The saga of Warwick II Print E-mail
Friday, 01 August 2008 00:00

This year, for the first time, following pressure from Unions and CLPs, backed by CLPD, the constituencies were given the right to submit textual amendments to the 6 final-stage NPF documents. CLPs were able to submit as many amendments as they wished. But, instead of going direct to the NPF at Warwick II (25/27 July), they went instead to one of eleven regional meetings (each consisting of 7 NPF reps – 5 regional CLP reps and 2 reps elected by the whole region). Altogether over 200 CLPs submitted a grand total of some 4,000 amendments.The large majority of these sought a change of direction towards more progressive policies. At the regional meetings the 7 reps were under no obligation to progress the amendments, but they were generally encouraged to pick them up and submit them to the NPF in their own names. Around 1,500 of the CLP amendments were picked up and progressed to Warwick II. Given that there was considerable duplication of amendments, it seems likely that the vast majority of the CLP amendments were progressed. In addition, the other members of the 190-strong NPF were able to submit textual amendments to Warwick II. Many took this opportunity, especially the trade unions and the four CLGA – supported members of the NEC (Ann Black, Christine Shawcroft, Peter Willsman and Walter Wolfgang). Altogether over 2,000 amendments were submitted to the NPF.

At Warwick, the Friday (25 July) was taken up by some 400 meetings between groups of NPF reps and ministers on specific policy areas, in an attempt to agree “consensus wording”. The Saturday was given over to ‘workshops’, where the NPF reps discussed the agreed consensus wording and the outstanding amendments. At the same time, lots of side meetings with ministers were held to search for an elusive consensus. The side meetings involving union reps continued until nearly 6am on Sunday morning. Throughout this time individual reps with specific amendments were hunted down by earnest officials clutching “consensus wording”. It has to be said that this process of ‘cutting and sticking’ was much more fraught and unprofessional than the well-ordered arrangements for compositing on the Saturday afternoons in the pre ‘Partnership in Power’ days. And yet, of course, devious Blairites are still trying to re-write history by pouring scorn on those good old days.
During the weekend several meetings of CLP reps were called by Simon Burgess, NPF Vice-Chair representing CLPs. The 6 CLP reps on the NEC were deliberately excluded from these meetings. This was somewhat insulting, given that most of the CLP NPF reps are only elected by a handful of unmandated CLP delegates at Annual Conference, whereas the NEC reps are elected by some 20,000 party members.
It would be fair to say that the 1,500 amendments that originated from CLPs did set something of a progressive mood to the weekend and, no doubt, assisted the Unions to achieve a better result. Nevertheless, as was clear in Sunday’s plenary, there were distinct limits on just how progressive the NPF was prepared to be. Following their agreements with Ministers, the Unions, as a block, agreed to abstain on all amendments covering Iraq/Afghanistan, the 42 days, Trident and anything that could conceivably be considered to “cut across” the union agreements.
On Sunday, in the final plenary, all outstanding amendments were voted upon. There were 161 NPF reps present at the start of the meeting. Of these some 65 were CLP reps from across all the sections (this included 5 CLP reps supported by the CLGA (the 4 NEC members and Carol Hayton, South East Region). There were some 50 TU reps present from across all the sections. 81 votes or more therefore represented a majority, and meant that an amendment was endorsed into the final document. 41 votes or more (25%) meant that an amendment went forward to Annual Conference as a Minority Position. In many cases the Platform contended that the outstanding amendments were covered by the ‘consensus wording’, but several movers pressed for a vote because they were not entirely convinced by this argument.
The voting on each of the 6 documents was as follows (NB: not all votes are included and, in some cases, the voting figures are estimates):

Britain in the World
Opposing military “humanitarian intervention” (Wolfgang) 5 votes
Phased withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan (Hayton) 5 votes
Show support to Venezuela and call for end of US blockage of Cuba and of military aid to Colombian military (Wolfgang) 6 votes
Middle East – welcome Carter’s initiative and the International Court of Justice (9/7/4) (Wolfgang) 5 votes
Opposition to US Missile Defence System in UK, Poland and Czech Republic (Wolfgang) 6 votes
No replacement of Trident (Hayton) 5 votes

Creating Sustainable Communities
Fur labelling (Mark Glover) Endorsed
Opposition to Proportional Representation for local council elections (Stella Matthews) Endorsed
Opposition to new nuclear power stations (Hayton) 5 votes
Moratorium on any further directly elected mayors (Willsman) 5 votes

Crime, Justice, Citizenship and Equalities
Standardise discrimination law and address gaps (Simon Wright) 33 votes
Wholly elected House of Lords (Alon Orbach) Endorsed
Independent review of civil legal aid system (Jeremy Beecham) 41 votes (Minority Position)
National network of law centres (Willsman) 5 votes
Opposition to ID cards (Wolfgang) 5 votes
Expand democratic representation of police authorities (Beecham) 55 votes (Minority Position)
Reduction from 42 days pre-charge detention (Wolfgang) 6 votes

Education and Skills
At least one-third of governors at academies to be parent governors (Willsman) 33 votes
Selection – amending balloting arrangements (Black) 31 votes
Independent research re academies (Hayton) 6 votes
Abolition of tuition fees (Wolfgang) 4 votes

Health
Choice should not be used as a basis for creating competition In the NHS (Hayton) 5 votes
Moratorium on Foundation Hospitals (Wolfgang) 6 votes
Abolish prescription charges (Wolfgang) 5 votes No further expansion of private sector in NHS. Contracts for ITCS to be ended (Shawcroft) 5 votes
Commissioning will not be outsourced to commercial companies (Hayton) 5 votes

Prosperity and Work
ESAs etc to be increased annually in line with average earnings (Black) 8 votes
Strengthening enforcement of National Minimum Wage (Daniel Zeichner) 28 votes
Revise Bank of England’s inflation target upwards to protect jobs (Willsman) 3 votes
From 2010 restore link between pensions and earnings (Wolfgang) 5 votes
Windfall Tax on energy and oil companies hypothecated to alleviate fuel and child poverty (Willsman) 5 votes
Progressive taxation – 10p tax band; 50p rate over 100,000; remove ceiling on national insurance contributions (Willsman) 5 votes