As of today, I've been informed, my Constituency Labour Party (CLP) Youth Officer (YO) and Womens' Officer (WO) will be able to access the CLP membership database themselves, without relying on the CLP secretary (me)..
This may seem a very small gain. But in the command and control world that has been the Labour Party for too long, I regard this as a small step for Labour Party democracy.
Why? We live in a world with infinite real-time communications capability. In the world of political ideas and activism, political parties have barely woken up to the potential.
From a purely selfish point of view it means I won't have to search the database by New Members/Under 27 or Current members/Under 27 download .csv file and forward to the YO every month, or Gender - Female/Current members download .csv file and forward to the WO every month. Now you might say: 'Oh well that shouldn't take long'. And of, course it doesn't, but add it together with everything else flying around, and it can become burdensome.
More importantly it means the YO and WO can monitor new members and send personal messages, in collaboration with the Membership Secretary, as well as organise local events for Young Labour and Women members knowing they have access to up to date membership details.
Of course there are Data Protection Act issues. But that is a matter of training and monitoring. If the Labour Party is going to succeed we have to learn to trust and respect each other much more. BTW if you weren't aware Branch secretaries notified to MemberCentre as postholders are now AUTOMATICALLY permissioned to see their Branch membership details.
I hope that this will soon be the case for YO and WO too. Perhaps you can see a case for other CLP/Branch officers having access. My CLP has two branch chairs who also have permission. There is a good case for them having automatic access rights.
All I did was ask, and occasionally remind, to get this far. I now working on the other side of this data access opportunity.
Why can't all members pop in their membership number and get a list of CLP/BLP officers? Why can't any member of the public pop in their postcode and get details of a local Labour Party contact? (I can do it for my local Conservative Association.)
Then it is only a small step to enabling members to highlight expertise, campaigning, fundraising and other relevant interests that the social network developers have shown there is a 'market' for. Oops, I hope I haven't spoilt my case.