Submission to the “Refounding Labour” Consultation from the Dronfield Labour Party Discussion Group which is attended by Labour Party Members and supporters from various Constituencies in North Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.
We discussed the first two of the ideas given below and then fed into our parent body the Dronfield Labour Party and from there to the local Constituency Party of North East Derbyshire, where they took on the form of resolutions. Both the Dronfield and the NE Derbyshire Constituency have separately submitted these. We have also gained support for these proposals from a dozen Labour Party members from six constituencies ranging from Romford to Darlington. This support was received via a blog we operate here.
1. "Complex and convoluted systems undermine the operations of supposed democratic procedures. Democratic arrangements need to be straightforward and understood. The current 'Partnership Into Power' system and the functions of the National Policy Forum are not understood by the bulk of Labour Party members who participate in Labour Party Branch and Constituency activities, serve on local councils and/or engage in local electoral activity. The current system is dismissed as being one of "smoke and mirrors". It should be abandoned. In its place we require a clear structure for policy making, in which democratically run units of the Labour Party have a direct link into the activities of the National Executive Committee and into the decision-making procedures of the Annual Conference of the Labour Party".
2. 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.
This is the suggested amendment to Clause 4 -
Replace sub-clause 2a on “A Dynamic Economy” with the following -
“A SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY, serving the public interest by operating through the principles of co-operation and participatory democracy, in which wealth and economic power are fairly shared.” (Some of the Discussion Meeting came to prefer the word “equitably” to “fairly” in this proposal).
Amend sub-clause 2b on “A Just Society” as follows -
"Replace the words"equality of opportunity" with the words "social equality".
3. 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 as the defence of the NHS. The membership also needs to be encouraged to establish links with groups such as Tenant Associations and to be proactive locally in monitoring key issues such as the impact of inflation upon the vulnerable and then publishing their findings.
4. Labour should draw up a “Charter of Youth” attracting the involvement of people in its development. This is because they are at the forefront of problems faced in this country and throughout the world. Then without the support of young people, Labour will have no future. More details of this proposal can be found on our blog here.
5. There is a huge need for a strong commitment to non-dogmatic forms of political education to take place throughout the Labour Party and the wider Labour Movement. A person who knows only their own side of a case, knows little of that. Hence ideas need to be fully debated and dissent encouraged. When members join a political party they expect leading political matters to be to the fore. Political Educational activities need to be a major part of our work from national to local levels. More details of this proposal can be found here, which is the clearest version of our approach.
6. There needs to be a change in the make-up of the Parliamentary Labour Party, for parliament at the moment contains too many members of a “political class” where MPs often have more in common with each other across the political divide than they do with their own voters.