The Labour party should look at establishing its own social enterprises and charities, according to radical new proposals being put forward by shadow health secretary, John Healey.
The plans, which Mr Healey intends to present as part of a formal submission to the Hain task force on party re-organisation, would begin a process of “reconstructing the definition of what politics is and what it means to be a political party”.
Speaking to Uncut about his proposals, Labour’s health spokesman said, “We need to demonstrate our good values and good intentions by good actions and good works in the community. So I’d like to see political parties given a different sort of constitutional position and almost be able to set up charity or social enterprise arms. If we believe in the opportunities for sport for young people I’d like to see us sponsor junior football teams; I’d like to see us involve people in setting up junior sports clubs”.
Mr Healey insisted that he saw the direct provision of local services and community enterprises as complementing, rather than replacing, Labour’s traditional activities. “In the local party in Rotherham there are a couple of dozen people who are highly active in a range of church or charity groups for whom that type of activity, with a Labour stamp, would be something they would want to do and would do a great deal to help people see that politics isn’t disconnected from local concerns and the local community. It would also help them recognize that politics isn’t just conducted by people like me who are full time paid politicians”.
He added that he was “relaxed” about plans to involve non-party members in policy making and the election of future leaders, and said he viewed the new community organisational models being advocated by some in the Labour movement as “a great idea”.
“However community organising is done in practice, what it starts to do is push the boundaries of what constitutes and defines organising. Underpinning it is that sense of not just connecting Labour to community activism but connecting politics to communities and activism. We still have this long dark shadow of the expenses abuse that colours people’s sense of what politics and politicians are about and we need to do more to start to overcome that”.
The full interview with John Healey will appear on Uncut tomorrow.