I'm worried for Ed Miliband. Questions need to be asked. Who give a flying **** for fresh ideas when the ConDem nation is betting the livelihoods of the "squeezed middle classes " on an ideologically driven agenda to shrink the state and punish the poor (all feckless) in the name of deficit reduction? 'New Politics. Fresh ideas' was the slogan on the backdrop at yesterday's National Policy Forum.
Following Lib-Dem leader, now Deputy Prime Minister no less, Nick Clegg's repetitious use of the term 'New Politics' during the last General Election campaign, is it really very sensible to tarnish the new Leader's ambitions for the Labour Party with that terminology?
Ed asserted in Gillingham, Kent on Saturday;
...we’ve got to move beyond New Labour.
If so I hope he has asked for the National Executive Committee's papers to include a costed audit of purging the term from every member of staff's eMail address, and countless reams of office stationery, printed and web-based literature. The 33-member body should have had its Agenda papers for the 30 November meeting. They only have to look at the top of the Agenda itself and every circulated paper to see if the slightest notice is being taken of the Leader's wishes. (As a former NEC member, I have files full of paper headed, new Labour for Britain.) Otherwise it's just empty rhetoric.
Then there's this new website: www.freshideas.org.uk. It's possible that I'm missing some yet to be revealed functionality. But it looks suspiciously like a standard command and control designed site from the same stable in charge of Labour new media that has made the Party a laughing stock in the Web 2.0 community that cares about Labour's image and its future. Those people have form - some 15 years of shutting out members' expertise, enterprise and opinion, and closing down debate.
Ed in his speech recalled the surge in membership since the General Election:
We’ve had 43,000 members join us since the general election and I think that is an extraordinary achievement. I think it shows people want to be part of our party.
Yes, but, don't forget Ed that the Labour Party lost 6-times that number (net) between 1997 and the spring of 2010. Ask for those figures to be broken down by month since May and I know that in my own CLP new membership applications have slowed to a trickle. That is no reflection on anyone. It is a wake-up call to anyone like Ed who aspires to build a mass membership. I would be the first to cheer if there were high quality membership data presented to the NEC this week to enable effective management of the Party's scarce human and financial resources. My experience during my two-year term was there was never any such data circulated on any subject to the NEC. By high quality I mean evidence-based reports that would enable lay members to tell at a glance whether the staff were making best use of scarce resources.
To succeed, Ed has got to break the machine, with its shadow management structure, that has the Labour Party stuck in a timewarp. On Friday evening, Sundar Katwala posted on the Fabian Society blog Next Left: How does Labour regain trust? The policy review questions...which are being posed to all members.I have yet to see the full version.