While some mourn the passing of New Labour co-architect Philip Gould, I have been wrestling with the practical problems of organising a branch meeting outside St. Paul's Cathedral, and a faulty national membership database.
Membership services are not a central feature of the current Labour Party apparatus. After an exchange with Johanna Baxter on Twitter earlier today, it occurred to me that the clock is ticking for our new general secretary, Iain McNicol.
My colleagues in the Labour Democratic Network share a vision of the Labour Party, which is set out in our Manchester Declaration. Iain McNicol was served up Refounding Labour by the old New Labour guard. They were desperate to consolidate anti-democractic centralist practices as the prevailing force inside the party, and the majority of the national executive committee fell for it.
Contradictions between the stated ambitions of the leadership to attempt to run a Labour candidate for every public office anywhere in the country - the so called 'No no-go areas' policy has to be matched with an organisational/fundraising strategy (short/medium/long-term) to enable Labour vote maximisation.
That is one of the many challenges facing our new GS, and his first 100 days are up on 9 January or thereabouts (assuming his official start date was 1 October). Fixing the IT system to support local organisation is critical to enabling that shift in culture to being member friendly, and improve retention and recruitment. Of course, there is a lot more to the job than that, but it would help.
Which reminds me, I must get the ward notices out to members still relying on the post. None of them currently attend meetings, but it's their right to know what's going on in their branch, even if they don't trust Head Office with their eMail address. (That's something us branch secretaries just have to live with, for the moment.)
Bring on the future, Mr McNicol.