21 December 2013
On Labour Party Reform - my submission to the Collins Review
The Labour Party’s internal problems are largely down to a lack of ethical standards in the party culture.
I joined Labour around three years ago and it has become clear to me that conflicts of interest are rife in party organisation, seemingly at all levels, and are exploited widely by those in positions of responsibility.
The way we do things is who we are, and the way we organise processes is often dominated by group- and self-interests rather than commitment to any values or ethics. There is a culture of fixing which encompasses all factions and all powerful groupings within the party, not just the major unions. The ethical framework this relies upon is anti-ethical, the justification being that it is right to fix and manipulate processes in order to secure the right result. This is anti-democratic and indicative of the poor state of democratic culture and practice within the party.
Also, positive discrimination processes contribute to generalised double standards in the party culture, in which poor behaviour by those within favoured groupings is accepted and forgiven out of ideology, and goes unchallenged. There is a deep and damaging discrimination here in the assumption that some people are not capable of decent standards of behaviour. We should expect the same standards from all representatives and party officials. This is true equality.
· All party officials, representatives and candidates sign a code of conduct, perhaps in some sort of ceremony, committing them to good standards of behaviour and a new statement of Labour values (see below).
· Draw up a new statement of values detailing publicly how we expect Labour officials and representatives to fulfil their roles. These values should include equality, honesty, integrity, accountability, transparency and a commitment to democratic practices.
· Create a division within national and regional party organisations for running and promoting democratic processes and culture in the party, with those filling the roles committed to absolute neutrality between factions and individuals in all internal elections.