Extraordinary WEC meeting, Thursday 16 December 2021 (Joint report with Sophie Williams)

This was the follow-up to the meeting held on 20 November; that meeting had run out of time to discuss the procedural guidelines for the reselection of sitting MPs, so that was the only item on the agenda this time. One of our fellow CLP reps asked, with our support, for another item, concerning WEC nominations, to be added to the agenda; the Chair ruled this out of order but said that it could be discussed informally once the meeting had closed. 

This meeting therefore focussed on the reselection procedures, as presented by Acting General Secretary David Costa. The purpose of these procedures was to give effect to the new trigger ballot rules agreed at last year’s UK party conference, which have disempowered members by increasing the threshold required for an open selection. The new rules apply in Wales, England and Scotland alike and the WEC was only able to make small variations to the detailed procedures. David said that the procedures had been drafted in close conformity with those agreed by the NEC for place for England, with only small adjustments made to reflect the Welsh context. The meeting was first asked to agree to prioritise the selection of a parliamentary candidate for the Delyn constituency, due to the prospect of a potential by-election. A question was raised about whether it would be better to select before or after the local government elections in May 2022, but it was explained that this decision would simply give officers the power to call a full selection if and when they felt it appropriate and the proposal was ultimately agreed with broad support. 

The procedural guidelines for the reselection of sitting parliamentarians were then put to the committee for views, amendments and agreement. Darren proposed two amendments to the guidelines; the first (that a WEC representative should not be able to unilaterally decide whether a reselection meeting should be held online or in person, but that this should be decided in consultation with the CLP) was considered uncontroversial and was agreed. 

The second related to the sitting MP’s ability to make use of their access to a constituency’s membership list to contact members as often and by whatever means they prefer ahead of the reselection meeting (on top of being able to present that meeting with a written address). Darren argued that this gave the sitting MP undue influence over a process that is already weighted towards their reselection. A compromise position, whereby a sitting MP would be limited to one additional piece of correspondence (on top of the written address to the meeting) was proposed by David Costa and agreed by the meeting. 

Another CLP rep queried the process by which members of the WEC are chosen by the General Secretary to act as WEC representatives at reselection meetings, as it seemed that some had been chosen more regularly than others; he suggested that such representatives could be elected by the whole WEC. There was a substantial discussion on this, with David Costa outlining the criteria by which he has used to choose such members in the past; he pointed out that he had recently circulated a list of which WEC member had represented the WEC in each selection and undertook to do this again in future. He also accepted the suggestion that WEC members willing and able to volunteer should declare their interest in doing do. It was agreed that it would be useful to revisit this topic in the future.

The procedural guidelines were then agreed and the meeting was closed. This was the final meeting of 2021; the next meeting is scheduled for Saturday 22 January.