Power will be devolved to the membership

March 15, 2012 9:33 am

Where does the power lie? That seems to be the question on the lips of too many people at the centre  of the Labour Party at the moment. Is it in the new Executive Board? With the General Secretary? With the Leader?

The appointment of the six – no actually seven – Executive Directors could not have been handled worse if it were deliberately designed to torpedo our electoral hopes and the ability of the machinery to deliver them.

There’s been leaking, complaints about leaking and leaking of the complaints. We have a team at the top made up of people who – while am sure are all talented individuals – are hardly the new, fresh start the Party so desperately needs to break out of its divisive rut of the Blair/Brown battles and into delivering the kind of 21st century Party so tantalisingly promised in the Refounding Labour process.

Instead we have had a glut of internal appointments; a seventh appointment announced without advertising, job role, or any transparency of process; a team as unrepresentative of the makeup of our membership and our country as it is possible to be; a demoralised staff, a diminished General Secretary and a Leader who is either deliberately allowing this to happen or is unable to stop it.

These aren’t the moves of a Party that is striding confidently towards electoral victory, but the obvious machinations of two inept machines fighting each other for their own ends. This dispute is threatening to paralyse a Party that was just starting to move beyond the crippling internal battles of our past.

The process has exposed rich seams of division between the Leaders office and the Party Headquarters, but instead of a decisive understanding, there’s been a mess of a fudge of a compromise. As I speak to activists around the country, no one is happy that a single person involved in this tawdry process understands that they should not be competing for personal power, but accepting collective responsibility for empowering a newly fired up membership.

Like aged, tired and starved coyotes the characters involved circle the picked-clean remains of their last good meal as they miss the point completely. The cadaver they are fighting over may look alive, but the monster of centralised command and control has died. This is merely a fight to the death over its zombie corpse.

Politics has changed. It didn’t change because of the coalition; it didn’t change because Blair and Brown left the stage handing the baton reluctantly to a new generation; Politics has changed because the world has changed. The ways we behave have changed and with that they ways we can influence behaviour, and the ways we can and can’t be influenced, have changed.

The politics game and the way it is played is changing because ordinary members find themselves with more voice than ever before. We have new ways of communicating with each other and of communicating with the world. If our Party aren’t talking to us, that no longer stops us publically and loudly talking about them. Apparently it doesn’t stop them publically and loudly talking about each other either.

On Saturday I was delighted to go and talk to an active Fabian Society group in Leeds. When talking about what had brought me into blogging, I told them of my despair at how poorly our last election campaign was run.

I knew that I had better a better understanding of campaigning, of strategy and of political communications than what I saw and heard of coming from the Party. I also had long and bitter experience of trying to help behind the scenes: Writing letters and emails; offering advice where I thought I could help; simply trying to find our basics of where campaigning events were taking place and how to get involved. I’d found more coordination between a bunch of enthused volunteers with mobile phones than I had from Party HQ.

But unlike my parents generation who bear the battle scars of years of trying to make people who never canvass understand what members need, I had the answer at my fingertips. I didn’t need the Party to tell me how to be a member. I didn’t need a Party structure to offer my advice on strategy, comms and campaigning. So I set up my blog, got fired up and the expertise I offer the Party today as then poured out of me.

And that’s the real future of Labour.

Not me. Not any individual member. But a thousand flowers blooming in communities around the country: online and offline. Some of them will burn brighter than others, none will ever agree wholehearted on every issue and never should they, but each of them will feel their own way towards contributing the expertise they have. The prize for the Party is working out how to grab this with both hands.

In this world, can you imagine the kind of tight control the Party wielded over its members and MPs in the 90s (widely understood as tyranny by pager) working ever again?

A few weeks ago I published on these pages an exchange with Mark Thompson, a Lib Dem blogger about the relative merits of our internal Party democracies. Events this week have proved me devastatingly right about the weakness of their prized internal democracy which had so long been untested by power and failed spectacularly under pressure over the NHS.

During that exchange I ended with the phrase:

“Labour isn’t perfect on this score. We have a long way to go. But of the two parties, I’m confident that we’re the one moving in the right direction.”

I’ve been proved right about the direction Mark’s Party are going in. But they’re going in that direction because of their weakness, not their strength. Their new found delight in poorly staged Party management and ignoring the will of their members publically and humiliatingly is hardly a model we should mourn with envy or wish to recreate from the ashes of our own failures.

The measures in Refounding Labour are a good start. But if we stumble at the very beginning of our road to a stronger, better Party we’ll all suffer because of it. Not least those we should be serving – our voters.

The processes of Refounding Labour may have finished the consultation stage, but the passion for engagement they have brought up will not be recontained. We demand that our membership means something and we demand that those who manage the party accept and understand that. That they work with this tide of democracy, messy and haphazard as it can sometimes be. We know that frightens them, but the electoral oblivion of a party without an engaged membership should frighten them all the more. If they thought 2010 was bad, try doing that without your foot soldiers.

Power will be devolved to Labour Party members because we will demand nothing less. We know what we want, we are no longer shy of demanding it and we have more ways of doing so loudly and forcefully every single day.

Embracing this change is the only one way to win in this new paradigm. Those who will win the responsibility for securing the future of the Labour Party will be those who understand and embrace this devolution. The problem is, currently all concerned are locked into an undignified scramble to be the biggest loser; the Kings and Queens of a crumbling sandcastle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/martin.rathfelder Martin Rathfelder

    The closer I get to the centre of the Labour Party the more elitist, centralised, undemocratic and fossilised it appears.  The Party’s use of the internet is restricted to begging letters.  The idea that anyone important would listen to the members is unheard of.

    • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

      The members aren’t trusted – the internet is underused because this would require greater trust and, if used, would result in a distribution of power/influence.

      My fear is that if the party becomes more democratic this will be countered through manipulation by well-funded funded factional groups such as Progress. We need transparency everywhere, including within associated groups.

  • http://twitter.com/anthonypainter Anthony Painter

    Some very good points here.

    The Blair v Brown thing isn’t right. It’s much more complex than that and actually it’s mainly fissures within the same camp. The Blair/Brown factionalism was, in many ways, preferable to what’s going on now. The awful reality is that unity has come at a price: it provides a cover for those who want to work behind the scenes and out of the light. We are seeing the consequences of that now in what is basically an internal land grab and power play.

    It all comes down to a very simple question: who’s in charge?  

    • EmmaBurnell

      Thanks.

      I don’t think the current fight is being run along Blair/Brown lines – you’re quite right about that. But I do think that disfunction got the Labour Party too used to these kinds of internal fissures and power struggles that ultimately didn’t boil down to much more than personnel and personal power.

      I’m reading Whatever It Takes by Steve Richards at the moment and I am incredibly struck by the parallels in behaviour. Though you are quite right that the dividing lines have changed.

      • http://twitter.com/TomMillerUK Tom Miller

        Surely a large part of what Blair and Brown initially did together was to put things under cover of staffers and away from sunlight? Sunlight showed up things that weren’t pretty…

  • George Barratt

    Oh, dear, here we are again. Once again the deckchairs have been re-arranged on the Titanic. The structures have been tweaked, but outlook and the faces are much the same.

    While the policy wonks go out with butterfly nets to snare the elusive floating voter, there are rumbles of discontent from the jobless kids,  graduates in McJobs, teachers and civil servants with threatened pensions, and pensioners wanting hospital treatment.

    There is a growing  vacuum  to  the left of the Labour Party.  Around the country, local groups are springing up to consider how to protect their services and living conditions.

    But will the Labour Party respond to all this? Is there anybody there at the other end of the line to listen to the voicemail messages and emails? I am not holding my breath.

    George Barratt
    Barking & Dagenham

  • harrogateandrew

    The old saw runs that ‘All politics is local’. This idea has always run against the instinct of the leadership of the Labour Party which is to control everything from the centre with  a cadre of wise Fabian middle class members making all the major decisions. In an era when the electorate is more educated & sophisticated this seems, to me, to be a major design flaw for a party which seeks both power & relevence. 

  • Jonathan Ellenor

    As a
    constituency organiser in Stroud, one of the most marginal constituencies in
    the country at the last election I read your blog with interest. It raises the classic
    question of a paid employee and a volunteer. The bottom line is you need Labour
    PLC to support the running of the Labour Party. I disagree that a bunch of volunteers
    with phones can be more effective than a party machine. You claim to have a
    better understanding of strategy and campaign than the party, in that case you
    would realise the importance of a defined message, tracking, monitoring and all
    of the back office stuff that the party machine is responsible for. Small silos
    need management otherwise there is no continuity of message and story.

    I think there
    are some major problems within Labour PLC but it needs to be thought of more as
    a company than the party. Just because someone is paid well to devise a
    national strategy doesn’t make them ineffective. Members don’t understand what
    it’s like to be a paid employee of the party and never will, something I
    discovered the hard way in Stroud. I do want a day off not because I don’t care
    about the party but because it’s my job and I’m entitled to a rest. Volunteers
    can work 24 hours a day if they want but no one can make them work!

    Your blog does
    nothing constructive in this case except help to drive a further wedge between
    the party members and the hard working and chronically undervalued team that run
    the party.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=641612572 Janet Mears

      Sorry Jonathan but as a voluntry activist you are wrong it is the PLP that is deviding us has been for quite a long time now & if things do not change as was promised you will have another one million members to add to the four million who have already walked away.

      • http://twitter.com/TomMillerUK Tom Miller

        Would I be wrong to suggest that things are working best when these two elements are firstly complementary, and secondly accept the mission of complementing each other and the implications that this brings?

        We are a long way from this situation, but I think it’s where we need to head.

        The party centrally having historically been the more powerful in the bargain, it seems to me that it should be making an offer of more power to the membership before  the membership can be expected to stick to some reciprocal arrangement?

    • Guest

      An excellent post Jonathan

      Problem is people won’t take it on board becuase it is always there opinions that matter most.  The party did an excellent job at the last election.  There really is no other way of looking at it.

  • Lee Butcher

     

    An interesting piece, thanks Emma.

    Certainly the way things have been done in the past can’t continue, however I
    fail to understand where greater membership involvement can be married to the
    organisational role of central and regional offices. How will they work, what
    structures put into place, where will responsibility lay? Will it be rule by
    committee?

    I have to say I am much less pessimistic about low morale in central office.
    There needs to be substantial change there. That they ever thought it was appropriate
    to become a ‘power base’ separate from the leader is an indictment of how our
    party works, and may prove explanatory to some of our problems post-2007. They
    should be the paid servants of the party’s will. They are there to do their
    bidding. There must be a substantial debate on how the party’s will is arrived
    at, but I would be concerned if we became a party ruled by committee (more so
    then present!). Parties aren’t unified internally, but we need to act in common
    externally. The role of the leadership must be paramount to that as the locus
    around which the rest of our activities hinge least we fall into constant
    bickering, precursors of which are sadly far too evident now.

    Whether on the NEC or through other processes the voice of members does need to
    be heard more and listened to, and they must be placed more prominently in the
    process, but central office is there to assist in the organisation of
    campaigns. They are there it provide the logistical support for CLPs and the
    front bench to win elections, and nothing more.

    I feel that Ed needs to make clear that the party’s structures are there to win
    elections and not to indulge in factionalism, and that he and the parliamentary
    front bench are in charge of the party. HQ seems a sensible place to start.

  • ovaljason

    Whatever the problem, the answer is the same: Ed Miliband.  He has presided over this.

  • UKAzeri

    Have we considered compulsory members lists ? :))))
     
    You know.. at least one shadow cabinet minister/member of the executive has to be elected directly by the membership and no one else? How about that position being always the same, e.g. Director of Strategy ? :)

  • Jeremy_Preece

    I joined the Labour party in November 2010 and stood for local election in 2011. It was my first ever venture into any form of organised politics in my 51 years on the planet.

    First I must say something that I am afraid strikes me from your blogg. Members of the Labour party generally get very het up about the internal workings, democracy or lack there of, the party structure and the whole process of how decisions are made.

    I am new to the party and I see that as a strength, insofar as I see Labour in the way that outsiders also see it, i.e. the electorate see it. Without meaning to sound harsh, the voters don’t actually give the proverbial toss about the internal organsiation of whichever party they vote for.

    Actually when it comes to the election the voters care that
    1. There is a leader who would make a good prime minister, and take the right decisions in government, since what ever policies are promissed much of being in government is responding to unforseen issues as they arise.

    2. That the party can handle the economy and represent the interests of the country

    3. The party has a clear political posistion that they can agree with
    and some policies which they would like to see put into practice.

    In all of this a sense of strong government will always win over a sense of weakness, and the sight and sound of party members griping about the internal affairs of the party are a huge turn off, and seen as introspective and self indulgant. So fighting over whether a seventh executive post was created – big yawn – going nowhere.

    My motivation for joining Labour was (and still is) to see the party back in government and see a return to the values that I hold dear and had rather taken for granted until this government came at them with the axe.
     In the short term I want to see Labour win back local councils and seats, and to reinvigorate Labour so that it looks like tomorrow’s government with a leader who looks like the prime minister in waiting. I have said enough elsewhere about what I think of present leadership.

    Of course Labour like any other party is made up of different people who will never agree on everything – and that is how democracy will always be. But we need a lot more disciplin and a lot less of people running around doing their own thing. I may well have misunderstood this blogg, but I would be concerned if canvassing and deciding what we tell the electorate is being made up on the fly.

    During the local election I saw the Tory machine, and I have to say that in talking to the Tories I found out just how much they hate each other. Their values are nasty and I am deeply against just about all that they stand for. However I was impressed by the way that their well oiled machine organsised their workers (mostly if not all volenteers) and marshalled them like they were a small army. The result is that they won a lot of votes. While I got to hear their backbiting, I know that they put on a united front to the electorate.

    I often smile whenever I share my views on organsiation with others in the Labour party who think that I must be some kind of right wing nutter because my main goal is see Labour win elections. As a new member I was at first astonished that so many Labour members complained at the tyrany of the late 1990′s and winning three successive general elections, amd got the impression that many would have liked to have seen the patry looose, while they were off indulging in ideological purity exercises. I think that some of that has happened since the election and was called refounding Labour.

    Many voters are my age or over, and so there is a place for the traditional door knocking and leafleting. There is also a real point to being seen out and about in the real world locally. We also have all of the new technology available to us, and can use this. But it is not to start a technocrat revolution against the rest of the party.   

    • http://twitter.com/Nicky2806 Nicky

      Good points here Jeremy. However, a couple of caveats are needed imho.People generally don’t join the party because they think the staus quo is fine and dandy. Inherent in that view of the world is an oppositional mindset. However, the ideological compass points within the party of Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism are not fixed and unchanging and as a consequence there  has been and  always will be an internal debate within the Labour Party. It is an organic movement. So too is the Tory party whose ideological compass points of free market capitalism and social order are not merely unfixed but imho contradictory.
      The Lib Dems don’t really have any ideological compass points ( everyone in the west who inherits the politics of the French Revolution like for example Blair, Cameron or Dennis Skinner for that matter is a ‘liberal democrat’ of sorts). As a consequence it is not an organic party. It changes only in response to changes in the Tory party and the Labour party. In this sense it is almost completely opportunistic.   You are quite right there are people within the party who want us to lose, but they aren’t really pertinent to our debate.  
      New Labour like all political currents has had its day, just as the post-war Social Democratic consensus had had its day by 1979 and Thatcherism had had its day by 1996. We need to develop a new political project which disavows both New Labour and the disaster of the 1980s and 1990s- Easier said than done!

      • Jeremy_Preece

         Hang on a minute Nicky. I for one do not like to see idealists take the wrecking ball to the Labour Party so that they can start again with what they percieve as something more modern.
        In my opinion we ought to start with what is good and needs to be kept, perhaps tweaked or revisited and what we can be proud of, and then look at what needs to be changed. I maintain that you cannot dismiss New Labour – what are you saying – we want old Labour?
        I believe that New Labour’s starting point was important. A strong leader with a clear view – one that is that can be understood by the public who vote, rather than members who like to debate in comittee rooms. New Labour said that it was in general Business friendly and used some of the revenue from business to trickly down, and to be spent on such things as health and education.
        It established a reputation as being good with the economy, therefore it won elections.

        Yes there are details that need revisitng – for example – I think that the implementation of some of the projects, for example the IT projects were badly managed (and I can tell you first hand about that). That some of the PPP ideas assumed that private companies would want to simply work for government departments for their greater good. This was off the wall in practice, as a number of the companies simply wanted a turf war against other suppliers and their objectives were to stretch out as much revenue for their own company from each project, rather that the smooth running of the project.
        We need to look at whether this arrangement could be better implemented, or whether government departments need their own commercial project management experince of if the arrangement should be abandonded. I mention this as a construtive debate within a framework.

        Looking from the outside, a party which in opposition simply says glib things like “mistakes were made” and ” we are going off to refound ourselves” send the wrong message to the voting public. The electorate simply hears “we are saying that actually we were and are crap” and “we don’t know what we are about” and “if we sorry enough will you forgive us and trust us again?”

        Whatever is said behind closed doors, the public need to hear us speak positively and so

        • baboon

          Of course I am not saying that we should go back to Old Labour. As I have stated the Social Democratic post-war consensus (1945-1979) has clearly had its day. But 2010 showed that the particular political model constructed in the 80s and 90s had run out of road. (It was after all our second biggest defeat since 1918). We need somehow to think beyond the restrictive parameters of Old vs New Labour.

          A classic example of clinging on to an ideology that has had its day can be found in the current Tory wing of the government. This section of the coalition comes across as third rate Thatcherites who simply bring a dollop of public school incompetence and arrogance to the table. It is because of this, rather than our own dynamism, that they increasingly look like a one term government. Unless we can move forward on to new ground – defeat and/or a similar fate awaits us. 

          • Jeremy_Preece

            I don’t think that we can say that the whole of New Labour is out of date. We can say that there are a number errors made, and they occured when the idea of New Labour was departed from. 
            Specifically we can talk about some of the things that went wrong towards the end of the Labour government. Gordon Brown was always felt to be the hier apparent to the Leadership, which was a real weakness and totally contry to the way that a democratic party should run. He was elected unopposed and people like D Miliband could have won it, but stood back so as to not rock the boat.
            However, Gordon Brown started off well with a bounce in the opinion polls and Cameron looked third rate.
            GB’s first big error was to not call an election to capitalise on this. Here was a man who felt that he had waited for 10 years for his big break and didn’t want to risk loosing it. Therefore the second best thing that he could have done would to have been to scotch the election fever from week one. Instead he let it build for the Summer and then took the decision to cancel because the Tories had a good conference. Net result was that he looked like a man of personal ambition who was on the run from the electorate. He also looked weak and on the back foot. Fatal.
            Second, there was the whole 10 tax rate thing and here was a half baked change that saw tax for the lowest earners rise and the higher earners fall. This was totally unLabour and seemed to have happened by accident. He introduced some measures to soften the blow which sent out the message that he had got it wrong but was not prepared to cancel the move. This saw the Labour government taking a swipe at the heart of its own natural supporters. The Tories used the next local election to say “vote for us if you object to this tax change” – “we are there for you”. The Tories had no intention of reversing the change, but were happy to emabrk on a bit of opportunism, which Brown had handed on a plate.
            Third, there was bound to be some repercussions for all governements who were in power when the banking crisis hit the fan. While GB did extremely well in reacting to the crisis, and was leading much of the world’s response, the bailing out of the banks didn’t include enough strings  to prevent the culprits from taking public money and awarding themselves big bonus. Worse, they then looked at the growing national debts of countries, largely caused by their bailing out of the banking system, and decided to take pick them off country by country for having the national debts that the bankers themselves had largely been the cause of.
            There was a sense of bad luck for GB, after all he only just got into power when anther foot and mouth outbreak occured and then there was the banking crisis.
            The Tories did their usual U-Turns and decided to put out the story that the lack of control over the banks was Labours fault (true to the extenet that they were in power, and false in terms of the fact that the Tories opposed banking controls). They then made out that the whole world wide recession was Labour’s faul;t – which was outragious.  They blamed Labour for overspending and convinced the public that Tories would never have wasted money like that, where as Cameron and Osbourn had in fact said that they would match Labour’s spending. None of that was challenged and the Tories were allowed to put out their lies with little challenge.

            This is leadership failure, not idealolgy failure.

            The Tories also are not really out of date, but represent that timeless element of what is bad about human nature. Namely greed. That those who have more than their fair share want to hold on to it and want even more. They want to justify why they have no conscience about making the poor poorer and taking form the middle, in order to further their own rich nests.
            Yes the Tories are (and always will be) an unedifying sight, but look bad not because their ideology is out of date, but when others with less can begin to see them for what they are.
            At the moment the Tories have their LibDem supporters to divert and distract some attention away from themseves, they also have a deficit i.e. a national emergency to use as an argument that normal service cannot apply. That is a device common to most dictatorships. As with any government they blame the last government, but since Labour allowed itself to shoulder far more blame that was just, and allowed the Tory’s record to go unchalleneged – there will be more millage on this in the minds of many of the electorate. Athough that millage will eventually prove to be finite.

            With the unpopularity of the Tories, not just over the NHS, but Cameron’s lack of empathy with ordinary people he has very low personal ratings. This is the prefect gift for Labour, and so it takes a real gift of ineptness to be able to squander it and see Labour only running neck and neck with Cameron

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7Z2KKBHSH4VQSKABV7ZSI3CVDQ WILLIAM

    There are clearly some inaccuracies in this piece. Firstly, the Blair/Brown division was clearly a division within the same camp and secondly, every member knows that not everyone in HQ and/or regional office is completely useless or engaged in a craven pursuit of personal power.
    The centralisation of power within our party evolved further with each election defeat in the 1980s and 1990s. There was a time when the Labour party did have a devolved power structure ( I remember it well) but the consequences were not good. For example, it enabled whole sections of the party to be controlled by the Revolutionary Socialist League
    (Militant) and shambolic party conferences (who enthusiastically endorsed policies that clearly contradicted the direction of the party leadership) were given full and extensive coverage on the early evening news bulletins. Indeed, I have often wondered  what kind of nutters were on the conference arrangements committees at the time. 
    In addition this article has the smell of burning martyr about it, ie Look at me, I am great and better than you (a la Stephen Twigg) thus contradicting its central message.
    However, at the moment the most important question facing us is how we rebalance power within the party in a responsible way away from the worst excesses of the New Labour period.  

  • Tim Caswell

    After more than three decades in the Party crippled by the dead hand of a buraucracy that was unfit for purpose at the beginning of the last century I find every syllable of Emma’s article a breath of fresh air.

  • dgately

    The party centralised because to win parties needed to withstand increased scrutiny from a centralised media. The coverage of politics has increased significantly as the bandwidth of media provision has grown and since media outlets are desperate for content they’ll pounce on any variation from the party line.

    It’s a false premise to suggest the new labour project was the fundamental cause of this change – new labour embraced centralisation because it was necessary if the party was to win a national election

    this fact still remains – at the last election, despite predictions from many, the national swing was a good indicator to local results.

    It’s worth remembering as well the actions of Hague when he became leader in 97. He gave tory constituencies more power over their party. His version of party reform gave him something to do as he was incapable of generating a stategic direction for his party and struggled to manage the deep political divisions that existed.

    The result of that reform was IDS. Miliband is bad – who follows when we inevitably lose could well be worse

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  • Icarus

    Have you asked permission from the general secretary of Unite to write this? A party that cannot even elect its leader fairly does not deserve to prosper.

  • Anniesec

    There are policy issues here as well as organisational ones. While local members get constant requests to do more, policy development remains the well connected, conferences out elite , or those with names big enough to get on the big blog sites
    We are not just foot soldiers, we are here because we have ideas. One way communication gets nowhere. I have hopes for refoundinglabour too, but so far the discussion has been sidetracked into the dates of ATMs and what happens when LGCs are abolished.
    As a constiuency secretary all I want is a list of other constituency secs to share ideas with, but all I get is more emails, more requests to copy glossy brochures and more demoralising examples of what constituencies with labour MPs and offices manage to do.
    The devolution to members talked about here could be part of a much wider devolution, when we all recognise that the best means of common ownership are usually local.

    • Abaldwin3

      Ok – the dates of AGMs not ATMs …. iPad has a strange way of editing.

      Policy development remains with the well connected, conferenced-out elite……

  • Miket10 5

    Thank You Emma, Our Leaders need to change and listen to the ordinary members in a way that they cant say we feel members mean this or that. Our broad church is exactly that broad and needs to not represent one man’s view  or a few peoples views on what we want the party to do. 
    Keep it going Emma 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/gary.hills1 Gary Hills

    Labour needs
    paid organisers, be it Labour PLC or from funds within LGCs, CLPs and so on.
    That is vital but at the same time the party needs to allow more flexibility. Too
    much focus goes into small areas of constituency’s and many wards are deemed
    unwinnable. Well its message and commitment to show people you’re on their side
    which changes how people vote. To present a message just for one ward but not
    for others makes people feel in non targets that there view is less valid at
    local  level that’s bad enough but when
    fighting all seats for an General election it risks our chances of winning that
    election. The word target needs dropping now and replaced with flexibility that
    goes beyond ward boundaries so all voters feel listened to. Targeting was fine
    for the run up to19 97 but not now it has become the stumbling block and it
    hinders more than it helps. The other elephant in the room is its assumed if
    you have little money then you can’t fight hard for wards or seats that
    attitude also needs to change. Social networking and greater social events mobilise
    and inspire, more use of campaigns that link nationally encourage people to
    show interest locally.

    While adapting and bringing in community organisers such is being created in addition
    to party organisers creates activity that helps both aspects. It’s not rocket
    science but it’s about adapting to new methods of campaigning and not sticking
    to one aspect just because it worked from 1994 to 1997. Not enough is done to
    co-ordinate social networking and net use to deliver and build networks while to
    much focus goes just on a standard script at the door. That has to change, such
    repetitive approaches turns voters of. People across the country are not
    interested at being talked at any more they want to hear some passion and some
    fight. They may not agree with all that Labour says but they will respect us
    more for standing up for principle.

    Andy Burnham is the only shadow Minister who is getting it at present, while
    others speak on good issues like Mary Creagh against the Badger Cull, yet such
    work is undermined by Ministers like Liam Byrne who pandered to the right wing
    press and failed to ask what it’s really like for people who are sick and
    disabled. The way he backed up the scrounger talk was disgraceful and was a low
    point in Labours history. The way back for Labour is a clear strong vision. By
    declaring New Labour Dead Ed M has created a vacuum as he has nothing to
    replace it with. It was a tactical error and has lead to the party not knowing
    where we are heading.  It’s not about
    saying all New Labour did was right or wrong but its about what comes next.
    That void is clear for everyone to see and its will not improve until we see consistent
    passion and principle so the public automatically know what we intend. Whatever
    the vision is called its needed and its needed now and not just for 2015.

    Labour is needed
    more than ever, the Tories are vile and destructive and are deliberately
    ignoring decency to privatise everything. Labour is missing far too many open
    goals directly due to a lack of self confidence and little vision, the blame
    lies more so with the leadership than the party.  Yet the answers are clear and the big policy’s
    to create that vision could be pursued now. Make sure the public know Labour
    will repeal every aspect of the NHS Bill if it goes through. Burnham stated
    Labour would but the party needs to make that pledge massive so everyone is in
    no doubt. Be bold pledge to scrap ESA for the sick and disabled because its
    unfair, does not work and is vile how it is forcing sick and disabled people of
    from the help they are entitled to. Stand up to those who claim welfare is a
    dirty word. Speak principle and show why it’s about fairness and decency in a
    rich county. Create jobs by investing in manufacturing, put the resources in
    and expand the sector, it’s not about making things cheap, if the UK can’t
    compete on cost show that it makes the best. In doing so give greater support
    to schools and colleges. Do the same for engineering and let’s stop only having
    Tesco jobs on offer for society. Pledge to scrap the last tuition fee increases
    and raise money to replace some of it by creating more industry related courses
    that the company’s themselves will pay for. Be bolder with the economy by
    seeking the houses that need to be built to boost construction and while aiming
    for the £60000 house in addition the re-launch of the Schools building
    programme should go ahead. Take on the Tories and turn the tide by showing that
    decency and good affordable homes far outweighs penny pinching. Labour should
    also champion the need for a fully elected 2nd Chamber and refined
    its zeal it used to have and of course it must make it illegal to use offshore
    tax havens and close the loopholes that allow it. It goes without saying that
    the bankers massive bonuses must also come to an end and a more realistic
    payments made.

    So there you
    have it, just a few lines of ideas but if I can think of a fairness and social
    justice vision with investment in jobs and people in the UK then the answer is
    why is the leadership not thinking the same way. Let’s get Labour elected but
    also expect more from our leaders and more ability to have a say.

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