Conference liveblog: Welsh and Scottish Labour celebrate party reform victory

28th September, 2016 8:46 am

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14.55: In the opening minutes of the speech, Corbyn praises Hillsborough justice campaigner and pays tributes to Jo Cox. He also condemned anti-Semitism as “evil”, and said the purpose of the Labour Party is to win power.

14.44: Corbyn has just begun his keynote speech, following a sustained standing ovation from members.

This follows a video showing the achievements of Labour governments in the past.

11.23: Maggie Cosin has been re-elected to the new National Constitutional Committee, beating pro-Corbyn former MP Chris Williamson. Centrists were yesterday stressing the importance of the vote to delegates, and Cosin’s victory marks another conference success for the anti-Corbynites.

In the ballot of constituency delegates, Cosin received 53 per cent of votes to Williamson’s 40 per cent, with others on 7 per cent.

09.02: Ahead of his speech to close Labour conference this afternoon, Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the Today Programme this morning. The main focus ahead of his address is on immigration, with the Labour leader expected to say that Labour will not seek to “sow division” by pledging to cut immigration.

Speaking on Today, Corbyn argued that “many industries… depend” on immigration.

08.46: The NEC has issued a statement clarifying misgivings about policy decided at conference, saying that it is not Labour policy to support a second referendum on the EU. Following last night’s meeting, it has also been announced that Glenis Wilmott, Labour’s leader in the European Parliament, has become the new chair of the NEC.

18.00: Insiders have confirmed that the vote on the reforms package passed by 80 per cent to 20 per cent, winning support from 68 per cent of constituency delegates and 92 per cent in the affiliate section.

A meeting of the new NEC has just begun, with Kezia Dugdale attending for the first time as the Scottish Labour rep. Carwyn Jones, who travelled back to Wales yesterday to return to work in the Senedd, will phone in to the meeting as Welsh Labour’s rep, and will confirm who will take up the role permanently later this evening.

Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour figures are jubilant at the news, with Carwyn Jones celebrating “a significant step forward” with the greater autonomy for the national parties within the UK structure.

A senior Labour source in Scotland said that the news was a success for Dugdale, saying that she has used the influence of the “massive mandate” from the membership in last year’s leadership contest to deliver for Scottish Labour.

“First she won the overwhelming support of members in the leadership contest. Then she won Jeremy Corbyn’s support for more autonomy. Then she won the support of the Scottish Executive Committee to pursue these changes, including a seat on the National Executive Committee.

“Kezia won again at a meeting of the NEC last week. Then she came to Liverpool and stood steadfast against attempts by some to unpick proposals that had been backed by our decision-making bodies.

“She won again. And again. And again. Nobody else has emerged from this conference in Liverpool with so many victories under their belt,” the source said.

16.35: Today’s package of rule changes has been voted through by delegates, cheering the Corbynsceptic elements in the party.

Kezia Dugdale has announced that she personally will take up the place reserved on the NEC for Scottish Labour.

15.20: Angela Rayner, Shadow Education Secretary, has announced that Labour are launching new childcare taskforce, which will be chaired by Liz Snape Assistant General Secretary at UNISON. The aim will be to transform early years provision for all.

Rayner noted that the Tories have closed more than 800 sure start centres and “closed the door on hundreds of children”

In a rousing speech to conference Rayner looked back to Labour’s past, saying “Tony Blair said Education, Education, Education. Theresa May wants Segregation, Segregation, Segregation”. This comes as Labour announce their new campaigning slogan “Education not Segregation”.

Drawing on her own history, she said “I might not have an academic degree, but I have a masters in real life”.

“We’ll never put political dogma ahead of the ambition of parents to do the best for their children. Excellent childcare changes lives for the better,” said Rayner.

13.06: Khan focussed his speech on the importance of winning, using the word “power” 38 times during his address.

He argued that victories in mayoral campaigns across the country could act as a blueprint for Labour taking power in 2020. “Conference, it’s time to put Labour back in power,” he said. |It’s time for a Labour Government. A Labour Prime Minister in Downing Street. A Labour Cabinet. Labour values put into action.”

12.58: Conference has just heard from Shadow Health Secretary Diane Abbott and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Abbott declared that Labour “stands with junior doctors” in the ongoing disputes over new contracts – and delegates sang ‘Happy birthday’ to the MP, who turns 60 today.

10.07: After a rowdy morning in the conference hall, the initial vote party reforms have passed, meaning it will be voted as one package as expected. We will bring you an update on what that means shortly.

09.24: It seems like Unite delegates will be abstaining on the party reforms package, which means the rule changes are now more likely to pass. Sources say the union supports most of the items, but is sceptical about handing Carwyn Jones and Kezia Dugdale the power to each select an NEC rep.

8.55: Today will also see speeches from some of the party’s most high profile Corbynsceptics, as London Mayor Sadiq Khan and deputy leader Tom Watson address the hall.

Khan, the politician in the UK with the biggest personal mandate from voters, is expected to make an argument that success in mayoralties like London and Bristol, followed by elections in Manchester and Liverpool next year, can be a blueprint for success across the country.

Tuesday, 08.15: This morning is likely to be the most interesting period on the conference floor, as delegates debate and vote on the package of party reforms, which would explicitly rule out Labour councillors supporting illegal budgets and automatically put an incumbent leader on the ballot in the event of a challenge.

It would also devolve power within the party to Scottish and Welsh Labour, which Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones told LabourList yesterday that they have “waited years” for.

Sources tell LabourList that the reforms package is likely to pass, but with strident opposition from parts of the left, including another attempt to change how the plans are voted for early this morning. You can read the background on the battle here.

Today also sees the vote for the National Constitutional Committee, with incumbent Maggie Cosin up against prominent pro-Corbyn voice Chris Williamson. Keep an eye out for that one.

19.00 The Labour Animal Welfare Society fringe is getting underway – you can read an opinion piece from former MP Nick Palmer on their work here.

18.11: Tomorrow Labour will launch a major drive on education, with a strong campaigning edge on grammar schools. The party say this is part of their plan to turn the party’s membership into a “campaigning force”.

16.40 Cruddas says he wants to hear more from Jeremy Corbyn related to proportional representation and a proposed constitutional convention. He also urged the leader to talk more about Englishness as a way to take back power.

16.20 Jon Cruddas has called on Labour to embrace civic patriotism. At Momentum’s World Transformed Festival, the former policy co-ordinator for the Labour party said that there should be an English Labour Party. He said the left has traditionally been fearful of these concepts related to nationalism but that could change after the Brexit vote.

16.05: A bit of a row has emerged over Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis’ speech earlier (see 11.45). It appears that a section on Trident, suggesting the issue was now settled within the party, was edited by Corbyn’s team without Lewis’ knowledge.

This video showing the pro-Corbyn Lewis, on stage, shortly before he made his speech certainly appears to be the moment he found out.

The section on Trident was apparently originally put in as part of a peace-keeping deal with union GMB, which represents many workers whose jobs depend on Trident.

Lewis himself says that he’s pleased with the speech, and is upset that talk of a row will now overshadow it – but doesn’t deny there has been a falling out. You can read the full text of his speech (post-edit) here.

15.00 TSSA, the transport union, has issued its backing for John McDonnell’s pledge on the living wage. Manuel Cortes, general secretary, said: “At last a bold and grown-up approach to lift workers out of in-work poverty. For too long British workers have had their wages and standards of living kept artificially low by Tory governments who have been subsidising bosses by paying out tax credits to those in who are in work rather than make work pay properly. A living wage will be great news for many of our members particularly those who work in the travel trade.”

14.30 The next Labour government will ban fracking, shadow Cabinet minister Barry Gardiner has said.

12.40 John McDonnell has committed Labour to raising the living wage to more than £10 an hour. He said: “When we win the next election we will write a real Living Wage into law. We’ll charge a new Living Wage Review Body with the task of setting it at the level needed for a decent life. Independent forecasts suggest that this will be over £10 per hour. This will be a fundamental part of our new bargain in the workplace.”

11.45 Clive Lewis has given an honest and thought-provoking speech on Trident, terrorism and the role of veterans in the Labour Party.

11.00 LabourList has published exclusive polling showing the key issues on which the party – and the Tories – have gone backwards or improved since May 2015.

Monday, 09.00: The National Executive Committee met at 7.30 this morning. Among discussions was apparently an attempt by Jeremy Corbyn to delay elements of tomorrow’s party reform package.

Rumours suggest the Labour leader wanted to hold off on a rule change that would hand the leaders of the Welsh and Scottish Labour parties each the power to appoint a new NEC representative – a move that would likely not work in Corbyn’s favour. However, it sounds like the stalling attempts have failed. You an read more about the row over party reforms at this conference here.

16.45 Len McCluskey has issued a withering verdict on the shadow Cabinet ministers who resigned in the summer revolt against Jeremy Corbyn. You can read the full story here.

15.30 We have a write-up of the passionate pleas for members to stay in the party from Benn, Coaker, Chris Leslie and Ruth Smeeth at the Labour First rally.

14.30 The Labour First rally – which attracted a huge crowd as well as former shadow Cabinet ministers such as Hilary Benn and Vernon Coaker – is now over. We will have a report shortly.

13.47: Corbyn has been speaking at Momentum’s The World Transformed fringe, telling supporters that the conversation taking place there “absolutely mainstream”.

“People don’t want to accept the obscene levels of inequality in our country”, he said, adding: “Is the future going to be deepening inequality and xenophobia or are we going to fight for each other?”

Momentum has just revealed that attendees to World Transformed events yesterday raised over £2,500 for Asylum Link, an organisation dedicated to assisting asylum seekers and refugees.

13.36: We’ll have more on last night’s NEC and potential rule changes later – including handing Women’s Conference some policy-making power – but some on the left of the party are unhappy that reforms have been packaged together to be debated and voted on as one. Many will be voting down the proposals if they can’t chew over each topic separately.

13.25: Looks like the Labour First rally is popular today – it’s so busy that Chris Leslie, Anna Turley and Tom Blenkinsop are leading an impromptu spillover rally for those stuck outside.

13.21: A new ICM poll out today makes for grim reading: it puts the Tories 15 points ahead of Labour. CON: 41% (-) LAB: 26% (-2) UKIP: 14% (+1) LDEM: 8% (-1) GRN: 4% (-)

13.17: Former Shadow Cabinet minister Lisa Nandy has opened up about the now-infamous meeting with the leadership prior to her resignation – in which John McDonnell is accused of shrugging off the possibility of a party split.

Nandy has told the Huff Post’s Paul Waugh that it was “the view of the leadership was that it [the divisions in the party] was a war that had to be won.” She added: “If you see this as a battle in which there are enemies that have to be silenced you will never ever get the right answers.”

12.26: The party’s General Secretary Iain McNicol spoke from the conference stage earlier today, and his speech was notable for his launching of a defence of Labour staff and MPs.

On staff, he said: “We expect a huge amount from them.

“They work weekends and evenings. They drop everything to fight by-elections or local elections. They put this Party conference together year after year. They are some of the brightest and the best our movement has.

“I value them, I respect them, and I stand in solidarity with them whenever they come under attack. And so should this conference, because without them, our movement would be weaker. We all owe a massive debt of gratitude to the Party staff”. This comes after he publicly rebuked John McDonnell for his comments about party officials. You can read the background on that row here.

McNicol also defended Labour MPs, saying: “Hard-working Labour champions, winning seats for Labour, and denying Tories, and SNP and Lib Dems an extra seat in Parliament.

“That’s the PLP – Labour through and through, and deserving our whole-hearted gratitude and support.”

You can read the whole of McNicol’s speech here.

11.32: Mick Whelan, General Secretary of the Aslef union, has replaced outgoing Paul Kenny, the former GMB General Secretary, as the chair of TULO, which liaises between Labour and the trade unions. Aslef supported Corbyn in the leadership contest.

11.03: Corbyn’s also done an interview with today’s The Observer. He told the paper that his victory yesterday was a moment of personal “vindication” that increased his authority to create a mass democratic movement.

“The participation is even higher, and my majority is bigger, and the mandate is very strong. So let’s use it to reach out,” he said. “With this huge membership, that has to be reflected much more in decision-making in the party.”

Sunday, 10.52: Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have appeared on the Marr and Peston shows respectively this morning – and part reform has been high on the agenda.

Corbyn says that he wants to push forward with rule changes that would give more policy-power to members, supporters and delegates at annual conference, while having more policy discussion online. You can read more on his plans here.

Meanwhile, following last night’s NEC meeting, John McDonnell says there will not be a decision at conference this week about Shadow Cabinet elections and that there could be a “special rules conference” if necessary.

The Shadow Chancellor also dismissed talk of deselections, saying “we don’t want that”, after London Mayor Sadiq Khan sent a warning to the leadership to drop the idea.

17.16: Jeremy Corbyn addressed Labour Women’s Conference as the closing statement to the day, and said Labour had changed the terms of the debate in this country but said “there is more to be done”.

He said Labour need to campaign to tackle inequality wherever it is found and paid tribute to Labour women MPs.

Corbyn said Labour must ensure it remains at the forefront of championing equality. He also offered his support for a policy making Women’s Conference, which would give the conference power to change and introduce Labour policy.

He paid tribute to Jo Cox, saying she will never be forgotten. “Together, united, let us fight for the things that would make her proud” her murder was an “act of murder on democracy”, he said.

Corbyn was met with a raucous standing ovation having been re-elected leader earlier in the day.

The Labour leader also gave his “total and full” support to Sarah Champion after she spoke out about domestic abuse.

16.50: Kezia Dugdale, Leader of Scottish Labour, gave the closing address at Labour Women’s Conference. She said she had congratulated Jeremy Corbyn on his victory earlier in the day. “I look forward to working with him to deliver gender equality in our party and to advance women’s rights beyond it,” she said.

She also said 53% of Scottish Labour’s candidates at the constituency level were women.

Dugdale also attacked Theresa May, saying that although the Prime Minister wore a ‘this is a feminist t-shirt’ there ‘is nothing feminist about austerity’. Dugdale also said She’s done more for Boris Johnson in 80 days than the Tories have done for women in 80 years.

Dugdale went on to say “don’t tell us Labour doesn’t elect leaders – you’re looking at one”.

16.00 Chris Leslie, the former shadow Chancellor, who did not serve under Corbyn, has questioned whether the re-elected leader could ever triumph in a general election.

“Unless we see a leader who can set out credible policies, stamp out abuse, take us ahead in the polls, persuade the public that he is a prime minister, that is going to be a really difficult challenge,” he told the BBC.

15.50: Another update from Women’s Conference. Ann Black,  veteran member of Labour’s National Executive Committee, has announced that the procedures are being put in place to give Labour Women’s Conference the power to make policy. Black also said that there would be efforts to ensure women – including BAME women and women from working class backgrounds – are given support to get into political positions – at all levels of government.

Emilie Oldknow, Labour party executive director, also announced that in 2017 the party will be launching its new women leaders programme for staff. 24 women will enter into a programme that will help them advance to senior positions.

14.40 Peter Edwards, editor of LabourList, has given a quick take on today’s leadership result.

14.00 John McDonnell, Kezia Dugdale and Unite’s Jennie Formby have all given their take on today’s victory for Corbyn. Conor Pope has a round-up.

13.35: Angela Rayner, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, addressed Women’s Conference. She said that the party should unite around Corbyn now that he has been re-elected as leader.  Rayner also spoken about her own mother who grew up on a council estate. This video explains her background

 

13.30: Former deputy leader Harriet Harman gave a strong speech condemning Theresa May. “May may be a woman but she is no sister”, said Harman. She also said that it was not acceptable that Labour has not had a woman leader, while the Tories, the SNP, the Greens and “even UKIP” have.

13.25: Labour Women’s conference is underway. It began with a tribute from Jess Phillips to Jo Cox MP who was murdered in June. Phillips gave a heartfelt introduction followed by a video in memory of Jo Cox made by Labour Women’s Network.

12.30 Hilary Benn, who Corbyn sacked earlier this summer has written “Time for unity” on Twitter.

12.20: More recent polling analysis carried out by Election Data/YouGov (which called the election correctly) says that Owen Smith may have had the majority of support of pre-2015 Labour Party members – showing how much the party has changed.

12.09: Worth noting that the YouGov polling this summer found 62 per cent for Corbyn and 38 per cent for Smith – exactly on the money.

In fact, in our survey of LabourList readers, 62 per cent also said they were supporting Corbyn.

11.55: Jeremy Corbyn has beaten Owen Smith in the leadership contest, winning over 60 per cent of the vote.

11.40: delegates are gathering in the conference hall, by the waterfront, with the result due shortly. The Liverpool skyline looks a little grey and overcast today but it it is due to be sunnier later.

Saturday September 24, 9am: Welcome to the LabourList conference liveblog!

We’ll be bringing you all the latest news and gossip from the hall, fringe and bars for the next four days – starting with the little matter of the leadership announcement today.

Around 12pm we will find out who has been victorious in the Labour leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and challenger Owen Smith. Corbyn is the runaway favourite to be re-elected with a similar margin to his landslide victory last year – but could we see another upset?

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