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LRC Conference Report, 29th October 2016

7th November 2016

LRC Conference, 29th October

By Suzanne Gannon

On 29th October, the LRC held another successful annual conference, attended by 150 members.

The day was structured with keynote speakers introducing each section of resolutions. The resolutions and speakers, in turn, were grouped thematically. One section dealt with Equality issues, highlighting that equality has to be integrated with any struggle for socialism, with resolutions calling for the Labour Party manifesto to scrap the age discrimination in the National Minimum wage and another requesting a Labour government ends the Tory policy of appeals for deportees only after they’ve been deported.

In the Environmental issues section, a lengthy resolution called on a Labour government to publicly invest in the renewables sector, with another opposing the Gatwick and Heathrow airport expansions. In the section about Peace, one resolution called on Labour to be an internationalist party of peace and justice, and other one called on Labour to set up a Shadow Defence Diversification Agency.

In the Socialism strand, a resolution was passed demanding the repeal of the anti-union laws by a Labour government. A proposal for specific changes to be made to the Labour Party’s rule book to increase the number of CLP delegates on the NEC, and to challenge the rule change that allowed a Scottish and Welsh member to be appointed without election, was remitted to the LRC’s NEC for further consideration.

Motions were also passed on Momentum. The AGM recognised Momentum as “the main vehicle for pursuing the transformation of the Labour Party”. It also noted its democratic shortcomings, and in particular its failure to respond “rigorously enough to the purging of Party members during the recent leadership election campaign, and the weaponisation of the issue of antisemitism to attack Corbyn, including the capitulation to the demands to remove Jackie Walker as Vice Chair.”

The sessions were chaired very well, most proposals were succinctly introduced by their movers, and ample opportunities were given to members to comment on proposals from the floor. This part of the conference perhaps could have been executed a bit more deftly, as few of the resolutions were opposed. But discourse was comradely and remained on-topic.

The speakers all made strong contributions to the debate. Ronnie Draper’s (General Secretary of BFAWU) description of his suspension and subsequent readmission to the Labour Party was both humorous and tragic, as he emphasised how so many other members did not get the preferential treatment from the Compliance Unit that he got.

LRC’s President, John McDonnell, explained how the LRC was working to transform the Labour Party, with the aim of transforming our wider society. He also gave a signal that many, if not most, of the suspensions of members who had been purged during the leadership campaign, were likely to be lifted.

FBU General Secretary, Matt Wrack, gave a passionate opening talk, explaining from his perspective what the nature of the democratic deficit within Momentum was. Unfortunately, although Jon Lansman, Chair of Momentum’s Steering Committee, was scheduled to speak, he sent his apologies.

I very much appreciated the opportunity to meet up with so many like-minded people, and found the cross-over between LRC and Momentum membership refreshing. I’m sorry that I had to rush back to Yorkshire and thus missed the social that was held after the meeting ended.

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