During the second Labour leadership campaign, I thought up an idea that I believed would blow away all those who thought Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t leadership material. I suggested that an all-day, outdoor music event be held in north London that would include big name acts like Lily Allen, UB40 and/or Squeeze.
As I was tied up with the #KeepCorbyn shows that were going on up and down the country, the task of finding a park and getting the idea off the ground was delegated to someone else.
As it turned out, no parks in north – or any part of – London seemed to be available in the time frame they were needed, so it didn’t happen.
However, a similar idea has been taken up again with ‘Labour Live’, an all-day festival (in north London) of all good things connected with Labour. An exciting family day-out with musicians, speakers (including Jeremy Corbyn) and political discussion with The World Transformed.
‘Labour Live’ has received some negative press as it is rumoured that it is going to run at a loss and tickets haven’t sold out (although there are still a few weeks to go – buy them here.).
The media enjoys knocking any attempt to make politics more accessible. Supposing that ‘Labour Live’ were to be a resounding success, the media would say that it is a cult (as ‘Daily Politics’ were trying to suggest when the idea was first put forward).
Unfortunately for our democracy, Westminster and the media are dominated by unimaginative people who regard politics as an exclusive, stuffy activity done behind closed doors. For these dullards an election turnout of under 70% is seen as high and party politics is regarded as flourishing when fewer than 2% of the population have actually joined a party.
Despite the negative media, the best way for the Labour Party to win the next General Election and to calm internal divisions is to put on more events like ‘Labour Live’ that create a positive atmosphere around politics.
For ‘Labour Live’ to really succeed it would have to be rolled out around the country and my recent experience with Stand up for Labour has shown me that there is an appetite for more entertaining political events in all corners of the country.
Last week I was in Minehead in West Somerset and Alton in East Hampshire and there were over 100 people at each event. The atmosphere was upbeat, even in so-called ‘unwinnable’ seats, as Labour supporters felt a sense of camaraderie and community that is so hard to come by in this isolating, internet age. New people signed up to join the party and we rewarded older members for their service to the party. People made light of their political differences and it was like a social club.
The worst possible scenario would be for the Labour Party to backtrack on events like ‘Labour Live’ because of negative media. We should keep trying out new ideas that engage people. We owe it to our supporters and to the people of this country.
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Stand up for Labour is planning more events all over the country, involving dozens of performers.
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