Changes at Progress

Progress P

Throughout its existence, Progress has had one overriding purpose: to secure the election of the Labour party to govern Britain.

Given the damage the Tories and their Liberal Democrat allies are inflicting on our country every day they hold office, that need – and our determination to secure that end – is as great as it has ever been.

Progress has always campaigned for an inclusive, tolerant and outward-looking Labour party, focused on the needs and aspirations of the British people.

Over recent months a number of serious allegations and charges have been levelled against the organisation, culminating in the declaration last month by Paul Kenny, the general secretary of one of Labour’s biggest affiliated trade unions, that he intends to support a rule change which would ‘effectively outlaw Progress’.

We have repeatedly offered to engage in a mutually respectful dialogue with those trade unionists who are critical of Progress. We are keen to understand and respond to their concerns and correct any misapprehensions they may have.

As we have said in previous statements*, the charges made against Progress contain gross misrepresentations.

Anonymous dossiers mailed to party members or megaphone diplomacy conducted through the media are not a comradely way for party members to engage with one another. More importantly, they do nothing but damage Labour’s standing before the public.

We want Progress’ members to be confident in their organisation’s work, its openness and transparency.

We are, therefore, announcing a number of measures to underline our commitment to this aim:

First, and by way of background, to ensure the proper internal management of Progress’ finances a company was created when the organisation was established. The names of the directors of that company are, as with all companies, easily obtainable from Companies House. They are published today on Progress’ website* and any changes to them will be updated both there and, as is required by law, at Companies House. Furthermore, from 2011-12, we will file unabbreviated accounts at Companies House and provide a link to them from the Progress website.

Second, from 1 August we will publish annually Progress’ membership figure.

Third, we already comply fully with the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act and declare to the Electoral Commission all sponsorship and donations we receive above £7,500 (this threshold was previously £5,000 but was raised by the Electoral Commission in 2010).

On Progress’ website, we already detail: our annual income for the most recent financial year; the declarations we make to the Electoral Commission for the current financial year; and the names of all sponsors and partners we have worked with during that financial year.

Last month, the Who Funds You? website awarded Progress an ‘A’ rating for our funding transparency.

From 1 October, we will go beyond our legal obligations and detail on the Progress website all amounts of sponsorship or donations we receive over £5,000. We will make this information public within 28 days of receiving any such sponsorship or donations.

Fourth, like other organisations, we wish to ensure our members understand and are able to compete in parliamentary and local government selection processes. We will continue to hold training events to shine a light on these processes. As they always have been, such events will be publicly advertised and open to all Progress members. For clarity, we will shortly publish a brief online statement outlining the limited training and mentoring role Progress plays in local government and parliamentary selection processes.

Finally, we wish to ensure that the growing Progress membership feels a true sense of engagement with and understanding of the organisation’s work. From 1 October, a new elected strategy board will be established. To ensure representation from all of our stakeholders, it will be elected by our membership and by parliamentarians and councillors who are members of Progress.

The strategy board will:

-    Approve the appointment of Progress’ chair, vice-chair and honorary president for a full parliamentary term.
-    Approve any endorsements made by Progress in internal party elections.
-    Approve Progress’ overall political strategy.
-    Have a representative on any interview panel constituted to appoint a new director of Progress.

Further details on the processes for electing the strategy board will be announced shortly.

We hope that our announcement today will draw a line under the debate about Progress’ role in the party.

We continue to believe that Labour is at its best when it is broad, pluralist and welcomes all to its ranks.

We intend to press ahead with our primary purpose: returning a Labour government under Ed Miliband in 2015. We trust that others will do the same.

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* Please see here and here for previous statements.

** The directors of Progress Ltd are: Jennifer Gerber (former deputy executive director of Progress and former acting executive director of the organisation); Jon Mendelson (former treasurer of Progress); Robert Philpot (executive director of Progress); and Stephen Twigg MP (former chair of Progress and current honorary president)

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  • http://twitter.com/robertsjonathan Jonathan Roberts

    Congratulations on taking such positive steps. Let’s get all this out of the way so we can get back to campaigning…

    • Milan Milanovic

      …for Progress supported candidates only

  • Anonymous

    Is there a mission statement? Apart from, ‘Let’s get ourselves elected?’ It’s not bad as far as it goes, but what do we actually want people to vote for?

    • Edward Davie

      The statement clearly says ‘the Labour Party’ is what Progress want people to vote for. This isn’t the place for a full statement on what Progress think should be Labour Party policy in every area

  • Andy

    Wonder if union funding of CLP’s has anything to do with the campaign against Progress.

    I joined in the naive belief that it would get access to those who could sort CLP problems out, perhaps others have done the same and the union has rallied against to maintain it’s ‘closed shop’ CLP influence….

    • Milan Milanovic

      Not a fan of trade unions, Andy ?

      • Moody

        I read that Trade Union membership is about 6.5 million (BIS 2011).

        Shouldn’t Labour (and Progress) be representing all of our fellow countrymen and women rather than this particular 10%?

        • Milan Milanovic

          Do your maths, Moody, calculate that as a percentage of working age people – probably closer to 25%.

          The Labour Party’s origins, strengths, inspiration, power, and much of the funding comes from trade unions.

          I take it you’re not a member?

      • Andy

        Big fan of them Milan Dad was Regional Sec of one, I was a rep until health problems forced medical retirement and most others are associated with them in one way or another.

        What I am not a fan of is a CLP whose closed shop rallies against any new member who disagrees with them and questions why they, for example, are attempting to implement Tory policies and who then passes on emails to the Tories which criticises them, so the Tories can take up their ‘arguments’.

        Would personally assume Labour & the Unions would ask why but guessing it’s better to bury head in the sand and not acknowledge that these type of issues exist.

        Why did you ask?

  • Leon Spence

    Absolutely the right steps to be taking for a modern and transparent organisation.

  • Doris,Enid ,and their pets

    gawd bless ya guv’ner ,and all who sail in you up to and beyond winning the next general election !

  • Doris,Enid ,and their pets

    gawd bless ya guv’ner ,and all who sail in you up to and beyond winning the next general election !

  • Milan Milanovic

    “Progress has had one overriding purpose: to secure the election of the Labour party to govern Britain”

    Or to push a particularly narrow, centre right agenda, identified with the previous leadership, through the Party’s structures. Oh, and to push certain high profile Progress members into positions of power.

    “Progress has always campaigned for an inclusive, tolerant and outward-looking Labour party”

    Unless you happen to lie to the left of them, when you will be briefed against, mercilessly

    “We have repeatedly offered to engage in a mutually respectful dialogue with those trade unionists who are critical of Progress”

    When ? Where ?

    “Anonymous dossiers mailed to party members or megaphone diplomacy conducted through the media are not a comradely way for party members to engage with one another”

    Nor is incessentally briefing to the Conservative media against democratically elected Party representatives, such as Ken Livingstone, nor that scion of international revolutionary socialism, Ed Miliband, whose only fault appears to be that he’s not his brother.

    • Mickelmas

      Goodness! You are bitter and twisted.

      • Milan Milanovic

        I’d prefer to say realistic. And the real, bitter, twisted folk are the people at Progress and Labour First who

        i) lost seats on the NEC
        ii) can’t stand their candidate losing as Leader of the Party.

    • john p Reid

      Unless you happen to lie to the left of them, when you will be briefed against, mercilessly
      Except when it backed ken for mayor, a nd even if Progress are critical of other parts of the party, at least they don’t lie, like the lies that Kenny has said about progress

      • Milan Milanovic

        Backed Ken for Mayor – oooh is this the same Progress who

        i) briefed against him mercilessly prior and post his election
        iii) spent an entire issue of the magazine slagging him off, and claiming he couldn’t win
        iii) encouraged members in Tower Hamlets and East London not to campaign for him ?

  • Anonymous

    Seems a shame to spend time and effort responding to deeply unpleasant lefties whose attentions seem to be focused on disruptive politics rather than the welfare of their members or the good of our party.

    • Anonymous

      Do you mean like looking after the welfare of Blair, Mandelson, Jaqui Smith etc?

      Try engaging with the class of people who started the Labour movement, or is that beneath you lot now?

    • Milan Milanovic

      You could, of course, try and set up your own party. We’d probably even offer to help.

  • John McCormack

    You are doing a great job raising issues for Labour. Mr Kenny should be doing that too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.godfrey.90 Lee Godfrey

    If Progress’s over-riding aim is to get the Labour Party elected, will Progress open up its parliamentary and local government selection process training sessions to all Labour Party members, not just Progress members? And if not, why not?

    • Milan Milanovic

      Because they only want people who support their ‘party’ line, stupid !

  • http://www.paul-blanchard.info/ Paul Blanchard

    Seems sensible guys. Keep up the great work.

  • Anonymous

    If you want to see Labour taken over by a bunch of previously-failed, bent, twisting, fiddling professional politicos, then go ahead and support them. This bunch are little different from Cameron and his cronies, they are all wooing the same gods of Mammon for their patronage.

    After 18 years of Thatcherism, I celebrated the return of Labour only to be let down massively. What regressive tory legislation did they repeal? Youth unemployment was already on a downward trend until 2001, it the started creeping upwards and continued on that path for a further nine years of New Labour. Mandelson was “comfortable with the super-rich”, no wonder, he watched them all offshore tax liabilities and employment, while sipping cocktails on the oligarchs’ yachts.

    How many of you lot will be down at the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival this month? How many of you even know of the Tolpuddle Martyrs?

    When a true, working-class, life-long Labour supporter can offer me an argument as to why you should be even considered, then I may listen to you. But all the while you are populated with PPE graduates, who have never stood on a picket line, have never known real hardship, then I truly feel that I’ll be waiting a bloody long time.

    Do not consider yourselves socialists, you are far, very far, from that description.

    • Milan Milanovic

      To be fair to this bunch of careerists and rightwingers, Codhead, I don’t think they would ever deign to call themselves socialists in a month of Sundays.

    • Andy

      At a time when a considerable number don’t even know recent history, thanks largely down to the watering down, political correct idiot left, in our schools, I fail to see what possible argument can be found in what knowledge people have or do not have about the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

      As for never standing on a picket line, as one of ‘Thatchers children some of my memories are of being stood on one on what felt like almost every month, unpaid, by the way, with no benefit handout to ease “real hardship” and have very strong memories of my Dad being a flying picket and the worries my Mum had about if he would return home or when he did what physical state he would be in, so that is another accusation / lie from the idiot left which can be dismissed.

      I never went to university, I didn’t even get close to achieving GCSE’s, never mind a “PPE graduation” but when you consider that some of the ‘great socialists’ went to university it makes that level of comment also redundant.

      All I do know is that while there are a section of Progress who do seem a long way from reality in terms of what can best be described as grass route issues and what the ‘common people want’ (the priority for AV still haunts me) if the idiot left seriously think that the electorate want their left wing policies I hate to brake it to them but they are very much deluded.

  • http://twitter.com/thom_brooks Thom Brooks

    These are excellent changes for an already well run organization constructively dedicated to a project we all endorse: ensuring a Labour government – under Ed Miliband – in 2015.

  • Imrankhanlahore

    Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? The attacks on Progress are orchestrated by the remains of the Trotskyist infiltrators in the Labour Party grouped around Left Futures, Socialist Unity and the SWP. If Labour adopt their strategy they are unelectable for a generation yet again.

    Kenny, Meacher, Lansman, Newman et al should be ignored. The former is a union boss in the mould of leaders of The Teamsters and Longshoremen in the States with Bob Crow the leading example. The others run totally unelected and unaccountable groups and websites.

    • Anonymous

      Ah, but being elected is not the point. Opposition is a badge of honour for lefties.