Danes for change – Inspired by Movement for Change

27th January, 2013 10:00 am

Denmark has a strong history of showing how much a society can achieve if it’s influenced and shaped by strong movements rooted in local communities, and supported by committed citizens who take responsibility for the future on their shoulders. Not only for themselves, and never just for others. But our story is under pressure these days, and sometimes you have to travel out to be wise to the challenges and problems you have at home. The following story about 6 Danes visiting Barnsley in northern England is one such journey.

Together with about 25 others we had the pleasure of participating in an intensive training with Movement for Change. Our background in Danish politics is different, but common for us is that we are Social Democrats who want to change the society we are part of. We are all organising in different parts of Denmark – some of us are directly involved in organising efforts locally, while others work with training and campaigning.

However, it is only within the last few years that we have started to rethink and organise along the lines of the traditions of Community Organising. In Denmark, organising has been reserved for trade unions and almost entirely reserved for workplace organising. But this needs to change. The strong Danish labour movement, and hence our Party, has grown out of organised communities. With door-knocking and 1-2-1 conversations, our ancestors forged the relationships that, over time, have made the Danish workers enormously powerful. Power which has resulted in average hourly wages for low-wage jobs of up to £15, five weeks paid holiday per year and employer-paid pensions.

But why did we put the methods and the belief that policy is created from the bottom on the shelf? It is a question we have pored over, but now, with the help of Movement for Change, we are beginning to use the methods again. For though there are cultural differences, the recipe for change is basically the same: People – Power – Change; in that order.

What did we learn at our stay in Barnsley in November? Three elements were particularly inspiring and will stay with us as we move forward:

1.     The strength of public narratives

Being able to tell your own story and relate it to our shared history and the story of now is important if you want to motivate and bring people together. Nothing is as motivating as being a part of a group with shared values, dreams and stories.

2.     1-2-1 meetings – a way to build strong relationships

The epitome of human interaction is to meet and talk. It is, on the one hand, quite simple, but on the other hand – actually not. How do we commit more fellow citizens to take action? How do we realise the potential resources and will to get involved? 1-2-1 meetings are the key starting point.

3.     Real strategy generates better results

It is not enough that we know the answer to why we have to organise. We also need a clear answer on how to organise.  A well thought out strategy which considers target groups (who are our constituencies, enemies and potential supporters), which actions to be executed and when etc. is crucial to the success of your organisation. Strategy is in short about turning the resources we have into the power we need to get the change we want.

The weekend in November was, for us, the first step on the road to becoming even more involved in the work of organising at home. Because, as mentioned, we face a challenge here in Denmark. Our civil society is under pressure both by the market and the state. If we do not succeed in building power with people and communities the future is not bright for the generations to come and it isn’t bright for our party.

Aided by the training course in November we feel a sense of a slowly but firmly growing wave of citizen participation and empowerment spreading across Europe. We are proud to be a part of that wave. We see it in the UK with Movement for Change and Labour’s renewal process. We see it with the Social Democrats in Germany and the SP in the Netherlands. And who knows, maybe Copenhagen will be the place where the next good experience that the Socialist International has with community organising occurs. We are certainly optimistic about the future here in Denmark, and we have some more members travelling to the UK for the next Movement for Change intensive training weekend in March.

Change is indeed possible. Now it’s up to all of us across the North Sea to make it happen.

Bjarke Dahl Mogensen is from our Danish sister party, The Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterne)

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]

Latest

  • Featured News Seats and Selections Luciana Berger in running for Liverpool City Region Mayor

    Luciana Berger in running for Liverpool City Region Mayor

    Luciana Berger will today become the third candidate in the race to get the Labour nomination for the Liverpool City Region Mayor election. Berger, who attends Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Mental Health, will announce her bid with a speech to local Labour members this afternoon. She is the second shadow minister to launch their candidacy for a new directly elected mayor position in a North West city, following Andy Burnham kicking off his Greater Manchester Mayor campaign earlier […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Sadiq Khan has stuck his neck on the line – but he hasn’t “discredited” Labour

    Sadiq Khan has stuck his neck on the line – but he hasn’t “discredited” Labour

    One evening at Labour Conference 2009, those of us attending from my constituency party met for a meal in a restaurant on the Brighton seafront. Our waiter was very excited to regale us with his familial tie to Labour royalty. “My great-great uncle was a Labour Prime Minister,” the waiter told us. “But I’m afraid you won’t like him: it was Ramsay MacDonald.” On cue, our well-oiled delegates treated him to panto hisses. “Now,” interrupted one, “I actually think there’s room for some reappraisal of Ramsay […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Uncategorized Sharon Hodgson: Labour will always stand up for children with special educational needs

    Sharon Hodgson: Labour will always stand up for children with special educational needs

    Since the Government announced its Schools White Paper last month, focus has been on their ham-fisted plans for the forced academisation of all schools. Though Ministers have subsequently U-turned on these flawed plans – after mounting opposition led by Labour and including parents, school leaders, teachers, governors, local councillors and their own backbenches – it is clear that they are still intent on obsessing over forcing or coaxing every school in England to become an academy. This fixation with school structures comes at the expense of raising standards for […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Jess Phillips hit by 600 rape tweets in one night

    Jess Phillips hit by 600 rape tweets in one night

    Jess Phillips has spoken of her disgust after receiving 600 tweets in one night about her rape. The Birmingham Yardley was bombarded with vile messages after launching a campaign to end online sexist bullying. “To see the attack of a pack on here check out my mentions 600 odd notifications talking about my rape in one night. I think twitter is dead,” she wrote on the online platform. Phillips, who was sexually assaulted as a teenager, today described the revolting […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Uncategorized Labour must view immigration as a political opportunity rather than an obstacle

    Labour must view immigration as a political opportunity rather than an obstacle

    In 2014, the last reliable figures that take ethnicity into account, there were 790,000 Poles living in the UK. With EU net migration still in the positive, and suggestions these figures might be a grossly underestimated, the total number could be significantly higher. To be clear, this is not a piece about immigration, or, at least, not about its effects on Britain, but about what policies may convince Polish migrants to vote Labour. Because the Tories have a head start. As EU migrants, most […]

    Read more →
x

LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends










Submit