Labour leadership and deputy leadership candidates are making noises about how we need to re-engage with communities. I’ve read that we have to listen more or we have to hold hustings in towns Labour lost so we can listen even harder. And both Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy have said we have to devolve power to local communities.
The most obvious way to get the ball rolling is to start devolving power within the party.
Let’s lead by example.
We need to give CLPs the resources to go out and earnestly campaign – to provide a support network within their boroughs, towns and villages.
The situation as it is does not reflect well on Labour.
This graph isn’t even strictly true. In reality, CLPs receive £1.50 to £2.50 per member as that’s just the standard rate.
The only redistribution of funds that the NEC provides is in the form of some freebies (one conference pass, access to Membersnet, election insurance). These all amount to no more than £1,000 (or the subscriptions of 40 members paying the standard rate).
The financial imbalance in the party is shameful and hardly devolved.
Were the existing financial model of the party proving successful – either in election results or benefits to communities – then I wouldn’t be writing this. However, we have not seen any increase in recruitment or engagement since the last leadership election in 2016.
To move things on from this dreadful situation, we need to balance out the amount allocated to CLPs and to head office so it is a 50:50 split.
This is not only something that would be of benefit to local communities but it is the most just way to distribute membership subs. Almost all party activity is made at a local level so it is only right that local parties receive their fair share.
In ‘Here’s how we win again’, I wrote about how giving CLPs their rightful share of money could bring immediate benefits. In short there could be:
- Local hubs in each constituency
- Support for foodbanks
- Meals offered to the homeless
- Legal advice for people in debt
- Cheap venue space for Recovery Groups
- Cheap venue space for social groups
- A space for toddler playgroups
- A space for coffee mornings for isolated, older people
- Cheap studio space for film makers
- Cheap studio space for musicians.
- Music gigs
- Comedy nights
- Film nights
These are just some of the ways that extra funds could be used to engage local people and to re-energise local parties.
With CLPs becoming energetic local enterprises, there would be a noticeable increase in party membership and this would bring further financial rewards to local parties as well as the national office.
In order to achieve this, we don’t need to depend on the goodwill of the next leader or the national office. That is unlikely to happen.
What we can do is effect change through the party rule book.
I have been advised that a constitutional motion debated and voted for at the next Labour Party conference could transform the party for the better – regardless of who the leader is.
This is a model motion:
This CLP therefore agree to send the following amendment as a rule change to this year’s Labour Party conference:
Delete Appendix 8 – NEC Statement – A minimum guarantee of support to CLPs
Replace Membership Rules, Clause IV, 7. with
‘7. In order to support CLP’s community engagement, while also providing for national and regional resources, each CLP will receive 50% of their member’s subscription fees.”
Please consider putting this forward at your next party meeting.