Socialist Worker

Dissent ruled out of order at Labour conference

Issue No. 2019

In an astounding example of crushing democracy the arrangements committee for the Labour Party conference moved on Thursday to stamp out dissent.

For the first time in living memory it has blocked the majority of resolutions sent in by Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs).

The Labour Representation Committee said today that resolutions critical of government policy on a range of issues have been ruled out of order.

These issues include: Iraq, the replacement of Trident, the council housing “fourth option”, nuclear energy, trade union laws, Venezuela, incapacity benefit, school admissions policy, party political funding and Thames Water.

John McDonnell, chair of the Labour Representation Committee and Labour leadership candidate, said:

'New Labour clearly hasn't learned the lesson that you cannot stifle debate in this party. There will be an angry reaction not just from delegates but from party members who have voted to debate these critical issues.

'The theme of this conference is 'renewal' but this appears to be the same old New Labour control freakery which has alienated so many members. The voice of the party cannot be silenced in this way.

'Last year we had the appalling spectacle of Walter Wolfgang being thrown out of the conference for raising dissent, and the overwhelming reaction of party members has been to elect him to the National Executive. This year's attempt to gag conference will backfire as well.'

Delegates have until 5pm on Saturday evening to appeal against the rulings.

It is ever clearer that there is no real debate inside the formal structures of the Labour Party. The demonstration on Saturday becomes even more important.

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Article information

Sat 23 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2019
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