Some issues are worth pursuing. I would urge all Labour Party members who regard having a say in policy making as an inalienable right to be cautious about declarations of hope following last weekend's National Policy Forum.
The latest glowing report was published earlier today on Labour List authored by Stephen Twigg MP, former chair and now honorary president of Progress. Twigg proclaimed:
I left Birmingham with a feeling that the NPF has a renewed sense of purpose.
This is to the credit of the representatives and Party members across the country who responded to the Partnership into Power consultation documents published in May. I co-chair the Education and Skills Commission with Mary Turner of the GMB and was particularly impressed by the number of responses received to our consultation document from individuals, CLPs and affiliates.
So, Stephen, how many responses were there? How many from individual members or affiliates? How many from party units? How many from outside bodies? And when will you publish them?
He went on:
Those responses informed constructive discussions in our five workshops over the course of the weekend. It is also to the credit of Party staff who are working tirelessly to open up the process as widely as possible as we build towards our next manifesto.
Well, I'm all in favour of giving credit where it is due. But we know the former Deputy General Secretary Alicia Kennedy expressly refused to open up the process. Former NPF chair Peter Hain lacked the ego-strength to challenge her. Judging by the message sent out in the name of the new National Policy Forum chair, Angela Eagle, earlier this week party staff are still administering a 'black hole' stategy for submissions.
I have been asked personally to have faith. And I will. But only when the method of inviting submissions is open and transparent to members. Those processes have to be linked to practical schedules of meetings for the NPF, and its policy commissions. The work of the top-down appointee as policy coordinator, Jon Cruddas has to be incorporated into that framework and accountable to the NPF.
Then there might be reason for supposing something has been learned.