Definition: Caucus Meetings

The term caucus is used 27 times in this book. The definition of the word is:

“a group of people with shared concerns within a political party or larger organization”


Kath first refers to the Left Caucus repeatedly in Chapter 1 after February 1980 when 13 left-wing councillors were expelled from the Labour Group, which at the time was controlled by Labour Right. From this point on, the Left councillors, together with Left activists in the City Party, started to meet informally to discuss tactics. This became known as the Left Caucus, and Kath describes it at that time as an:

“informal group that gathered in the City Arms and other local pubs to talk politics and tactics in a great spirit of camaraderie and openness.”

It would seem that these meetings became more formal. The Left Caucus is also referred to in chapter 2 when there were splits between the Left and the Right of the Labour Group.

The term then doesn’t come up again until chapters 11 and 12 when difficult decisions were being made and numbers were tight in relation to the number of seats held by the Left and Right of the Labour Group.

Finally, it appears in chapter 21 in the context of the early retirement of the Director of Social Services, Irene Walton.

“A Left Caucus was called to try to resolve the issue of the director’s ‘sacking’. David Black pointed out that Graham Stringer shouldn’t chair the meeting since he was involved in the decision. Graham said, “OK you can chair it,” so he did. David asked Rhona Graham, as Chair of the Social Services Committee, to give a full report on the situation, before opening up the discussion. Rhona gave a very brief report and then didn’t take part in the subsequent discussion. David had the impression that she had been bounced into doing what Graham and Frances had wanted and then been put into the difficult position of having to justify it. Different opinions were expressed at the meeting, but no-one was prepared to move a motion of no confidence in the Labour Group leadership, so the decision stood. Rhona was instructed by the Left Caucus to ask the director not to rescind her request to resign, since it was felt to be in the best interests of the Council for her to go.”

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