This afternoon, Ed Miliband will announce the largest voter registration drive for a generation, as Labour seeks to re-engage with millions of people who don’t vote, as well as those who do. In his speech to Progress annual conference, Miliband will outline how Labour plans to reverse a decline in turnout so it returns at least to the levels achieved in 1997.
A particular focus will be on a new model of organisation within the model – pioneered by Miliband’s American organiser guru Arnie Graf – that seeks to build “a party that reaches into communities. Not one that just talks to itself.” There is a growing acknowledgment within the party and the leadership that the existing model of party campaigning isn’t working – and I’m particular cannot solve the problem of low turnout.
Instead the aim will be to provide members with resources for local campaigns on local issues, alongside the voter registration drive.
The speech is also notable for the audience it is addressing. Whilst Miliband will open his speech by praising the role of Progress in changing the Party, he will also argue that by the end of the New Labour years we were no longer operating in the interests of working people – a potentially challenging message to a predominantly New Labour audience.
I’ll be reviewing the speech, and gauging the reaction to it, later today.