Posts Tagged ‘meetings’

Refounding Labour: Will Straw’s Labour loves and loathes

15/05/2011, 07:07:53 PM

by Will Straw

Peter Hain’s Refounding Labour review moves to the next level this week with the launch of its website. The new site has been set up to provide a place for members to “critically review and assess the current structures and processes of the Labour party”. Members are being encouraged to set out what they love and want to change about the party.

The thing I love most about the Labour party is how it is arguably the most diverse organisation in any local community. Wherever I have lived I have been struck by how Labour party meetings, social events, and campaigning sessions bring together men and women from different age groups, social classes, ethnicities, and religions. In my CLP, for example, we bring together people from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. That might not seem unusual in London when we all share public transport, doctors’ waiting rooms, and supermarkets with people from a variety of backgrounds. But the Labour party must be unique in bringing such a range of people together for a common cause.

The main thing I would change about the Labour party is the excess of interminable meetings. These can be new members’ first experience of the party, since meetings often outnumber campaigning events. The fixed agendas and arcane rules may provide comfort to party stalwarts, but too often our meetings resemble a Monty Python sketch.

The annual votes for specific positions – often held year on year by the same people – can also mean that energetic new recruits are put off getting more involved. Our structures would work much better if meetings were aimed either at political education by bringing in expert speakers for a discussion and debate, or used to update on campaigning activity and outline the next set of action points. Some CLPs seem to manage this, but it would be good if the rule book were updated to reflect the organising norms of the twenty-first century.

You can have your say on what you love and what you’d change about the party from tomorrow at

Will Straw is associate director for strategic development at the IPPR.

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