2018 was a successful year for Open Labour. Once again, many of the policies agreed at party conference — including much of the democracy review — were directly influenced by our own policies. This is proof that it is those of us on the open left that are helping to provide the intellectual base behind the regeneration of our party. The last year also saw the launch of our pamphlet “Owning the Future – The Left’s Relationship With Europe”, featuring contributors such as Yannis Varoufakis and the TSSA’s Manuel Cortes. The selection of Open Labour members to fight parliamentary seats and good showings in internal elections have also seen us grow as an organisation in size and influence. Our own conference in the summer featured speakers such as John McDonnell and brought together activists from all over the country.
As we head into 2019, and the chances of a Labour government increase, Open Labour are offering another opportunity to help shape the kind of socialist vision that looks to the future and focuses on member engagement, environmentalism and internationalism. Of course, debate over our ongoing relationship with Europe is unavoidable at this time. But we at Open Labour want to think about issues that will remain important whatever the outcome of Brexit, and that are particularly relevant to the North. How do we secure the future of British industry? What policies should we pursue on immigration and integration? In light of government efforts, or lack thereof, regarding the Northern Powerhouse, what infrastructure do we need to ensure that the North is ready for the challenges of the uncertain years to come?
Open Labour has always been concerned about the culture of politics and the way we organise with the party. How we can improve this, and provide as open and inclusive atmosphere for all members as possible, will also be the subject of debate. We’ll be looking at where Open Labour should stand economically, and in an era of fake news, new media and siege mentalities, striving to understand what opportunities and threats exist to us on the left. We know that the right is always ready to stoke up divisions, so how do we navigate this path?
Open Labour is now firmly established as part of the Labour family, and as part of our policy conference, there is the opportunity for activists old and new to bring their own ideas and submit motions which will both help us grow and inform policy across the whole party.
We are delighted that Sonja Lokar, former member of the Slovenian parliament and a well-known sociologist specialising in gender, social welfare and grassroots political development will be joining us to open the conference. Our keynote speaker is Shadow Cabinet Office Minister John Trickett MP, who will need no introduction for Labour members, particularly in Yorkshire.
There is also an opportunity to see the excellent Marlon Solomon performing his hilarious, yet thought-provoking, one-man show “Conspiracy Theory: A Lizard’s Tale”. So, come and join us on Saturday January 26th in Leeds: sign up to the Open Labour Winter policy conference here.
Steve Lapsley is a Labour activist and member of Open Labour.