Refounding Labour – it’s all about the implementation
So Labour Party Conference passed the Refounding Labour proposals. By a whopping 94% (99% among affiliates, 88% among CLPs (constituency parties)). 21 pages of narrative, 107 pages of new rulebook, and an NEC statement.
So does that mean Labour is “refounded”?
No, not unless the Party machine and activists follow-through on the Conference decision with local implementation.
• CLPs and the Party nationally need to promote the new registered supporters scheme in every piece of material we put out if the number of supporters is going to reach the 50,000 needed to trigger voting rights in leadership elections and if CLPs are going to reap the benefits of having a database of core supporters who can be mobilised at election times and over time brought into membership.
• CLPs need to use the new membership rates to up their recruitment of less-well off members. There are new membership rates of £15 for local joiners, registered supporters who join, and trade union members; and a £1 join rate for armed forces veterans. Get out there and start promoting these new rates in leaflets and direct mail and on the doorstep.
The new system of funding for CLPs means that the poorest and smallest constituency parties will move out of a permanent cycle of debt and every CLP will get a basic package of support including access to contact.creator, Euro election leaflets, insurance, and a delegate to Party Conference so they can participate in our internal democracy, and £1.50 per member to cover administration and communication costs. To ensure that this transforms the ability of our smaller CLPs to campaign and participate, the national Party needs to put these CLPs through training in using contact.creator, and make a sustained push next year to get those who have not been sending delegates to do so.
• The new national funds which have been created which CLPs can make bids to – to fund organisers and other aspects of participation in party democracy – need to be heavily promoted and CLPs assisted and encouraged to make bids.
• CLPs need to be encouraged to discuss at their next AGMs the new flexibility they have been given to organise their local structures in the way that best suits their geography and size of membership.
• Local activists who want to focus on campaigning rather than bureaucracy need to seize the right to delayer with a move from large Local Government Committees (LGCs) sometimes trying to backseat drive councillors to slim-lined and campaign focused Local Campaign Forums. There is a get-out clause that enables supporters of the status quo to keep the current structure of their LGC and just rename it, so there will be local battles over this.
• Young Labour and the Association of Labour Councillors need to use their new, strong, independent voice in our policy-making to push the policy concerns of young people and councillors respectively.
• The enshrinement of community campaigning as a core objective of the Party in a new Clause I of our constitution needs to be turned into a reality – CLPs need to work with community organising experts like Movement for Change to get their activists trained in and implementing these techniques, so that they reach out and engage with local communities and embed community organising in the way they work.
• Every CLP is now supposed to have a development plan, ending drift from year to year, but regional parties will need to monitor whether these are getting written, and more importantly implemented, and step in to offer support where there is a lack of local capacity.
• The changes propose a focus on making the union link a living reality at local level with more interaction between CLPs and affiliates, but this will require collaborative working between CLP Officers and the regional political structures of the unions to make it a reality.
• Candidate contracts to ensure all candidates campaign effectively will need careful monitoring and enforcement if they are to be more than just paper commitments.
If national, regional and constituency parties take implementation of Refounding Labour seriously, it could do what it says on the tin and really improve our chances of winning the next General Election. But without implementation it will just have been warm words generated at great cost in time and political energy and capital. Progress readers, as instinctive modernisers, are going to be central to that implementation effort.
Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.
Our work depends on you.
Labour Party Annual Conference 2011, Refounding Labour