Working on the assumption that Labour needs to mobilise as many members as possible to win back London, what's going to get them motivated? Well, we can take it for granted that crass remarks by Labour Leader Ed Miliband committing Labour to sticking with Coalition public spending cuts, and shadow Chancellor Ed Balls pledging to freezing public sector pay will not get party activists out on the knocker. Let's not forget that the new Leadership, in what can only be described as a very unfortunate oversight, has gagged members directly elected representatives on the National Policy Forum. Nor can the Refounding Labour debacle be readily dismissed as an administrative hiccup. A deadening sense of business of usual, when Ed Miliband promised change, is having a corrosive effect on party confidence and could result in historical precedent being overtaken by events. Labour may have never replaced a leader by staging a coup, though former Leader Tony Blair, might want to disagree with that analysis.
Personally, I have no confidence in any of the alternatives cited as potential leaders by more celebrated commentators than myself. I want Ed Miliband back on track. Not as red Ed, but as democratic Ed - the Leader willing and wanting to listen. He should talk to attendees at the first National Policy Forum meetings in the early 1990s. They remember the former, and sadly late, John Smith sitting at the front and listening to debates.
Just because there are elections in less than 100 days time does not mean elected representatives should not be discussing and debating policy. On the contrary, I would argue the opposite. Given the need to persuade the electorate that Labour values matter, what better way to get key messages to members - you matter, and voters - we understand your needs and have better ways of addressing them, than having open discussion?
According to Luke Akehurst's account of last Tuesday's National Executive Committee:
[He] asked why there wasn’t going to be an NPF meeting before the reps face re-election in the summer. Peter [Hain] said that if an affordable venue could be found then an NPF meeting would be held in late June or early July.
Rather than remonstrate with Peter, and rail against Ed, now is the time for practical responses. So, the Labour Democratic Network is asking all NPF representatives elected by members, and representatives of the other stakeholders, about their availability on Saturdays between now and Easter. Further it is offering to find and pay for a suitable venue in London to enable them to meet.
The proposed format is deliberative - no set speeches, no campaigning sessions eating into time for discussion, debate and voting. LDN hopes that this will be seen by the Leadership as a genuine offer to help set the seal on the change needed to our politics.
(Apologies in advance to any NPF CLP representative if we haven't got a correct eMail address for you, if you don't receive a Doodle invitation in the next 48 hours, please get in touch.)