Letter: Labour policy reform stifles grassroots

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report ("Defiant activists to fight Blair on reforms", 23 June) of widespread opposition to the conduct of the "Labour into Power" exercise is timely and generally accurate.

However, the document circulated in February was for discussion only. Detailed proposals will not be published until the autumn, shortly before Annual Conference, and no one knows what they will be. Those likely to be most affected, constituencies and affiliated organisations, will have virtually no opportunity to discuss or amend them before final decisions are made. More time is vital if the process is to have credibility in the wider party.

The process is not criticised primarily on the grounds that it "will take power from the grassroots". Past debates on unilateralism showed that whatever Conference says, ultimately the party leadership decides policy.

The anxiety is that if constituencies and affiliates are unable to submit resolutions, the grassroots will be unable to initiate debate or even to express an opinion. Far from "neutralising internal strife" this may exacerbate it by removing any forum for the orderly discussion of legitimate concerns. Further, it will make Labour the only major party whose Conference does not debate constituency party resolutions, making the Conservatives look democratic in comparison.

SIMON McKEOWN

ANN BLACK

TIM PENDRY

Steering Committee

Labour Reform

Birmingham

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