Friday, 24 June 2011

Refounding Labour - CLP Response

In March, Ed Miliband launched the consultation document - Refounding Labour. This looks at a range of issues facing the party about how we organise everything from our policy making process to our campaigns, local party meetings and community engagement. Members and local parties have until 24 June to make their views heard and the National Executive Committee will be making recommendations to Labour Party Conference where there will be a vote on reform. 

At the General Committee meeting held on June 23rd at 23 Orford Road London E17 9NL Walthamstow CLP approved the following points for submission:

Associate Membership ("AM") of the Labour Party for trade union levy payers who are currently not LP members should be set up and actively promoted at both CLP and national level. The general principal of AM status at a discounted rate was approved, with precise details to be worked out.

This special membership status, enabling associate members to join and participate in their local CLP, should be at a heavily discounted rate to the full adult party membership charge - one third of the price, perhaps. The heavy discount would be designed to draw in new members and to reflect the fact that trade union levy payers are already contributing to party funds.

If implemented, a new "AM" member status would boost Labour's membership numbers and income at a time of flagging party funds, and create an impetus and an energy to our local and national party activities and profile. It would also help to reconnect Labour with its trade union roots at a time when its complexion, at least nationally, is overwhelmingly white, male and middle class. It will also bolster its labour movement representation in a democratic manner, as opposed to the distorted claims of the past when we boasted of a membership of millions, regardless of their individual affiliations, simply by counting in those whose union paid the political levy.

Conference And The National Policy Forum
Members accepted that it was necessary to move policy-making from conference to a body which was smaller but more private. The problem is that the NPF has never been allowed to assume any importance in policy-making, micro-managed, invisible, sidelined and ignored.

A radical approach would be to change the very nature of conference but simultaneously to build up the NPF into a meaningful body. Conference could become a weekend event, for two days only - a powerful rally and side events, speeches from the leadership, celebration of our successes and messages to the nation. This should be a must-attend event for a huge number of party members (and supporters) and would show the country that we have a vibrant political movement. The remainder of the old conference period would be taken up with a meaningful three day meeting of the NPF.  Real discussion and decision-making about real issues. We know the NPF cannot be kept totally private so we make a virtue of tweeting decisions and debates, allowing simultaneous online messages and contributions. Decisions taken will be analysed in the media but without the risk of public embarrassment when votes go against the leadership (as they must be allowed to do sometimes). NPF membership might need to be larger and certainly much more visible to members with CLPs and affiliates fully aware of their NPF reps and influencing their positions, as well as subjecting them to annual election.

Representation On The National Policy Forum
Whereas women, BAME and young members have representation on the National Policy Forum, LGBT and disabled members do not; this needs to be rectified.

Local Policy Forums
There was general support for the idea of borough based local policy forums, though not worked out in detail.

Philip Creasy
Secretary, Walthamstow CLP 

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