REPORT OF LEFT UNITY NATIONAL COUNCIL MEETING JANUARY 5th, including an explanation (below) as to why I did not report on the October NC meeting

A report by Pete McLaren

Apologies for the lateness of this report – other political matters took over!!

JANUARY 5th NC MEETING REPORT

There were ten NC members present and six apologies

POLITICAL DISCUSION ON BREXIT, AUSTERITY AND THE RISE OF THE FAR RIGHT

Points made during the discussion included:

§ We must continue to stress the importance of freedom of movement: Labour’s position is weak, and LU has a distinct pro-migrant position

§ It is not clear what the question would be in any people’s vote

§ Brexit is not a clear class issue

§ Blairites have taken over the anti-Brexit campaign

§ Brexit may well be unresolvable

§ The rise of the far right is alarming, hence the importance of the March 2nd Conference

§ Austerity continues to cause massive problems in Britain, with poverty and homelessness on the increase since the rolling-out of Universal Credit, and massive problems within the NHS

§ We must counter the arguments of those who blame immigrants, not capitalism, for increased poverty

§ Increased militarisation globally is also particularly worrying

EUROPEAN LEFT

National Secretary Felicity Dowling introduced the report. There were hopes for a Euro wide left manifesto for the upcoming Euro elections. It was felt the new European Parliament would be dominated by the right and the far right, and that this might end the financial support being given at present for left initiatives. There was much interest in the No Pasaran March 2nd conference.

Points made in the discussion included:

§ Protests in France are radical but its not clear in which political direction they are going

§ Our membership of the European left is very important

§ There are concerns about the possibility of a European army

PEOPLES ASSEMBLY DEMONSTARATION AGAINST AUSTERITY JANUARY 12th

It was agreed to intervene with a LU anti-austerity leaflet as well as one for the March 2 conference

UNIVERSAL CREDIT

It was agreed to encourage LU branches to hold meetings and workshops on Universal Credit

APPEALS COMMITTEE

Felicity Dowling reported that a new committee, pro-tem before this year’s conference, had been delayed by one of its members having to temporarily work abroad. As internal elections were now due, it was agreed to wait to see if a new Appeals Committee was elected. Concern was expressed that on-going disputes were now unlikely to be discussed, let alone resolved, before LU conference

MEMBERS IN MANCHESTER

Following a request from Stockport branch for members living in Manchester to be part of the Stockport branch, it was agreed to hold a meeting of LU members in the northwest to decide the way forward

NO PASARAN CONFERENCE MARCH 2nd

The outline programme was circulated, and it was agreed to hold a press conference

SOCIAL CARE

A paper had been circulated which called for a Social Care and Independent Living Forum to discuss whether social and health care should be discussed together. It was agreed to produce a pamphlet based on this paper and the issues raised in the LU leaflet for social care

EXTINCTION REBELLION

Len Arthur outlined the campaign in Wales to fight climate change. He suggested LU be involved in it. It was agreed to produce a booklet on this campaign and encourage LU branches to hold meetings on it

INTERNAL ELECTIONS

Nominations Officer Kate Hudson circulated the new LU constitution as agreed at last year’s conference. One change was that representatives from each recognised branch, caucus and section was replacing regional representation. A two-month timetable was agreed as circulated. Nominations for officers, NC, Appeals and Disputes Committees will open on January 28 and close on February 15, voting would be between March 8th and March 22nd.

CODE OF CONDUCT

It was agreed a code of conduct for behaviour at meetings should be brought to conference – draft to be put to the next NC

DATES FOR NEXT NC AND CONFERENCE

The next NC was agreed as April 13th. Conference was agreed as June 29th in Liverpool

EXPLANATION: WHY DID I NOT REPORT FROM THE OCTOBER NC?

I want to end by explaining why I did not compile a report of the previous NC meeting on October 6th. I had presented a Paper to the meeting calling for Stuart Richardson to be granted his constitutional right to appeal against his expulsion. This had been scheduled as the last agenda item. I put a procedural motion that it be moved up the agenda and taken with the first item ‘Minutes of the July NC” as it related to that.

The meeting voted overwhelmingly to keep my Paper as the last agenda item, with just two votes against. At this point, it was moved that this October NC meeting was not reported publically. Concern was expressed that the July NC was put in the public domain by my report of that meeting when it had been agreed that ‘individual members confidentiality should be respected and the confidential aspects of this discussion should not appear on social media’. I pointed out my report only named those who had been key players in that they had moved motions or made decisions affecting Stuart. Confidentiality had been respected. Nothing had appeared on social media, just the closed LU discussion group

The chair suggested that if non-reporting could not be agreed, anyone who was intending to report the meeting should be asked to leave the meeting for any items that were deemed confidential. Before that was discussed, I was asked if I would agree not to report the meeting and I firmly, but politely, said “No”. The chair then called for an indicative vote requesting that I did not report the meeting, and this was agreed by 10 votes to 3 with 2 abstentions.

At this point, 15 minutes into the meeting, I announced I was leaving it because I wasn’t prepared to be silenced.

ADDENDUM

I found out immediately after the meeting that the NC had decided to set up “an appeals procedure” which I was told consists of three members. Two would be members of the NC and one would be a non-NC member. You will see from my report of the January meeting (above) that has not happened. As it stands, Stuart Richardson has still had no opportunity, nine months on, to answer the two charges against him which led to his expulsion

Pete McLaren 28/03/19

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