Patrick Moore's 700th Sky at Night is being (re)screened on BBC Four. All that talk of black holes couldn't help reminding me of Peter Hain MP, Chair of the National Policy Forum. Earlier today I , along with every other e-literate Labour Party member, received an invitation from the man himself. Peter, that is, not Patrick. Patrick is interested in informing, enlightening and enthusing. I'm not convinced we can say the same about Peter.
Peter's eMail asserts:
...Labour is changing to ensure that we can deliver fairness, even in tough times, by making different choices and tackling the vested interests that hold Britain back. The documents look at some key areas where Labour is setting out a new approach – and we want to hear your views.
Your ideas and comments will feed into our policy making process, Partnership into Power, helping to shape our manifesto for the next election. Everything we hear will shape discussions in our policy commissions and at a summer meeting of the National Policy Forum – before the documents go to Annual Conference.....
Peter is offering exactly the same format for responding that has left members with no confidence in Partnership in(to) Power, and me personally with no confidence in Peter Hain.
One clue is in the format. We submit, but can't see any other submission, can't enter into debate, and consequently can't be sure that what emerges from the consultation process bears any relationship to the submissions.
Secondly, consider the timetable:
We’d like as many submissions as possible by Friday 8 June. Submissions which reach us by this date will help to inform discussions at the National Policy Forum meeting on 16-17 June. Submissions received after this date will still be considered – with those received by the end of June informing policy commission when documents are redrafted ahead of Annual Conference.
My own CLP's branches that are meeting monthly have already either met or issued agendas in the May cycle. The deadline is before any branch will meet in June. In short, it is impossible at such short notice to organise any meaningful discussion across the range of policy issues set out in the six policy consultation documents issued tonight, in the time allowed by Peter Hain.
I have already called for the NEC to propose and vote for a motion of confidence in Peter here. (Ditto NEC constituency section wannabes.) In the light of his letter to e-literate members, do you need any further convincing?