What Labour can learn from the Liberal Democrats

15th November, 2010 10:04 am

Lib dem logoBy Emma Burnell / @scarletstand

The Labour Party are in the long running process of reviewing it’s Partnership into Power process, the way in which policy is decided by the party as a whole, by the National Policy Forum and by members. This will be a long and exhaustive process, and at the end of it, we will need to have a robust process where policy is discussed and debated and that we see our ability to do so as a credit to us, not a discomfiture to the leadership.

Many Lib Dems I know are rightly pleased with their internal policy making process, feeling a real democratic buy in. Sadly this is now being stretched to the limit by the difference between Lib Dem policy, and the actions taken by Lib Dem ministers and MPs in government. There seems to be little point in having policies you won’t enact. The public simply won’t believe you if you campaign on them having done the opposite in government.

So Labour need to find a way to square these tensions. That way cannot be the top down policy imposition of the past, but neither can it be the case that policy cannot change as circumstances do. We need to learn both the positive and negative from the Lib Dems current circumstances.

My own idea would involve both expanding and strengthening the National Policy Forum (disclosure: I have recently been elected for the first time to the NPF). At present, I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that the NPF is not taken very seriously by the party machine, and this needs to change. It is the voice of the members in policy making and needs to be given the status that deserves.

But the NPF needs to be a more able body to make that kind of policy. It needs far greater representation from all parts of the party and debates need to be facilitated online between the sporadic meetings. There ought to be special conferences of the NPF called when the leadership feel the need to change policy from the decided course and – like the coalition agreement was to the Lib Dem members – the membership must decide if it is the right course. I have a great deal of faith in our current leadership to be persuasive if a change is required.

I want us to be an attractive party for both former Lib Dem voters and activists (we can teach them how bar charts work), and in order to do so, we need to give them what they thought they had in the Lib Dems until sold out by their leadership.

More than this though, I want us to be a mass membership party with a voice in every community. We won’t do this until the voices we have are being heard at all levels of the party.

Emma Burnell also blogs here.

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment Featured Tories’ turmoil should ring snap election alarm bells

    Tories’ turmoil should ring snap election alarm bells

    As most party members know all too well, Labour will face its first major electoral test under Jeremy Corbyn this May. Crucial as these polls are for all of us, particularly our candidates, we cannot blithely assume that they will be the only contest that we will face this year. We need to be on a general election war footing. In June, decades of Tory infighting are set to reach a crescendo with the referendum on membership of the European […]

    Read more →
  • News “We need answers which are both radical and credible” – full text of Jon Ashworth’s Future of the Centre Left speech

    “We need answers which are both radical and credible” – full text of Jon Ashworth’s Future of the Centre Left speech

    This is the full text of the speech given by Shadow Cabinet member Jon Ashworth to Progress’ The Future of Labour’s Centre Left event on Tuesday. Thank you for inviting me to speak – my first time at a Progress event. We meet tonight after two general election defeats. So tonight’s discussion about the future of the centre left is timely. Beyond the confines of our party or the borders of our country, there are forces driving huge waves of change […]

    Read more →
  • Local Government News Jeremy Corbyn pledges to give councils “freedom to innovate”

    Jeremy Corbyn pledges to give councils “freedom to innovate”

    Labour will send out a message during this May’s local election campaign that the party will stand up to “the onslaught of Tory cuts”, Jeremy Corbyn said today. In a speech to the Labour Local Government Conference this afternoon, Corbyn also pledged to allow councils “greater freedoms to innovate on a larger scale” in order to find solutions to problems caused by government spending cuts. The Labour leader outlined what kind of campaign the party would be running over the coming months, […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Scotland Seats and Selections Scottish Labour announce list candidates for May’s election

    Scottish Labour announce list candidates for May’s election

    Scottish Labour have announced their list candidates rankings for May’s Holyrood elections. With the election taking place through Additional Member System (AMS), there are two types of candidate, constituency and list. Given current polling, and the near wipeout in last year’s general election, it is expected that the vast majority, if not all, of Labour’s MSPs come May will be elected via the the lists. The candidate shortlist was announced in December, and was the largest ever for the party […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News John McDonnell tops LabourList Shadow Cabinet rankings

    John McDonnell tops LabourList Shadow Cabinet rankings

    Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has topped this week’s rankings of Shadow Cabinet members, as judged by LabourList readers. It comes after a fortnight in which McDonnell has been prominent in the news attacking George Osborne over the Google tax deal. It is the first time he has topped LabourList’s Shadow Cabinet rankings – although he has always scored highly, and was voted by readers as their favourite frontbencher of 2015. As one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest political allies, his popularity shows […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit