More important than the party leadership

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.

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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:

Constitutional motion for Conference: for CLPs to receive 50% of their members’ subscriptions
This CLP agrees with Appendix 1 of the Labour Party Rulebook (2019), which states:
‘We do not believe that social change can be delivered solely by a top-down approach.. It is our members who can inspire and engage local people and communities.’
Having lost a fourth consecutive General Election it is now time for Labour to earnestly pursue a recruitment and engagement campaign that can reinvigorate our party and our local communities.
To achieve this, we must place CLPs at the centre of a bold campaign and move our party’s focus away from the headquarters in London.
Local parties can be pivotal to local people and local community groups and campaigns but they simply cannot achieve this if they have no money.

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.

8 thoughts on “More important than the party leadership

  1. Eileen Rowbotham

    Thanks for this. Didn’t realize how little CLP received.
    Met you at Peterloo event last year. Vi am the woman from Deal. Hope you are well.

    Eileen Rowbotham

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  2. Ian Flintoff

    Certainly more power, status, resources, and “open door” policies must, as you suggest, be given to local parties, CLPs. etc.

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  3. Tiggy Sagar

    All these activities you suggest need venues and people to run them. If involving kids that can be very expensive and even require qualifications. There aren’t going to be enough people in CLPs to do all this. I know, from similar plans in churches. A lot of those in CLPs are not available to do the work as they have busy jobs, families or health/disability issues or they just don’t want to. People burn out. Venues in city centres are very expensive.

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    1. crispinflintoff1 Post author

      It’s one step at a time. Building brick by brick. I don’t imagine this can be achieved in a month or half a year. But slowly more activity will encourage more activity and an esprit de corps will emerge on which more activity can prosper.

      In my mind there is this optimistic vision of communities working for each other, or there is a miserable future. I prefer an optimistic perspective and I believe optimism is contagious.

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    2. Izzy COOKE

      We definitely need more resources for the CLPs, and also for the Regional Offices somewhere in there, because ours for one is unable to cope. Urgent action is needed to put in more staff as it is barely functioning. Our CLP and individual members have been waiting months for responses on various matters.
      It’s silly if the Party continues with this disproportionate allocation of resources because community organising, building co-ops and renewable local energy companies with the CLPs and Councils, for instance, are the practical, examples of our ideas that will win people to us.

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