New group Consensus aims to unite Labour after months of splits

21st March, 2016 3:13 pm

John McDonell speech conference 2015

A group of Labour MPs and activists from across the party is about to launch a new unity group in an attempt to combat the “factionalism” which has become endemic in the party.

Consensus says it will draw upon party members who have been involved in various strands of the Labour movement from the trade unions to Momentum, the successor to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, and Progress, the Blairite pressure group.

The “wholly non-aligned” group is being set up by five activists frustrated after attending Labour conference in 2015 “full of excitement and anticipation”-  days after the election of Corbyn – only to discover a rancorous atmosphere.

“We found that our sense of ambition and optimism was not widely shared at Conference,” the write in an article today for LabourList.

“Instead, we discovered a deeply fractured movement; one struggling to reconcile itself to its new leadership. Members were seeking safety under the banners of various factions, making it clear that working across differences was the last thing on their mind. At worst, party members would heckle each other, in a progressively scathing tone. At times, it felt we had forgotten who the real enemy was.”

Consensus, which intends to begin a year-long seminar programme in May, has been set up by Labour activists, Rayhan Haque, a policy advisor, Stefanie Lehmann, Alex Chai, Beth Foster-Ogg and Martin Edobor, who between them span involvement in Momentum, Progress and the Fabians.

Consensus is about two things,” said Haque.

“Firstly, bringing people from across the Labour movement together, to debate in a courteous and constructive manner. It sounds obvious, but too often in the past year, we have witnessed fractious and open denouncements of each other. The only winners of this are the Tories. That has to stop.

“Secondly, we are bringing people together and providing an open platform because we recognise all intellectual wings of the party have a key role to play in building consensus on key policy issues. By drawing on the strengths of all within our movement, we will develop a unifying and electorally compelling story to put to the country in 2020.”

The group will be formally launched at an event in the House of Commons on Tuesday April 12 with speakers Jon Cruddas; Seema Malhotra, shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury; Stephen Kinnock, PPS to Angela Eagle, the Business Secretary; and Sam Tarry, political officer at the TSSA and a Momentum activist.

To obtain a ticket for the event click here.

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