Welsh Labour rejects One Member One Vote

Carwyn Jones

The Welsh Labour Party Executive has rejected proposals for One Member One Vote in the forthcoming elections for Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in Wales.  This decision has been met with anger from ordinary members of the Labour Party in Wales. Meeting on November 4th., the leaders of Welsh Labour ignored the views of the overwhelmingly majority of local Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) who responded to the consultation, writes Don Wilson.

First Minister, Carwyn Jones stated: “After careful consideration, I am pleased that the Welsh Executive Committee have decided today, by a clear margin, to retain the system that has worked so well for Welsh Labour since the advent of devolution. This system uses One Member One Vote (OMOV) within an Electoral College of three sections – fully paid up Labour Party members, members of affiliated trade unions, and Welsh Labour Parliamentarians (AMs, MPs, and MEPs).” 

The outcome of this decision is to minimise the impact of ordinary Labour Party members and specifically to reduce the impact of the thousands who have joined over the last few years. Labour ‘Parliamentarians’ will often have three votes with one of those votes being equal to those votes of hundreds of local members.  As Mike Hedges AM wrote, “The biggest question for advocates of the electoral college is why one person’s vote should be worth hundreds of times that of other members? An electoral college would accord 28 MPs, 29 AMs and 1 MEP the same weight as all party members in Wales. Is this fair or democratic?”

There are 40 CLPs in Wales, of those 27 responded to the consultation and 19 of the 27 were in favour of One Member One Vote.  Those figures show that the “Corbyn effect” is having a real impact at grassroots level in Wales but there is much to be done to ensure the impact of the Corbyn related changes make a real difference beyond the transformation of local Constituency Labour Parties.

All the trade unions that responded to the consultation supported the retention of an Electoral College. One side effect of All Members Meetings in local Labour Parties is that the central importance of trade unionists being delegates from their branches has been down valued and, in some cases, even completely neglected. This shows the need for systematic work to be done by local Labour Parties to recruit and involve trade unionists as trade unionists and not just as Party members. Trade unionists who are active in the Labour Party need also to focus on how their unions make decisions concerning the Labour Party in Wales.

Less than 24 hours after the decision by the leadership of the Labour Party in Wales, Jeremy Corbyn has sent a message to all Labour Party members stating that “Given many decisions are now made in Wales by the Welsh Party, I will be working with Carwyn and the Welsh Executive Committee on how we consult with our members there and continue the transformation of our Party.”  We wish Jeremy well in in those meetings and recognise that the best way to support Jeremy Corby is by continuing the transformation of the Labour Party in Wales. This means strengthening the left at all levels in the party and by building the membership, and impact, of Welsh Labour Grassroots/Momentum.

The results from the Welsh constituencies show there is a groundswell of support for the Labour Party leadership led by Jeremy Corbyn.  The leadership of Welsh Labour has underestimated the depth of anger on the key aspect of democracy. Just as the old guard. The issue of OMOV will not go away and the fight for One Member One Vote in Wales will be a key battle at the next Welsh Labour Party Conference.

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