How Aylesbury Labour Party Works: A Beginner's Guide
Your local party
Joining a political party can be very daunting. Everyone seems to know the rules and understand strange new words and abbreviations. Working out how to be an effective member can take a long time without some help and guidance.
The main thing is that you will be joining a friendly and supportive group of like minded people, and being part of Aylesbury CLP will be rewarding and fun, so read the rest of this guide, and hopefully we will see you at the next meeting.
WHAT IS THE CONSTITUENCY LABOUR PARTY (CLP)?
Everyone who joins the national Labour Party is also automatically granted membership to their local Labour Party, called the ‘Constituency Labour Party’ (CLP). A CLP is based on the electoral district for a MP. The constituency boundaries are drawn up on the basis of adult population numbers by the Boundaries Commission, an independent and impartial advisory public body.
Some CLPs function as one group and hold meetings that are open to all members, known as ‘All Member Meetings’ (AMMs), whereas other CLPs are divided into branches or wards and elect delegates to a General Management Committee.
Aylesbury CLP has monthly AMMs. For details of the next AMM, check our Events page or contact the CLP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT HAPPENS AT LOCAL CLP MEETINGS?
Local meetings try to be friendly and welcoming, especially to new members. They follow very traditional forms used in most voluntary organisations. There is a Chair, a Secretary and a local Treasurer plus other representatives, e.g. for women, young people, Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation and inclusion. CLPs should send out notices at least one week in advance of the meeting date, and there might also be a calendar on a local Labour Party Website or Facebook Page setting out regular dates, times and venues. In Aylesbury our AMMs are shown on our Events Page. On your membership card, you will have the email address of your local Secretary, who you can contact for any enquiries. Alternatively you can contact Aylesbury CLP at email@example.com.
Meetings have agendas and are followed with minutes of any decisions taken. Depending on the size and membership of your particular party, either all members can attend and contribute (as in Aylesbury) or, in areas with a branch/ward structure, elected delegates from branches or ward meetings can come, join in discussions and vote on any motions put forward. Members can propose a motion on a suitable subject to be put on the agenda for discussion and a vote. These should be sent two weeks in advance of the AMM by email to the Secretary. Some meetings may have invited speakers and/or interesting subjects tabled for discussion. Local Councillors and the local MP may also attend these meetings.
WHO RUNS THE CLP?
The CLP is run by the Officers elected each year by local members at their Annual General Meeting (AGM). The principal Officers are the:
- Vice-Chair Campaigns
- Vice-Chair Membership
- Women's Officer
There are also a number of other posts and inclusion officers (LGBT+, Disability, Youth etc.) who may also be part of the Executive Committee.
These Officers form part of an Executive Committee (EC) who, together with elected co-ordinators, put any decisions taken into action, create a programme of activities, solve problems and divide up the work. The EC is accountable to the CLP.
Glossary of Commonly Used Terms and Abbreviations in Politics
Act - is a new Law, enforceable in the courts once it has been passed by a vote in the Houses of Commons and Lords and received the Royal Assent.
Bill – a proposed Act of Parliament before it has gone through all the stages it needs to before it becomes Law (first reading, committee stage, second reading etc)
BLP- Branch Labour Party
Branch - a sub-division of the CLP usually along the boundaries of local Wards
CLP – Constituency Labour Party (local labour party)
Composite motion – an overarching motion that brings together several similar motions into one and which encompasses the main points.
Compositor – a person tasked with drafting composite motions
Division – When MPs divide up to vote in the House of Commons.
Government Funded Charities – Independent not-for-profit businesses funded by the Government to fulfil certain social responsibilities. Motability and the National Lotteries Board come under this category.
Green Paper – a consultative document which sets out the governments’ ideas on a particular change in the law.
LG - Local Labour Group – organisation of members of the Labour Party who have been elected to the local Council.
LCF – Local Campaigns Forum – A forum of all CLPs within a borough organising and funding a local campaign to secure the (re) election of local candidates to the Council.
Membersnet - a resource for all Labour Party members to access for information on Labour Party Rules and procedures and national and local activities.
Motion - a carefully worded proposal which proposes action to be agreed or
undertaken. Motions should be seconded by another member and are put to the vote at meetings after speakers for and against. If an amendment is proposed they have to follow the same procedure as for motions. If passed, the amended version is put to the vote and is either passed or rejected on a simple majority.
NEC – National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.
Private Sector - Organisations and businesses which are owned by private individuals, or Share Holders for the purpose of making a profit for those individuals.
Public Sector - is usually comprised of organisations that are owned and operated by the government and exist to provide services for its citizens. Organisations in the public sector do not seek to generate a profit. If they do generate a surplus it is re-invested by the Government to develop services. They are funded by, and are ultimately accountable to the public. (Many ‘public’ services are outsourced by National and Local Government to private ‘providers’ such as Virgin Care, and G4S, who consequently profit from our taxes)
Standing Orders – rules which govern procedures and behaviours at meetings.
Teller – a person who counts votes, especially those by a show of hands at a meeting.
Voluntary Sector - sometimes called the ‘Third Sector’ it consists of organisations which raise funds from public or private sources, but which do not make a profit. For this reason they have to rely on constant fundraising. They are usually answerable to a board of Trustees and must follow charity law.
Ward – a geographical area denoting the area of responsibility for local councillors. There will be several Wards in a CLP.
White Paper – a document setting out detailed proposals on a particular change to the law. This is still of a consultative nature.