The secret world of “special measures” – the Labour Party responds

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Yesterday I wrote about the secretive world of “special measures” in the Labour Party, in light of Councillor Bob Piper and his understandable frustration at having no idea why (or for how long) his party is in special measures.

I also contacted the party to ask why Warley CLP (where Bob is a councillor) is in “Special Measures” – and to try and find out how many other CLPs are in the same position, and why. (Because the system seems anything but transparent and open).

Here’s the response I received from a Labour spokesperson today (emphasis mine):

“Constituency Labour Parties are never placed in special measures lightly and never kept there longer than necessary to protect the integrity of the membership. There are a very small number of parties in special measures.

“An individual living in a constituency where the party is in special measures can apply for party membership in the normal way. When their application is received they are sent a letter asking them to provide two additional pieces of ID proving that they reside at the address given in their application e.g. utility bills and the letter may also tell them that they need to be registered as an elector at the address given for membership, if they are not already, and that they need to complete a direct debit mandate if they haven’t. This process ensures that new members are genuine, valid applicants in areas where there have previously been problems regarding recruitment of individuals who are not eligible.

“In the case of Warley CLP, in Sandwell Borough, the party was placed in special measures (with the support of the CLP Chair and Council Leader) as a consequence of problems with improper recruitment several years ago. These measures have helped to prevent problems recurring. The situation will hopefully continue to improve and the regional party will make a judgement as to when the CLP is in a position for special measures to be lifted.”

So Warley CLP has been in special measures for “several years” (which is a little vague) – but at least we now have some sort of explanation for why this happened. Although “several years” seems a long time to sort out issues around membership.

However, the only clue we have as to how many CLPs are under special measures is that it is a “small number” which is very subjective? Frankly – that could be 2 CLPs or 20. I understand that the party don’t reveal publicly the number or names of CLPs who are restricted through special measures. Surely the modern, more transparent, outward looking Labour Party that we are told is being built should at least be clear and open about something as serious as this?

Putting a CLP into special measures may well have it’s place in a few extreme situations. But it should be a short term measure – not one that lasts for years – and CLPs should be told how and when they can expect to return to normality. Anything else is damaging to local parties, which is farcical – as that’s what special measures is meant to stop in the first place…

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