Posts Tagged ‘organisation’

Labour moderates should stop worrying about strategy, get off their arses and start organising

11/11/2015, 11:57:30 AM

by Rob Marchant

It’s easy to read the politics pages of national newspapers and think that the real problem of Labour’s moderates is that they’ve got to get a shiny new strategy together that is neither New Labour nor Miliband Labour, but something which will get Labour back in power. That, in short, it doesn’t really know what it stands for and therefore this needs to be its first priority.

While it is a problem, it is certainly not the immediate problem.

The reason for this is simple: the media generally sees politics through the prism of Westminster, not just Parliament but the plethora of think-tanks and lobbying firms that hang around it. Policy and political strategy are the glue which holds that world together, without it we are nothing.

But Labour, we should take pains to remember is first and foremost a party (and a movement, although with the current radical state of the leadership of most major unions, that may not be of much immediate help to the moderates right now). It is a living, breathing thing, made up of hundreds of thousands of activists. Right now, it’s all over the shop.

Which is more important during opposition, particularly during a crucial battle for the soul of the party?

It’s the party, stupid. And that means organisation on the ground, in the CLPs and Labour group meetings across the country.


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What next for Labour’s moderates

20/10/2015, 09:52:46 PM

As Labour continues to struggle in the polls, Uncut writers look at what the party moderates need to do. First up, Jonathan Todd.

Labour moderates need a new name (not Blairite or anything redolent of), philosophy (vintage in tapping into the same revisionist traditions as the Third Way, while also being thoroughly contemporary), and (having been comprehensively out organised by the left during the leadership election) structures. Apart from that, everything is fine.

Acknowledgement of these profound challenges is not original. David Butler stressed philosophy here. Spencer Livermore elsewhere. Liam Byrne even wants to emphasise it through a new Clause 4. And renewed organisational vitality comes from Labour First and Progress.

This fusion of names and groupings associated with Blair (Byrne/Progress) and Brown (Livermore/Labour First) and a new generation (Butler) shows that the old war is over. Imagine what combatants might have achieved if their generals – Blair/Brown – had remained as united as those now ruling the roost – Cameron/Osborne.

The dilemma now is whether to train all artillery on these national rulers or reserve some strategic strikes for our new party leaders.

Cut moderates and we bleed Labour red. In this red, we must draw lines of differentiation with both national and party leaders. Lines that are coherent in deriving from relevant intellectual traditions – the philosophies imbibed by Livermore, Butler and Byrne, a new firm of provincial solicitors with big ambitions. Yet accessible in being painted in everyday language and concerns, not lofty principles.

Name. Philosophy. Structures. All hard enough. The red lines may be harder still. Yet perhaps the most vital part of a package, which depends upon both the deep reflection that sustains high principle and the quick fire action of low cunning.

The moderates have underperformed for years, which is why Labour is where it is. We should go home or get better.

Jonathan Todd is Deputy Editor of Labour Uncut  

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Honesty, forensic scrutiny and playing the long game

04/11/2010, 11:30:17 AM

by Angharad Williams

The comprehensive spending review has changed Britain forever. George’s masochistic medicine will prove a bitter pill to swallow. The side-effects may be dramatic: social convulsions, outbreaks of crime and racially charged rioting, feelings of worthlessness and a loss of aspiration.

For the new generation which learnt the human consequences of hard-headed Thatcherism mainly from Brassed Off and The Full Monty, it was the beginning of a practical study in the DNA of the nasty party. It should not have surprised us that a new generation of Conservatives, raised on a rich diet of small state and strong market thinking callously cheered announcements that will devastate lives.

The worst thing about the coming cuts is the sense of powerlessness. We may win the odd skirmish, but the real battle is set for May 2015. Those who decry the “failure” of Labour’s 13 years in power will need to screw their heads back on. (more…)

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We need to build a party ready to win, argues David Miliband

26/07/2010, 10:00:36 AM

Labour has a responsibility to win again.

John Prescott, who epitomises the permanent campaign, wrote here that the correct response to the anger we feel is to get organised. I could not agree more and agree strongly with the ideas he set out. The Labour leadership election will rightly focus on the policy lessons we need to learn from our defeat – and there are many – but when the debate is over, Labour will have to re-emerge as movement with both the right ideas and organisation to win again.

We should recognise the remarkable lengths that party activists go to. Their hard work saved Labour from catastrophe and meant that we got a 1992 result on a 1983 share of the vote. But despite their commitment, and this hasn’t been said enough in our contest, we lost badly. We won just 12 seats in the Southern regions of England. 4 million Labour voters and 180 Labour seats have been lost since 1997.

The seeds of our defeat were sewn long in ago in the loss of council seats, activists, members and supporters across the country. The leadership of our party invested too little in organisation. We lost the link between the voices and experiences of local members and the policies we campaigned on nationally.

Labour’s new leader will have just over 200 days to get machine and movement ready for the Welsh, Scottish and local elections. If I was that leader I would put us on a war-footing from day one. This coalition seems cosy but I suspect some Liberals are already looking for an escape route. I don’t want us to be caught napping by a surprise election or for us to still be selecting candidates with a few weeks to go before an election. We need good people in place as quickly as possible, especially in those Lib Dem seats which have become competitive again after their decision to join the Tories. The Liberals, for so long the party of relentless opposition campaigning, should now reap what they have sown.


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Daniel Shaw reminds us that the roots are in the branch.

30/05/2010, 11:36:46 AM

WARNING: The following post contains heretical references to Labour Party organisational structures, which references are not usually suitable for activists under the age of 65.

You can’t get more grassroots in the Labour party than your local branch meeting.?? Traditionally, they’re quiet affairs – attendance limited to an ancient party stalwart, the local nutter, an earnest Labour student type and a cat.   And discussions tend to focus on how best to defeat global capitalism and bring about unilateral nuclear disarmament, before getting onto the serious business of who’s going to bring the biscuits next time and the latest grudge match between Councillor Hatchetcracker and Brenda, who’s been secretary since 1952 and once met Clem Attlee, you know.

They’re not exactly hubs of political dynamism.  ??Part of this can be blamed on the party culture over the last 12 years – top-down message, limiting the influence of constituency Labour parties (CLPs) at conference, ignoring motions from branches and general committees – which did little to encourage active engagement at the grassroots level on national policy and campaigning.

But the branches themselves are often just as much to blame – obsessed with procedure and minutiae on the one hand, and with easily dismissed political idealism on the other. (more…)

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