How policy motions to Labour Party conference work

Quite a few people have asked us how policy motions to Labour Party conference work. Here is a quick guide.


UPDATE, August 9 2016:

In general Labour Party members are suspended during the leadership campaign (by decision of the NEC), but the exceptions are:

• Meetings solely for the purpose of making a supporting nomination in the leadership contest and for essential Annual Conference business.
• Campaign planning meetings for by-elections or devolved mayor campaigns.
• Any other meetings (Such as Executive Committee meetings) with the explicit permission of the Regional Director (General Secretary).

So CLPs can hold meetings to discuss resolutions (which is essential conference business) and in fact many have already.

1. Each CLP can submit ONE policy “contemporary resolution” to send to Labour Party conference, as long as they have not already submitted a rule change this year.
2. Contemporary resolutions need to refer to events that have taken place since 5 August, but obviously they can deal with more general things as well.
3. The word limit is 250 words (10 for the title).
4. The deadline for submission is 15 September.
5. At the conference, delegates will prioritise certain areas for debate and voting. The more CLP that submit the same or very similar resolutions, the more likely that area will be picked – and the more likely the motions will not be watered down by administrators when “composited” (put together) with other resolutions.

If you have any queries about this or need help, get in touch: email or ring 07796 690 874.


Since Blairite reforms in the 1990s, policy is submitted under the form of “contemporary resolutions”. The “contemporary” bit means that the resolution must relate/refer to something that has happened in the world after the end of July. Yes, that’s ridiculous – but it’s how it is until we change the rules. It doesn’t mean the motion can’t establish more general policy as well. See below for some NHS contemporary resolutions from the recent past.

The deadline for submitting resolutions is quite shortly before the conference, typically mid-late September.

There is obviously a problem there, namely that many Constituency Labour Parties do not meet in August and some will not meet till after the September deadline. So you need to ensure you have a meeting in the relevant period, or do something like empowering your CLP executive/conference delegates to submit a resolution (maybe giving them some guidance on topic, etc).

Each CLP can submit one contemporary resolution – unless it has already submitted a change to the party rules/constitution (yes, that is a ridiculous limitation too). So if you want to submit policy on, for instance, the NHS from your CLP, make sure you don’t submit a rule change – as you then won’t be able to submit a contemporary resolution! But rule changes have to be submitted by 24 June, so that simplifies things a bit.

Titles can be up to 10 words and the body of the motion up to 250 words.

In the past many contemporary resolutions have been ruled out of order by the Conference Arrangements Committee with the claim that they are not really contemporary (or some other grounds, or sometimes no grounds at all). Last year, after Jeremy Corbyn’s election, far fewer were ruled out. This year, we’ll see. The more CLPs submit a given resolution, of course, the harder it will be to rule out.

At the conference there will be a ballot of unions and CLPs, with both groups choosing four topic areas to be prioritised and given time for debate – up to eight in total.

Motions on the same topic are “composited” together – with the quality of the outcome depending on how many CLPs have submitted what and how forceful their representatives are in the compositing meeting – and how willing to resist pressure from right-wing party officials.

There are many hurdles to getting policy submitted, let alone discussed and voted on, let alone passed. But they are clearable – particularly if there is a big drive on a particular issue.

• For more on all this see this Campaign for Labour Party Democracy briefing from 2012.

• The resolution NHS campaigners got passed in 2012 is here. For a radical NHS resolution ruled out in 2014, see here. If you look back on this blog you will find extensive information about contemporary resolutions in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (the blog existed as a centre for Labour-related NHS campaigning before 2015 and was handed over to Momentum NHS).

• Any questions, or if you’d like help with this, get in touch:

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5 Responses to How policy motions to Labour Party conference work

  1. Pingback: Some model resolutions for Labour Party conference – Jill Mountford's Momentum blog

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  3. Pingback: Model resolutions for Labour Party conference 2016 – on schools, anti-racism post-EU referendum, the banks, expulsions and the NHS | Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory

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