We recently launched the Labour Together review into the 2019 general election, which was welcomed by groups and activists from across our movement. When we first assembled our commission, we started with the understanding that our review would only contain facts and analysis that the whole commission could agree on. Anything we couldn’t reach a consensus on would not be included. With the diversity of opinions and perspectives in the room, there was some apprehension about how far we could get and how much could be included in the scope of our review. In the end, what our commissioners could agree on ended up running to over 150 pages with 43 concrete recommendations on how we can move forward.
This outcome wasn’t guaranteed. It took work, compromise and many hours on Zoom from our commissioners contributing hundreds of comments to Google Docs, listening to each other’s perspectives to arrive at a shared understanding of what happened (alongside a truly heroic effort to synthesise viewpoints by our report author Martin McIvor). This process of transparent co-editing and commenting, facilitated by technology and focused on constructing a shared text, opened up a different kind of political space where, rather than suspecting each other’s motives, people could disagree constructively, listen and understand.
As we continue to rebuild Labour to make our party fit to win the next election, we need to make more of these spaces – spaces where our efforts and interactions with each other are focused on achieving concrete action. Our review can’t end up being just a single document left on a shelf to gather dust. We need to work out how we can implement it.
While some recommendations and actions can only be done by the party centrally, so many of the others can be done from the ground up. Change will come from local parties breaking out of factional wars and point scoring to instead focus on the shared task that matters – getting a Labour government, building a winning coalition and growing a movement that is genuinely rooted in our communities. This is no small task, and will require the efforts of all our members.
This is more than achievable, and in lots of places across the country Labour members are already doing it. From Broxtowe Labour who (helped by our community organising unit) have set up a high street community hub, to Northumberland Labour group who are co-creating a manifesto for the area with citizens and the public, to the Isle of Wight who took an innovative approach to campaigning in the last election, to the amazing CLP Secretaries Facebook Forum, which helps secretaries to share information and understand Labour’s processes and procedures. There are so many examples of Labour people already taking action on so many areas our review focused on.
Now we have to identify this best practice and amplify it across our movement. We need to share best practices across local parties, learn from each other and move forward – and we need spaces and forums in which to do this. This is why over the next 12 weeks, every Monday from 7pm until 9pm, we’ll be hosting weekly online workshops focused on each area of the recommendations in our review. For each workshop, we’ll be inviting speakers from across our movement and our commissioners to share their experiences and expertise. Then we’ll be opening up smaller breakout group discussions so people from different parts of the country can meet each other and begin to share ideas to explore how our recommendations can be implemented.
Week One, to be held this coming Monday, will focus on political strategy with our commissioner Lucy Powell MP and Paul Hilder, CEO of Datapraxis, who did a lot of the analysis for our review. In the weeks following, we’ll be considering everything from digital transformation, data ethics and deliberative policy making, right through to how we can innovate in campaigning, unlock the potential of our members and open up Labour to build better links with our communities.
If you’re interested in taking part in genuine discussion, you’re prepared to work with people who may have different views to you, and you’re happy to share ideas and think about new ways to operate, please do think about signing up.
See the list of Labour Together workshops and register to attend them at www.labourtogether.uk/workshops.
Read the full election review at electionreview.labourtogether.uk.