Today Labour Students National Committee received a report from the Labour Party regarding Labour Students membership data requirements. The Director for Membership and Party Services at the Labour Party explained the content of the report to committee, and the implications of these for this years Labour Students’ elections.
This report follows our concerns with the way that the Labour Party determines a valid student member. Until this point, there has been no checks done by the Party to establish that Labour Students members are actually students, and no guarantees for those members who are students but don’t appear on our membership list.
This has resulted in a situation where an unknown number, potentially tens of thousands, of our members won’t get a vote in an online ballot, and thousands of non-students will. Therefore, it was advised that using those members designated as Labour Students in our membership system to verify eligibility to vote in an OMOV ballot is not a viable option at this stage.
It goes without saying that we are extremely disappointed in the Labour Party, and frustrated to be informed so late in the academic year of this widespread problem. It is simply not good enough that the Labour Party membership database is not consistent with the requirements of our new constitution which was adopted at National Council in December 2016.
The fact that we cannot be sure exactly how many Labour Students will be disenfranchised, and the overwhelming majority of our electorate are currently non-students, is staggering. That is why we agreed today for the Membership and Party Services department to carry out an in-depth investigation to assess the scope, timescale and resource implications of such a change to the Labour Party’s membership database.
Labour Students National Committee also discussed the next steps of our democracy in the interim, and how we can elect a new National Committee before the end of the academic year. We agreed to incorporate the election into a special stand-alone Labour Students Transitional Conference, to be governed by the rules outlined in Article 11 of our constitution. Under these rules, each Labour Club will be able to send up to four delegates to conference, of which at least two must be self-defining women members, in line with our new constitution.
We decided that the flat-rate delegation allowance as prescribed in our constitution is the fairest and most constitutional outcome. It would not be appropriate to weight a delegation against the membership of an individual Labour Club as it is concerns with our membership system that prompted the Transitional Conference. Concerns were raised around the infiltration of Labour Clubs by members of rival political parties, thus contributing to the size of any weighted delegation entitlement. It was agreed that the possible imbalance created in our membership of thousands of non-students meant the 4 delegate entitlement was the most constitutional and most feasible arrangement. This was further discussed by members of elections committee in attendance who are satisfied that internal obligations have been met.
Following the meeting we agreed the elections committee convene as soon as possible to approve the timetable for National Committee elections. After this has been decided, it will be circulated to National Committee, Club Chairs and all members will be notified over the next few days.