Open Labour, a new group within the party, has launched today, with the aim of being a forum for “creating a kinder, more active and more equal society.”
The group kicks off with an open letter, which you can read below, signed by over 60 party members around the country – including an NEC member, several PPCs from May’s election, a London Assembly member and over 20 councillors.
They appear to occupy a space with Labour’s traditional ‘soft left’ of the party, finding their influence from the Tribune group, former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Ed Miliband’s 2010 leadership campaign. However, many of the the letter’s signees were frustrated with the options during this year’s leadership contest, and say that ‘supporters of the group spread their support between Jeremy Corbyn, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper and many could not support any candidate’ (although LabourList can identify at least one Liz Kendall supporter among the signatories).
The lack of what they call a ‘sensible left’ candidate provoked the formation of Open Labour, and the idea partly began with an article by one of the organisers, Tom Miller, on LabourList in August.
The organisation, which has been set up by volunteers, and will announce its governance and structure over the coming the coming months, appears to carry historic links to Compass, in both intellectual and personnel terms. Many of Open Labour’s founding supporters left Compass when that group decided to allow participation of non-Labour Party members in 2011. The exclusivity to party members, along with the lack of an assumed support for Corbyn’s leadership, is one of the biggest obvious differences between Open Labour and Momentum, which launched in October.
While they are clear about putting forward left wing ideas within Labour, their commitment to “focussing on the question of how to win power” and creating “a better quality of debate and political culture” seem designed to create a distance from some of the criticism’s of Labour’s left.
Today we launch Open Labour, a forum bringing together activists to build a Labour left which is committed to a better quality of debate and political culture within Labour, while focussing on the question of how to win power.
Labour’s democratic left has for too long been defined by other currents in the party and has been without any form of organisation. The elections of Ed Miliband and now Jeremy Corbyn have not changed that. Now is the time for those who believe in equality, democracy, solidarity and the emancipating power of the left to come together. Open Labour believes that there must be a place within Labour to debate and shape these values in a respectful way free from the divisive and intolerant voices that have come to dominate Labour debate especially on social media.
The need for a renewed democratic left within the party is clear. This debate cannot be reduced to how ‘left’ or ‘right’ Labour is. It is about how we tie our opposition to austerity and concentrations of power to a strategy where we persuade those who haven’t yet felt the confidence to vote for us.
Open Labour is a grassroots-powered organisation and will stay that way. It will argued for and practice a new style of left politics which is tolerant, forward looking and seeks power for a purpose. We urge anyone who sees truth in this letter to visit openlabour.org and join us.
Cllr Tom Miller, Brent
Cllr Alex Sobel, Leeds
Cllr Bev Craig, Manchester
Jo Rust, North West Norfolk CLP
David Hamblin, Cardiff North CLP
Jade Azim, City of Durham CLP
Shelly Streeter, Alyn and Deeside CLP
Josh Fenton-Glynn, Calder Valley CLP
Yue Ting Cheng, Hertsmere CLP
Ann Black, Labour Party National Executive Committee Member
Tom Copley AM, Greater London Assembly
Kaveh Azarhoosh, Bethnal Green and Bow CLP
Rose Grayston, Islington North CLP
Abby Tomlinson, South Ribble CLP
Tom Williams, Manchester Gorton CLP
Lauren Day-Cooper, Birmingham Selly Oak CLP
Cllr Sam Tarry, Barking and Dagenham
Cllr Lesley Brennan, Dundee
Cllr George Lindars-Hammond, Sheffield
Cllr Beth Marshall, Manchester
Cllr Grace Fletcher-Hackwood, Manchester
Cllr Carl Ollerhead, Manchester
Cllr David Levene, York
Cllr Kevin Rodgers, Doncaster
Cllr Alon Or-Bach, Barnet
Cllr Rosanne Kirk, Lincoln and Lincolnshire
Cllr James Roberts, Liverpool
Cllr Neil Walshaw, Leeds
Cllr Julie Heselwood, Leeds
Cllr Sam Stopp, Brent
Cllr Neil Nerva, Brent
Cllr Bernard Collier, Brent
Cllr Liam O’Rourke, Rochdale
Cllr Guy Lambert, Hounslow
Cllr Aidan Smith, Greenwich
Cllr Ralph Berry, Bradford
Steve Yemm, Mansfield CLP
Beccie Ions, Dewsbury CLP
Baris Yerli, Ilford North CLP
Mo Ahmed, Stretford and Urmston
Andrew Achilleos, Dagenham and Rainham CLP
Jacky Holyoake, Halesowen and Rowley Regis CLP
Thomas Sadler, Lewisham Deptford CLP
Linda Williams, Charnwood CLP
Richard Bell, Bethnal Green and Bow CLP
Arthur Baker, Greenwich and Woolwich
Garry Chick-Mckay, Leyton and Wanstead CLP
Samuel Marlow-Stevens, Bath CLP
Professor Steve Eales, Cardiff North CLP
Nick McGowan, Manchester Withington CLP
Neil Watkins, Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP
Carl Morris, Leeds North West
Frank Podmore, Greenwich and Woolwich CLP
Dave Toulson, Coventry South CLP
Matthew Donoghue, Wantage CLP
Ben Gregg, Bradford South CLP
Thomas Kirkwood, Hampstead and Kilburn CLP
John Tibbetts, Birmingham Northfield CLP
Dr Simon Raphael Picker, Chelsea and Fulham CLP
Andy Howell, Birmingham Hall Green CLP
Gerry Ramsden, Richmond CLP
Peter Kenyon, Cities of London and Westminster CLP
Trevor Fisher, Stafford CLP