Guide to Labour Party Conference 2018




Many thanks for downloading Labour First’s Delegate’s Guide to Conference. This document is intended as an aid for moderate delegates attending Labour Party Conference 2018. Please think of these pages as a rough guide, not a roadmap. Therefore, as we will reaffirm throughout this document, it is very important that delegates attend the Labour First/Progress briefing sessions; read and share our daily briefings; and sign up to email updates to stay informed during conference week.

The Conference Agenda


The Conference timetable will include the following:


  • The National Executive Committee (NEC) Report and any late NEC statements that can be issued to delegates during conference.


  • The Conference NPF Report, including reports from the eight policy commissions of the National Policy Forum.  


  • Contemporary Motions and Emergency Motions.


  • Proposed rule changes from the NEC including the “Democracy Review” and from CLPs – rule change proposals from CLPs are those submitted in the previous year (The ‘one year rule’ does not apply to rule change proposals from the NEC).


  • The election of one CLP rep to the National Constitutional Committee (NCC).

Reports from the eight Policy Commissions


There are now eight policy commissions, which draw up policy reports for discussion by the NPF.


The eight policy commissions (each made up of 16-20 members representing the shadow cabinet, the NEC and the NPF) are: . Early Years, Education and Skills; Economy, Business and Trade; Environment, Energy and Culture; Health and Social Care; Housing, Local Government and Transport; International; Justice and Home Affairs; Work, Pensions and Equality.


Reports from each of these Policy Commissions need to be approved by conference and the relevant sessions are usually held on Monday and Tuesday.


Contemporary Motions (CMs) from CLPs/affiliated organisations


The closing date for submission of a “contemporary motion” was 12 noon on 13th September 2018.  Each CLP can send one Contemporary Motion provided that they have not already submitted a rule amendment in 2018. The Contemporary Motion must be no more than 250 words and cover a topic that has arisen since 6th August 2018.  CLPs need to ensure that the subject has not been substantively addressed by the NPF or NEC and it must be on one subject only. Contemporary motions will be selected at the ‘priorities ballot’ on the Sunday morning of Conference. The Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) mets on Monday 17th September to rule on which of the motions selected are valid and can go forward to the priorities ballot.


Emergency Motions


Emergency resolutions may be submitted on matters that arise after the final date for submitting Contemporary Motions.  To be valid, the CAC must determine whether Emergency Motion:


  • Could not reasonably have been the subject of a Contemporary Motion.  
  • Should not appear elsewhere on the Conference agenda
  • Should cover an issue of urgent and immediate importance to the discussions of the whole party at Annual Conference


It is up to the CAC to rule whether or not Emergency Motions are in order. The Left tend to lobby heavily for as many Emergency Motions as possible in an attempt to push their own agenda and disrupt the business of conference.

Rule changes from the NEC


This year delegates will be voting on the recommendations in Labours ‘Democracy Review’ and on some very contentious rule changes submitted by CLPs in 2017, such as a move to mandatory reselection – all MPs having to face challengers in a full selection process .


Advice in relation to these rule changes will be given to delegates in Labour First’s Daily Briefing as well as by email. The NEC is only finalising what rule changes to include in the Democracy Review on Saturday 22nd September, so there may be some nasty surprises, although the trade unions watered down or deferred many of the more radical proposals in Tuesday’s NEC meeting.

Voting for the National Constitutional Committee (NCC)


The NCC is the committee which deals with serious compliance cases and disciplinary procedures within the Labour Party. Sadly, this has become an increasingly important body in recent years.


Labour First are supporting long serving Councillor and Chair of the South East Regional Board Keith Dibble for the NCC.


Please let us know if you can help distribute campaign literature at the Regional receptions, briefings or outside the conference hall.


Before conference starts, please remember…


Pre-Conference Regional Briefings


Before conference delegates are usually called to at least one briefing meeting in their region.  In the last few years the practice has developed of handing delegates who attend these meetings their conference credentials and other conference material (rail tickets through the pooled fare scheme, will be sent to home addresses).  Any delegates unable to attend these briefings must contact their regional office to make alternative arrangements for obtaining their credentials – any delegate without a credential is denied entry to conference. Every CLP delegate (including women and youth delegates) should have their own card vote booklet.  But when voting for the NCC and in the priorities ballot only one delegate votes on behalf of the whole delegation, and who this is should be agreed collectively. Card vote booklets are given to delegates by regional officials before conference starts on Sunday. Otherwise they can be collected from the Ballot Area, probably from 12 noon.


There have been reports in recent years of Hard Left activists using the regional briefings to manipulate first-time delegates by pushing CLPD campaign material (The Yellow Pages) as if it is the official Labour Party line. They have also been known to use these meetings to push the fallacy that most delegates are ‘mandated’ by their CLPs. THERE IS NO SUCH THING IN THE PARTY RULES AS ‘MANDATING’ OF DELEGATES. There is no need to argue this case directly with those pushing this line, just be confident in the knowledge that you are there to represent your CLP as you see fit and there is nothing in the rulebook about mandating. Please pass this information on to other delegates who are unsure on the issue of mandating.


The reason that the Hard Left get so exercised over this issue is that they know the only sanction against a delegate who does not abide by a so-called ‘mandate’ is that they will not elect them as a conference delegate again. Which – seeing as they don’t vote for moderate delegates anyway – isn’t really much of a threat!


Please use the regional briefings and receptions to get to know your fellow delegates. Bonds you can form or swing delegates you can win over to your side could be the difference between winning and losing crucial votes.

Labour First Rally


The Labour First Rally will be held at 6pm on Monday 24th September at the The Liverpool Pub, 14 James Street , Liverpool, L2 7PQ.


This is always one of the highlights of Labour Party Conference. It is a great opportunity for moderates to meet like-minded members and hear from prominent Labour voices on the current state of the Labour Party. In the past this event has received coverage in the national media.


Progress Rally


The Progress Rally will be held at 6pm on Sunday 23 September at The Atrium, Museum of Liverpool, Pier Head, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 1DG


The Progress rally is one of the major fixtures of the Labour party conference calendar and we look forward to being joined by hundreds of party members at this year’s event.

Speakers: Luciana Berger MP; Yvette Cooper MP; Stella Creasy MP; Liz Kendall MP; Alison McGovern MP; Jonathan Reynolds MP; Wes Streeting MP; Cllr Clare Coghill; Cllr Tom Beattie, Matt Ball, Community, Melantha Chittenden, co-chair LGBT Labour; Ayesha Hazarika, broadcaster and comedian; Stephanie Lloyd, deputy director, Progress; Mary Wimbury, Progress strategy board.

To get your ticket for the rally and all our conference go to and head to the labour conference events page



Labour First publishes a daily briefing sheet on behalf of all the moderate organisations.

Labour First relies almost exclusively on volunteers (we have only one paid member of staff). We are always on the lookout for people to distribute our daily briefings, sign up new subscribers and communicate our recommendations on conference floor. If you can volunteer at any point over conference weekend, please let Matt Pound from Labour First know (07727 606999).


Conference Times


Conference starts at 10.30am on Sunday, 10.15am on Monday and Tuesday, and 9.00am on Wednesday.


Delegates should arrive early each day as the security arrangements involve long delays and on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday there is almost invariably an attempt by the Hard Left to move “reference back” on the CAC report i.e. to challenge the agenda or the way votes are being taken. Please look after your documentation carefully, as any delegate who misplaces documentation will need to report to the CAC for replacements (before conference opens, the Secretary of the CAC can be contacted at the NEC hotel).   Delegates need to be in conference from the start of each session since this is when the CAC gives its very important reports.


Make sure you take the time to plan where you’re going to be and what time you have to be there every day. Particularly if you are a first-time delegate, aim to arrive at everything 20-30mins early. You will never be penalised for being early.


Speaking in the debates


During the debates there will be a platform introductory speech and a platform reply. During policy debates members of Policy Commissions will move reports.  Ordinary delegates are invited to speak but usually limited to three minutes on the platform. We will need moderate delegates to put themselves forward to speak out in favour of our position.


If you are planning on speaking in a debate, please let someone at Labour First or Progress know (contact details on the final page). We can provide you with top tips on how to get noticed by the Chair and hopefully increase the likelihood of getting picked.


As always, our position on various votes will be laid out in our daily conference briefing. When speaking on the platform, please remember to keep it concise, making one or two clear points. Please try to stick to the allotted time and bear in mind you will be trying to win over swing delegations, not rile Momentum up or preach to the converted.


Voting at Conference


Voting takes place at the end of a conference session and is normally by show of hands unless a card vote is requested by a delegate or by the chair (voting on rule changes is always by card). A card vote means that each CLP or affiliate casts votes equal in value to its membership size, these are then counted in two sections, 50% of the vote is allocated to CLPs and 50% to affiliates. CLPs can split their card votes i.e. delegates from a CLP each get am equal share of the CLP’s card vote and can vote in opposite directions.

Important Debates, Reports, Votes


Sunday Morning – CAC Report 1


CAC Report No 1 (and the Delegates Report) is moved by the Chair of the CAC.  CAC Report 1 gives details of the definitively agreed timetable for the week. Despite the left now having a majority on CAC, the Hard Left will undoubtedly look to ‘Reference Back’ on the CAC’s decisions regarding contemporary motions and rule change amendments which have been ruled out of order.  Each day there is at least one report from the CAC, some are written some are verbal. Momentum and other Hard Left groups actively encourage their members to challenge CAC decisions, regardless of their legitimacy. We will need delegates in the conference hall to speak against referencing back and keep conference business moving along.


Sunday Morning - The Priorities Ballot


Contemporary Motions ruled in order by the CAC will be grouped into subjects and published in CAC Report 1 available on Sunday morning at delegation meetings, from the Party stand and when delegates enter the Conference Hall.  These subject headings then go into the Priorities Ballot, which will be held on Sunday, probably between 10.30am and 3pm. Our Priorities Ballot recommendations on which 4 topics to vote for will be widely available in advance through social media and our daily briefings.


PLEASE NOTE: The Priorities Ballot will be issued to the first delegate who arrives to collect it on the Sunday morning. They are not obliged to wait for the rest of the delegation to arrive in order to cast their vote, so make sure you get there first!


Due to the way the Priorities Ballot is conducted – through a ‘4 and 4’ formula – it is guaranteed that the top four motion subjects voted on by the unions and the top four subjects voted on by the CLPs, will be debated.  


Brexit and the Peoples Vote


For many delegates the most important debate facing our country and conference is Brexit and how as a party we can stop it. Ever since last year’s conference, when delegates were deprived a vote on Brexit policy at the priorities ballot stage – despite having been promised a ‘debate’ on the issue – members have been campaigning for this year to be different. And this year, many of you will want to make sure we follow the vast majority of members wishes and fully support the People’s Vote.


While we have been delighted to see the TUC Conference fully support this position along with unions such as the GMB and UNISON nothing is set in stone. We urge as many members as possible to therefore vote for the People’s Vote in the priorities ballot between 10:30 and 3pm.


If Brexit is chosen and your constituency was one of the 125 CLPs that put forward a motion on Brexit please also be free to attend the compositing meeting  on Sunday evening, further details below.


Our friends from Progress will also be supporting LabourSay.EU at the People’s Vote March for the Many on Sunday at conference in Liverpool and would like to see as many there as possible.


If you would like to find out more about how you can support this campaign please call Matthew Faulding on 07872448700.


Sunday evening – Contemporary Motion compositing meetings


The delegates involved with the successful CM topics emerging from the Priority Ballot (announced at the end of the Sunday afternoon session) will be requested to attend compositing meetings on Sunday evening.  Most meetings will begin at 6.30pm but some will be later at 7.30pm or 8.00pm. Every delegate must attend, unless they are given permission by the CAC to be absent and in this case the words of their motion can be used.  If you don’t do this your text disappears and can’t be used. At these meetings delegates will meet the relevant NEC Policy Commission co-convenor and shadow ministers to discuss how the subject could be taken forward. If there are multiple motions on the same topic the text is composited (merged) into one motion if everyone agrees, or more than one if there is text that is taking opposing political positions. Speakers to propose and second the subject on the Conference floor will also be chosen.


If you are invited to the compositing meeting please immediately let us know by calling either Matt Pound, Luke Akehurst or Matthew Faulding (contact details below).


Monday/Tuesday - Reports from the seven Policy Commissions


Reports from each of these Policy Commissions need to be approved by conference and the relevant sessions are usually held on Monday and Tuesday.

Morning Sessions - Referring back sections of the CAC reports and NEC reports


As already mentioned, we will need people in the hall first thing on most days to prevent attempts by the hard left to ‘reference back’ the daily CAC report if the CAC has taken decisions they disagree with.

Tuesday – NCC Ballot


As already mentioned we are supporting Keith Dibble for NCC. Each CLP can vote for one candidate as there is one vacancy. Remember, the vote on this ballot cannot be split between delegates.


PLEASE NOTE: Just like the Priorities Ballot, the NCC ballot will be issued to the first delegate who arrives to collect it on the Tuesday morning. They are not obliged to wait for the rest of the delegation to arrive in order to cast their vote, so make sure you get there first!


Tuesday Morning – Rule Changes

We are waiting to see the full package of rule changes proposed by the NEC in the Democracy Review, as the final decisions are taking place on Saturday.

e6 Most of the rule changes submitted by CLPs and affiliates in 2017 (listed on p.14 of the official Delegates’ Report), which would ordinarily be guaranteed to go to the vote now, will have been superseded by changes on similar topics that are woven into the Democracy Review proposals. Please, look out for our daily briefing for our recommended position on all rule changes that will be voted on.

Key Contacts/Information

Matt Pound - National Organiser, Labour First

07727 606999


Matthew Faulding - Progress

07872 448700


Stephanie Loyd - Deputy Director, Progress

07412 658304


Luke Akehurst - Secretary, Labour First

07949 152562


This guide can be downloaded at