Motion Writing Workshop
The 28th July saw the Women’s Officer and Coordinator run a workshop for the women members on writing motions.
How to draft a motion – The Basics
A motion should be short and to the point and should ask somebody to do something.
Some key things to consider:
- Check factual points are accurate – motions that have inaccuracies are less likely to be selected. Don’t rely on a single source.
- Make recommendations – a common problem is that motions contain a lot of criticisms and a detailed description of the problem but are thin and unclear in their conclusions.
- Stick to a few substantial points/plan rather than a long list of small changes.
- Check any deadlines – timescales make it important to be aware of any time-sensitive issues.
- Emergency motions – submit in writing to the Secretary as soon as the emergency allows. The Chair/Standing Order Committee will decide if the motion qualifies as an emergency motion.
Motion Writing Tips
Make sure it is:
- Topical, accurate and concise
- Comprehensible and logical
- Likely to prompt good debate
- In a subject area on which it is desirable for the Labour Party to develop or change policy
- Be concise and clear, write in plain English, explain any abbreviations
- Be original – conferences/meetings need exciting, topical debates, even if your motion fails it can still offer the conference a valuable perspective
- Write long, verbose speeches or be repetitive, vague or didactic
- Include quotations or actual sums of money
- Include motions which are already policy
- Submit a motion with more than three parts
- Be afraid to submit a motion, they are key to developing and shaping policy for the future
Each motion contains 3 main sections; notes, believes and resolves.
- This is the section in which you include evidence that supports your motion
- It contains facts and figures – any points made should be factual (and make sure you know where you get your facts from)
- This section is the back bone of your argument, and will help you during debate
- If you feel it necessary, include a list of resources to support your facts
- This is the section in which you state your beliefs
- Tie in your beliefs with the point you are trying to make
- Highlight any existing Labour Party policies which will contribute to the solution
- For example; this CLP believes that bring prosecco to AMMs would make many people happy.
- This is the section in which you write what you actually want the motion to do
- It needs to be a definitive action, otherwise people will get confused
- For example; this CLP mandates that the Chair provides a glass of prosecco to all members who want one at every AMM
- This is the most important section because it will determine what actions are taken should the motion pass
- This can contain specific instructions for specific officers. It can instruct officers or representatives within the BLP/CLP/Party
- It is possible to mandate under the Rule Book but it cannot instruct a Member of Parliament
EVERY MOTION NEEDS A PROPOSER
EVERY MOTION NEEDS A SECONDER
What Happens Next?
- Amendments and deletions can be moved and seconded from the floor of a meeting, but shall be handed to the secretary in writing
- 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 they have not used an ordinary vote. If the Chair does not wish to give a casting vote, the motion is not carried
- 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 to Labour Party Conference
What is the W/CAC?
The Women’s/Conference Arrangements Committee is elected by national conference. It takes office at the end of that conference for a year. Therefore, the annual Party Conference is run by the W/CAC elected at the previous conference. The W/CAC is responsible for deciding the order of debates and plays a significant role in determining which motions submitted to Conference gets discussed.
Who can submit a motion to national conference and how many can a CLP send?
Each trade union, affiliated organisation and CLP may submit one contemporary motion. There are strict rules about what counts as a contemporary motion; it must not be on a subject addressed in a report to the Conference and must be on a contemporary issue (i.e. one that has arisen recently). The W/CAC decides which motions meet the criteria and conducts a ballot of delegates to determine their priorities. At least 4 motions voted as highest priority by CLP delegates are placed on the agenda, as are the 4 voted top by trade union and affiliated organisation delegates.