I keep reading comments which take it as accepted fact that the Bones commission report, and by extension the party leader, is about centralising power within the party and reducing democracy within it.
Now, while this may be the perception of people who haven’t actually followed the report’s progress carefully (and it seems to me at the moment that the number of people who have actually read the report is in inverse proportion to the number who insisted furiously over the summer on their right to read it!) I think anyone has actually read even the summary of it would accept that much of it isn’t about this at all, but about making other, much more operational matters within the party, work better.
But one proposal: the creation of a Chief Officers Group or COG (or in fact more accurately a slight formalisation of this existing loose grouping) does seem to have given to some the impression of greater centralisation. And I accept that on the face of it, there does seem to be a prima facie case here.
But once you actually look at the situation, in fact this isn’t my analysis of this development at all - and I’ll give two reasons why not.
Firstly, the entire Bones report makes no proposals whatsoever about the party’s process for making policy (with the arguable exception of a specific proposal relating to spring conference, which would not affect the fundamentals at all, and I get the impression is now anyway gradually being withdrawn).
The existing process, in which policy is made by conference, and the process is managed and led by an elected Federal Policy Committee (FPC), will continue, just as it does now.
This is important. While the questions of how we run ourselves as a party are obviously important, the reason we are actually in politics is in order to make proposals and change things - or in other words, policy matters. And the decisions about where we stand as a party and what we are proposing, will not be subject to any greater centralisation whatsoever, but will still come to conference just as before.
So to repeat: not one word in the Bones report implies changing the party’s procedures for deciding our policies.