Power 2010 asks: Tell us your big idea:
Encourage political parties to:
1. recruit and retain members
2. sort out policy issues in local, regional and national fora, and
3. refuse state-funding.
Power 2010 asks: Tell us why this change is important to you:My response: The PoWEr Inquiry appeared to discount political parties as the only institutions capable of forming governments, and has been perpetuating the myth ever since that there are real alternatives.
(If you can find a positive suggestion about improving how our political parties function, please let me have the reference(s).)
Watching Labour Leader and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown over the past week or so has left me wondering whether he was getting a grip at last and deserves a better press. His prompt visit to Cumbria after the deluge was timely and considered. If there was any sniping from the right-wing press, it left no impression. Then there was news of just how many world leaders are going to the climate change summit in Copenhagen. Who was the first to declare many months ago? Wasn't it our very own GB? That was topped by news of a new fund to help developing countries play catch-up with green technology proposed by Brown and backed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy. To cap that Sarkozy turns up in Trinidad at a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at the weekend to consolidate support for the plan. (How's that for trumping the supposed new Franco-German entente?) The diplomatic effort in the background to get that far (boosting the prospects of a successor treaty to Kyoto) is huge, and must have involved clear, decisive leadership.
Then there is Afghanistan. This is another of the messes Brown inherited from his predecessor, Tony Blair. Over the weekend our GB set out clear conditions for Britain's continued presence there. Today we are told, our GB has decided to announce a modest increase in British troop deployment ahead of US President Obama's expected statement tomorrow. The British numbers are tiny. But the political significance? In the context of the Chilcot Inquiry 'revelations', what are we witnessing? Could it be a discreet reminder that unlike Blair "I'm no US poodle...". Don't forget our GB has engineered a successful withdrawal from Iraq, without too much egg on the military's face.
All I can say is keep it up, Gordon. Just remember, to win back the core vote before May (or whenever) you are going to have to demonstrate a real grip on the domestic agenda and enable your supporters to win the hearts and minds of the electorate.
Forget whitewash. John Chilcot has already done his job. That is according to this correspondent in today's Guardian:
Under international law, armed intervention against a sovereign state can only be legally justified in cases of a "threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression"; the inquiry has already established, on the basis of the most authoritative testimony possible, that none of these conditions applied in the case of Iraq.
What's the case for any further delay in handing the matter over to the international judicial authorities?
As an unincorporated voluntary association members are the backbone of the Labour Party. Today in Stoke-on-Trent appeals are being heard from members barred from standing in the forthcoming local government elections next year.
According to Pits'nPots founder and contributor Tony Walley quoting a unnamed senior source the NEC (of which I am a member) has a two-year plan. Well, that's news to me. If there is a plan, it has not been debated at the full NEC or agreed by an open and transparent process. What this throws into sharp focus is the question of 'natural justice'. If there is a 'party' or 'grouping' within the Labour Party that is working to a covert plan, which is being opposed by local Labour Party members for probably sound reasons, how can the Labour Party conceivably ensure natural justice in its selection of candidates or disciplinary hearings?
I have already asked whether or not the Labour Party is operating a scorched earth policy in Stoke on Trent. There is mounting evidence of purges being conducted all round the country in the name of the National Executive Committee. The NEC's so-called representative in Stoke is a trade unionist. He is no longer a member of the NEC. I am starting to question the role of trade union paid officials in the governance of the Labour Party.
Individual members of the Labour Party are not like trade union members. Their jobs in most cases do not depend on membership of the Labour Party. Most members are volunteers - plain and simple - with shared values. If the Labour Party is to have any hope of winning the next election it has to rethink radically its attitude to members and quickly.
The only person who can effect such a rethink is the Leader and Prime Minister Gordon Brown. That's why I urged him at the last NEC meeting to get a briefing from the General Secretary about how many active Labour Party branches there are as a proportion of electoral wards, bearing in mind that an electoral ward will cover approximately 10,000 voters. I don't know the answer to that question. But I do know that only 444 Constituency Labour Parties out of a possible 628 (excluding Northern Ireland seats) attend Labour's 2009 Annual Conference. An active volunteer base is critical to getting messages across in the few months remaining before a General Election. It can't be built while local newspapers here and the blogs are running stories of local purges, alongside headline reminders from the Chilcot Inquiry of the illegal Second Iraq War declared by former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Cities of London and Westminster CLP voted in favour of the abolition of leasehold as a form of property ownership at its GC on Tuesday. I'm kicking myself for having failed to alert the No.10 Political Unit to add this to the armoury of measures for the Manifesto to cement the differences between Labour and Tory over wealth, income and privilege before yesterday's false allegations that Labour in government was funding extremism in schools.
The Labour Party's targets should include absentee landlords - symbols of our class-ridden society. This is not just an issue in Mayfair and Marylebone, but throughout many of our industrial cities too where absentee landlords are also profiteering. While prominent parts of the media continue to give air time to Tory toffs seeking to divert attention from their real policies, congratulations are due to the Mirror for highlighting personal gains for the Shadow Cabinet from their inheritance tax proposals, if the Tories won the next election..
Ed Balls deserves a slap over the wrist for failing to make sure his boss was properly briefed before PMQs. But that should not detract from the extreme measures the Tory toffs are now going to protect their wealth and privileges.
The Labour Party has a simple calculator anyone can use to work out how much they could benefit from the Tory's flagship tax proposal to distort Inheritence Tax. We now need one to calculate how little it could cost to buy out your absentee landlord with leasehold reform. Why anyone with a leasehold property would want to vote Tory is a bit of a mystery to me.
UPDATE: I see Luke Akehurst has also featured the Greedy Tory Shadow Cabinet.
Well, well what a surprise: Hot No News: Tony Lloyd re-elected unopposed as PLP chair. Only a surprise to anti-Brown hacks who predicted otherwise
The deadline for nominations to chair the Parliamentary Labour Party is 8pm tonight. This has been seen by some commentators as an opportunity for the plotters against Labour Party leader and Prime Minister Gordon Brown to test the strength of their support as explained by Hopi Sen here. http://hopisen.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/now-for-the-plp-elections/
In the light of the Glasgow North East by-election result, latest economic data, an encouraging opinion poll (admittedly the only one for a very long time) and cautionary words about a hung parliament from the BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, let's hope that an uncontested PLP election will be headline news on the 10 o'clock bulletins tonight. Well, no harm in dreaming.
Today, the Labour Party's Special Selections Panel (SSP) will start work easing the log jam of selecting Prospective Parliamentary Candidates. I have already blogged about this here, and there is an account of the process in this week's issue of Tribune. Any eligible candidate can self-nominate.
I hope my colleagues on the SSP will go two steps further. Now is the time to be very bold and reach out. CLPs needing to select a new PPC should be actively encouraged to do all member mailouts both to individual members and affiliated members in the style of Your Party Needs You!
Controversially, I would argue for such mailings to go to lapsed members as well. There is a large pool of Labour people that we need to encourage back. Similarly there is are lots of potential candidates in single issue organisations staring the prospect of a Tory government in the face and saying to themselves, "I will do anything to stop them". I think the Labour Party should be responding positively. "Put your name forward to stand for Labour". There are precedents for waiving the minimum membership period to qualify as a PPC/MP - some just crossed the floor of the House of Commons.
That should help put the fixers in their place. It might even silence the clamouring for Primaries. The choice of PPC remains with the members. Hopefully, more will join as we show we are serious about being a party of ...what was that phrase..all the talents.
Gavin Hayes, General Secretary of Compass in his AGM Organisation Report, claimed 30,000 plus email contacts, including over 4,000 members - a ratio of 8:1. He compared this with the Labour Party's 50,000 eMail contacts. He didn't cite a Labour Party membership figure. But I can reveal that it is around 150,000 to 160,000 little changed on last year. The real point however is that represents a ratio of 1:3.
That speaks volumes about the uphill struggle the Labour Party faces if new media is to feature in its election campaigning. Is it time to rethink Labour's IT strategy? Or is it too late?