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What’s in the NPF draft policy statements?

According to the Labour Party Rulebook:

“Party conference shall decide from time to time what specific proposals of legislative, financial or administrative reform shall be included in the Party programme. This shall be based on the rolling programme of work of the National Policy Forum.” (Emphasis added)

The results of that “rolling programme of work” emerge at this time of the year giving members a few weeks to read and discuss them and to get their party branches and CLP to respond. It’s a tight timetable and there is room to doubt the value of the consultation that this purports to be.

There are eight draft policy documents all of which are available on the Labour Policy Forum website in the form of a document from each of the eight policy commissions. The following links are to all the drafts (1) Work, Pensions and Equality, (2) Justice and Home Affairs, (3) International Affairs, (4) Early Years, Education and Skills, (5) Business, Economy and Trade, (6) Housing, Local Government and Transport, (7) Environment, Energy and Culture, and (8) Health and Social Care.

The average length of main text of the documents is 1,345 words. The are padded out with lots of spacing and also with suggested questions most of which are of no value. For ease of access I have made a document of the full text of each of the drafts without the fancy formatting and the daft questions. It is an eight-page document obtainable here (pdf) or here (Word).

Left Futures hopes to publish analyses of as many of the reports as possible. If you would like to contribute, then please contact the editor. What follows is a brief overview of all eight documents.

Each document starts with a section called Labour’s vision. This leads to a statement of the Issues considered this year followed by brief sections expanding on each of the named issues.

(1)    Work, Pensions and Equality

Labour’s vision claims astonishingly that Labour “will guarantee a decent job for all”. Someone has evidently found a way of achieving this within a capitalist framework. We must hope that the secret will be revealed before Labour’s Annual Conference. As for inequality, we are assured that Labour will take the “bold action” that is needed to reduce it.

The issues for this year are poverty and inequality, social security and equalities.

Tackling poverty and inequality. In light of the news that Labour is going to guarantee a decent job for all the details on this would seem to be not all that important.

Social security and pensions for all. We are told “social security needs to work for people of all ages and backgrounds” which sounds fair enough and the section concludes with “We want to see Britain’s system of social security made fairer..” which doesn’t give much guidance on how it will be done.

Equalities. Labour will “continue to champion and strengthen the Equality Act, the Equality and Human Rights Commission …”. It will also “close disparities of income and wealth”. Unfortunately there are no suggestions as to how this will be done.

(2)    Justice and Home Affairs

Labour’s vision tells us that the rule of law is great and that we want everyone to have access to justice regardless of their means. Labour “will develop an effective probation service” and it wants to see “fair and reasonable management of migration”. Large-scale immigration is said to “bring challenges” but there is, according to the document, “a trade-off between restrictions on the movement of people and securing full single market access”. If you think this sounds confused you may not be alone.

Issues. Immigration, prisons and access to justice.

Immigration. This section continues the confusion just described without resolving anything.

Prisons. “Labour’s task is to device a new approach to prisons”. Isn’t that what the Policy Commission was supposed to be doing?

Access to Justice. We are proud, apparently, that “our legal system” has been replicated all over the world (except, of course, where other systems have been adopted). The Conservative Government is said to have made access to justice unaffordable for many people.  Labour’s task is to “look at how we ensure that access to justice is not just a privilege reserved for those who have the means to pay for it …”. That doesn’t sound much like the result of months of work by the commission.

Victims’s Rights: “we must develop policies that guarantee better treatment of victims”.

(3)    International Affairs

Labour’s vision. “Labour’s foreign policy has always been guided by our values”, apparently. That foreign policy is said to rest on “twin pillars” one of which is our close relationship with the US. The national interest is treated as one thing, something that serves the interests of all. The idea of competing class interests is one that hasn’t yet got as far as the International Commission.

Issues. Relations with Europe and the US, international development, conflict resolution.

Relations with the EU. We need to protect employment rights and environment standards as developed in the EU.

Relations with the US. The US-UK partnership is re-emphasised as “a key pillar of British foreign policy”. It is said to be based on shared values of “respect for the rights of women and minorities and a strong commitment to democracy, freedom of the press and the rule of law”.

International development. “Labour made the UK a world leader in global development, saving millions of lives whilst enhancing Britain’s security and influence on the world stage”. Iraq? Lots of terrible problems of poverty, climate change and insecurity round the world are listed leading to the conclusion that “The UK must now lead the way” in solving the problems.

(4)    Early Years, Education and Skills

Labour’s vision. “Labour believes that the purpose of education” is to give everyone the chance to “reach their full potential and live a good life”. Which political party says otherwise. Labour also believes in “Good quality early education” and that “Building a strong education system is essential for our country’s future economic health”.

Issues. Building a modern education system, developing a 21st century school system, modernising further education and improving children’s social care and safeguarding.

A modern early years system. “Labour is the party of social justice and it is our aim to build a sustainable universal early years system …”.

A school system for the 21st century. Extending selection and grammar schools are condemned but without committing to end them. Tory measures are condemned but without a mention of academisation or free schools or the ripping of schools out of the framework of local democracy. The section ends with “We are looking at how we can build a world-class education system …”.

Improving access to further education and adult skills. FE is said to be reaching a funding crisis point and it is said that we “need to create more apprenticeships”. Nothing more specific.

Children’s social care and safeguarding. Lots of criticisms of Tory policies and cuts but no hint of what Labour proposes.

(5)    Business, Economy and Trade

Labour’s vision. “Labour wants to create a society that is fundamentally fairer, more equal and more democratic … where prosperity is shared by all”. After a listing of current ills the section concludes with “It is for the Labour Party to produce a credible economic alternative …”. Do tell.

Issues. Building a productive economy, industrial strategy, workplaces and work practice of the future.

Economy. “We must build a growing economy which raises living standards for the many …”. For this productivity needs to be raised because “When people produce more at work … that can help increase the output of their employer. Through collective bargaining the workforce can then secure increases in pay and working conditions”. A Labour government “should lead the way with a programme of long-term investment” and improving workplace rights and reducing inequality. There is no hint of the work submitted by John Penny which was also published here on Left Futures.

Business. “Labour will build the productive working relationships with industry, business and trade unions to … foster the modern and positive workplace practices of the future.” It will do this with “structural and institutional change, supported by innovative business models …”.

Trade. “Labour is clear that we are pro-trade and pro-investment”.  Labour will develop “a trade strategy that protects and promotes skilled jobs, human rights and workers’ rights”. When?

Industrial strategy. “Only a bold, transformative industrial strategy can fix the structural problems with our economy”. For this we must first decide “what kind of economy we want”. “Labour’s answer is that we want an economy that is prosperous and that leaves no one behind.” What an idea!

(6)    Housing, Local Government and Transport

Labour’s vision. “Putting power back in the hands of local people is key for the Labour Party”. Some guidance on what this means would be helpful. And when was power “in the hands of local people”?

Untypically, this commission actually came up with some near-policy statements. Labour will introduce “rent controls, secure tenancies and a charter for private tenants’ rights …”. Labour “bring back in house our public and local council services and increase access to leisure arts and sports …”.

Issues. Devolution, council social and affordable housing, private rented sector, improving transport.
Devolution. “The challenge for Labour now is to bring forward solid proposals which support the debate about where power will sit in the future …”. So what did the commission do?

Council, social and affordable house building. This section dwells on Tory failures and then reports that “Labour is committing to building over a million new homes in five years, at least half being council homes …”. There is no attempt to explain or justify this figure which many have argued is not enough to solve the crisis even if it were to be achieved. Labour’s poor record in government is not mentioned.

The private rented sector. “Labour is committed to reforming standards, driving down costs and increasing security in the private rented sector”. Alarmingly the section concludes with “We need to understand the best ways to help improve standards in the private rented sector”.

Improving transport services. “We need a transport system that works for local communities”. Yes we do. “Labour understands … we must also look to the transport infrastructure challenges our country will face in the decades to come”. Yes we must, but where are the policies?

(7)    Environment, Energy and Culture

Labour’s vision. Climate: we “need a renewed worldwide effort”. Energy: “Our energy platform must deliver for ordinary people by curbing increases in energy prices …”. Agriculture “needs coordinated government support”. Culture and the Arts: Labour “will increase access to leisure, the arts and sports”.

Issues. Climate change, agriculture and the environment post-Brexit, access to the arts.

Climate change. There is much about de-carbonisation in this section but no hint of the very detailed submissions made to the commission such an extended version of the three articles on nuclear power in Left Futures by Chris MacMackin. Instead we have generalised statements about the need for a transition to a low carbon economy ending with “A fully costed low carbon platform that includes renewables, nuclear and green gas should be developed”. So what has the commission been doing?

Post-Brexit agriculture. The problem of the withdrawal of EU funding are outlined but nothing is proposed in terms of policies to deal with this. Instead we have “Labour must put forward a platform that addresses the needs of today but one that is flexible enough to tackle the needs of the future”.

Support for culture and the arts. “Ideas should be put forward which seek to preserve and build on Labour’s record of increasing access”. Indeed they should. “Action needs to be taken to promote the take-up by those from under-represented backgrounds”. Yes, it does. Labour also “acknowledges” that physical activity is good for health and that more should participate in sport. The only clear policy  is to “fully fund” the BBC and to keep Channel 4 in public ownership.

(8)    Health and social care

Labour’s vision. “Labour believes in a strong and secure NHS …”. Labour also believes that “We have a duty to protect both patients and staff, and ensure that people can access the care they need …”.

Issues. Funding, social care and public health.

Funding. Funding shortfalls are decried but no policy proposals are made. It is said that “There are calls from across the pollical spectrum, and from health and care experts, to boost funding …”. So?
Social care. More details on short falls leading to the conclusion that “Action needs to be taken to protect older and vulnerable people …”.

Public health. More information is given on cuts to and pressure on services. This leads to the conclusion that “As a society it is crucial that we identify ways in which to promote preventative measures in order to improve the quality of people’s lives and to reduce the burden of ill health on our health and social care services.” For this “Developing a range of policies … is vital …”.

Conclusion

These eight documents reveal the near total lack of serious policy development by Labour. They are filled with statements of the obvious and of the problems to be solved rather than offering (even tentative) solutions. There is a complete lack of alternative options for consideration and a total absence of any references to research done or documents providing more detailed arguments. To cap all that the documents are stuffed with ridiculous questions which do not guide discussion on proposals made (e.g. “How can we best build a sustainable funding system for schools?”, “How do we confront the growing challenge facing many households of falling or stagnant living standards?”, “How has immigration impacted your local community?”).

I expected poor quality documents like this in the Blair/Brown/Miliband years but hoped for something better under a leader who promised to put members in charge of party policy. What are the left-wing members of the commissions doing? One is even co-chaired by a prominent left-winger.

Policy development is of the utmost importance if the left leadership of the party is to be strengthened and consolidated. If instead all its efforts go into winning positions and passing rule changes then it will ultimately fall because what it stands for never goes beyond a few abstract slogans. The first major step to reverse that situation must be to ensure that there is a vigorous response to these draft documents which proposes clear alternatives. We need articles making proposals for clear alternatives in the next two weeks. How about it?

Responses to the drafts needs to be sent to www.policyforum.labour.org.uk by Wed 31 May 2017.

35 Comments

  1. JohnP says:

    Very useful summary of these utterly dire , supposed “policy developing” documents, David.

    For the information of readers, a number of us Left Futures contributors will be submitting , or already have submitted in my case, detailed articles on the individual topic areas in the coming days and weeks.

    Our responses to these drafts will be sent to the NPF – but of course they will be completely ignored, as were previous submissions last year.

  2. Bill says:

    From what I have read and previous to this I agree David that the statements are so obvious that they could be those of any Political Party. I found them vacuous too.

  3. Robin Edwards says:

    What’s needed is a programme for working class power and the transition to socialism. Without the working class taking power all policy is demagoguery. It promises to do things for us that can of course never be done as long as the dictatorship of capital and the corporations continues to exist. We call on workers to act we do not promise falsely to act for them. We offer not delusional riches but struggle.

    1. Imran Khan says:

      Robin. I understand that Citizen Smith is to be updated and a new series is planned. Perhaps you could get a job as a scriptwriter. When will you and those like you realise that this jargon was outdated fifty years ago?

      1. Robin Edwards says:

        Are you Christian or Muslim?

        1. Imran Khan says:

          I thought you might have been able to work that out, not that’s important or relevant.

  4. C MacMackin says:

    Thanks for the summaries, David. I’d only found time to skim a few of the documents so far, but they are worse than I feared. The overriding theme seems to be “we need to develop policies”. Isn’t that what the Policy Comissions are for? For god’s sake, over a few weeks of spending some time in the evenings, I was able to come up with a more substantial energy and climate policy than their’s. I’m under no illusions that it is complete and I know many will disagree with it, but if one person could acheive it then surely a large group of people, working over several months, in a party which employs plenty of researchers, could have at least matched it.

    There was a great deal of discontent at a recent party branch meeting in Oxford over the state of party policy, particularly with regards to economic policy and how to fund other policy commitments. There was a general sense that the branches and CLPs needed to have some way to make the national party get its act together and to contribute to contribute to policy development. However, there was no real idea of how to do this. If these feelings are widespread in the rest of the country, then there is certainly some potential to start forcing the issue. Perhaps a goal should be to develop some sort of parallel, unofficial policy formation process among interested branches, the output of which can be used to challenge the NPF and/or leadership and could be submitted to the Policy Forum.

  5. Sacha Ismail says:

    How do we sent proposals for articles/responses on this to Left Futures?

    1. Imran Khan says:

      Is this the Sacha Ismail of the Baker Food and Allied Workers Union?

  6. Sacha Ismail says:

    Oh, I see it’s James Elliott. James, what’s the best way to contact you?

  7. Sacha Ismail says:

    Also, is it listed anywhere on the internet who is on/chairs each commission?

  8. Sacha Ismail says:

    And lastly (I think) who can submit responses to the party? Just CLPs or individuals too?

    1. JohnP says:

      Sacha,any LP Member can send in submissions to the LPF. At http://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/ after registering.

      Many of us indeed did so last year. Quite a”few “bee in the bonnet” oddballs did so too – from very far to the free market neoliberal Right!

      It is safe to say that not the slightest notice was taken of any of these submissions. In fact it is hard to see any real “update” in terms of ideas or research in this year’s versions of the policies compared to last year. Except a superficial mention of Brexit and Trump.

      It is a cynical PR exercise so far, controlled by the Right and Centre, despite the participation of a few apparently uncomplaining , passive, Lefties , intent on “going through the motions, whilst Labour’s policies are kept exactly as they were under Blair/Brown and Miliband, whilst the PLP and Party machine work all out to get rid of Corbyn, ready to return to (electorally suicidal) “business as neoliberally usual”.

    2. Imran Khan says:

      Are you back in Sacha? The Labour Party that is?

  9. Karl Stewart says:

    Blair was elected party leader in the summer of 1994 and by this point in the following year, 1995, he was organising support for his plan to take Labour fundamentally to the right – the abolition of the Clause Four.

    My point is that he didn’t wait for the bureaucracy of the party, he led from the front and set out his right-moving policy agenda and then set about energetically building support for it.

    And this is what the left in the Labour Party needs to be doing now in the opposite direction.

    Yes, the right clearly has the bureaucracy of the party pretty much sewn up – so it’s necessary to take the fight for a left-wing policy agenda outside of those structures and direct to the membership as a whole.

    The leadership should be putting forward a coherent socialist plan now, direct to the members and affiliates – and using every platform available to set this plan out.

    The policy-making structure that published the above documents is clearly not fit for purpose – so it must be by-passed.

    1. John Walsh says:

      Well, I don’t always agree with what you say Karl Stewart (especially re P B-C!) but two excellent points being made here …

      1. Blair didn’t waste time going by the Rule book.

      2. The job now is by-passing the NPF.

      As such, DP’s call for a response to the NPF docs, although well meaning, is surely misplaced. Action now must be about pushing for ways of involving the membership. It’s a tall order but surely DP’s ‘how about it?’ should be how to lobby JC and JM (they have direct access to the membership) – is there any hope for a letter/ plea/ petition (something?) from Left Futures commenters? Is anyone interested?

      1. David Pavett says:

        Policies don’t arise spontaneously. They have to be formulated. If they are to be any good that requires research and careful evaluation of what is feasible in the short terms while keeping an eye also on medium and long-term objectives.

        My proposal is therefore that those on the left who can should contribute to alternative policy statements precisely with the aim of involving the members by giving them something worth discussing. By this stage it is pretty clear that the lead on this is not going to come from either Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnall. There may be all sorts of reason for this but it seems to be clearly the case. Therefore all those who are able have a responsibility to contribute towards a meaningful programme.

  10. Peter Rowlands says:

    An excellent summary of the reports and their inadequacies by David, but I fear that the situation is even worse than he describes it.If the superficiality and banal questions were to result in a meaningful document that was presented to conference then that would not be so bad, but the evidence , from last year’s conference, is that this did not happen. It is not true, as John P says, that submissions were ignored – many were cited,and some thought worthy or significant, but there was no attempt to evaluate them as part of a policy – indeed, there was little sense of policy formation, and indeed the Business and Economy report implies that policy will not be fully formulated until prior to the election.Yes, of course the final manifesto will have been subject to revision, but the broad outlines of policy should have been agreed and debated earlier, in the first year, and it was a cardinal error not to have at least sought to do that. Corbyn’s ten pledges and MacDonnells speeches are no substitute for that.
    The only way forward, and it is too late to do this this year, is for a range of comprehensive documents to be produced, drawing on the expertise of affiliates and supportive academics and commentators, to be sent to all members ( not hidden away on Membersnet) so that a real debate can be promoted about the policies we should pursue.Such a debate should go well beyond the membership, and would go if properly promoted, and could transform the perception of Labour as a serious alternative government.We should aim to do this by the 2018 conference.

    1. David Pavett says:

      I agree with Peter. I found the drafts so shockingly inadequate that I felt that I had to pull my punches to avoid simply ranting about how awful they are. Even describing them as “inadequate” is a problem since it suggest a level of adequacy which hasn’t quite reached what is required. These drafts are simply not in that frame. I felt the need to give an idea of the their contents so that others can judge for themselves. But what I really want to say is that the drafts are hopeless drivel which in no way measure up to the political situation they are supposed to be addressing. Peter is also right that there isn’t even the pretence this year to take any notice of the submissions. The whole thing is a horrible farce. What I can’t understand is what the left-wing members of the commissions are doing. I have asked this many times and none of them a rushing to offer an answer.

    2. JohnP says:

      Peter, I am bemused that you say:
      “It is not true, as John P says, that submissions were ignored –”

      But then immediately refute your own claim by adding :
      “many were cited, and some thought worthy or significant, but there was no attempt to evaluate them as part of a policy – ”

      So you ARE in fact agreeing that , although the submissions may indeed have been read, even discussed (and many were given very patronising feedback online comments ) , NONE of the material in the submissions was added to the latest drafts, or served to change their tone or direction. In other words, all the submissions WERE indeed ignored , in any normal usage of the term.

      And David supports this in his post by saying:
      “Peter is also right ( ?) that there isn’t even the pretence this year to take any notice of the submissions.”

      So we actually seem to be in agreement, and what I said is in fact completely true. I’m glad we’ve sorted that out.

      1. Peter Rowlands says:

        John, while I don’t want to be pedantic, words do have meanings, and ‘ignore’ must surely mean ‘make no reference to ,or acknowledgement of’, which as you admit was clearly not the case.True, none of the extra material was added to the draft or changed its tone or direction, simply because there was no coherent policy or tone/direction that they could have been added to or influenced.

        1. JohnP says:

          The simple, undeniable, facts surely are these, Peter. There is indeed some evidence that some of the NPF Commission at least cursorily glanced at some of the submissions . We can tell that they weren’t simply thrown in the bin on receipt, from the often very patronising online comments that were made by the likes of Ann Black to a few submissions (in most cases the poorer “bee in the bonnet” submissions on single issues that could be easily dismissed).

          However there is no evidence whatsoever that any of the submissions , particularly those with a wide ranging alternative, Left Keynsian , narrative , were taken on board to change in any way the structure, direction , or content, of the latest “updated” documents. This despite some submissions, from CLP’s and branches as well as individuals, having a lot to potentially contribute.

          So I, and David, are completely correct that , as he said in his post:

          “there isn’t even the pretence this year to take any notice of the submissions.”

          In other words, the submissions were actually, in terms of any impact on the updated documents, IGNORED, ie, the latest documents “make no reference to, or acknowledgement of” the submissions dutifully contributed in good faith by so many contributors. The members being enjoined to contribute AGAIN this year – to be ignored again.

          Is your strange unwillingness to accept the term “ignored” , in fact dictated by your belief that recognition of the harsh, demonstrable, reality that whatever is submitted from CLP’s , branches , individuals , to the NPF with a “Corbynite” Left Keynsian content, will indeed be utterly ignored again this year by the Right and Centre status quo preserving NPF majority, rooted in your worry that this could be seen as “knocking on the head” the new CLPD strategy of ensuring that this year we on the Left collectively put in huge effort to get some really spiffingly well worked out alternative Left policy submissions to the NPF ?

          I actually think these submissions, no matter how brilliantly put together, will inevitably be ignored (in operational reality terms) too – but I think the process itself is hugely worthwhile anyway , as a way to provide a coherent Left policy bundle to mobilise the Labour Left around. Hopefully we can at least agree on that much more important tactical point ?

          1. Peter Rowlands says:

            John, there is a sense in which the submissions were clearly not ignored, and I explain this.I agree that the submissions made no difference to the documents, because they were not policy documents, but rather incoherent and disjointed ramblings which could never form the basis of a proper policy document.My solution is contained in the latter part of my reply to David,but this is also unlikely.I am aware that CLPD are proposing working on some submissions, and that is a good thing. We should also be putting pressure on left members of the NPF.I think at the end of the day however that without a left majority we can anticipate no substantial breakthrough, although we may make some advances. I do of course agree that if this exercise can mobilise the left around a coherent set of policies then it will have been very worthwhile.

  11. peter willsman says:

    DP,CLPD is tomorrow setting up 8 study groups to draw up a range of amendments to each doc.These will be mailchimped to every CLP to assist their deliberations.In the past some 40% of CLP responses to HQ have taken CLPD’s ideas into account.See you at our EC David at 11.30am.You will be ideal for at least one study group.

  12. C MacMackin says:

    You say that “Left Futures hopes to publish analyses of as many of the reports as possible.” Could you clarify what you mean by this? If you mean it will be going through the content of the reports in detail, surely they are too vacuous for this to be worthwhile? Or do you mean that alternative policy documents will be produced? Or something else again?

    1. David Pavett says:

      I meant that LF will try to publish proposals to change or replace the drafts. I agree with you that as they stand they are so vacuous that they would not bear a whole lit of analysis.

      Several people have already offered to to do something on various of the drafts and, as Peter Wilsman says above, the Campaign For Labour Partt Democracy, is organising working groups to to do the same. The task is to make alternative materials available in the next week to two weeks so that that they are available in time for alternative proposals to be adopted by LP branches abd Constituency LP’s before 31st May.

      Anyone with ideas for this process should contact Left Futures and/or the CLPD.

  13. Bazza says:

    Yes we should all contribute and build simple policy actions on each of JC’s 10 statement via resolutions through branches and the NPF site but I have tried to get on the website and it won’t accept my password, have asked for a new one and no reply-will keep trying.
    Whilst I am on here I thought I would share my initial reflections on yesterday’s national Momentum conference held in in Birmingham.
    2 car loads of us from Leeds were up at the crack of dawn to trail down to Birmingham and got there for 10.00am (too early) and the old warehouse building venue was bloody cold!
    By 11.30am perhaps 400 plus people had arrived and lovely opening addresses from one of the organisers and by the Chair of Birmingham Momentum but bloke promoting ethical tea shirts spoke for too long!
    Good speech by a London Councillor about becoming a Councillor for Labour and then a good speech by John McDonnell on how we should get involved in branches, CLPs etc. but also do it in a comradely way (yes we should be driven by ideas and should discuss these at meetings with those who may disagree and let debate/voting/democracy decide any outcomes).
    Didn’t agree one thing John said about getting Jeremy elected “As another socialist leader” (don’t think we have one before!)
    Not sure about the toilets for the venue for such a large gathering and people were having to dry hands on toilet roll (these things are important!).
    Then the workshops, there was a choice of 3 one hour workshops on one of 5 different topics at a time over the day but.
    The rooms were bloody cold, the workshops were too big 50-100 people per room, many people didn’t speak closely enough to the hand held mike and you could hear people on their mike in the next room!
    I went to ‘After Brexit:How do we take back control?’ I think the concencus was we needed to move on and get the best out of the situation although a tiny few wanted a second referendum!
    I said there were 2 possible & different frameworks for trying to achieve a socialist society – one was working with socialist international partners via the EC and the second as independent socialist nation states working in cooperation with international sister parties and the first had now gone.
    I was to learn that in such a large group you only got one shot at speaking and briefly; I had wanted to say what apart from possibly a house and a bit of a garden is ours in the UK – the land, banks, mail, rail, water,public utilities etc. etc.and perhaps to take back control with more democratic public ownership with perhaps staff electing qualified boards and communities having a say.
    We could also look at different models re this.
    I also noted the workshop had 2 facilitators and questions were posed to be discussed in small groups/pairs in this difficult environment but one should have been recording the key points from the discussions to these could have been fed back to the NCC and this wasn’t happening!
    After the session I fed this point to one of the main organisers (who was very organised) and I noted in the later workshops the key points were being noted to an extent (this is how we work in adult education/Higher Education although we would have had quiet rooms and maximum numbers of 16 per group or pushing it 20 and then people may feel more confident in contributing.
    Second workshop ‘Building a Winning Base’ very useful but same problems mikes and noise other rooms.
    However as things tend to happen I found myself in a brilliant small group of 6 (3 males, 3 females) and everyone in turn gave their suggestions. In the feedback I said starting with the end point of CLP Community Conferences say on Housing in every CLP area, working back to stage one we start with JCs 10 policy statements then through the party build a dozen or so policy actions under each statement then have the community conferences which we promote in the local media and invite working class/working people along via leaflets out on estates etc. and we ask people for their ideas so we are offering a type of socialism WITH and not FOR!
    “Don’t be afraid of asking working class people” (afterthought they have probably never been asked in their lives!)
    I gave my small sub group a copy of a simple and comprehensive housing policy (for their information) which I got passed by my branch and it has gone to our CLP.
    Third workshop ‘How can Labour Turn it Around?’ This was probably the best although about 100 people but you could actually hear the contributors.
    I reiterated my point about community conferences but suggested we needed to learn from history; I helped many years ago when Tony Benn first stood in the Chesterfield by-election and Tony then like Jeremy now was vilified in the media and although you can still do press releases Tony bypassed the media and went direct to the people hosting tons of community meetings!
    Billy Hayes (one of our Conference Arrangement Commiittee Nominations for Annual Conference) spoke well on the need to put a lot of work in, in the marginals (JC to go on a mini-tour?).
    Our carload of the Leeds cohort diidn’t have time to stay for the plenary but overall a lot of lovely people and committed socialists (and it was lovely to also learn more about the lives of my co-Leeds attendees (and all our artistic talents) as we travelled – score for the day overall 6 out of 10 but I have very high standards!
    Solidarity!

    1. Verity says:

      Some supplementary observations on the Mometum conference in Birmingham:

      1. I imagine finding premises within 10 mins walk of New Street Station and the available budget was a constraining factor in the choice of a warehouse – which in some ways I found very appropriate.

      2. The continuing obsession of organisers of all sorts of events at all times in providing lunch by mean a massive, massive queue to receive a personal service from one tray and one server of food item, only to move to the next for the same ‘personal’ service is truly bazaar and continues to amaze me – aside from wasting valuable conference time. It is a practice that has become an obsession for years so Momentum cannot be accused of starting the fashion.

      3. The massive warehouse is great providing the organisers are alert to the audio limitations if five simultaneous seminars of over a hundred people are conducted with microphones that people are unaccustomed to using and leaders become oblivious to the effects of.

      However 4) It was great in several major respects. The harmonious serious discussion from a true mixture of experienced and inexperienced; range of ages with many clearly new to any politics of any sort was so refreshing and enjoyable. The motivation for change and the desire to learn from others was something i have not seen for a long while. The wish to engage to make major changes was evident and the desire and rate of learning was extraordinary. The number of quite innovative and interesting new practical ideas was incredible. A complete absence of rancour and antagonism was a new and strange phenomenon.

        1. Bazza says:

          Zzzz! Oh well what can you expect from the predominantly middle class bourgeois socialist LPMs. I have come across this tiny group briefly before in a meeting and perhaps if they had experienced an ounce of poverty they may just about understand the odd kernel of Marx.
          For LPMs read we have read this book.
          They all voted against the new Momentum Constitution and like all the other bourgeois socialists factions on the day perhaps had a 3 line whip and whilst only a majority of one voted against the constitution and a working class young lass (ex-Socialist Party) said she didn’t understand it but was voting against it (she should have abstains) plus mainly non-Labour members (and some from outside the city) the razor sharp middle class ‘Vulgar Marxists’ failed to notice the class divide in the voting with more working class Labour members voting for the constitution.
          The Momentum Conference was pretty good but it could and will be better next time after Momentum probably wasted a year whilst the Right in Labour were organising but perhaps now is the time for those of us who support the new constitution and who want a kind of socialism (grassroots, bottom up, participatory, a socialism WITH and not top down FOR – what socialism was always meant to be) to facilitate this and we are all learning.
          It took 20 years for Right Wing Neo-Liberal Think Tanks to capture the Tory Party and make these Tory mainstream ideas (then New Labour) and Jeremy’s victory was unexpected and we have had to fight our Neo-Liberals in their counter attack but a Labour Members Momentum fills me with great hope for the future!
          Footnote – I am really enjoying reading Capital, Volume 1 again but this time taking my time and reading references but perhaps drawing from Rosa Luxemburg, the best thing we can all bring to the table is our independent socialist critical thinking.

          1. Bazza says:

            Footnote – it could also help Left Wing Democratic Socialists to read Paulo Freire -we need to work out with diverse working people from all our experiences where the power is in society and the World and then how we can get it back!

  14. Bazza says:

    Yes and the CLPD initiative sounds good and I am a member.

  15. Steven Burgess says:

    Hello David.

    Test message.

    LEts see what we can do to knock these policy documents into shape, as theyre clearly quite glib and authoritarian currently.

    Steven.

  16. Teresa Kelly says:

    Hopefully someone will look at the Green Party policies on all this. Their policy document comes from many values that are in line with Labour and are worked through from strategy to operational proposals, some of which are very sound.

  17. C MacMackin says:

    It’s been a while since anyone posted here, but this really is the best place. It is instructive to compare the output of the NPF with the policy being developed by Jean-Luc Melanchon’s presidential campaign in France. From his organisation we see an extensive program putting forward basic demands, with work now ongoing to develop thematic books that provide more detailed policy. Given that my French is not very good and I can only put up with so much of Google Translate, I have only read a bit of what’s there, but it’s very impressive. For example, the booklet on space exploration raises a number of very important but not very well known issues and was clearly written by people who know what they’re talking about. Any one of these booklets contains more policy than all of the NPF documents put together, and there will be 42 of them once done. Even though I have various issues with Melanchon, some of his polices (e.g. energy), and his approach to politics, this level of detailed policy formation is impressive. Sadly, at present I can’t even imagine Labour being able to produce such material in time for the 2020 election.

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