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Labour International Members Gear Up For This Year's Conference Season

Politics affects everyone of us, in all walks of life and not just in the area of health safety welfare and the environment.

As just as important is not only the policies of poltical parties, but the quality of our member's of Parliament, and indeed the political process itself. Elections via the first past the post system for example, is perhaps one of the elast democratic systems in the western world.

Trade Unions, in the main, are affiliated to the Labour Party and as such it is important to be up to date as much as possible on the workings of the party.

Labour International is an organisation for members of the Labour Party who live outside the United Kingdom.

Here, Ann Bonner a Labour International member and previously on the National Executive (Post & Telecomms Group), the forerunner to the CWU and now a CWU retired member; discusses the upcomong political parties conference season, and specifically Labour International section of the Labour Party:

It is time for Annual conference again. All the Constituency Labour Parties, (CLPs)  and affiliated organisations will have been discussing policies and rule changes ready for Labours conference being held in Brighton September 21-26th.  No women's conference at Brighton this time as it was a successful stand alone conference in June.

Conference meets at a time of great uncertainty not least whether it will be held at all or cancelled so we can fight a much needed General Election (GE). The other two major worries are Brexit and  getting candidates in post for the  GE if  it is called quickly

We in Labour International are spared the latter as we represent the members throughout the world except the UK and we don't have our own Member of Parliament.  It is a bit strange because many of us had years of campaigning and holding office in UK branches and feel a bit excluded when it comes to choosing a candidate. The 15 year exclusion from voting in UK elections rule, also cuts off many living or working abroad from voting in the UK elections.

This is just one of the rules in the LI has been waiting a year to discuss at this years conference and part of the packet of changes that also allows the party to recruit foreign members who reside in the country.  Labour is the only party in Europe that excludes foreign residents from membership.  Last year LI thought the most important issue facing the party was the way we selected our MPs and to ensure it was not just a job for life but selection became a normal event.  Because LI does not have an MP it was clear we were not being nasty about any MP but wanted to facilitate CLPs to elect MPs in the same clear principled way it elects officers and delegates. 

Over the past months Labour International has been trying to whittle down about 6 major issues into an acceptable motion for conference.  As we had a rule change for the past 2 years we voted to go for policy this year.  All our voting is electronic so every member gets the opportunity to vote on every major issue. So our motions ranged this year from Green New Deal,to save the world from total disaster, Brexit to save everyone from a no deal, Free movement and Migrant Rights and trigger ballots for MPs, so we recently had a ballot of all members to select our motion.

Watch this space.....

Meanwhile we elected our thirteen delegates ensuring a balance of gender, disabled and BAME which is no easy task with 3 thousand members worldwide.  But happily that has been achieved and we are ready for Brighton in September.  Sadly Brighton conference centre is 40 years old and is no longer fit for 10 thousand delegates and the media circus that camps at all conferences.  The main conference Hall is on an upper floor and only 2 lifts mean there are queues of wheelchairs at each break in conference business.  Labour has an active disabled group and I'm sure the party arrangements committee have received a long list of complaints about the venue. 

Outside of the Conference Centre of course Brighton has Resturant's and Hotel's to meet most tastes although complaints are heard from Northern delegates about the price of a pint of beer. But austerity and council cuts have dug deep in most towns in the uk. Brighton is no exception, even 2 years ago every doorway held a sleeping body often guarded by a dog.  Everywhere looked neglected and rather sad.  As much as I enjoy going to conference, especially meeting friends and comrades it makes me sad to see how badly years of Tory rule have brought even beautiful Brighton to its knees.

I will report again if conference takes place so please watch this space.

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