With just over two and a half months until polling day, most Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) are focussed on the nitty gritty of
the campaign, and last year’s debate about the Refounding Labour proposals is not at the front of activists’ minds.
However, the two are not unconnected, and CLPs should not lose sight of the purpose of Refounding Labour, which was to make us a stronger campaigning force in every CLP.
I’m not talking about dry stuff like whether you have an LGC (Local Government Committee) or an LCF (Local Campaign Forum). Those
structural changes can be important if done properly, but they’ll impact on the 2013 elections, not this May, so don’t fret about them
until after polling day.
The bit of Refounding Labour that is worth a look at now because it could help you win in May is the Supporters Network.
You can download the Refounding Labour implementation Guide – and a specific pamphlet on the registered supporters’ scheme and how to implement it locally.
If you are a borough, constituency or ward organiser you’ve got to do the basics – get leaflets written and delivered, organise canvassing, prepare polling day. But I’ve always found as an organiser that it’s good to be a bit of a magpie, stealing neat ideas, organisational tricks and leaflet concepts from other people’s campaigns.
The Supporters Network concept comes from Gisela Stewart’s against-the-odds defence of her Birmingham Edgbaston constituency in
the General Election, masterminded by Caroline Badley, one of Labour’s most innovative field organisers. Key to their success was to build an extensive contact list of people who did not want to pay to join the Party but were prepared to leaflet or canvass for her campaign because they respected work she had done locally for them or their area or their community group. Every incumbent Labour councillor will have constituents who will take the same view – they don’t want to join but they will help you get re-elected. New candidates can build a network of personal supporters by taking up issues you spot as you canvass. In London we know from 2008 that there are a lot of people who are not Labour members who will work to get Ken elected as Mayor. Nationwide there are loads of people who we canvass who don’t want to join the Party because of the cost or because they are just not joiners of organisations, but who would sign-up as supporters if asked, and can then be approached to take on small amounts of leaflet delivery, or a stint taking numbers on polling day.
This is not rocket science, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to our paid-up members when considering our pool of volunteers. The national Registered Supporters scheme provides a ready-made database for capturing the details of those potential volunteers and communicating with them. You can point people towards this web address or enter their details as a supporter in contact.creator. All the leaflet templates in print.creator include a supporter tick box and I’m told
CLPs will be able to get hold of free supporters’ network sign-up leaflets very soon. If every CLP signs-up hundreds of supporters and
then engages with them asking them to volunteer, imagine the number of extra election workers we could deploy in the final weeks of this May’s elections.
So implementing Refounding Labour is not about a check list of rule changes, it’s about winning elections. The Supporters Network is not a distraction from campaigning, it’s a potentially result-changing way of adding value to your campaigns this May.