Which policy motions are being backed by groups for Labour conference 2021?

Elliot Chappell

Motions are currently being submitted for Labour’s conference. The annual gathering, the first physical one since Keir Starmer became leader, will take place in Brighton between September 25th and 29th. Groups within the party are urging members to propose their preferred motions at local meetings.

Each Constituency Labour Party, affiliated trade union and socialist society can make one submission to the conference – either a policy motion or a constitutional amendment. The deadline for constitutional amendments, also known as rule changes, has passed, but CLPs still have until 5pm on September 13th to submit motions.

Below is a summary of each of the model motions being put forward by Labour to Win (the umbrella group comprising Labour First and Progressive Britain), Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.

LabourList understands that the main focus of soft left group Open Labour at conference will be to support Labour for a New Democracy’s motion, which would commit the party to changing the UK general election voting system to proportional representation. The motion is also backed by Momentum.

Labour to Win

Labour to Win has circulated 16 model motions that it is urging members to put forward.

1. “Social care”

This motion would mean conference noting that “11 years of Tory government have failed to put forward plans for social care reform” and that the gathering of delegates “believes it’s time for a new deal for care workers”.

It calls for Labour to “set out a vision” that empowers users of social care, improves pay, terms and conditions for staff, prioritises a ‘home-first’ approach, improves support for unpaid carers such as with increased rights, flexibility and financial security, and is needs-based and publicly funded.

2. “NHS”

The motion begins by having conference note that Tory government has left NHS waiting lists at the highest on record and says the Conservatives have particularly let down those needing mental health support while “NHS staff have gone above and beyond to keep people safe over the past year”.

It would commit Labour to rejecting the government’s health and care bill and “any plan from ministers to increase privatisation in the NHS”, calling instead for an “NHS rescue plan” to bring down waiting lists, modernise hospitals and give healthcare staff a pay rise.

3. “Clean Air Act”

Calling on Labour to introduce a Clean Air Act, which establishes a legal right to breathe clean air and requires ministers to provide a binding clean air plan across government, the motion stresses that air pollution represented a “national health emergency” before Covid causing an estimated 40,000 early deaths each year.

4. “Immigration”

Here, the authors recognise that the system under the Conservatives is “devoid of compassion and competence”, highlighting the closure of the Dubs scheme to receive unaccompanied children coming to the UK. It would also mean conference noting that the abolition of the Department for International Development removes the “key vehicle for tackling the forces that drive people from the homes in the first place”.

The motion would commit Labour to campaigning for the re-establishment of safe and legal routes, including reopening the Dubs scheme, for reestablishing DfID and for the government to work with international partners to do more to tackle human trafficking and modern slavery. It adds that the points-based immigration system is unfair and Labour “would oversee a fairer, more compassionate system”.

5. “Safer communities: preventing crime and securing communities”

The motion states: “Labour believes that a renewal of neighbourhood policing is needed, to provide communities with the officers and police staff they need to be safe. This must come with a more diverse and representative police service and this must be accompanied with proper funding for youth, and preventative, services across the country.”

It highlights Labour’s green paper on tackling violence against women and girls and says a “national strategy is also urgently needed to address the rise of far-right extremism, as well as national coordination to address the criminal exploitation of children”.

6. “Children’s recovery”

Recognising the lost disruption to learning experienced by children throughout the pandemic, growth in mental health issues and other Covid-related problems, the motion highlights that the government’s recovery package is “ten times less than their expert advisor said was needed”. It would commit Labour to campaigning for the policies outlined in the party’s children’s recovery plan.

7. “Racial equality”

The motion begins by saying that Black Lives Matter and Covid have “exposed the longstanding inequalities in society”, and pointing out the findings of the Doreen Lawrence review of the disproportionate impact of Covid on BAME communities. It calls for Labour to to implement a Race Equality Act to “tackle the structural racial inequalities that led to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic”.

8. “Nature positive”

It states that “our natural heritage should be restored and enhanced as part of Labour’s green economic recovery” and that British farmers should be backed through the agricultural transition to net zero and ‘nature-positive’ farming.

It commits the party to a number of measures, including: a nature positive target; a “massive increase” in tree planting; ending the badger cull; restoration of all peatlands and wetlands; ending sewage discharges and clean up our river waters; and ending the UK’s contribution to marine plastic pollution.

9. “Social security”

Relatively short, this motion would mean conference noting “the need for a compassionate, fair social security system that supports people both in and out of work” and resolving that Labour should replace Universal Credit with a “proper safety net, which gives everyone a decent standard of living; which has respect and dignity at its heart; and which is not punitive”.

10. “Tax”

The motion asks conference to note “Keir Starmer’s leadership pledge to ensure a progressive income tax system and to clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly by large multinational corporations”. It calls on Labour to “build upon Joe Biden’s proposals for an international tax agreement”, create a level playing field for high street and online businesses, “address the inequality in taxation between wealth and income”, tackle tax avoidance and create a “genuinely progressive tax system”.

11. “Workers’ rights; working hours; minimum wage”

This would commit Labour to campaigning for an employment bill providing day-one rights for all workers and repealing anti-trade union laws, the prohibition of fire and rehire tactics, a legal right to flexible working and a ‘right to switch off’, “proper sick pay” and an “ambitious minimum wage”.

12. “Two-state solution”

The authors here write: “Conference reiterates Labour’s position that the only way to create peace in the Middle East and end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is the negotiated creation of two states for two peoples.”

“Conference recognises the right to national self-determination and liberation of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples and recognises the legitimacy of both Zionism and the Palestinian national movement,” the model motion adds.

It also means conference would condemn all acts of terrorism, call for free and fair elections in the Palestinian Authority, restoration of its control over Gaza, and for “Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to be removed from power in Gaza and disarmed”.

The motion says conference “rejects negative and one-sided tactics such as boycotts, divestment and sanctions and commits to supporting practical schemes that build peace and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians”.

13. “Mineworkers’ pension scheme”

The motion sets out that the mineworkers’ pension scheme has around 152,000 members with 135,000 eligible to receive their pension, and that the current average for former miners is just £84 a week. It says that it is “scandalous, immoral and wrong on every level that ministers have raided the pension pot of retired miners”.

The motion commits Labour to ensuring that miners get the pensions to which they are entitled, immediately returning £1.2bn surplus money and changing the surplus sharing agreement to give more to pensioners.

14. “NATO”

This motion reaffirms Labour’s support for continuing the UK’s membership of NATO. It would have conference note “the importance of NATO as a global alliance and Britain’s role in ensuring peace and the rule of law across the international sphere” and that it is “essential to guaranteeing the security of the new democracies in Eastern Europe”.

It asks conference to “reaffirm the Labour Party’s belief” that NATO membership plays a vital role in confronting the biggest security challenges in our generation and that “the UK’s membership to NATO is committed to collective defence founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty, human rights and the rule of law”.

15. “Multilateral nuclear disarmament”

This motion would reconfirm Labour’s commitment to multilateral nuclear disarmament, while saying that “the UK should maintain a strategic nuclear deterrent” as other major powers retain them. It backs the renewal of Trident, asking conference to note that “just 22% of Britons think we should scrap our Trident Submarines and missiles altogether” and citing financial reasons for renewing the programme.

16. “Solidarity with the Uyghurs”

This motion asks conference to note that the Chinese state is “inflicting industrial-scale racist oppression on the Uyghur people along with other ethnic and national minority groups in north-west China”. The motion would also have conference express solidarity with the Uyghur people and other minority groups and “call upon the Chinese government to close the concentration camps and release all those detained; stop the state harassment and intrusive surveillance of the day-to-day lives of the Uyghurs and other minority peoples in Xinjiang; release Uyghur children to their families; stop the torture and abuse”.

Momentum

Momentum members voted on 33 motions submitted by local Momentum groups, affiliated trade unions and others in its policy primary process this year. After a ballot, the left-wing organisation agreed the following eight:

  1. £15 minimum wage and dignity in work;
  2. Time for proportional representation;
  3. Global climate justice;
  4. Build council housing and end homelessness;
  5. Green jobs revolution;
  6. Build back fairer: attack poverty and inequality;
  7. Reject integrated care systems, renationalise England’s NHS and social care;
  8. A four-day week for a society in which we work to live, not live to work

Its national coordinating group has subsequently added a further three “reflecting recent political developments”:

  1. Racial justice and migrants rights;
  2. Defend democracy, trade unions and the right to protest; and
  3. Drug policy reform.

1. “£15 minimum wage and dignity in work”

This motion, submitted by party-affiliated Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) to Momentum’s policy primary, calls on Labour to campaign for a minimum wage of £15 per hour, minimum contracts of 16 hours a week for those who want them, a statutory sick pay rate equivalent to a living wage, stronger workers’ protections, fair treatment and equal pay, more support for BAME workers and collective bargaining.

2. “Time for proportional representation”

Labour for a New Democracy and a number of local Momentum branches submitted this one. It seeks to commit Labour to changing the voting system for general elections to a “form of proportional representation” and for the party to convene an “open and inclusive process” to decide which specific voting system to endorse in its manifesto. (This motion is also supported by Open Labour.)

3. “Global climate justice”

The motion says Labour “should make the case for rapid decarbonisation by 2030” and that the cost of this must be “borne by the rich”, while debt cancellation is “essential” to achieving climate justice. It notes that we must keep global temperatures below 1.5°C, communities hit hardest by climate change have contributed least to the problem and the UK is still spending billions on fossil fuel subsidies.

The motion commits the party to moves including: cancelling the debts of low-income countries; halting all fossil fuel subsidies; introducing sanctions on big polluters; phasing out high-carbon industries; bringing the banking and financial system into public control; and legally recognising the right to asylum of climate refugees.

4. “Build council housing and end homelessness”

Submitted by the Labour Campaign for Council Housing, Labour Homelessness Campaign and a number of Momentum groups to the process, this motion calls on Labour to restate the 2019 manifesto commitments on housing, such as building 150,000 social rent homes each year including 100,000 council homes and ending ‘Right to Buy’.

It states that in government Labour should: give councils the power to requisition the 250,000 long-term empty homes; fund retrofitting of homes; repeal the 2012 anti-squatting legislation and the Vagrancy Act; reverse cuts and outsourcing of homelessness services.

5. “Green jobs revolution”

This Labour for a Green New Deal motion says the country can solve unemployment crisis and rapidly decarbonise with a “socialist green new deal that has public ownership of industries including energy, water, transport, mail, telecommunications”.

It supports measures including: the expansion and electrification of public transport; retrofitting all homes by 2030; universal basic services; a just transition away from polluting industries, with training and a “green job guarantee on union rates for affected workers”; repealing anti-trade union laws and using public procurement to promote decarbonisation; environmental protections; and international justice in global supply chains.

6. “Build back fairer: attack poverty and inequality”

This motion would commit Labour to ‘building back fairer’ and campaigning for targeted action to increase racial, ethnic, gender, class and economic equality. It specifies the following measures among others: Universal Credit of £260 per week; a minimum wage of £12 per hour; sick pay of 100% of wages and the same for Covid isolation pay; the repeal of anti-trade union laws; a ban on zero-hours contracts; the reversal of outsourcing and privatisation; and the reversal of all cuts since 2010.

7. “Reject integrated care systems, renationalise England’s NHS and social care”

The motion begins by setting out the government plan to reorganise the NHS into 42 regional integrated care systems under the the health and care bill 2021-22, which will be “strengthening the role of private companies, including US health insurance corporations”.

It resolves that Labour demand an immediate halt to the plan, repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and “reinstate a universal, comprehensive, and publicly-provided NHS”, reverse outsourcing and privatisation in the NHS, and commit to a fully-funded public care service, run by local authorities, free at the point of use.

8. “A four-day week for a society in which we work to live, not live to work”

The motion calls on Labour to adopt as party policy a four-day working week with no loss of pay, to campaign for a four-day working week, and for transitional policies including shorter working time subsidies, the public sector as pioneers and strengthened sectoral bargaining powers.

9. “Racial justice and migrant rights”

This motion, agreed by the national coordinating group, states that “structural racism exists”. It supports: an “ethical foreign policy that acts against imperialism and violence”; the repeal of no recourse to public funds; campaigning against legislation to criminalise Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’ way of life; scrapping citizenship fees and extending voting rights to all UK residents; overturning medical and pharmaceutical patents that “deprive people in the Global South of essential life-saving medications”.

10. “Defend democracy, trade unions and the right to protest”

This motion has been put forward in the context of Tory legislation – notably the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill and the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act – which it says pose an “existential threat to the UK’s democracy, and our fundamental civil and human rights”.

It calls on Labour to campaign against both and to commit to repealing them in government. It also instructs the party to oppose any attempts to “scrap or curb” the Human Rights Act and to actively drive union membership amongst party members by pledging to repeal all anti-union laws.

11. “Drug policy reform”

This motion notes that the war on drugs has “failed” and points to polling showing the public favours a “health-based approach” to drugs. If passed, conference would be supporting: the decriminalisation of the possession and use of drugs; legislation aimed at a regulated and publicly run drugs market; investment in harm reduction measures to reduce drug-related deaths and in treatment services. It also backs expunging non-violent drugs convictions, where there is no other criminal history.

Campaign for Labour Party Democracy

Left-wing group Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) has put forward 19 model motions, issued in two tranches (first, second), that it is encouraging party members to consider sending to conference this year.

1. “Labour should be neutral in any referendum on Northern Ireland”

Noting the possibility in the future of a referendum on Northern Ireland’s constitutional status under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and that Labour has not take any position on a potential outcome to such a vote since then, it highlights Keir Starmer’s recent comment that he would want to “make the case for a United Kingdom strongly” if a border poll were held. The motion says Labour should continue to be neutral about the outcome of any referendum in Northern Ireland on its future constitutional status.

2. “Green new deal – Labour will oppose the Tories and fight for action on climate change”

The motion notes that humanity has at most nine years to stop catastrophic climate change by keeping global temperature rises below 1.5°C, through cutting emissions by 7.6% a year. It would commit Labour to campaigning for the immediate investment of £85bn for a green new deal.

It also supports more specific measures including: upgrading homes to the highest standard of energy efficiency; powering Britain with renewable energy; ending fossil fuel subsidies; banning fracking; organising a just transition with trade unions and communities; and financially assisting the transition in developing countries.

3. “Zero Covid – Labour should oppose the Tories and campaign for a Covid elimination strategy”

Stating that the government handling of the pandemic has resulted in one of the highest per capita death tolls in the world, as well as noting the economic pressures facing the country, this motion says  the party should campaign for a ‘zero Covid’ strategy, oppose Tory Covid policies and “give no further support to their reactionary framework”.

4. “First-past-the-post delivers majority Labour governments”

This motion states that conference “recognises that our party was originally formed to achieve majority Labour governments” and that that must continue to be its main purpose. It says proportional representation would make this “nigh impossible to ever achieve” and far-right parties would gain MPs and legitimacy, adding: “Conference reaffirms our party’s commitment to achieving majority Labour governments and thus to FPTP.” (This is in opposition to the pro-PR motion backed by Momentum, Open Labour and Labour for a New Democracy.)

5. “Now is not the time to change the voting system”

The motion outlines that, since 2000, the party has won two general elections and lost four and that in 2017 Labour achieved a 9.6% increase in vote share. It says: “Conference should not rush into changing our party’s policy on this fundamental issue. Instead we should reflect on our policies and work out an appealing platform that aims to solve the problems that are being inflicted on the population by the Tory government.”

6. “Labour must oppose Tory austerity”

This highlights that the Conservatives are “carrying forward their decade of austerity policies which only benefit the richest”, that women, BAME and disabled people have been worst affected and the “popularity of socialist policies to address the crisis”.

It would commit Labour to holding the government to account and opposing “all aspects of its reactionary economic agenda”, and to putting forward a “radical vision of the future”.

7. “Palestine (Labour and Palestine)”

The motion asks conference to condemn “Israel’s militarised violence attacking the Al Aqsa mosque, the forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah and the deadly assault on Gaza”.

It resolves that “action is needed now due to Israel’s continuing illegal actions” and that Labour “should adhere to an ethical policy on all UK trade with Israel, including stopping any arms trade used to violate Palestinian human rights”.

8. “Workers’ rights”

The motion stresses that the pandemic has amplified the need for workers to be in unions. It asks that conference commits to repeal all Tory anti-union laws, including anti-strike laws, and to replacing them with a progressive code of labour rights, using proposals outlined in Labour’s 2017 and 2019 general election manifestos.

9. “Labour needs to robustly oppose the Tories’ racism”

This motion states that the Tories attempted to distract the public from Covid by “whipping up racism and promoting cultural wars, on a wide range of issues”. It says conference “regrets to also note our own failures to take a clear stand against racism, including: leadership statements made in relation to Black Lives Matter; anti-Traveller election literature; and an Islamophobic press briefing by senior Labour staff”.

10. “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Labour CND)”

This motion supports a “world without nuclear weapons” and welcomes the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which became international law earlier this year. It calls on the Labour Party leadership to make a commitment that the next Labour government will sign and ratify the treaty.

11. “Ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia”

This motion notes the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and says the Conservative government is complicit in the killing of Yemeni civilians through the sale of UK arms to Saudi Arabia. It also notes the decision to reduce aid to the country.

If passed, it would commit Labour to imposing an immediate embargo on the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia in government, to campaign for human rights and humanitarian relief in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and to work with trade unions to create a ‘Shadow Defence Diversification Agency’ to “use the skills of those currently working in the arms industry on socially-useful projects”.

12. “Build council housing and end homelessness (Labour Campaign for Council Housing)”

Noting the severity of the housing crisis, and how the pandemic has made the situation worse, this motion would commit Labour to building 150,000 social rent homes each year, including 100,000 council homes, funded by a £10bn per year grant. It would also mean Labour in government ending ‘Right to Buy’, and reviewing council housing debt to address underfunding of housing revenue accounts.

13. “Oppose integrated care systems (ICSs) in the English NHS”

This motion calls on the Parliamentary Labour Party to “vigorously oppose” the establishment of ICSs as set out in the government’s proposed health and care bill. It also resolves to: support the end of the commercialisation of the NHS and social care services; restore our NHS and social care services to full public service provision; alert councillors and MPs to the threat posed by ICSs; begin a consultation on how health and care services are provided; repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012; and promote greater collaboration with the Labour Parties in devolved nations.

14. “A green new deal to respond to the climate, economic and social crises”

Two versions of this motion have been put forward. The first calls for a socialist green new deal, which includes among other demands: a whole economy decarbonisation plan “consistent with the imperatives of climate change science”, protections for workers and communities through a just transition, an end to fossil fuel subsidies, a publicly run retrofit and insulation programme.

The second calls on Labour to promote a green new deal that in which the government: dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions, creates high-paying unionised jobs, ensures that clean air, clean water and healthy food are basic human rights and ends all forms of oppression.

15. “For a fair, socialist and progressive approach to council tax”

Recognising the pressures on local authorities due to austerity and the pandemic, this motion calls on the party leadership to encourage and financially support councils to hold referenda on “progressive council tax models”. It suggests as an example freezing rates for the majority of people while raised for more affluent residents.

16. “For a poverty emergency approach to crisis recovery and income inequality”

This motion states that discussion of the Covid recovery that does not include inadequate pay, insecure terms and conditions, the cuts to in- and out-of-work benefits, inadequate income overall and increased reliance on profit-driven private landlords “makes a mockery of any political claim to truly value equality”. It support the approach taken by Cheshire West and Cheshire council, which declared a poverty emergency in October last year.

17. “Land value tax”

This motion would mean conference recognising that concentrated landownership is the main source of wealth inequality and calls for the replacement of all current property taxes with a land value tax.

18. “Review personal independence payment payments (PIP) to make it fit for purpose”

The authors of this motion highlight that only around 50% of PIP claims lead to an award – including from those who were on Disability Living Allowance, which it replaced – and that nearly three quarters of appeals are rejected. The text calls on Labour to develop policies and campaigns to reform PIP to make it fit for purpose.

19. “Local government cuts – building the resistance”

This motion would commit the party to “building a campaign together with trade unions, community and tenant organisations for funding necessary to not only stop, but reverse cuts”. It would require Labour to, as a minimum, demand that the government: fully fund councils for the extra costs of Covid; cancel local authority held by the public works loan board; provide councils with a £10bn grant each year to build 100,000 council homes a year and “open negotiations on a new financial settlement for local government”.

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