Labour conference 2021: The content of every policy motion and how it passed

Elliot Chappell

Labour passed a number of policy motions at its party conference this year. From a Green New Deal to a £15 minimum wage, from a national care service to tackling violence against women and girls, we go through all the successful ones here.

Each was passed by a show of hands or, where a show of hands proved too close to call, by a ‘card vote’. In card votes, each local party and affiliate delegation casts votes reflecting the number of members they represent. These votes are then weighted so that Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) determine half the result and affiliates (mostly trade unions) the other half.

The party is not bound by policy passed at its annual conference – even if motions are passed unanimously. It is Labour’s national policy forum (NPF) and ‘Clause V’ meeting before an election that decides which parts of the party programme are included in the manifesto.


Green New Deal 1 (composite motion one)

Put forward by Labour for a Green New deal, this motion was passed by conference on Sunday afternoon via a show of hands. It calls for a “socialist green new deal”, which includes:

  • public ownership of energy;
  • government programme creating millions of well-paid, unionised green jobs;
  • well-financed, publicly-owned national and regional green investment banks;
  • expansion and electrification of integrated public transport, including public ownership of railways, free local bus networks;
  • universal basic services, including a national care service and national nature service;
  • ban on fracking;
  • repealing all anti-trade union laws;
  • debt relief for low-income country debt held by UK institutions;
  • legal recognition of climate refugees’ right to asylum.

For the full text of the motion, see our story on the GND votes.


Green New Deal 2 (composite motion two)

Put forward by GMB, this was also backed by delegates on Saturday, but only after a card vote as the show of hands result was unclear. It calls for:

  • mass investment in green technologies, such as green gas;
  • establishing a legal right to breathe clean air;
  • new nuclear plants, including Sizewell C and Small Modular Reactors.

For the full text of the motion, see our story on the GND votes.

Actual votes cast:
CLP, for: 179,432 (49.57%)
CLP, against: 182,545 (50.43%)
Affiliate, for: 1,232,670 (68.85%)
Affiliate, against: 557,613 (31.15%)

Overall percentage:
CLP, for: 24.79%
CLP, against: 25.21%
Affiliate, for: 34.43%
Affiliate, against: 15.57%

Total, for: 59.21%
Total, against: 40.79%


Community Wealth Building (composite motion three)

Put forward by trade unions CWU and ASLEF, the motion passed by a show of hands. It notes the “significant electoral success” where a ‘community wealth building’ agenda had been adopted and resolves to adopt it as the “main approach to local economic development across the UK by ensuring more of our economy is democratically and socially owned”. It specifically supports:

  • progressive procurement (unionisation, decent work, zero carbon public supply chains and democratic ownership);
  • insourcing of public and local council services;
  • use of land and property to generate wealth for local communities;
  • support for cooperatives and municipal enterprise.

For the full text of the motion, see our story.


High Street and Business Recovery (composite motion four)

This was carried by a show of hands. Put forward by Labour Business and trade union Usdaw, it calls on Labour to develop a “new deal for workers”. It backs:

  • a living wage and guaranteed hours for workers;
  • better rights at work for employees and the self-employed;
  • reform of UK tax law, tackling tax avoidance and the use of offshore havens, a digital tax.

For the full text of the motion, see our story.


Public Ownership (composite motion five)

This was passed by a show of hands. Proposed by CWU and Unite, it urges Labour to bring Royal Mail back into public ownership, bring the broadband-relevant parts of BT into public ownership and deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030.

For the full text of the motion, see our story.


Housing (composite motion six)

Put forward by Labour Housing Group and passed by a show of hands, this motion demands that the party:

  • advocate funding councils to deliver 150,000 social rent homes each year, including 100,000 council homes;
  • enshrine a right to adequate housing in law;
  • repeal anti-squatting legislation and the Vagrancy Act;
  • end Right to Buy and ‘no-fault evictions’;
  • give councils stronger powers of compulsory purchase to tackle land banking;
  • give councils powers to restrict second home purchases;
  • end homelessness by instituting a ‘housing-first’ system;
  • commit to strengthening tenants’ rights;
  • fund the retrofitting of council housing.

For the full text of the motion, see CAC Report 2.


Grenfell Tower Fire (emergency motion)

Advanced by the FBU, this motion that passed by a show of hands commits the party to holding the government and contractors to account over the Grenfell fire. It resolves Labour to campaign for “more sustained investment” in local authority building control and fire safety, and to “oppose privatisation, deregulation and contracting out of such services”.

For the full text of the motion, see CAC Report 2.


Israel and Palestine (composite motion one)

Delegates backed this motion by a show of hands on Monday afternoon. Put forward by Young Labour and Wolverhampton South West CLP, it condemns “Israel’s continuing illegal actions” and states that “Israel is intent on eliminating any prospects of Palestinian self-determination”. It specifically calls on the party to support “effective measures” to:

  • ensure that Israel stops the building of settlements;
  • reverse any annexation;
  • end the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza;
  • bring down the wall; and
  • respect the right of Palestinian people to return to their homes.

For the full text of the motion, see our full story on the vote.


Afghanistan (composite motion two)

This motion, which passed by a show of hands, was put forward by the Association of Labour Councillors and Putney CLP. It calls on the party to advocate for safe and secure routes of asylum for refugees fleeing Afghanistan, work with European and NATO countries to do the same and “fight for a fair proportion of refugees across all local authorities and advocate for further infrastructure improvements to help these areas”.

For the full text of the motion, see CAC Report 3.


AUKUS security pact (emergency motion)

This motion passed following a card vote. It calls on Labour to oppose the agreement between the UK, US and Australia, reconfirm support for enforcing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and “take steps to repair the diplomatic damage done” by the pact. (The context for this motion is that Keir Starmer welcomed the ‘Aukus’ pact before conference.)

For the full text of the motion, see CAC Report 3.

Actual votes cast:
CLP, for: 223,682 (62.93%)
CLP, against: 131,745 (37.07%)
Affiliate, for: 1,372,064 (77.78%)
Affiliate, against: 392,065 (22.22%)

Overall percentage:
CLP, for: 31.47%
CLP, against: 18.53%
Affiliate, for: 38.89%
Affiliate, against: 11.11%

Total, for: 70.35%
Total, against: 29.65%


Right to Food (composite motion seven)

This champions enshrining a right to food in law and calls on Labour to “embed a right to food policy in its next general election manifesto”. It passed on the Tuesday of conference by a show of hands and received strong support, with the chair asking: “Is anyone against?”.

For the full text of the motion, see our full story.


The NHS (composite motion eight)

Passed after a show of hands on Tuesday, this motion put forward by the Socialist Health Association condemns the 11 years of austerity and urges Labour to:

  • advocate for a universal, comprehensive and publicly provided NHS;
  • campaign for a halt to the roll out of integrated care systems;
  • actively alert local councillors and MPs to the threat posed by ICSs;
  • oppose the “destructive effects” of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act;
  • oppose the health and care bill;
  • promote greater collaboration with the party in the devolved nations.

For the full text of the motion, see our full story.


Social Care 1 (composite motion nine)

Delegates passed two social care motions on Tuesday. The first, put forward by GMB and UNISON, calls on Labour to establish a national care service that will:

  • “end the postcode lottery on standards”;
  • insource care services and remove profit from the system;
  • implement national standards on terms and conditions negotiated with trade unions;
  • ensure care workers are paid £15 per hour.

For the full text of the motion, see our full story.


Social Care 2 (composite motion ten)

The second composite motion, put forwarded by two local parties, does not stipulate a £15 minimum wage for care workers but calls on Labour to establish a national care service to:

  • provide a “needs-based and publicly funded” vision for care;
  • improve pay, terms and conditions for staff;
  • prioritise ‘home first’;
  • support a right to independent living;
  • scrap the minimum minutes call time;
  • ensure access to nationally funded, locally delivered, co-produced, free services.

For the full text of the motion, see our full story.


Public Services (composite motion 11)

This motion passed by a show of hands. It calls on the party to “fight for public services free from profit, funded through general taxation”, campaign to stop and reverse local government cuts, ensure “decent pay for those who keep our communities going” and campaign for “real pay rises for all public service workers”.

For the full text of the motion, see our full story.


Mental Health in the Workplace (composite motion 12)

This passed by a show of hands. It commits the party to strengthening the Equality Act, introducing mandatory disability pay gap reporting, repealing anti-trade union laws and developing a statutory mental health at work plan.

For the full text of the motion, see our full story.


LGBT+ Rights (composite motion 13)

This told Labour to recognise the “obstacles and growing violence LGBT+ people face”, make conversion therapy illegal, assert trans people’s “same right for self-determination as anyone else” and safeguard their “equal access to domestic abuse/rape support and shelters”.

For the full text of the motion, see our full story.


A New Industrial Strategy for a Post-Pandemic Recovery (composite motion three)

Put forward by Unite and ASLEF, and carried by a show of hands, this expresses support for a fully publicly owned railway network, widening democratic public ownership of key areas, expanding our public transport and building council homes.

For the full text of the motion, see CAC Report 4.


End Fire and Rehire and Workers’ Rights (composite motion four)

This motion passed by a show of hands after Andy McDonald had resigned from the shadow cabinet, citing Labour’s failure to back a £15 minimum wage. Proposed by Labour’s biggest affiliate Unite, it calls on the party to:

  • campaign against fire and rehire tactics used by employers;
  • a £15 minimum wage;
  • increasing statutory sick pay to a living wage;
  • banning zero-hours contracts;
  • ending the outsourcing of public services;
  • a legal right to flexible working by default;
  • a right to ‘switch off’;
  • and giving workers stronger protections from day one in a job.

For the full text of the motion, see our full story.


Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (composite motion five)

This motion, put forward by the NUM, calls on Labour to campaign to ensure mineworkers get the pensions they deserve and for the immediate return of the £1.2bn in the Investment Reserve Fund to increase pensions. It was passed by a show of hands on Tuesday.

For the full text of the motion, see CAC Report 4. You can also read Stephanie Peacock MP’s piece about the campaign.


Immigration and Asylum Policy (composite motion 14)

This motion calls for guaranteed safe routes for asylum seekers, rights to family reunion, work and social security, campaigning against legislation criminalising Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, reestablishing the Dubs scheme, opposing the government’s nationality and borders bill and scrapping hostile environment policies.

For the full text of the motion, see CAC Report 4.


Black Lives Matter (composite motion 15)

This passed by a show of hands. Put forward by GMB, it supports the BLM campaign and calls on Labour to outline a “clear programme at a local and national level that will transform the equality agenda to improve the lives and aspirations of the Black community”.

For the full text of the motion, see CAC Report 4.


Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (composite motion 16)

Delegates backed, by a show of hands, two motions on violence against women and girls on Tuesday. This one notes the harassment and bullying the women experience in public life and in the workplace, and calls on Labour’s national executive committee to campaign alongside all those speaking up against violence against women and roll out education across the party.

For the full text of the motion, see CAC Report 4.


Violence Against Women and Girls (emergency motion)

This motion endorses the findings of the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services report into VAWG and calls on a future Labour government to address the impact of pornography and misogyny, ensure age restrictions on pornography are enforced by social media, and adequately resource the criminal justice system.

For the full text of the motion, see CAC Report 4.

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