Labour gives local parties permission to hold virtual AGMs

Sienna Rodgers

The Labour Party has informed local parties today that they now have permission to hold virtual annual general meetings that have been suspended so far during the coronavirus pandemic.

As noted in Alice Perry’s latest national executive committee (NEC) report for LabourList, the party’s ruling body has discussed plans to allow Constituency Labour Parties to resume their full business online.

Perry wrote: “Members will be able to hold AGMs online. It is unlikely that members will be able to meet in person in 2020 and beyond, so NEC members are keen to allow members to meet virtually to conduct their usual business.”

Labour has now informed local chairs and secretaries via email of this significant development, which means that “as long as the usual notice period is given, AGMs may take place immediately”.

The move will allow constituency parties across the country to organise AGMs that may have been delayed by the pandemic, and it will likely lead to changes in the factional balances of power on a local level.

Branches and CLPs will have to apply the usual rules on quorum, which refers to the minimum number of members that must be present to make the proceedings of the meeting in question valid.

Local parties will also have to conduct meetings via an online platform approved by the Labour Party and ensure that online ballots are “secret and secure” as they would usually have to be in a non-virtual setting.

A number of CLPs and branches have held informal meetings throughout Covid-19 via Zoom, Jitsi or the party-recommended platform of Microsoft Teams. ChoiceVoting is recommended by Labour for online votes.

CLPs have been able to hold nomination meetings in recent months, with fresh Labour NEC elections this year needing to take place. The nomination period ended last month and ballots will be sent out from October 19th.

Below is the full text of Labour’s email sent to local parties this afternoon.

With the continuing restrictions around Covid-19, CLPs are still not in a position to meet physically. The NEC therefore have agreed to allow CLPs and branches (including equalities branches) to conduct AGMs.

This means that as long as the usual notice period is given, AGMs may take place immediately.

Full guidance will be circulated shortly, but we would like to take this opportunity to let you know the basic principles that have been agreed by the NEC:

• Your branch or CLP’s usual quorum will apply

• All ballots must be secret and secure, and conducted via an online platform approved by the Labour Party

• Nominations should be submitted in advance where possible to enable the online ballot to be set up in advance of the meeting

• Where only one nomination is received for a particular position, that candidate will be elected unopposed

• Where required, an AGM may be conducted in two parts (e.g. Officers elected at pt 1, delegates to outside bodies elected to at pt 2)

• No CLP AGM shall take place between 1 January and 5 February 2021 (to ensure affiliates are able to fully participate), nor during the regulated period for the 2021 elections. All CLPs will be expected to have conducted an AGM by 31 July 2021

• The scheduling of meetings must be agreed in advance with the appropriate regional/Welsh/Scottish office to ensure appropriate staff support can be made available and that AGMs are not detracting from the 2021 elections

Guidance will be issued next week to assist you in setting up and delivering your AGM online, however, your regional/Welsh/Scottish office is on hand should you have any queries.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your hard work in running NEC nomination meetings over the last few months. The next stage of the NEC elections will be an OMOV ballot of eligible members that will take place between 19 October and 12 November.

Many thanks,

Team Labour

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