Saturday, December 16, 2017
Perils of the Rule Book...
As regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Retired) will be aware, your humble blogger spent many years as a troublemaker in the ranks of UNISON, during which time (according to no less an authority than the Assistant Certification Officer) I acquired the nickname “Rule Book Rogers”.
This was (depending on your point of view) either because I was a vigilant defender of lay control and democracy or because I was an incorrigible troublemaker (or possibly both). Rule Books are incredibly important documents for those who believe in democracy because they tell us how we should try to assert the powers which we are given formally but which are so often substantively denied us.
Now that I have left the field clear in UNISON for new leadership I am spending more time with the Rule Book of the Party of which I have been a member since I was a teenager. This turns out to be something of an adventure, since the Labour Party Rule Book is not so beholden to notions of internal consistency which so often entitled the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) for UNISON National Delegate Conference (NDC) to rule out of order proposed amendments.
Chapter 5 of the Rule Book, at Clause Three Part One provides that The NEC, Scottish Executive Committee and Welsh Executive Committee shall issue procedural rules and guidelines for the selection of local government candidates. Local Campaign Forums, established in accordance with Chapter 12 of these rules, shall be responsible for implementing these guidelines.
Chapter 12 of the Rule Book sets out the Rules for Local Campaign Forums (of one of which I am now a Chair) and, at Clause Nine, Part Three, deals with the circumstances of a local government by-election as follows; “in the event of a by-election arising the Executive Committee shall consult with the executive committees of the CLP and branches concerned to ensure that a candidate is selected as far as possible following the procedure referred to above.”
So that is very clear. The Executive Committee of the Local Campaign Forum (LCF) takes responsibility for the selection of a by-election candidate and consults with the Executive of the Constituency Labour Party (CLP).
Except that (as we have seen) Chapter 5 empowers the NEC to draw up procedural rules and guidelines governing the selection of local government candidates, and these are set out in Appendix Four of the Rule Book. Section I of that Appendix deals with shortlisting and selection and paragraph (v)(a) of that section provides that; “in the event of a local government by-election occurring within a constituency, the Executive Committee of the CLP concerned shall consult with the executive of the appropriate LCF and the officers of any branches concerned to ensure that the vacancy is contested by the Party.”
So that is very clear. The Executive Committee of the CLP takes responsibility for the selection of a by-election candidate and consults with the Executive of the LCF.
What could possibly go wrong?