called on the NEC 'to make NEC meetings open to representatives from the CLPs'. By these or other means, it should be possible to allow party members full access to the deliberations of our leadership.

In the meanwhile, however, through extensive cross-checking and gleaning, it is possible to get a sense of voting patterns on the NEC. The table below aims to make this available to the Party, by reproducing the votes on a few important issues.

This should be welcomed by members of the NEC. It will enable them to receive more feedback on the decisions they take. In a democratic socialist party, the information needed to take decisions must always be available to the grassroots. Publishing these votes will hopefully help this process.

Issue no.123456789101.No action against MilitantDecember 1980
Frank AllaunFFFFFFFFFF2.Oppose 'shortlist' of oneMay 1981
Norman AtkinsonFF0F******3.For trade union rights for Youth Opportunity Programme TraineesJuly 1981
Margaret BeckettFFFF******4.Support NEC commitment to 'remove nuclear weapons from Britain'July 1981
Tony BennFFFFFFFFFF5.Endorse Peter TatchellDecember 1981
Betty Boothroyd*AAAAAA--A6.No enquiry into MilitantDecember 1981
Tom BradleyA*********7.Endorse Pat WallFebruary 1982
Eric ClarkeFFF-FFFFFF8.Immediate ceasefire in FalklandsMay 1982
Bernard Dix*F--******9.Keep the commitment to 'unilateral disarmament' in Labour's Programme 1982May 1982
Laurence Coates****FFF0FF
Gwynneth Dunwoody****AAAAAA10.Reject Militant Tendency ReportJune 1982
Roy Evans****AAAAAA
John GoldingAAAAAAAAAAF= For
Alan HaddenA-A-AAAAFAA= Against
Judith Hart-A-FFAFFFF0= Abstention
Denis HealeyAAAAAAAAAA-= Absent
Eric HefferFFFFFFF0FF*= Not on NEC then
Neville HoughAA--AAA--A
Doug Hoyle-F-FFAFFF0
Les HuckfieldFFFFFFFF-F
Charlie KellyFF--******
Neil KinnockFA-FAAFAFA
Alex Kitson0---FAFA-A
Sam McCluskie-F--FA-0F-
Gerry RussellA---AAAAAA
Tony SaunoisFFFF******
Renee ShortFAF-******
Dennis Skinner-FFFFFFFFF
Shirley Summerskill****AAAAAA
Syd TierneyAA--AAAAF-
Russell TuckA---AAAAFA
Eric Varley****AAAAAA
David Williams****AAAAFA
Shirley WilliamsA*********

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