Basking in the fresh glow of a new year, South Cambs Labour members assembled in Cottenham, for what is rapidly becomming our regular “Brexit chat” location. The agenda was fairly light, with 4 motions to discuss submitted by members.
The first motion proposed affiliation to “Jewish voice for Labour” and was passed overwhelmingly when put to a vote, the discussion covered a wide range of topics, in particular it was noted that as a CLP we currently have no other affiliations. The question was raised as to whether this affiliation might potentially send a message that we were not inclusive of other organisations. It was decided that this was not a reason to reject affiliation as we have to start somewhere, but that the membership should be encouraged to propose affiliations to other organisations over the coming months.
The second motion objecting to the arming of Israel was also passed after a fascinating discussion in which members expressed solidarity with the victims of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. A strong argument was made regarding the morality of the British government allowing live conflicts to be used as a “test-bed” for British arms, and the impact of this on both parties in a conflict. Additionally members discussed the need for the British government to adopt a foreign policy position that supports conflict resolution. Again concerns were raised that the motion focused on a single conflict when there are other concerning situations such as Saudi Arabia/Yemen in which the British government has some involvement. As with the first motion, it was decided that this was not a good reason not to pass this motion, but that members should be encouraged to propose wider ranging motions, or motions targeted at other conflicts in future meetings.
The third motion related to Labour disciplinary procedures and called for a “right to appeal” following the outcome of any disciplinary investigation against members. Many members expressed considerable shock that this principle of natural justice was not already in place in the party and a wider discussion around the current inadequacy of the disciplinary process took place. In the end the motion was passed with overwhelming support but again, calls were made for motions to be proposed in the future that relate to improving what everyone felt was a flawed process.
The final motion related to Brexit and a call for a special conference to discuss and reset Labour policy in this area. Despite a clear majority of members present strongly in favour of remaining in the EU opinions differed on how to achieve this, opinion sitting roughly on a spectrum between people who felt the current policy allowed the party to respond to the changing situation, and others who felt the leadership needed a strong and binding steer from members to adopt an explicitly pro-remain or pro-people’s vote position. After a fascinating discussion the complexity of this decision was in evidence when the motion was rejected with a narrow majority against, and the conversation continued in the pub after with some members still torn about the eventual vote they had cast.
The inclusion of motions from the membership has proved to be a hugely energising addition, and we hope that members will continue to submit motions to the secretary for inclusion on the agenda of the monthly CLP meetings, if you have an idea for a motion and would like more information on how to go about writing and submitting it, email us using firstname.lastname@example.org