Labour nearly won the 2017 General Election because we were able to inspire and mobilise great numbers of people to get involved in canvassing. And we need to do exactly the same now.
Just like now, the opinion polls were unfavourable in 2017 and Theresa May went into that election with the attitude that it was a formality she would win.
She wasn’t alone in this outlook as even some Labour bigwigs had given up before it had even started. As we saw in the BBC documentary ‘The Summer that Changed Everything’, MPs felt that Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign was going to fail dismally and were caught with gaping jaws on election night.
The result of the election was down to activists, not the top guns in the Labour Party.
People in Labour’s headquarters undertook a strategy of minimising losses in seats and they didn’t even attempt to win seats that Labour ended up as victors (ie Hastings & Rye, Kensington, Bedford, Canterbury).
Luckily for us all, activists knew not to trust party officials and we just got on campaigning.
My spirit at the time – reflected in many others – was that it didn’t really matter what people said about our chances, I was going to do all I could to push for a Corbyn-led Labour government. It was a matter of fighting for what we believed in regardless of the consequences.
I feel the same now, even though we are supposed to be in a party run by Corbyn-supporting officials.
Top-down doesn’t work
From what I’ve seen – both from my own experience and that of other members – is that we still have a top-down party structure. The party have thrown significant sums of money at employing organisers who they believe can win us key marginals. This strategy was used in 2015 and did not pay off because the party was too complacent.
It’s not just about organising people, it’s about creating a buzz around the party.
Inspiring people in this way is what paid off so much in 2017 and I want to be part of this again with Stand up for Labour.
Between 2015 and 2017, I put on over 100 variety shows all over the country and these played a part in bringing people together and also encouraging them to canvass, deliver leaflets, share social media and donate to the party coffers.
The only way I have been able to keep these shows going is through a combination of union sponsorship (from Unite, the CWU, the FBU, Aslef, TSSA and the Baker’s Union), and retaining some ticket revenue from shows.
This strategy has been hit in two ways: firstly, government restrictions have significantly reduced the amount of money that unions can donate to political parties and, secondly, CLPs are so skint that it is not really possible to keep ticket money to cover my costs.
As much as I’d like to protest against this situation and bemoan the lack of fight, I have had to accept it.
That is why I have started a crowdfunder.
I am asking for £7,000, which will cover all the costs of the performers as well as my running costs for up to 10 shows. So far, nearly 60 people have donated over £1,600 and, in return for this, I am writing an epic poem including a line dedicated to each generous donor. You can hear this poem here.
Donations can be made through clicking this link.