Labour Party General secretary designate Iain McNicol calling all members. LabourList picked up a new videoclip just released linked to the London elections next year and asked: More like this please
It is a refreshing change making use of social media to encourage members to get involved in a key campaign for Labour in 2012 (though not the only one). Like LabourList editor Mark Ferguson I hope there is more use of such facilities to get messages across to those members and supporters that are devotees of new media facilites and social networking.
There are lessons for our new GS across the piece. To date most Labour Party forays into new media and social networking has been blighted by top down command and control requirements imposed by Head Office. Refounding Labour is just the latest fiasco in that regard. But there are some features of current IT functionality that are worth preserving and enhancing.
Yesterday, I persuaded a new member at my third attempt to register on the Party's intranet facility called Membersnet and add an eMail address to Personal Details. Any member can access that facility with their membership number. Old cynics will no doubt worry that this could trigger a torrent of spam eMail generate by Head Office. Well, you can always Unsubscribe from that traffic. But Head Office are now not the exclusive users of that data. Through a facility called MemberCentre every constituency labour party (CLP) secretary, and every branch labour party (BLP) can access their members data.
That is an excellent basis for improving party communication locally. In my own constituency the Womens and Youth officers also have access as do branch chairs who have requested it. But there is a residual problem arising from mistrust of Head Office (ab)use of personal data. Consequently, many long-standing members refuse to update their Personal Details. According to memberCentre data only 75% of my branch members are on eMail. Yet my own database has eMails for 94%. That's because of personal contact. I know there is one member left who has an eMail address, but its work and too complicated. The rest just don't have email including a 98-year old - who insists on paying the full rate and appreciates getting copies of notice, minutes, supporting papers and newsletters. Four out of the five members are within easy walking distance of my flat, so it's one stamp a month.
This is part of the process of reaching out into our communities. That is why I launched an appeal on Twitter to all Labour Party members to update their personal details on Membersnet - get your membership card ready to register. I invite the Leader and the GS-designate to retweet.
Reaching out involves organisational capacity as well as campigning, if we forget that in the pre-Conference rush to find a consensus around Refounding Labour, Labour risks problems getting re-elected nationally. Better to start rebuilding the organisational and campaigning infrastucture now than spending time rewriting rules in ignorance of the load already carried by volunteers despite Head Office and its Regional Directors. They may put on a good show for Conference. But they have made an extraordinary mess of the Party on the Ground in too many parts of the country.