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A Grassroots Labour Party

By Daniel Butler-Doyle  

It was clear that the report Suzanne gave on Monday struck a chord. You could see, hear and taste the passion to take action, with a chorus of "let's do it" echoing throughout the room. There's a lot of passion for making change. We need to tap into it. What's happening in the Huntingdon branch is great: meetings with a focus of combating homelessness. The other branches aren't as busy, St Ives haven't even met yet, but the same desire for action is there. So, I'm suggesting that we add (single- issue interest/advocacy) groups based on policy/action as an addition to the current branch structure divided by town/proximity.

I know we don't have a huge membership in Huntingdon, but we have people who are passionate and have ideas. Everyone who's joined or supported the Labour party has ideas. The long term ideal would to have each group open up for the public to join and participate in. If we're going to try and win over voters, what better way than to give them a chance to show us what they want to change while working along side Labour. If you're working alongside someone from the Labour party, you're way more likely to vote for Labour in the next election. And, more likely to help canvass and get out the vote on election day

I also think it's a good way to tap into the young demographic. For people who aren't especially political, joining a group focused on one issue is much more attractive than joining a political party. With an increasingly demanding job market, and every young person needing significant experience, volunteering for joining one of these groups could be advertised as a good way to get experience and an education.

In addition to converting voters and creating new members, campaigning could be much more fluid. Every person involved in any given group will form a working relationship, leading to sharing of ideas and knowledge, educating other members of the group. Each member would be educated to a point that they know and can teach what is needed when it comes to specific campaigning. Something that's a problem with the national campaigns currently.

It was mentioned as being stressful trying to find people to talk at the CLP meetings. The CLP meetings could become plenary-like meetings, where each group updates us on what's happening, much like the Hands Off Hinchingbrooke group does. Members attending the CLP meetings would have a chance to contribute to the (single-issue interest/advocacy) group offering guidance and ideas as well as overseeing any campaign plans.

I'd be happy to start a climate change group. The Green party won 4% of the vote in 2015, they are a one policy party. They won that 4% without any significant organisation. And, likely as not, those 4% were normally non-voters or youth. Single issue politics is a strong motivator. It stirs passions and it delivers votes on election day - whether national or local. Climate change can deliver far, far more votes than that gained by the Greens. It's a polarizing issue - the Conservatives will continue every effort to thwart efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, while Labour managed to push through the Climate Change Act and develop programmes that put solar panels on people's roofs. We 'own' Climate Change. It's a single issue that can deliver far more than the 4% that the Greens got. When combined with other single issue Labour groups, Huntingdon CLP can overwhelm Conservatives.

 Obviously I'm new here in many ways, but I think that part of what may have caused the branch structure as it was previously, to die a slow death was the lack of purpose driven activism. I think grouping by policies that we're passionate about will ensure a more long term survival and potentially success.

I'll leave you with a Bernie Sanders quote about the Democrats, adapted for Labour. " The Labour party has got to say we are on the side of the 99%. Our party is not about having fancy fundraisers, it’s about going into village halls, union halls, veterans’ halls, farm communities, the inner cities. It has to bring people together around the progressive agenda and make government work for all of us and not the 1%... the future of the Labour party is a grassroots party".

Daniel Butler-Doyle

© Daniel Butler-Doyle 2017

Promoted by Mick White, of 11 Parkside, St Ives, PE27 5QJ, on behalf of the St Ives Labour Party, of the same address.