The breadth and ambition of the political project Ed Miliband outlined at party conference requires a transformation of the way we do politics. It sets a significant but exciting challenge to the party. All of us from staffers to supporters to elected politicians, will need to change our approach to campaigning, so that we can make our values live again across the country. We have begun to change and must continue to change – so we can rebuild trust and win a mandate for changing the country. That’s why the party is changing – so we can rebuild trust and win a mandate for changing the country.
It’s an exciting time: we have already begun to shift the party’s resources to the frontline and have established a top team that can create a movement inspired by Ed Miliband’s leadership. Already the first wave of organisers and candidates are in place in our frontline seats. Appointing and selecting the second tranche of those frontline forces is only a small part of the task for all of us in the next year. Everything in the next twelve months will be focussed on us growing the movement, involving more people and empowering them to create the change we need.
The many by-elections, mayoral and police elections we are fighting right now reveal the scale of the challenge. I am confident we will be able to deliver electoral success, but we cannot allow ourselves to lurch from one capacity crisis to another: that is why we must build a movement, inspired by the possibilities of change.
Without this outreach, deepening our relationships with people as well as widening our appeal, it will be more difficult for us to win in 2015. Our current levels of activity and levels of paid staff may not get us over the line. This is the harsh truth and to counteract this we must build a movement.
Everything; from our policy development process to our fundraising activities, will have one overarching goal: building capacity. We will increase the numbers of people who will believe in us, work with us, join us.
This will mean a huge culture change: respecting members, and volunteers, rather than treating them as though they are only good for delivering leaflets. Thousands of people have joined us since party conference: we need to know and understand, respect and act on their motivations for getting involved.
There is already an enormous groundswell of enthusiasm for change, not only from our new members and supporters but from the backbone of our campaigning operation.
2013 will be the year of extending that enthusiasm and growing the movement.
Our Training Academy will mean all of our professional staff and our super-volunteers will learn about organising so that every local party can grow its volunteer numbers by significant numbers. The campaigns we adopt on the basis of talking to our communities will involve and empower people, and offer change now. Energy switching is a powerful tool because it is people, party members and supporters, building a network, demanding change, which uses their collective force to deliver a good for all. Campaigning against legal loan sharks doesn’t just gather people names on a petition but offers answers for people’s daily crises, as well as shaping the national conversation.
Our online and offline policy development process will help more people to be involved in deciding our priorities and contributing to the shape of Britain we want to see. Our councillors show, in the face of a fundamental attack on support for the working families and the vulnerable, what Labour can achieve when there’s little money to go around. They will be at the heart of developing a platform for change – giving people a sense of what One Nation Britain will look like.
Changing the perception of Labour in our own communities is a task that falls to all of us. We will focus on evolving the party from being a machine for harvesting votes to being a movement of people, inspiring and making change happen. This won’t be easy; all of us must do our bit to rebuild trust. Campaigners are connecting with people Old Labour never reached, and those that New Labour left behind, mobilising and inspiring them. And it’s an essential step to shifting political activities from transactions to relationships. That is how we build One Nation Labour.
Iain McNicol is the General Secretary of the Labour Party
This piece forms part of Jon Cruddas’s Guest Edit of LabourList