Rule Book and How to Write a Motion

The Labour Party Rule Book

A copy of the Labour Party’s 2020 Rule Book can be downloaded here.
The sections of particular relevance to CLPs are:

  • Chapter 7 – Rules for CLPs
  • Chapter 15 – Model procedural rules
  • Appendix 7 – Procedural guidelines for the general organisation of Constituency Labour Parties

How to Write a Motion

Motions can be a very useful tool to put pressure on your MP, the CLP executive, Labour Councillors or just help to lead to political clarity on a particular political issue.Ideally, a motion should be short, to the point and ask somebody to do something (the branch, the MP, the CLP etc). Check that any factual points are accurate – motions that have inaccuracies are less likely to be selected. You should also not rely on a single source, especially if it is a newspaper article or a campaign.The policy recommendations are the most important part of the motion and what you should give most thought to. A common problems is that they contain a lot of criticisms and a detailed description of the problem but are thin, unclear or entirely negative in their conclusions.It is better to stick to a few substantial points which make for a coherent plan, rather than a long list of small changes. The best motions are structured as follows:

  • a) Description of the issue or problem which the motion seeks to address
  • b) The Labour Party principle(s) which underlie the solution
  • c) Highlighting existing Labour Party policies which will contribute to the solution
  • d) The further policy proposals which normally conclude the motion and are its most important element.

A motion needs to be submitted by a ‘mover’ in writing and somebody needs to ‘second’ it at the meeting itself. For a motion to be heard by a CLP meeting, it needs to have been voted through by a branch. Please note that notifications for branch and CLP meetings are sent out with (a minimum of) one week’s notice, but motions need to be submitted to the secretary two weeks in advance of that meeting.It also means that it takes a full month for a motion to go through the branch and then the CLP –you should consider that with any time-sensitive issues. The exception is an emergency motion, which must be submitted in writing to the secretary as soon as the emergency allows it. However, it is up to the chair of a meeting to decide if the motion deals with a real emergency (see below on how to challenge a decision by the chair).Amendments and deletions can be moved and seconded from the floor of a meeting, but shall be handed to the secretary in writing. If an amendment or deletion is carried with a simple majority, the amended motion becomes a motion to which further amendments may be moved. Motions are carried with a simple majority. In the event of there being an equality of votes, the chair may give a casting vote provided that s/he has not used an ordinary vote. If the chair does not wish to give a casting vote, the motion is not carried.

Where motions go

In theory motions can go just about anywhere. Below is a list outlining the main bodies involved once a motion is passed by a Branch Labour Party (BLP):

The Constituency Labour Party (CLP)

The majority of motions passed at branch level will be for the consideration of the Constituency Labour Party. The nature of this process is outlined above. Subject to amendments and approval by the General Committee when the motion is discussed, the motion will then go to either the Local Campaign Forum (Manchester City Party), the Manchester Labour Group, the National Policy Forum or an outside body such a pressure group (usually in the form of correspondence from the CLP Secretary).

The Local Campaign Forum (The City Party) or Labour Group

A motion which specifically addresses a change in policy at Local Government level, once passed, will then be sent to either the Local Campaign Forum or the local Labour Group. Once sent by the CLP Secretary the motion will then be discussed by the Executive bodies of either body to decipher whether or not the motion is in fact ‘bona fide’ – relevant to the body in question, and suitable to be sent to the General Committee of the body in question.Subject to this process being successful, the motion will then be discussed at the body’s next formal GC meeting. Should the motion be agreed at the LCF, the Executive will pursue the necessary actions and the LCF Secretary will see to it that the CLP Secretary is updated formally via correspondence.Should the motion be agreed at the Labour Group, this will constitute a formal change in local policy and will require the relevant Executive Member and Leader of the Group to take thenecessary actions. Again the Group Secretary will see to it that the CLP Secretary is updated formally through correspondence. The National Policy Forum: a motion which requests a change in policy at a national level will be submitted to the National Policy Forum by the CLP Secretary. This is done via an online platform, which allows members to follow a motion’s progress online. Motions in this process may also reach full Labour Party Conference in the autumn of each year, where the Conference Arrangements Committee will then contact the CLP Secretary asking for speakers (in form of delegates) to address conference.More information can be found on the Policy Forum website, by clicking here.

Outside bodies, such as pressure groups

Some motions will fall outside of national or local policy making, and aim to change the direction of an external body such as an NGO, a pressure group or a local business. In these cases, the motion will usually delegate authority to the CLP Executive, particularly the CLP Secretary, to continue future discussions and enact correspondence on behalf of the General Committee, reporting back at the earliest opportunity to a full meeting of the General Committee.