Monday, May 16, 2011
Refounding The Consultation
We can make Christmas come early this year for Labour. What are your own ideas on the following? They would be most welcome in our comment box.
Labour's consultative document "Refounding Labour" came in for a wide range of criticism at last night's Dronfield Labour Party Discussion Meeting. It was described as "a top down exercise, lacking any political perspective", "being like a Government Consultative exercise which provides too little time for independent discussion to take place", "a procedure where those in the know get their ideas endorsed in line with what was planned for all along", "a document that assumes that Labour only faces structural problems, yet it faces fundamental problems which go much wider", "containing nothing on policy issues", "another example of the tail wagging the dog" and even "a crap consultative exercise."
Nevertheless in an attempt to improve matters, a variety of ideas were put forward, including -
1. That because Labour's system of Policy Forums is not understood by the bulk of Labour Party members and tends to be made up of self-appointed people linked in with the leadership, they should be abolished.
2. In place of the National Policy Forum procedure, the Annual Conference of the Labour Party needs to be revitalised in order to involve members in policy-making.
3. The Labour Party should establish a set of Policy Commissions drawn from people with relevant expertise, to draw up reports on key issues such as how to control the operations of the banks and financial institutions. Such reports should then be discussed throughout the Labour Party and its affiliated organisations, with Annual Conferences of the Labour Party deciding what to accept, reject and amend.
4. The Labour Party needs to involve itself with people seeking to defend their quality of life, including their public services, by its members being out in the market places with petitions on issues such the defence of the NHS. The membership also needs to be encouraged to establish links with groups such as Tenants Associations and to be proactive locally in monitoring key issues such as the impact of inflation upon the vulnerable and then publishing their findings.
5. Clause 4 of the Labour Party Constitution should be re-examined, especially in relation to the sub-clause which most strongly reflects the areas in which New Labour's economic failures were concentrated with its call for a "Dynamic Economy" based on "the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition". This sub-clause should be replaced by one that seeks a "Sustainable Economy" which pursues high quality public services operated democratically for the public good.
6. Labour should draw up a "Charter for Young People" which can attract the involvement of young people and thus help safeguard Labour's future. (See the case in "Dronfield Blather" here).
7. There should be a strong commitment to non-dogmatic forms of political education throughout the Labour Party and the wider Labour Movement. (See the case in "Dronfield Blather" here).
8. There needs to be a change in the make-up of the Parliamentary Labour Party, for parliament at the moment contains too may members who belong to a "political class" where MPs often have more in common with each other across the political divide than they do with their own voters.
At our next discussion meeting, we will go on to refine and develop the above points for submission to the "Refounding Labour" consultative procedure. It will be an attempt to lift matters beyond the mundane.