Category Archives: CLPs

Can the Labour Party come together?

One of the reasons why politics gets a bad name is that politicians will argue about anything. It’s as though they are looking for reasons not to get on, rather than seeking to do the best for their community or the country.

Put simply this is called looking for the differences and not the similarities.

I suppose this wouldn’t be a big issue if we were just talking about Labour politicians disagreeing with Tories. But it does become a problem when it is people from within the Labour Party attacking each other.

Personalities not principles

Factions can be created from votes for positions within the party. Some people become attached to one candidate against another and make this into a matter of principle. This certainly was the case with Jeremy Corbyn standing for leader of the Labour Party and with the second leadership election. Since he was elected, many members of the Labour Party have fallen out – just over a vote for who is the leader of the party.

But it doesn’t just have to be a leadership election, some people have built up resentments against each other for elections for positions in the Labour Party, for council selection or MP selection.

It’s as though every internal election causes more division and, in doing so, makes unity harder.

Show of hands

Everything goes to a vote

Another reason why there are rifts is that every decision in the Labour Party has to go to a vote. In Labour Party branches and CLPs people will vote on anything from whether the minutes are correct to how much money should be spent on the Christmas Social. This isn’t actually always necessary and can lead to unnecessary divisions.

Consensus decision-making is a method of including the input of all so that decisions may address all potential concerns. This creates a greater cohesion within the group. With this method, because everyone has their voice heard, those who are uncomfortable with a particular decision can be persuaded by the force of the argument of comrades and not by the number of hands in the air (often many are not persuaded that something is right or wrong because they lost a vote).

Divisions built on fear

The consequence of factions being formed on the back of votes – whether for positions of power or for any other issue – is that these factions start to distance themselves from each other. This involves talking negatively about the other faction and finding a solidarity with others solely on the basis of this animosity.

So the rifts start to feel intractable.

This seems to be happening in the Labour Party now with a few groups arguing in public about issues like the composition of the National Executive Committee.

What’s being done to unite the party?

There are a few people saying ‘the party must be united’ if we are to win. But there is nothing being done. And the Labour Party itself isn’t going to admit that there are factions as it is not in its interest to do so.

In fact, many of the factions within the party are actually holding meetings in which they are quite publicly saying they wish to take control of the party or take back control. This is only going to escalate divisions.

Laughing audience

Finding common ground

My experience of Stand up for Labour has shown me that social events are a great way to get people together. At Stand up for Labour,  people from all sides of the party are united in laughter and we find our common cause within the Labour Party family. We are able to see that we are a broad church and that we all want to work towards Labour coming back to government and winning local elections.

I believe that Labour members actually agree about most things.

We all want a society where there is no need for foodbanks, we all want the NHS to be properly funded so that everyone has access to good healthcare, and we all want our education system to provide an opportunity for people from all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We believe that jobs should be available that are well-paid and secure and we also believe that we should have decent, genuinely affordable housing for all.

Issues that are disagreed about, such as defence and foreign policy, fiscal policy, PFI schemes and nationalisation should be discussed openly and the weight of arguments should make the difference not tactical manoeuvres at meetings. I’m sure that if all members felt that their opinions were taken into account then there would be no fallout from policy decision making.

Curry for Corbyn picture 1

A unifying event

On Sunday the 4th of March, I am putting on a curry evening that will involve a discussion on how people see the future of the Labour Party. This discussion will include policy matters as well as party campaigns and organisation. I am writing to all of these groups to invite them:

Blue Labour, Chartist, CLPD, Compass, Co-Operative Party, Fabians, Labour First, Labour Future, LRC, Momentum, Open Labour, Progress, Tribune and all the affilliated trade unions.

The rules of the discussion will be that no one is to speak without using the handheld mic, that no one hogs the mic and that there are no personal attacks or heckling. We can then have a proper discussion and not get indigestion from the curry.

My hope is that some headway may be made towards party unity through the act of being in the same room and breaking naan together.

  • Tickets for ‘Breaking Naan’ will be available to all Labour supporters in the next two weeks.

 

 

 

Five reasons to support Stand up for Labour’s Crowdfunder

The Stand up for Labour Crowdfunder will kickstart a comedy/variety tour of the country that will see 50 shows put on in towns across England, Scotland and Wales every year between now and the next General Election.

Here are five reasons why Labour Party supporters should support the Crowdfunder.

1. Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) are skint

In the past few years, CLPs have had to pay for local election campaigns, the EU Referendum campaign, the General Election as well as some Mayoral elections. The situation for CLPs got so bad that many were not able to afford to send delegates to conference and one CLP even had to use a camper van as accommodation for their representatives. Were there a General Election called in the next two years it will be very difficult for CLPs to be able to afford the basics in campaigning literature, let alone anything as beneficial as social media advertising.

Each Stand up for Labour event would be able to raise between £1,000 and £2,000 for CLPs involved – this would depend on how much support/sponsorship we can get from trade unions and other potential sponsors (this sponsorship would cover the costs of the performers/travel/accommodation/promotional material)

2. Many CLPs need support with events and fundraising

Although some CLPs have energetic teams of volunteers who are willing and hard working, most are ill-equipped to organise events that will pull a crowd.

Stand up for Labour has proven experience of putting on successful events all over the country. We literally have the equipment (PA, lights) as well as list of contacts (comedians, poets, singers, even a magician) who are willing to perform for the Labour Party. We also have experience in promoting events and can support CLPs with promotional material (both printed and online).

With the support of sponsors we can also arrange events that would not involve CLPs incurring any financial risk or putting forward any money.

Steve Gribbin 1

3. We offer performers an opportunity to perform political material

In the past five years, Stand up for Labour has booked over 100 performers in over 200 events. Stand up for Labour offers an alternative to ‘Hen’ and ‘Stag’ night crowds where material is often coarse and designed to shock. This has allowed performers to develop thoughtful, political material that has improved the culture of the comedy circuit.

The importance of culture on the political landscape cannot be underestimated. It is often artists and performers who lead the way in changing accepted thinking.

4. Labour needs events that bring supporters together and promote party unity

Stand up for Labour is not allied to any particular faction in the Labour Party. Our aim is party unity. We believe it is vital for the party to unite behind the leader if we are to win the General Election.

Because our events are affordable, we are more accessible than other fundraisers like Gala Dinners and we have succeeded in uniting CLPs in laughter and promoting camaraderie that is sadly often not apparent in business meetings.

Uniting the party

5. We need to keep our spirits up

Most of the country is under a cloud that is far more threatening than the odd Orange sky.

The level of debt is higher than ever, the shambolic reform of the welfare system through Universal Credit has led to more people dependent on foodbanks. And public services, such as schools, hospitals and the emergency services have been run down to the ground by the government’s economic policy.

As well as holding rallies and meetings that direct our anger at what is happening, we also need to lift our spirits.

Light-hearted, entertaining events that bring people together and promote a sense of community and solidarity help to prevent depression and a feeling of hopelessness.

If we have not got the spirit to fight, then we will never win.

Click here to support the Stand up for Labour Crowdfunder.

 

Strengthening CLPs is key to future victory

The results from 8 June showed that a strong presence on the ground is the perfect counter to biased, pro-Conservative media. What I saw on the last day of the campaign was incredible numbers of activists out in west London, bringing with them amazing victories in Ealing Central & Acton and Brentford & Isleworth.

At the Curry for Corbyn discussion last week it was clear that London was very well served by activists. Kensington, Battersea, City of London, Croydon, Chipping Barnet – Labour members from all of these seats talked about the same numbers on the ground.

We have to replicate what happened in London in other areas of the country.

Stand up for Labour is asking Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) to get in touch (contact admin@standupforlabour.co.uk if interested) if they wish to put on a fundraiser. The General Election has depleted funds and there is a strong possibility that another election is on the way in the next year.

A comedy night with local films, poetry and music is also an ideal way to re-mobilise members and supporters. And it’s a great introduction for the thousands of people who have joined since the General Election.

One of the most uplifting aspects of the last General Election campaign was the return of party unity. Labour delivered a fantastic set of policies that we could all be proud of – and were very popular. It’s now time that we talk up party unity and the programme put forward in the manifesto and start to turn marginals into Labour gains. A good way to do this is to bring all members together for an affordable social that raises valuable funds.