Socialist Worker

Labour leadership move to block delegates’ democracy

Issue No. 2020

The central issues for many delegates at Labour’s conference were not debated - at least not on the conference floor.

Ben Soffa, a delegate from Lancaster and Fleetwood, won applause from delegates when he tried to force a debate on the leadership onto the order paper.

“I said that conference is being gagged,” he told Socialist Worker. “Lots of people wanted to discuss this, but were not allowed.”

The clampdown on democracy in the Labour Party by the leadership has been going on for years, he said, “but now it’s clearer than ever before. They just want total control over the conference.”

Twenty motions from constituency Labour Parties on the leadership were ruled out of order.

Delegates were also angry that they were denied a chance to debate plans for a replacement for Trident - despite 17 motions on the subject.

Another delegate to the conference who spoke to Socialist Worker said, “I could never support Gordon Brown because of his commitment to a Trident replacement.”

He added, “Inside the conference there is a palpable sense of delegates feeling cheated that Iraq and Iran are being kept off the agenda.

“The trade unionists that I have spoken to at the conference are very disappointed at this.

“Once again we see crucial issues manipulated off the agenda and driven underground.

“Despite that, discussions among delegates are dominated by the war and about when Tony Blair is going to go.

“People are also discussing future leaders. Someone suggested to me that Alan Johnson and Alan Milburn may be a dream ticket—a nightmare more like.”

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