NEC Meeting 17th July 2018

The meeting began with a point of order about the designated representative of the Welsh Labour Leader, Carwyn Jones. A place had been set for the Welsh Assembly Member Jeremy Miles (although he wasn’t actually present), yet, at the previous meeting, Carwyn had dialled in himself. The point was reiterated that there are no substitutes allowed at NEC meetings and Carwyn could either, therefore, attend each meeting in person or appoint a permanent representative.

Before getting into the main business of meeting, the Chair, Andy Kerr, expressed disappointment that, once again, important papers had been leaked prior to the meeting, in this case, the draft recommendations from the Democracy Review, which was due to be the main item of business.

Jeremy Corbyn then gave his Leader’s Report, describing how the PLP had been keeping the Tory Government under pressure over Brexit. He outlined the bizarre scenes over the White Paper, which had not been distributed to MPs ahead of the discussion. Any Brexit deal would be assessed according to Labour’s Six Tests (as outlined by Keir Starmer on Labour List). Unfortunately, three Labour MPs had voted with the Tories the previous night, allowing the Government to win key votes. The party needed to be prepared for a General Election whenever it may come, and John Trickett MP was leading on this. The Shadow Cabinet would be meeting the following day to discuss preparations for government and would be seeking to develop detailed policy proposals over the summer recess. Jeremy had spoken at several trade union conferences and at the Durham Miners’ Gala, and was due to attend the Tolpuddle Festival the following weekend. He had also spoken at various events commemorating the 70thbirthday of the NHS, including in Tredegar, birthplace of Aneurin Bevan, as well as the major UNISON demonstration. Jeremy also talked about his visit to a refugee camp in Jordan and welcomed Janet Daby’s victory in the Lewisham by-election. Jeremy finished by saying that he hoped that the Democracy Review would make the party open, democratic and accountable to its members and that it would change the culture in CLPs that are sometimes not as welcoming as they should be.

In his Local Government Report, Cllr Nick Forbes said that the Government was due to produce a paper on adult social care but had ‘kicked the can down the road’. Any extra money put into the NHS had been undermined by the failure to address the problems of social care. The LGA was now producing its own Green Paper on the issue, pulling together various proposals made over the years. The financial gap faced by councils just to carry on with they are already doing now amounted to £7.8 billion up to 2025, emphasising what a difficult time is faced by local authorities.

In his EPLP report, Richard Corbett MEP talked about the work underway to challenge the Tories’ Brexit plans, but also touched on the current legislative agenda and the choice faced by the Party of European Socialists in deciding which candidate to support for the Presidency of the European Commission.

Jennie Formby then gave her General Secretary’s Report, which, as usual, covered a range of disparate items, taking up a large section of the agenda. She summarised all of the work underway, including preparations for conference and for a possible General Election, and thanked her staff for their hard work and commitment.

Jennie also presented the meeting with a series of documents summarising the party’s efforts to address the issue of anti-Semitism. This was the longest discussion in the meeting, and the one that attracted the most media commentary afterwards, albeit not necessarily very accurately. There was a revised version of the paper setting out a new disciplinary procedure, an earlier version of which had been discussed at the previous meeting. There was also a proposal for a detailed and comprehensive education programme for party activists, which could be rolled out over the months and years ahead. The third document was the Code of Conduct, which has been widely discussed. This was the result of a lot of hard work and careful consideration on the party of party officers, including our new in-house Counsel.

Contrary to the way it has sometimes been described in the media, it includes the entirety of the definition of anti-Semitism drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and almost all of the accompanying examples. It also, however, incorporates a discussion about the need to balance our responsibility to fight prejudice in our own ranks and show solidarity with the Jewish community with the need to protect the right to legitimate criticism of the state of Israel. Hence, the only part of the list of IHRA examples not included virtually word for word is the reference to the Israeli state being a racist endeavour. In my view, the Code of Conduct represents a balanced and principled position and, in fact, nobody in the debate seriously suggested otherwise. The discussion revolved around the way that the party’s approach to anti-Semitism has been perceived, particularly by the Jewish community, and several NEC members felt that it was necessary to adopt the IHRA document in its entirety in order to win back trust in Labour by the Jewish community. In my contribution, I said that this would not only be a mistake, but it may not even succeed in its objective if the party was seen to be changing our position under pressure rather than out of conviction. Ultimately, it was agreed to confirm our decision to adopt the Code as drafted, but to re-open discussions with the main Jewish organisations with a view to exploring their remaining concerns.

We then moved on to the discussion on the Democracy Review. Katy Clark and her team had prepared a lengthy draft document, which had been circulated to NEC members the day before, summarising the conclusions of the Review. This paper had, unfortunately, been leaked to the media, as a result of which the General Secretary indicated that, in principle, there is no further obstacle to NEC members circulating and discussing its contents more widely. I therefore attach some of the most interesting sections (I am not circulating the whole document, as it was sent to us as 23 separate PDFs, but if anyone wants to see other sections, based on the summary of recommendations, please let me know). There has been a summary on Labourlist, along with some commentary, but I would like to highlight the following:

  • it is proposed that the nominations threshold for future leadership elections allow CLP or trade union nominations to count in place of those from MPs but that a candidate must also always securesupport from a minimum of 5% of the PLP (this is a compromise but one that makes it significantly easier than at present for a broad range of candidates to get on the ballot-paper);
  • it is also proposed that the proportion of NEC members who are directly-elected be gradually increased over time but, for now, the only concrete change in composition would be the replacement of the EPLP rep (assuming that Brexit goes ahead) with a disabled members’ rep. It is also suggested that the Scottish and Welsh seats be filled in a way to be determined by Scottish and Welsh conferences, respectively, rather than continue to be in the gift of the Scottish and Welsh party leaders, and that there be by-elections in the event of a vacancy.
  • the failure of the National Policy Forum (NPF) as an effective means of making policy is recognised and it is proposed to sweep it away – although the suggested alternative process seems rather undeveloped so far. The NPF elections are going ahead but it may be that the successful candidates will have nothing to do.
  • Local Campaign Forums – another unhappy initiative from the New Labour period – are also potentially on the way out, with a proposed move back to something more like the old Local Government Committee/County Party set-up.

NEC members have been asked to reflect on these draft proposals and feed back any suggested changes ahead of our next meeting on 4 September (discussion on the day being limited by the fact that few people had the chance to digest the document). After 4 September, something will be presumably be published officially to the wider party.

The last substantial item was a paper considering our work with sister parties, proposing that we look at developing relations with other parties with whom we do not have formal organisational links, but with whom we have worked over issues of mutual interest and concern, due to our shared political perspectives, an example being Syriza in Greece. It was agreed to set up a working party to consider how these relationships could be taken forward without undermining the existing arrangements that we have with our long-standing sister parties.

Welsh Executive Committee Report, 21st July 2018 (Joint Report with Christine Newman)

This meeting had a particularly heavy agenda and it was a struggle to deal with all 16 items even after extending the finishing time to 1.30pm.

Report of the Welsh Labour Leader and First Minister

Carwyn Jones gave a verbal report, where he described in not very flattering terms the current state of the Tory negotiations over Brexit. While the Welsh Government had produced a White Paper on the matter and was working with big employers, the Tories’ failure to produce a detailed and comprehensive trade deal between the EU and the UK would have very serious consequences for Wales. He also warned that public finances under the Tories’ austerity programme would be very tough next year. Carwyn expressed concern over funding for the public sector pay deal and the detrimental effect on such schemes as student finance and the free school meals project. He warned that, however tempting it may seem to raise taxes, they should not be used to plug the gaps created by central Government. Instead any such increases should go to additional needs, in order to secure a fair settlement for Wales. Concern was also expressed over the uncertainty as to whether Wales would remain part of an all EU defence, security and anti -crime force. Cllr. Debbie Wilcox rightly accused the Tory Government of ‘killing off public services’ and raised the need for us to demonstrate our opposition to what is happening under this government using the slogan, ‘Tell the Truth about the Tories’, which Chris strongly endorsed, arguing that the labour movement had been too quiet and should take our campaigning out on the streets. Carwyn finally advised the meeting that as a party we must get ready for an election, as he wondered how much more people could take of the UK government’s austerity measures.

Report of the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

A written report had been circulated, covering Christina’s campaign work plus what was happening in parliament over Brexit, the Tories refusal to fund the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and Wales Questions. The Welsh MPs had raised a series of matters such as post Brexit farming funding, the impact of Universal Credit, Leaving the EU and international trade opportunities, the state of cross border rail services, matters in North Wales, to name but a few. It would appear that Alun Cairns replies were ‘less than inspirational’.

Report of Welsh Labour Deputy Leader

Carolyn Harris’ written report described the campaigning work she has been engaged in, since taking office. She offered to visit any CLPs over the summer. She was also involved in the current WASI Women and the Period Poverty Campaigns and said that she would be working with the Welsh Government to provide children attending summer holiday play groups with sandwiches for lunch.

Discussion of Welsh Labour Democracy Review with Lord Murphy

The first part of this item was an opportunity to raise questions and concerns with Lord (Paul) Murphy about Stage 1 of the Democracy Review, which is looking specifically at the electoral system for Welsh Labour leadership and deputy leadership elections. Chris asked Paul about comments he had previously made about his approach to considering submissions, whereby he said he will “give a flavour” of responses in his report, and asked how he would weight the respective strength of feeling for and against different options. In response, he defended this approach and said that he aimed to “ensure that all views are heard”, rather than conducting a “mathematical exercise” to weigh responses.

Darren highlighted the importance of a choice of options would being put before the special conference on 15 September but Paul failed to give any assurances in this regard and seemed to suggest that he would prefer to avoid this, hoping instead that some degree of consensus would emerge; he did acknowledge, however, that a choice might be necessary if opinion seemed very evenly divided. The Chair, Margaret Thomas, also asserted that it will ultimately be the WEC itself that decides what is put before conference.

In response to a suggestion from one of the local government reps that the leadership nominations procedure be reformed to allow for greater diversity and specifically to ensure that a woman candidate on the ballot-paper (a proposal that has been promoted by supporters of Eluned Morgan), Paul Murphy said that that would be a matter for Stage 2 of the Review. The next WEC meeting on 8 September will be dedicated to agreeing what will be put to the special conference the following weekend.

There was also a presentation on Stage 2 of the Review, which is being divided into a number of ‘workstreams’, each of which will be taken forward by a sub-committee of the WEC or an ad hoc working group. The Welsh Policy Forum meeting scheduled to take place in Newport on 27 October will also be feeding into the workstream on our future policy-making arrangements. The work on Stage 2 will get underway after the special conference concludes Stage 1 but initial meetings of the various sub-committees and working groups are to be arranged sooner than later.

Selection and Reselections

This section of the agenda covered a series of connected items on parliamentary and Assembly selections and turned out to be the most controversial aspect of the meeting. The first sub-item followed on from the paper discussed at the June meeting, which had suggested delaying selections for Westminster candidates in the six less winnable non-Labour-held Welsh constituencies, rather than proceeding with them as soon as the six more winnable seats had been dealt with, as agreed in September 2017. As agreed at the previous meeting, the Deputy General Secretary, David Costa had written to the six CLPs in question, pointing out the various concerns that had been raised and asking them their views. All but one of these CLPs had responded by stating emphatically, but in a carefully considered manner, that they wanted to select candidates as soon as possible. A consistent theme in their responses was the conviction that, if Labour is to have any chance of capturing the seat in question, it must have a candidate to act as a public spokesperson for the party. Five of the six ‘challenge’ seats are in the Mid and West Wales and Catherine Thomas, one of the CLP reps for the region, spoke passionately about the need to respect the CLPs’ wishes, supported by Darren and other CLP reps. Other WEC members raised objections, however, based mainly on the workloads of staff and officers recommended that the selections be delayed until the New Year. When it came to the vote, only eight of us (all CLP reps) voted in favour of respecting the constituencies’ views; the fifteen other voting members of the Committee present voted to delay the selections. Catherine asked that a senior officer visit each constituency to explain the decision. The Chair said, however, that this would be unnecessary: a letter should suffice but she would be willing to meet a delegation consisting of one or two officers from each CLP.

The next item was a paper on whether we should allow selected parliamentary candidates could stand in an Assembly election if the latter came first, and on what basis. The General Secretary pointed out that the current rules don’t allow someone to be a candidate for both Assembly and parliamentary elections at the same some; we would have to give special dispensation. Darren spoke in favour of allowing CLPs to decide on this, highlighting the current strength of the party’s grassroots organisation and the need to trust our members and activists. Chris spoke in support of this and also said that candidates should always be members of the relevant trade union. Other members disagreed, however, saying that we shouldn’t allow candidates to “chop and change” and Carwyn said that the comments made in support of flexibility didn’t cover the situation where a candidate jumped ship in order to stand in a safer seat; the ‘home’ CLP would have no control of this. When it came to the vote, only three of us voted in favour of allowing leeway on this and the various specific options then fell by default.

Next, we had a short paper relating to initial preparations for selecting candidates for the 2021 Assembly elections. The first point for consideration was wherever selections should be conducted on the basis of the current procedure and the Chair asked whether anyone would have any objections to this. No-one did, in principle, but Darren pointed out that the Welsh Democracy Review would cover selections and might result in a change of procedure. Carwyn said it seemed strange to argue for immediate selections earlier on but then to argue for a delay. Darren clarified that he wasn’t advocating delay, just that any changes needed to be implemented once they were agreed. Carwyn replied that we couldn’t have some candidates for the next Assembly election selected under one system and others under a different system. Others seemed to agree with this comment and, when it was put to the vote, it was overwhelmingly agreed that the current arrangements should continue. In response to a second question under this item, everyone agreed that AMs should be contacted to establish whether they plan to stand again.

The final paper in this section of the agenda raised the possibility of re-establishing an all-Wales panel to carry out initial vetting of aspiring candidates in relation to probity and general quality. David Costa set out three options, from which the WEC could choose if it liked the idea in principle. The first of these would involve the panel conducting a basic probity check – interviewing candidates and scanning their social media accounts. The second would add a compulsory training session, while the third would also test candidates’ skills, experience and knowledge. David said that, in the view or the officers, Options 1 and 2 could be helpful to CLPs but Option 3 would be step too far.

We CLP reps were sceptical about the value of any Wales-wide panel, which we saw as involving more work for staff, which had been highlighted as a potential problem earlier. Louise replied that it would be WEC members, rather than staff, who would make up the panel but staff support would undoubtedly be required. It was also suggested in the discussion that there could be Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (previously known as CRB checks) for all candidates; most, if not all of us supported this, but it would be carried out by civil servants and would not require Welsh Labour input. Some senior members of the committee suggested that many candidates have little knowledge of the political world in which they are seeking to get involved, including the differences between the Assembly and Parliament. It was eventually agreed in principle that we should have a Wales-wide panel, with only 8 CLP reps voting against and it was then specifically agreed to go for Option 2, with 3 abstentions.

Conference Debrief

The WEC was presented with a document giving a thorough review of the April 2018 conference and highlighting issues that had arisen, which could be taken into account in future. Perhaps the most significant aspect related to the decision by the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) not to accept delegates or motions for the April conference from CLPs or Women’s Fora that had not paid their affiliation fees before 31 December 2017. This had caused understandable outrage and the news that the SOC had agreed to relax this rule in future, provided that fees are paid before delegates are elected, was welcomed by the WEC. It was confirmed that the 2019 Welsh Labour Conference will be held in Llandudno once again, as Venue Cymru is an ideal size, disability access, etc. It was hoped that in future, the conference should be rotated around Wales but agreed that it should held in the North more frequently than the South, to help address concerns that Welsh Labour events are too South Wales orientated.

A grid was also circulated, showing motions carried by the Welsh Labour conference in April and the body responsible for acting on each of them. This was something Darren had specifically requested at the previous meeting, both in order to have a clear record of what had been agreed and to get a statement as to what the party and/or the Welsh Government proposed to do about each motion – especially in the case of more contentious issues like the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) where conference had overwhelmingly rejected the Welsh Government’s position. The grid merely gave the title of each motion, however, rather than summarising its intent, and said only which body was responsible for each motion, not what was being done about it. We had been told that we would be given a verbal report at the meeting but Darren requested something in writing and Carwyn said that he would circulate something after the meeting

General Secretary’s Report

Louise Magee’s written report included an update on parliamentary selections. Belinda Loveluck-Edwards had been selected in the Vale of Glamorgan, Marc Tierney in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Philippa Thompson in Preseli Pembrokeshire, Emily Owen in Aberconwy and Mary Griffiths Clarke in Arfon. Clwyd West would start again in the autumn. Both Louise herself and the Welsh Labour finance manager would be going on maternity leave very soon, which would also need to be factored into staff workloads over the coming months. Louise’s report also gave an overview of past and future campaigns, training, staffing and forthcoming events.

General Data Protection Regulation

A useful briefing on the party’s responsibilities under the new regulations was given by an officer from HQ.

MEP Report

Derek Vaughan submitted a written report which really expressed his contempt for the UK Government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations, the high cost of leaving the EU and the fraudulent behaviour of the Vote Leave Campaigners.

Welsh Local Government Association Leader’s Report

Cllr Debbie Wilcox’s written report included: Local Government Reform, in relation to which she said that the decision not to proceed with the forced merger Option 3 of the “Strengthening Local Government Green Paper” had been warmly welcomed by councils; the establishment of a joint working group with the WLGA and the relevant trade unions chaired by Derek Vaughan MEP, tasked with examining key areas such as financial sustainability, structures, the respect agenda, active citizenship, powers and flexibilities over a twelve-month period, in preparation for the 2022 local elections. Debbie also reiterated that eight years of Tory austerity is causing great suffering.

Police & Crime Commissioners Report

The WEC also noted a written report from Jeff Cuthbert, PCC for Gwent, who was pleased to report the Welsh Government’s support for the setting up of a Policing Board for Wales and the continuation of the Schools Liaison Programme.

Welsh Executive Committee Meeting, 9th June 2018 (Joint Report with Christine Newman)

This was the first full meeting of the newly-elected WEC, following the Welsh Labour conference in April. The main item was discussion of the Welsh Labour Democracy Review, which had been agreed at conference. The Chair, Margaret Thomas, began the meeting by expressing her disappointment at the leaking of the papers on this item to the Welsh media.

Report of Welsh Labour Leader and First Minister

Carwyn reiterated his intention to resign by the end of September 2018, allowing his successor to be elected in time to take office on the 12th December 2018, in the last week before Christmas recess. He said that he had been in government for 18 years and now needed to give someone else the chance to do the job. It had not been the easiest time because of austerity, but his government had delivered Welsh Labour’s manifesto commitments despite the reduction in resources by Westminster.

On Brexit, there seemed to be an endless public fight between UK Cabinet Ministers who should have been sacked. Carwyn welcomed the amendment put down by the Labour front bench in Westminster. Businesses that already operate in Wales were, however, considering transferring elsewhere and there was still no solution to the Irish border question. Labour needed to keep pushing the Tories and try to ensure that the public understood the issues. The Welsh Government had recently announced the shape of the new rail franchise; Carwyn said that it was not Welsh ministers’ first preference, as they would have preferred a not-for-profit model, but this had been prevented by the Wales Act. However, there would be a far better service at a far lower price than under the current franchise. Carwyn also talked about the problems caused by the US Government’s introduction of steel tariffs, and about the failure of the UK Government to guarantee the future of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, which cast doubt on the future of all such projects.

Tributes were paid to Carwyn in the course of members’ contributions, and questions were raised about a number of the points that he had touched on; most significantly, he was given the opportunity to elaborate on the deal done with the UK Government on the repatriation of powers from Europe. Carwyn emphasised the progress that had been made; the Tories had wanted to take powers in 64 areas and legislate where they saw fit, but it had now been agreed to put a minority of powers in ‘the freezer’ so that they could not be used unless there was mutual agreement, and for the remainder to return directly to Cardiff.

Report of the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Christina thanked Carwyn for all of his help and friendship and talked about the parliamentary discussions over Europe. There would now be two days to debate the EU Withdrawal Bill. Confirmation of the UK Government’s position on the Tidal Lagoon was still awaited and Labour was working with the steel unions on the tariffs issue.


There were now a series of elections for the various WEC sub-committees and working groups. Nominations had been sought in advance of the meeting, but the Chair said that she would take additional nominations from the floor.

Several of these bodies have no maximum membership limit and are open to all WEC members who wished to volunteer – namely: the Organisation sub-committee (on which Chris and Darren will both sit during the present WEC term; the Local Government Sub-Committee; the Appeals Panel; the Behaviour and Culture Working Group; and the Gender Equality Working Group. Four other bodies were subject to contested elections, however. The first of these was the Party Development Board (PDB), which acts as, in effect, the ‘executive’ of the Welsh Executive Committee. This body has 3 representatives of affiliated organisations and 3 from party units, as well as the Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Leader and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales. Darren was elected to one of these seats, along with Catherine Thomas from Mid and West Wales and Deborah Davies from South Wales East. Unlike the PDB, however, the remaining three elections – for WEC observers at SOC meetings; representatives on the Electoral Reform Working Party; and the Welsh Policy Forum – reserved no places for CLP reps and none of the CLP reps who stood for positions were elected, a worrying state of affairs that suggests a lack of commitment on the part of some of our WEC colleagues to these bodies being as representative as possible.

Submission to UK Democracy Review

It had been agreed at the previous full meeting of the WEC that, although the UK party’s Democracy Review dealt mainly with issues that were not specific to Wales, there were one or two matters on which the WEC should make a submission. The agreed points, which had been set out in a brief paper, mainly acknowledged that we were now embarking on our own Welsh Democracy Review, but also reaffirmed the importance of the devolution to the WEC of certain key aspects of the Welsh party’s business. The response also included a declaration of support for the continuation of a seat for the Welsh Labour Leader on the UK party’s NEC. We and other CLP reps had previously expressed reservations about this seat being in the gift of the Welsh Leader, rather than elected by Welsh members, but the majority of the WEC favours the current arrangements, and so we suggested that a second seat could be added, which would be elected by the whole Welsh party, and it was agreed to include this in the submission. The final point in the paper was to reaffirm that, since the NEC meetings usually clash with Assembly plenary business, Carwyn needed to appoint a representative to participate on his behalf. Darren pointed out that, under the NEC’s rules, Carwyn could either take the seat himself or delegate someone else, but not switch between the two. However, Carwyn did not seem to take this on board, and the only additional point agreed was to ask that the NEC meetings be switched to a different day, a request that seems unlikely to be accommodated.

Welsh Labour Democracy Review

We then moved in to the most significant business of the meeting, which had been trailed in the media beforehand. Carwyn had circulated a paper to the WEC, proposing that the Welsh Democracy Review agreed at the April conference be split into two stages, the first of which would deal solely with the question of how the Welsh Leader and Deputy Leader would be elected in future, tacitly acknowledging the continuing controversy over this issue since the declaration at conference of the Deputy Leadership election result, whereby Julie Morgan had won two-thirds of members’ votes but lost out overall. Carwyn proposed that this part of the review be concluded at a special conference on 15 September, before the election to choose his successor. Stage 2 of the Review would then cover all other areas of organisation and activity devolved to the Welsh party and Carwyn had suggested a list of topics, including increasing the recruitment of new members and the engagement of existing members, especially women; raising the representation and involvement of people from BAME communities and from the LGBT+ community, as well as making it easier for people with disabilities to get involved; strengthening the links with affiliated unions and reviewing the party’s relationship with socialist societies and friends’ groups. Carwyn proposed that Lord (Paul) Murphy, the former Torfaen MP and UK cabinet minister, oversee the Review.

In the ensuing discussion, Darren welcomed Carwyn’s initiative but asked a number of questions of detail: would all members be able to give their views in both stages of the consultation; would the WEC make a recommendation to the special conference on Stage 1, with the latter making the final decision; would all CLPs be able to participate in the special conference, including those barred from the April conference due to late payment of affiliation fees; would the list of areas covered by Stage 2 be expanded to include items omitted from Carwyn’s list, such as the make-up and functioning of the WEC itself; and, given, the formidable range of issues covered by the Review as a whole, would Lord Murphy have a team of people to assist him? The Deputy General Secretary, David Costa responded to these questions and answered most in the affirmative, although he said that the inclusion of late-paying CLPs would be a matter for the Standing Orders Committee.

Another CLP rep said that the Review should be looking at how we could retain, as well as recruit, members and pointed out that, in this time of austerity, some members were finding it difficult to keep up their subs payments. It was pointed out, however, that membership fees are non-devolved and this should therefore be covered by the UK review. Our BAME rep, Ramesh Patel, said that the party needs to do more engage BAME members and pointed out that, for example, Cardiff’s Labour-led Council does not have a single BAME member in its cabinet, despite its highly diverse population and a number of BAME councillors. An MP said that it was important that any submissions from CLPs should be the result of genuinely representative meetings, so that the views expressed could be weighted appropriately, and a trade union rep said that ‘official’ responses from CLPs and affiliates must carry more weight than those from individual members of such bodies. David Costa said that Paul Murphy will produce a report that reflects the issues and concerns that will have been fed in, rather than the numbers for and against each option. He confirmed that the WEC would make a democratic decision about what to put to the special conference.

It was agreed to adopt the proposals contained in Carwyn’s paper, with a special WEC meeting on 8 September and a special conference a week later, on the 15th.

Consultation on Leadership & Deputy Leadership elections

We then moved on to the draft consultation document for Stage 1 of the Democracy Review, containing a series of questions relating to preferences between OMOV and an electoral college, and particular variants of each. Darren suggested a series of amendments: first, that the questionnaire should take the form of a ‘decision tree’, so that anyone expressing an initial preference for OMOV or the electoral college should then answer subsidiary questions on their preferred system, not on the alternative; second that the option for OMOV to be limited to party members should be removed, as no-one actually wants to exclude affiliated supporters; and that there should be a question on whether multiple voting should be permitted. Chris and other CLP reps supported these points, and one also said that the explanatory preamble should make clear that the current system gives full-time politicians a vote worth more than 400 times that of an ordinary member. Other members opposed these suggestions, however, and some suggested that anything not covered by the set questions could be added as ‘further comments’ under Question 5.

When it came to voting, the Chair refused to take amendments to the paper first, which is the normal procedure in Labour party (and other) meetings, and instead asked the WEC to vote on the paper as originally presented. It was agreed to accept it unamended by 18 votes to 9, with Chris, Darren and all other CLPs present among the nine.

Preparation for Leadership Election, including Appointment of Procedures Committee

This was a routine procedural item, the main outcome of which was agreement that the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) would be the Procedures Committee for the Leadership election in the autumn. This marked a change from the Deputy Leadership election, when the Party Development Board (PDB) was the Procedures Committee. PDB members had also been prominent supporters of one or other of the two candidates, however, whereas the SOC members are expected to remain publicly impartial in relation to internal elections and other contentious matters within the party.

Selections Update

A paper was presented to the WEC that had not been circulated beforehand, which raised a number of concerns relating to the ongoing selection of parliamentary candidates in non-Labour-held seats. In particular, we were relatively few members were putting themselves forward for selection as candidates in these seats. Questions were posed as to the desirability of relaxing the rules on nominations and minimum shortlist sizes, as well as the potential introduction of a Wales-wide panel to undertake ‘quality control’ in relation to aspiring candidates. Most controversially, it was suggested that, in view of the relative paucity of candidates and the renewed possibility of boundary changes, selections in the six least-winnable Welsh seats (known as ‘challenge’ seats) – which the WEC had previously agreed should proceed a.s.a.p. – could be postponed. CLP reps argued against any delay, pointing out that the CLPs in question were all committed to securing a candidate a.s.a.p. and also proposed (successfully) that considerations of natural justice should apply to any vetting of candidates. It was eventually agreed to defer a final decision on the issues raised in the paper until the next WEC meeting and, in the meantime, to solicit the views of the CLPs in the ‘challenge’ seats about deferring their selections.

The discussion of selections was the last substantial item, the remainder of the agenda being made of uncontentious reports, which had been circulated in writing; minutes; and correspondence.