To suggest that Refounding Labour looks like a sham might seem unfair, and I hope that it’s untrue – but I had a real sinking feeling watching an uninspiring webchat (one MP I spoke to afterwards called it “Soviet style”) with Peter Hain this afternoon. Most of the questions unfortunately semed to be of the “how will Refounding Labour solve all of our problems?”
It didn’t seem very reflective of the conversations I’ve had with members both online and offline. In particular it’s looking unlikely that we’ll get to see the submissions and compare them to Hain’s final report. My question on this was asked, but not really answered. Hain suggested that a speedy report was important – that’s true, but we also need to know that what comes out of this process is representative of what goes in. The new politics is about openness and transparency – that means we need to see how the sausages are made this time.
There are a questions Peter Hain needs to answer if he’s to prove that Refounding Labour is a genuine consultation:
– Will we get to see the submissions? If so, when?
– How can we be sure that the final report is representative of the submissions received?
– Will the central party be included in the report’s recommendations? (insiders are suggesting otherwise)
– Will conference be able to amend the report at all? Or will they be presented with a take it or leave it ultimatum?
– Are there any plans to put the reforms to a wider ballot of the membership? How can the party claim to be engaging with members if this doesn’t happen?
If these questions can’t be answered convincingly, it will lead many in the party to suggest that this reform process is a sham, and that Hain and others had already decided what their final reports would say. The party needs to prove that isn’t the case.