This meeting took place the week before the 2022 Welsh Labour Conference and dealt exclusively with Conference-related business. There were no reports from the various elected representatives or other items; instead, the meeting received an update on Conference arrangements, agreed its positions on the motions presented to Conference and agreed the papers relating to Senedd electoral reform and the Welsh Labour Democracy Review, which would be presented to Conference.
On the first of these four items, it was reported that approximately 500 people were expected to attend Welsh Labour Conference in Llandudno between 11 and 13 March, the first properly-constituted Conference since 2019 due to the pandemic. Various Covid-related measures would be in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of attendees.
The second item related to the series of motions submitted by party units and affiliates for debate at Conference. 32 motions had been submitted, of which three had been ruled out of order by the Standing Orders Committee. The remainder had been grouped into subject categories and a Priorities Ballot had been conducted to choose the eight subjects that would go forward for debate – the top four chosen by party units and the top four chosen by affiliates – with the remainder going into the Welsh Policy Forum process. The WEC then had to determine its attitude on each motion grouped under the eight agreed areas – i.e. whether to advise conference to support, oppose or ask the mover to remit. It was agreed to support the vast majority of motions but to oppose two motions (from Cardiff North and Swansea West CLPs on the topic of housing and rent controls) on the grounds that they pre-empted a forthcoming white paper and consultation; and to ask and that Cardiff West CLP and the Socialist Educational Association remit their motions (on the climate emergency and supply teachers, respectively) on the grounds, in the case of the former, that the targets proposed were too restrictive and, in the case of the latter, that it asked for action outside the competence of the Senedd. We opposed these proposals in all four cases; in the case of Cardiff North and Swansea West CLPs, we argued that the motions should be remitted and that Cardiff West CLP and the SEA’s motions should be supported with qualifications, given the broad premise of the topics, but we were defeated on all these votes.
The third item consisted of two papers: a report summarising the conclusions of a WEC working group looking at expansion of the Senedd and a possible change to its electoral system, and a WEC statement to go to conference, arising from this work. The working group, of which Darren had been a member, had held a number of detailed meetings with the aim of preparing for negotiations to begin with other parties on this topic. The statement itself had been drafted in order to allow for flexibility in these negotiations. In the discussion, a couple of WEC members expressed reservations about the inclusion of Single Transferable Vote (STV) as a voting system option but Darren noted both that STV had been widely supported in the party’s consultation and that projected outcomes for Welsh Labour vary under this system depending on the data used, so it should be included as an option. After some discussion, both the consultation paper and statement were agreed without amendment.
The final item concerned the WEC’s report on the Welsh Labour Democracy Review and the recommended rule changes to be agreed by this Conference, as reported in our report of the last meeting:
- To delay any decision around the reselection of MPs and MSs until such time as the relevant rules are or are not devolved to the Welsh party (in the case of the former) and until the outcome of Senedd electoral reform is known (in the case of the latter);
- To retain the current structure of CLP organisation until such time as the outcome of Senedd electoral reform and UK parliamentary boundary reviews are known;
- To allow Welsh Labour Conference to consider motions on non-devolved matters where they relate to Wales;
- To remove references to MEPs in the rulebook and update any references to the Assembly and AMs to reflect their change of name.
This paper also committed the WEC to consider detailed proposals on two issues discussed at its previous meeting – widening the nominations process for Welsh Leader and Deputy Leader and introducing direct elections for more of the positions on the WEC – with the aim of presenting its conclusions to the proposed June recall conference. The paper accurately reflected what the WEC had agreed at its previous meeting and so was agreed without further amendment.
This was Sophie’s last meeting of the WEC, as her term of office as a constituency representative for South Wales Central has come to an end and she has not sought re-election. While she continues to believe that these roles are hugely important, as it is vital that the voice of ordinary party members is heard and respected on this body, the WEC meetings that she has attended during her two-year term have at many times been hugely uncomradely in tone and manner (not least the unacceptable suspension of fellow CLP representative Ivan Monckton on the basis of spurious allegations) and have contributed to her disillusionment with the party more generally. She would like to thank CLPs and members in the region and encourages members to support Darren and Belinda Loveluck-Edwards in the WEC elections currently underway