Letter: New Labour is small on policies

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was amazed at your misleading story ('Unions refuse to let Labour kill the block vote', 3 October) regarding the supposed 'resurrection' of the block vote at the Labour Party conference.

I have been a constituency delegate to Labour's annual conference on several occasions. There has been no occasion when I have not been mandated to vote in accordance with the policies of that constituency. Although delegates are not normally instructed on how to vote on every dot and comma of the agenda, broad principles, agreed democratically at a constituency mandating meeting, must be adhered to: without this agreement delegates might as well be gathered in at random from the street, innocent of information other than their own personal preferences and prejudices. On particularly controversial issues, I have indeed requested a specific mandate for or against such an issue, to avoid grumbles on my return.

A 'delegate' is exactly that: a representative of a wider body, scrupulously adhering to the principles of that body. Even if one votes individually, that does not mean one is entitled to vote eclectically.

Yours faithfully,

NANCY IRWIN

Croydon, Surrey

3 October

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