The Labour Party’s conference arrangements committee has ruled out of order the contemporary resolution on the NHS promoted by this network and submitted by at least seven Constituency Labour Parties. (For the text of the resolution, see here.) The exclusion was on the most spurious technicalities: we will publish more information about this soon. The CAC rejected all the appeals against their decision.
The general reaction from conference delegates and campaigners has been outrage. This amounts to what the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy has described in its conference bulletin as the CAC “gagging” CLPs on the NHS. What is particularly shocking about this is that the CAC includes a large number of trade union representatives, including two from Unite – all of whom went along with the decisions.
The CAC accepted 19 resolutions on the NHS: nine broadly representing current Labour leadership policy and ten based on the resolution promoted by CLPD, which is not bad but far less concrete and radical than ours. No coincidence, of course, that it was our resolution that was ruled out! All the evidence suggests the party leadership does not want to be pinned down to a clear policy to rebuild the NHS as a comprehensive public service.
Below is the appeal submitted to the CAC by Pete Radcliff on behalf of Broxtowe CLP in Nottinghamshire.
1. The resolution refers to a number of contemporary events: the 18 August announcement by NHS England on GP contracts, the August-September Jarrow march, the Doncaster Care UK workers’ strike of UNISON.
2. Most of the demands of this motion have come from campaigns and documents that have been widely distributed throughout the labour movement particularly over the last month. Only today I have seen a new petition from 38 degrees calling for increased spending on the NHS. Currently 52.5K signatures.
3. There is also the discussion about the NHS in the current referendum campaign. This demonstrates that public concern that has been increased over the last months on the nature of the NHS and dramatise the public awareness of the contemporary crisis in the NHS
4. As made clear by the events referred to above, the future of the NHS and the fight to save it from the Tories’ privatisation plans are highly contemporary issues. The thousands who took part in the 999 March for the NHS, backed by Unite, GMB and Unison and dozens of local NHS campaigns dramatised that reality.
5. Increasingly over the last 2 months, many thousands, probably tens or even hundreds of thousands, are asking questions about the more detailed plans of the Party on the NHS.
6. The NPF agreed (page 93) that: “Labour will also ensure that …procurement models for public infrastructure and services …deliver value for money for the taxpayer and the NHS, learning from past experience, using contractual flexibility to the full, and making sure that they are not at the expense of appropriate terms and conditions for staff.”
7. These commitments are compatible with the demands included in the resolution, but they are not the same. It is only right that conference should have the right to vote on the proposals in the resolution, proposals which are extremely popular among Party and trade union members.
8. Rather than ruling this contribution to the debate out of order, the party should be given the chance to debate it so the Labour Party can take our rightful place in the leadership of this movement.
9. If we don’t, then this will be noticed by opponents of the Party. We will be criticised for not having articulated our policy as clearly as we need to, in order to allay concerns about what we will do in government.
10. That is why I believe this motion is both contemporary and relevant to the Party conference.