The brief window before conference recess puts pressure on Labour and Truss

Katie Neame
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Local party executives will be able to agree and submit, by email exchange, policy motions for consideration at Labour’s annual conference during the period of national mourning, the party has said. Why does this matter? Because each Constituency Labour Party (CLP), affiliated trade union and socialist society can make one submission to conference – either a policy motion or a constitutional amendment. The deadline for constitutional amendments, also known as rule changes, has already passed – but the deadline for policy motions is Thursday. Different groups within the party have been urging members to submit their preferred policy motions for consideration by their CLP – but with the death of the Queen and the cancellation of all local meetings, any plans to debate and submit a motion this week appeared scuppered.

In an email to CLP secretaries on Monday afternoon, however, the party confirmed that CLPs that had scheduled meetings during the period of national mourning would still be able to submit their motions. The email stated that those CLPs would be allowed to submit motions via their executive committee, who could “agree the wording of the motion via email based on motions submitted by members for consideration at the scheduled meeting”.

Much of the rest of the Labour Party’s activity remains on pause until the conclusion of the period of national mourning, which will last until the end of the day of the Queen’s state funeral on September 19th. In the email to CLP secretaries, the party confirmed that campaigning and meetings will resume from September 20th, and local parties intending to convene after that date have been permitted to issue notice of meetings.

But that leaves a very brief window before the start of annual conference, scheduled to begin on September 25th, with immediate implications for CLPs. The parliamentary selection process in Derby South has been put on hold following the death of the Queen. Shortlisting had been due to take place on Monday. It is not yet known exactly when the selection process will restart, though one local source tells me that they are assuming the latter stages of the process will now take place after conference.

The death of the Queen and the impending conference season are also causing disruption beyond the Labour Party. Parliament was due to go into recess on September 22nd, leaving just a few days for ordinary parliamentary business following the end of national mourning. This has complicated Liz Truss’ plans to respond to soaring household energy costs. The new Prime Minister set out her proposal for an ‘energy price guarantee’ last week, just hours before the Queen’s death was announced.

Truss told MPs that Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng would set out the expected cost of the support measures for households and businesses as part of a fiscal statement later in September. The Prime Minister’s spokesperson revealed on Monday that the government still plans to deliver a fiscal event this month, suggesting MPs will be recalled following the Queen’s funeral so Truss can hold an emergency Budget.

On LabourList today, we have a piece from Fabian Society general secretary Andrew Harrop discussing how Labour can respond to the new Prime Minister. He writes: “Labour must present a bold alternative vision for remaking Britain, because environmental, economic and social intervention supply more plausible and popular answers to the country’s ills.”

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