Wanted: Labour members’ experiences of their party

Andrew Harrop

Labour is at its strongest when it represents the full diversity of our country and when every member feels welcome to take part to the full – whether that is as a campaigner, party office-holder or by standing for elected office. Today the Fabian Society launches a national survey of Labour members to understand how their experiences fit with that ambition.

We know there are lots of great examples of local parties that really strive to bring members together and help people get involved. But it’s also true that the way Labour works and local party cultures can sometimes leave members frustrated. Our survey, which you can access here, asks questions about local party culture, activism, meetings and candidate selections. We want to know how you think Labour is doing as an organisation for its members – and how it can do better.

For many, it feels that the party falls short. Factionalism and rancour have dominated too many local parties. Party meetings have been toxic, and too many members have drifted away because they did not feel welcomed by others. Some have faced practical obstacles to getting more involved and sometimes open hostility and harassment. The Fabian Society will be using the findings of our survey to shine a light on how the party is doing right now, with the aim of promoting debate around how Labour can be a safe and welcoming space for everyone.

The next few months offers the chance for a reset. A new complaints process will be debated at party conference in September, which will focus attention on standards and behaviour within the party. The relaunch of face-to-face meetings will also give local parties the opportunity to think about how to do branch and CLP meetings differently. And it won’t be too long before the party needs to start selecting parliamentary candidates for the next general election, something that needs to be done well.

Labour must get this right. A party that is welcoming, inclusive and representative of our communities is one that lives up to its values. It is also a party that can have the crucial debates on the change our country needs, and is closer to winning power nationally to deliver it.

The experiences of party members revealed in the Fabian survey will help inform discussions on how Labour becomes a party that is open, inclusive and reaches out to all those who recognise the change our country needs. Please respond to get your voice heard and make the Labour Party better.

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