This September, thousands of Labour Party members - including constituency and trade union delegates from across Britain - will descend upon Brighton for this year’s Labour conference. Among the proposals set to be addressed by conference this year is the so-called ‘McDonnell amendment’, which if passed would reduce the nominations threshold for future Labour leadership contests and would effectively guarantee a Corbynite standard-bearer a place in the next contest when it occurs.
Furthermore, The World Transformed - widely hailed as a huge success in Liverpool last year - will return again in Brighton. New Socialist will be there, with a panel discussion planned on the subject of how we can build 'Corbynism from Below'.
While conference remains officially the supreme decision-making body of the Labour Party, its form, role and procedures as yet remain largely unaffected by the Corbynite insurgency inside the party. Its function was watered down and its proceedings heavily choreographed by the then-leadership during the New Labour years, with many complaints that it had turned into little more than a rally for the leadership and yet another opportunity for corporate lobbyists, MPs and bureaucrats to schmooze.
However, conference continues to occupy a central role in the life and culture of the Labour Party - and it will inevitably be crucial to the success of the Corbyn project itself.
Having already written about the rule changes likely to be contested in Brighton, New Socialist intends to deliver diverse and in-depth coverage and analysis of this year’s Labour conference. However, we want to go even further and put the party conference in its proper context for the benefit of our readers.
We are therefore seeking contributions relating to Labour conference and its past, present and future, addressing topics and questions such as:
- The main political battles to be fought at conference this year
- Arguments for (or against) key rule changes likely to feature on the conference agenda
- The changing function of Labour conference over the years, and how its modern-day incarnation compares to that in earlier eras - for better or worse
- Grassroots activists’ experiences of organising for conference 2017 - which issues were of particular concern to party members in constituencies? What challenges did left activists face in CLPs?
- The trade unions and conference - where do Labour’s affiliated unions stand on the key issues set to be played out at conference? How has the left organised with a view to changing union policy?
- How we might democratise and empower grassroots party members further via Labour conference, and how it could be reinvented as a vital democratic forum for the Labour Party and trade union rank and file
- How can we ensure that the concerns of oppressed and marginalised groups take centre stage at Labour conference?
- Labour’s women’s conference has policymaking powers for the first time this year. What does this mean for the Labour Party as a whole, and how can this be built upon in future years?
- Previews of important fringe events likely to be of interest to the socialist left of the Labour Party
This just a partial list of the potential issues which could be addressed in this series. We are looking to publish these articles in the run-up to conference next month, with a view to compiling them in an ebook made available to New Socialist subscribers, conference delegates and other Labour Party members and activists. But in order to make this happen, we need you to get involved.
We particularly welcome contributions from women, people of colour, disabled people and LGBT+ people, as their needs and concerns have all too often been marginalised within the labour movement. We are open to both short-form and long-form contributions. Please email your pitches, suggestions and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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