Chair’s Report 26th July
As members will all be aware, the National Executive Committee (NEC) deemed that branch meetings should be suspended until the result of the leadership election is announced. As I understand it, there are still some branches ignoring the NEC ruling and convening meetings, but to what effect? I ask this as any resolutions passed will have no standing. It was for this very reason that I, along with Nick our Branch Secretary, pre-empted the NEC decision by calling a special branch meeting, allowing members to express their views regarding not only any support or opposition for the present leader, but any issues they thought relevant. It also allowed for resolutions to be debated before the NEC came to its final decision, and placed them on record.
We are now of course in the ridiculous situation whereby not only is the election of the leadership of the Party in the hands of the judges, but members who have been disenfranchised following another NEC decision, are also challenging that decision in the High Court. Here, given the nature of our legal system, and I speak as a trade unionist who has personal experience of such legal proceedings, the Party as a political body could in the worst case scenario be either destroyed, or split. Also, as legal proceedings are often long drawn out, it could mean that no decision on the leadership could be announced in September at the Labour Party Annual Conference in Liverpool. This especially so if the disenfranchised members win their case. That could well mean that the ballot was illegal and would need to be re-run.
However in writing this short report, I would like to thank all members for the way they have conducted themselves at this difficult time. Members hold strong views on the matters in hand, and they have presented their arguments and concerns in a comradely way. This approach was very much in evidence at our recent specially convened Branch Meeting. 82 members attended but no-one was shouted down, and everyone who wanted to speak was allowed to make their position clear. For this as Chair I would like to thank members for their approach to the meeting, especially as I approached it with some trepidation given the strong feelings held by all those attending.
What the future holds for the Party is of course still unclear, but given the resolve shown by members in the Bridport and District Labour Party, I am sure we will persevere.