Branch and Regional Council Consultation on affiliation to the Labour Party

To: All Branches, Regional Councils and Regional Organisers

27th July 2017
Circular No. NP/125/17

Dear Colleague,

Branch and Regional Council Consultation on affiliation to the Labour Party

I am writing to up date you on this matter and advise you of the process to be followed and next steps to be taken.

Firstly I would draw your attention to the relevant aspects of the recent Annual General Meeting decision:

“The outcome of the General Election is obviously to be hugely regretted as it saw the Tories remain the largest party.
The election also however represented a defeat for the Tories, the establishment and capitalist class. The Tories lost their overall majority and as we make this report have been forced to enter into negotiations with the Democratic Unionist Party to keep the government afloat.    

In contrast Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and with a clear left manifesto with socialist polices made a net gain of thirty seats. Labour won almost 13 million votes and a 40% share of the vote. This represented a 9.5% increase in their vote compared to the 2015 General Election, their biggest increase in the share of the vote since Clement Attlee in 1945. This mass support for a left manifesto was achieved despite daily and vicious assaults on Corbyn by most of the media.

Jeremy Corbyn has now twice been overwhelmingly elected leader of the Labour Party and the General Election saw the popular embrace of a left programme which is now officially Labour Party policy. Not only is the socialist leadership of the Labour Party now in a very strong position the left in the Labour Party in general is in its strongest position for over a generation.

Just as it was in the interests of our members to support Jeremy Corbyn being leader of the Labour Party and to support Labour at the election, it now in the interests of our members for the union to do all it can to support, defend, and develop the socialist advances that have been made both within the Labour Party and the country as a whole.  
How we do this however is a matter debate, with a number of strongly held and honourable views. It is also important that we seek the maximum possible involvement of Branches and Regional Councils.
Therefore we recommend that there is a consultation with Branches and Regional Councils on whether the significant socialist advances within the Labour Party described above should be defended and advanced by the union affiliating to Labour, or not, with a report back to a Special General Meeting.

This is consistent with our existing AGM policy to create a mass party of Labour that fights in the interests of the working class as Labour arguably now has the potential at least to be that party.  It is also consistent with our policy that any questions of affiliation are a matter for our union’s supreme governing body.

Such a consultation should be properly informed so we should therefore seek clarity and answers from the Labour Party on a range of questions that our Branches would wish to know. These would include the compatibility of our rules compared to Labour rules; whether there are maximum and minimum affiliation levels, (and associated costs); what powers affiliation would actually give the union, if any; whether the union would still be free to pursue its own policy agenda; how it would effect the payment of the political levy and whether there is recognition of the different political landscape in Scotland.

I can advise you that this matter has recently been considered by the NEC who have determined that in line with the Annual General Meeting decision that this consultation should be properly informed, Branch and Regional Council meetings to formally consider this matter should only take place once the discussions with the Labour Party have taken place and a report back from the union on those discussions has been provided.  

The NEC have also referred this matter to the Political Sub Committee for examination and report and I will keep you advised of developments.

Yours sincerely,  

Mick Cash                    
General Secretary