New Open Labour group launches to build ‘a renewed democratic left within the party’

Open Labour

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.

You can read Open Labour’s founding statement here, follow them on Twitter here, and read their launch letter below:

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.

Signed:

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

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