The Left is reaching out – but the Right is looking inwards

2nd June, 2013 12:32 pm

A Cameron aide calling the Tory grassroots “swivel-eyed” illustrates neatly a chasm which is opening up in the different political cultures of the left and the right. The right has taken to a bunker with Cameron ignoring his own MPs and only trusting a small circle of old school friends. Even the right’s grassroots uprising in the form of a UKIP surge has a distinctly top down feel, based as it is around Nigel Farage’s common sense and love of smoke filled pubs. This is in stark contrast to the left who at the moment are attempting to engage the entire country in conversation.

This bottom up approach seemed to start with Ed Milliband’s leadership campaign – asking Labour Party members for their input and concerns in person, on the web and via text – but has now ballooned to encompass all parts of the party as well as affiliated groups and other left-leaning organisations.

The national policy review headed up by Jon Cruddas has been an unprecedented success giving members a real say, however the party hasn’t stopped there, creating new online tools such as ‘Your Britain’ and the Campaign Engine Room to make sure everyone is able to chip in ideas and feel empowered to have their say on the issues that affect them. This coupled with the fact the Ed Milliband seems to be always hopping on a train to have a real conversation with the people of Britain – even if it includes having difficult discussions in the street – means that it’s not just the same old faces driving the change within the Labour Party.

It is not just the party who is reaching out beyond their base to get people involved. Unite has set up the Unite You service which allows anyone to join the network to keep updated and offer their opinion on issues and policy.

As well as the Unions and the Party, groups such as Progress are offering the space for people to have a real debate on policy. Almost every week a member of the Progress team is off at a university or CLP – not simply making speeches, lecturing or offering up the Progress line but actually having meaningful discussions with party members so as to make sure their research and policy proposals are anchored in people’s real experiences.

Taking it a step further than simply having input in the policy process, organisations such as Movement for change and The People’s Assembly are equipping people with the skills to take on campaigns and win locally on the issues they and their neighbours care about.

This process of reaching out is strengthening Labour. Firstly, as the Tories become more and more inward looking and remote there is great power in giving people a voice and making sure policies are anchored in their day to day lives. Secondly, it’s creating better policy and campaigns; it’s forcing us out of our comfort zone, increasing the number of people who can help knock on doors and offering new perspectives on how we can win, both locally and nationally. With Labour trusting people to have real influence and Cameron’s Tories looking inwards the next election will offer the public a choice between a movement of millions and a movement of six old school chums.

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  • dave244

    Would this be an extension of the online petition started by the Blair government you know the one in which members of the public signed petitions that when it got to 100,000 100 000 signatures which then triggered a response from the government and then promptly forgotten about.
    I don’t know about other people but I’m fed up to the back teeth with political parties asking people for their input and concerns about things then as soon as they get to Westminster it all goes out the window so they can follow party ideology and anyone who dares to question or ask if what you are doing is the right thing for the county you are looked down on as if your an idiot.
    This may sound very cynical but as the saying goes “been there done that and bought the t shirt” and then promptly ignored

  • robertcp

    The problem for the right of British politics is that it is divided between the Tories, UKIP and the Lib Dems, while the centre-left is united around the Labour Party. Of course, this would not be such a problem for the Tories if we had changed to AV. Maybe Ed Miliband, like Thatcher and Blair, is a lucky politician!

  • MrSauce

    But they are swivel-eyed loons.
    Let’s hope he can continue to ignore them.


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