Constituency Labour Party
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A constituency Labour Party (CLP) is an organisation of members of the British Labour Party who live in a particular UK parliamentary constituency in England, Scotland and Wales. The Labour Party in Northern Ireland has, since February 2009, been organised as a province-wide constituency Labour Party which is yet to contest elections.
For much of the Labour Party's history, especially during the 1980s, CLPs were perceived as the more left wing faction in the Labour Party, with the unions being a more moderate or pragmatic force.
A CLP's main decision-making body is normally its General Committee or All Member Meeting. Day-to-day management is generally carried out by the Executive Committee (EC).
|General Committee (GC)||The GC is made up of delegates elected from the Branch Labour Parties (BLP), local branches of affiliated Trade Unions, Socialist Societies, the local branch of the Co-operative Party, BLP secretaries and CLP officers. Other CLP members may usually attend but not vote. The GC may sometimes be referred to as the General Management Committee (GMC). In many CLPs, the GC has now been replaced by the All Member Meeting (AMM), where all members in the CLP may attend and vote.|
|Executive Committee (EC)||Manages the CLP. Appointed by and reports to the GC. The EC is generally constituted in the same manner but with fewer delegates from each branch and affiliate.|
|Branch Labour parties (BLP)||The BLP is the basic local geographic unit for the Labour Party, and is where local party members gather at the most local level. Local BLPs usually have boundaries which follow local government boundaries, commonly wards. The membership of branches is drawn from members of the party who reside or are registered to vote within the area covered by the branch.|
|Young Labour Group||May be established to co-ordinate work among young members. May be established covering any number of neighbouring CLPs.|
|Ethnic Minorities Forum||May be established to co-ordinate work among black, Asian, minority ethnic (BAME) members.|
|Workplace branches||May be established to represent the either the Labour supporting workers or to represent the Labour Party in the workplace.|
|Campaign Committee||Co-ordinates public activity of the CLP.|
|Women's Forum||May be established to co-ordinate work among women members.|
The Labour Party Rule Book establishes the CLP offices as chair, vice-chair, vice-chair/membership, secretary, Youth Officer, treasurer, women’s officer and ethnic minorities officer. These officer are referred to as the Key Officers.
CLPs may appoint additional "functional officers" such as a campaign co-ordinator, a political education and training officer, an information technology officer, a disability officer, a trade union liaison officer and a fundraising officer who may attend meetings of the Executive Committee (without voting power if they are not otherwise EC delegates).
The CLP elects representatives to national Party structures, including delegates to Labour Party Conference, and it nominates candidates for election to other Party positions such as the National Policy Forum and the National Executive Committee, as well as Party structures within Scotland, Wales or the appropriate English region.
As a result of changes proposed as part of the Party's 21st Century Party review, some CLPs have chosen to make changes in the way that they run. Some CLPs have merged the GC and EC into a single committee, whilst some CLPs have abolished the GC entirely and organize all-member meetings to take decisions. Other CLPs, particularly in urban areas divided between a number of constituencies, have chosen to combine their activities with neighbouring CLPs.
CLP committees have generally met on a monthly basis however some have chosen to meet more infrequently and organise all-member meetings or policy forums in intervening months. Changes to the standard model of operation for CLPs require permission from the Party's National Executive Committee, however this practice can be devolved to National or Regional (paid) Officers of the Party.
Local Government Committees
CLPs also elect representative to Local Campaign Forums (LCFs) which aim to get Labour Councillors elected and then oversee the work of Labour Councillors on a specific principal local authority. LCFs replaced Local Government Committees in Autumn 2011 as part of the Labour Party's Refounding Labour agenda. Where the boundaries of a local authority are the same as those used for a parliamentary constituency the GC will also assume the role of LCF.
The LCF may be referred to in some areas by the older title of District Labour Party (DLP) where it is overseeing a district council and County Labour Party where it is overseeing the work of a shire county council.
Selection of parliamentary candidates
Functions of the CLP include selecting the local Labour Party candidate for a national parliamentary General Election.
Where there is a sitting Labour MP, the CLP organises a 'trigger ballot' to decide whether it wishes to carry out the full selection procedure outlined below or simply endorse the sitting MP as their candidate at the next election. It is unusual for a sitting MP to 'lose' their trigger ballot.
In the event that the MP is not a Labour MP, or the sitting MP is retiring or has lost their trigger ballot, a full selection is organised. The CLP must follow the procedures agreed by the National Executive Committee including whether or not the selection will be carried out from an open or all-women shortlist.
The CLP can choose whether or not to select a candidate on the Labour Party's Panel of approved candidates. However, should the CLP select a candidate not on the Panel its decision is subject to the National Executive Committee retrospectively satisfying itself that the candidate reaches the standard required to join the Panel.
In this and other circumstances (for example new information emerging about a candidate subsequent to their selection) the National Executive Committee has exercised its power to block a CLPs initial choice of candidate, which has on occasion proved controversial.
- Pelling, H: Short History of the Labour Party (8th Edition), page 183 and 187. Macmillan Press, 1986.
- Labour Party Rule Book 2008, p.39