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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Labour clamp down on dissent?

Today's Western Mail reports that a move to allow Welsh Labour’s conference to discuss the war in Iraq and other controversial issues was defeated yesterday:

Grassroots activists have long argued that rules stating only devolved matters can be discussed at Welsh conferences are an anomaly.

The issue proved highly divisive at the 2003 conference, held just weeks before the invasion of Iraq.

All discussion of the subject was prohibited.

Three local parties, Neath, Cardiff West and Swansea West, put forward proposals to change the rules, but this was rejected by a 3-1 majority.

The activists argued that other parties were able to discuss foreign affairs at their Welsh conferences while Labour was not.

“This conference runs the risk of irrelevance,” said Ann Griffith from Swansea West.

But Graham Smith, a member of the Welsh party executive, said, “It would set Welsh Labour against the rest of the party.”

Oh dear! We could not have that could we.
Peter, you missed a line at the end of the story. The final line said that Welsh Labour also decided to make its name a little more official.

I wonder what good there is in having a defined entity called Welsh Labour when it is not allowed to discuss 'publically' one of UK Labour's most prominent decisions.
Peter - I'd stick to Lib Dem politics if I were you. Your point here is as wide of the mark as the Western Mail piece itself.
Labour aren't good at internal dissent though, are they? Walter Wolfgang springs to mind. Also it's noticeable that Lib Dem and Tory blogs are often hotbeds of dissent (though the Tories are sometimes just plain scary) but Labour ones are dull.

Why are Labour members and supporters all so scared?
It's not missing the point,it's a serious problem when Labour party members are not allowed to discuss what our politicians do, New Labour and and Welsh Labour have done enough to alter my view of democracy. we do not have any
The Western Mail, as is often the case, has only given a fraction of the story. Discussions of issues like Iraq are not prevented at Welsh Labour Conference. There is an annual 'Wales in Britain' debate where delegates can debate these issues. There are also 'off-conference floor' forums where members can debate these issues in private - in fact Kim Howells led one on the Middle East last year. What the decided last week (by a margin of 76% to 24%, with large majorities against from both local parties and affiliates)was that the conference couldn't pass resolutions on these issues as they wouldn't have any force. To ensure our conference is relevant we want our resolutions and conference decisions to mean something. Conference should therefore focus on Assembly responsibilites when it passes resolutions. If local parties want to pass resolutions on Iraq then that is what our UK Conference is for. As one delegate said in the debate - 'leave the empty gestures to the Lib Dems'.
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