On Monday 18th September Sevenoaks Constituency Labour Party held a Conference Special All Members Meeting, at the Corner House in Swanley.
Emily Aisher, Sevenoaks CLP Treasurer and elected Youth delegate to Conference, started the meeting with an excellent presentation on the Labour Party South East Region Pre-Conference Meeting for delegates, on Saturday 16th September. You can read her report here: Pre-Conference Meeting.
David Carr, Sevenoaks CLP Secretary and elected delegate to Conference, proposed the following motion:
Sevenoaks CLP notes
-Labour achieved 40% of the vote share in the 2017 Election, an increase of 10% from 2015
-Labour got nearly 13 million votes, and 30 extra parliamentary seats
-Labour in the South East doubled its number of MPs from 4 to 8
-Sevenoaks CLP gave its support to Jeremy Corbyn in the last leadership election
-Sevenoaks CLP has consistently voted for motions that give support to Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership
-Sevenoaks CLP voted for a delegate to Labour Party Conference 2017 who stood on a platform of giving full support to Jeremy Corbyn and the leadership
Sevenoaks CLP resolves to:
-Instruct its delegates to give full support to Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour Party Conference 2017, and vote according to the wishes of the leader and his supporters on all motions
There was lots of discussion and lively debate. There were a number of members who did not want delegates to vote on motions and rules changes that were supported by the leadership, particularly the so-called McDonnell amendment. In brief, this rulebook change would lower the number of MPs needed to nominate a leader from 15% to 5%.
Some members felt it would be better to focus on opposing the Tories, rather than internal wrangles about rule changes that the right wing media would gleefully exploit. Others felt that it was very important to ensure that the membership were able to have a greater say in who would lead the party and the direction it takes.
After a vigorous, but amicable debate the motion was passed by an overwhelming majority, ensuring that Sevenoaks delegates would vote in favour of the so-called McDonnell amendment.
Members did want their delegates to try and ensure that the following key issues were covered by Conference and that their elected delegates did everything they could to get them on the agenda. These included:
- Gender inequality & discrimination
- Tuition fees & student debt
- Employment issues
- Zero Hours contracts
- Universal Credit
- Welfare Sanctions
- Provision of mental health for children and adolescents
- Privatisation of the NHS
- Disabled Parking
- Higher Education & the bonfire of standards
- Cuts in legal aid
- Domestic violence
- Cost of living increases
The Chair, Kevin Flack, stated that Sevenoaks had traditionally focused on the need for more and better social housing at conference.
The delegates agreed that these were all vital issues and that they would do their best to get them on the Conference Agenda.
The delegates were asked if they planned to speak at conference. David said he hoped to speak on climate change and pollution, and the proposal that Labour should develop its commitment to build one million houses, at least of which should be council houses, to ensuring that all new homes would be green, eco homes with solar panels and other green technologies, for producing energy and ensuring it is used efficiently. He emphasised that this would be in line with Sevenoaks traditional focus on housing, and would bring to conference the policy that Sevenoaks CLP had pioneered, and been passed unanimously by Labour’s South East Region Conference, 2016. Read more about the policy here: Eco Housing for All
Emily stated she would try and talk on the issues that members raised. She emphasised that she was a trained actor and would be very proficient at public speaking.
The delegates also emphasised that Sevenoaks CLP now has a very effective social media presence. The website, Facebook Page and Twitter account provided a new and exciting opportunity for Sevenoaks delegates to communicate with members up to and during conference.
Both Emily and David plan to post at least once each day. Angela requested that delegates also posted what was coming up each day so members in Sevenoaks could know what to look out for and follow any special interests. The delegates agreed and encouraged members to get involved by letting them know, via social media, any questions and comments about conference they were interested in.
There was a very enthusiastic discussion about Conference. Kevin, the Chair, asked delegates to be on the lookout for good speakers. Cllr Mike Hogg urged delegates to promote Sevenoaks CLP at every opportunity.
The meeting moved on to discuss other key issues. Seamus McCauley, Sevenoaks Branch Secretary, gave an outstanding presentation on election strategy in the forthcoming elections. Seamus also proposed a motion supporting striking McDonald’s Workers. You can donate to the strike by clicking here: Support the McDonald Strike
There was lots of discussion and tremendous support for striking McDonald’s workers. The motion was passed unanimously.
Branch Officers gave reports on what was happening in their area. There was also extensive discussion of raising funds. Sevenoaks CLP has had lots of local elections, followed by an expensive General Election, and Conference costs. Kevin, the Chair, promoted Shoreham’s Quiz Night on Saturday 7th October, 7.30pm – 10.30pm Shoreham Village Hall. All are welcome to come along, have lots of fun and raise funds for Sevenoaks CLP!
Seamus discussed the planned “Stand Up for Labour” Comedy event and possible venues. The meeting closed with a reminder of the forthcoming National Campaign Day that will Sevenoaks CLP will be joining. We agreed to hold a campaign stall in Swanley Town Centre, on Saturday 30th September, from 11.00am – 4.00pm. We will be giving out leaflets and other campaign resources, selling badges, collecting signatures for a petition. All members and supporters are welcome to join us.
The evening ended with Emily winning the raffle and getting a bottle of wine. It was as an exuberant meeting and the delegates received lots of informal advice as the meeting broke up for tea and coffee. The mood was cheerful and optimistic with members confident that Labour can form the next Government, with a clear majority.