Updated: Sep 11, 2021
The caucus has been taking a break over August, reconvening to address some worrying developments within our Party during the summer break: 1) PARTY MISREPRESENTS THE RESULTS OF WEP'S MEMBERS' ASSEMBLY ON SELF-ID
WEP has been sitting on the published results of the Members' Assembly since December 2020. The findings, it turns out, show an overwhelming support of single-sex spaces: provision of single sex refuges and the use of existing exemptions in the Equality Act 2010.
We are deeply concerned that this outcome has been effectively concealed from both the Party membership and the electorate during the GLA elections earlier this year.
The results show an overwhelming support of single-sex spaces: 'support provision of single sex refuges and the use of existing exemptions in the Equality Act 2010'.
In a Party circular (see below), Mandu Reid describes the Members' Assembly results as a deadlock. It is our view that this misrepresents the results and, in doing so, misleads Party members. The Members Assembly results show a clear majority voting in favour of single-sex exceptions. (Our next blog will address the Members Assembly findings in further detail, please subscribe for updates.)
2) PARTY CANCELS THE MEMBER-WIDE CONSULTATION ON SELF-ID POLICY, AS VOTED FOR BY CONFERENCE IN 2018
It was WEP's intention to consult the membership on the outcome of the Assembly.
However, in recent communications, Mandu Reid states:
"In my view, the biggest threat to (women's) those hard won right's is this debate itself, which is stopping us from coming together around a common cause. That is why I have decided in consultation with the Steering Committee not to run a traditional form-filling consultation, which risks creating further polarisation. Instead I want us to embark on a process of sustained dialogue to help break the deadlock."
In her speech 'The State of Our Community' we are told that the long-awaited (3+ yrs) members' consultation will not happen in any way that we might recognise, but will instead be a 'dialogue':
We welcome this dialogue and we recognise that this work is urgent within our own Party, as it is in wider society. Community-building and cross-party working is the cornerstone of both social and legislative change. It is also one of the underpinning values of our Party.
However, this imagined dialogue should not replace what Conference voted for. To go against the instructions of Conference is undemocratic and unconstitutional.
Simply put, this is not what Conference voted for.
The consultation (referral back to members) is what encouraged many of us to stay in the Party and encouraged many more to join. It has allowed us to remain hopeful, and indeed proud of a party which hasn't shut the door on women.
WE are concerned that replacing the Consultation with this nebulous idea of dialogue will neither be equitable nor protect feminists from the the toxicity that has so far been a trademark of #nodebate. We would like to remind WEP that our attempts to open dialogue on this topic via evidenced discussions and personal testimony for the last 4 years have been largely ignored.
3) LOADED DICE & PARTY DEMOCRACY
UNCONSTITUTIONAL SHRINKING OF THE POLICY COMMITTEE
During the summer, WEP announced (in an unprecedented move away from Party procedure) that that the members of the Policy Committee (elected Party reps) whose terms are coming to an end will not be replaced until next Conference. Essentially, that the expected hustings and elections have been cancelled until Autumn 2022.
Instead of extending their roles until next Conference (ensuring we have activists in place to continue the work of the Party), we now have a huge reduction in member elected positions. A Committee that should have 18 members is now down to 9. We are clear that this move is unconstitutional.
APPOINTED (UNELECTED) DEMOCRACY COMMISSION
We then learned that the Steering Committee had created a ‘Democracy Commission’ and had appointed (unelected) representatives to it. This unexpected move rang alarm bells for many members who are understandably feeling wary at an apparent move even further away from democracy and towards an ever shrinking and autocratic, top-down party structure.
It should be noted that several of the people relieved of their roles by the Steering Committee have also been vocal in their concerns to ensure language about sex is clear when it needs to be and vocal in their support to protect the Equality Act and single sex exceptions.
Party representatives with rich and diverse skills and specialisms have been removed from their roles and replaced with five - ironically unelected - members of a 'Democracy Commission'. Combined with the introdution of unelected deputies to the leader, the ratio of elected versus appointed positions becomes yet more skewed. We feel it is unlikely that this shift will go any way towards aiding a transparent and balanced dialogue.