We find ourselves at a crossroads. The path of our country and the character of our democracy will be shaped afresh in the coming months, for good or ill.
Up and down the country, people’s energies are rousing — from Glasgow to Clacton, from London streets to Cornish hamlets. Their patience grows ever shorter. Most feel no one is listening to them. No one is talking their language, or offering them much change they can believe in.
Is this really a moment for caution? Will a political party that drifts into office by default, through rivals’ failures, have won the public trust and leadership mandate needed to steer a course through the coming storms.
The British Labour movement is challenged to re-discover its soul and purpose. Yet the answers cannot be found by looking inward.
The call for a people’s convention is a start, but let’s move from theory to practice: The urgent task today is to open up a real conversation with the millions of citizens with whom both Labour and politics as a whole have, for the most part, lost touch.
That’s why today I am launching a petition on Change.org, so all of us who agree can raise our voices together. I’m calling on Ed Miliband and his team to start a People’s Campaign when they meet this week in Manchester – together with bold new policies on the NHS, inequality, housing and the economy.
I’m going out on a limb here, and I can’t do this alone. Please join the call by signing the petition now.
Having spent much of my life starting new movements and campaigns, I know that people-powered politics truly is a gamechanger.
Millions of 38 Degrees members across the UK have campaigned together to protect everything from the NHS to forests, while taking the fight to tax-dodgers, privatisers and other predators. Almost forty million Avaaz members worldwide have won campaigns on dozens of issues, from anti-corruption to peace and human rights.
Increasingly, these movements are coming together not just online, but in local communities and on the streets. And with Change.org, we took it even wider — giving many millions more their first experiences of making change, saturating the mainstream media.
Even more importantly, there are now dozens of political campaign stories proving the impact of a more open people-powered model — from Barack Obama in 2008 to the meteoric rise of Marina Silva in Brazil today.
As Scotland hammered home, real politics is to be found in living conversations with the people you aspire to serve, not in the deadening echo chambers of Westminster, Fleet Street or the policy circuit. This truth is often spoken, all too seldom lived by those inside the bubble.
Much of the Labour grassroots knows what I am talking about. But they need their leadership to heed the wake-up chorus, change course, and open up.
I am hopeful that the time is right, and that this is the campaign that Ed in his heart of hearts wants to run. He and his team have already put in place a well-oiled machine that can deliver the basics on the ground. Now they need to open up the campaign, and give everyone a part of it.
But that won’t happen unless we ask them to – and I’m not just talking about Labour members, but about everyone who wants a better politics and a better country. So if this sounds like something you might agree with, please take a look — and if you agree, sign the petition today!
Paul Hilder is the became Vice President of Global Campaigns at Change.org