Victoria Street, and the centralisation of Labour


Labour RoseBy Mark Ferguson / @markfergusonuk

As the Refounding Labour consultation gathers pace, there’s an increasing focus on best practice within constituencies. Unless we get a grip on how we organise our local parties to make them open and inclusive and share campaigning best practice we won’t make the progress on the ground that is needed.

But there’s another issue that has been largely overlooked so far – the amount of centralised power in the Labour Party. Whether in Victoria Street or regional offices, staff members make decisions that have a huge impact on the way the party operates. Yet how they operate and the decisions they take are shrouded in secrecy.

Most staff members working for the party are consummate professionals who only care about the smooth running of the party machine, but sometimes it’s not easy to make that argument when it can often seem otherwise.

When the party won’t do something as simple as releasing the longlist for a by-election selection it casts doubt on the probity of the process. That’s the kind of change that the Refounding Labour reforms need to tackle.

In the 21st century party organisations and structures which may have been suited to an earlier (command and control) period of the party’s history can seen as evasive and outdated.

Peter Hain admitted as much today, noting the ridiculous situation of NPF members being stopped from communicating with each other for fear that it would undermine the party.

That’s the kind of depressing viewpoint that the party needs to move beyond – tackling it should be a real priority.

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