The Thick of It

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Refounding Labour @ #Lab11

The Labour Party desperately needed a new lease of life by the time 2010 brought election defeat. Being a party member means different things to different people but it is clear that whatever your view the structures and rules of the party needed a refresh. Ed Miliband's response was Refounding Labour, a wide consultation asking members for their views about how the party should work.

Personally I find it tiresome that being a Labour member often means spending at least one evening a week at a meeting. It is important that the Labour Party provides members an opportunity to debate local and political issues and I understand that there is always a certain level of administration, news and decision making that any local party needs to get through.

Unfortunately though I feel this structure of ward meetings, consistency general meetings, constituency executive meetings, local government meetings added to campaign meetings and whatever else one might have volunteered for leads to boredom and fatigue.

Given the many pressures on most peoples' time these meetings put a strain on how much time people can give to the party. If I go to all of these meetings and I want to also remain committed to my job, family, have a social life and commit enough time to sorting out my own personal administration there isn't much left. And people wonder why members don't attend meetings.

After attending all of these meetings I then have no time left to go campaigning. If Labour doesn't campaign Labour doesn't win and it doesn't meet the electorate. The meeting culture makes being a member almost self defeating because it doesn't prioritise the most important aspect - campaigning.

Peter Hain's conference speech yesterday alluded to changing the party to be focused on campaigning. This is encouraging but Refounding Labour needs to bring about  a huge cultural shift in the party too. Making sure councillors and MPs campaign is a start but it isn't enough.

I'm looking for Miliband and Hain to bring about wholesale changes though I suspect that won't happen, which disappoints me greatly.

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