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The perils of party reform, Progress-style

The key to reforming the party structure and putting the party back into power, according to Progress, is “putting the community at the centre of the party” with an emphasis on recruiting registered supporters,  community organising and selecting Labour candidates through primaries. As David Miliband put it: “We need to expand our reach by building social alliances and increasing opportunity for engagement and interaction with our party.” Well… it turns out that success is not guaranteed.

David Miliband pointed to the example of a european social democratic party that has:

gone furthest in party reform, opening up the party so that more than 900,000 (people) out of a population of 11 million have equal rights as members or “friends”. The party has …. open primaries to select party candidates for local elections and has developed “Every Day a Citizen” – an organisation dedicated to citizen engagement. Such engaging and deliberative party structures enable (this party) to tap into the energy in communities and multiply the force of a national message through local, authentic, and committed advocacy, with resultant electoral success.

Sounds great, doesn’t it. And what’s even better is this party’s commitment to modern social democracy and new thinking evident in its financial responsibility – it recognises the need to cut budget deficits and demonstrate fiscal responsibility.

And what is the name of this oustanding model of New Labour thinking? The Panhellenic Socialist movement known as PASOK. Until recently (and still part of) the government of Greece. Now showing its worst ever level of support in the polls at 13.1%. That compares with its victory in October 1981 when it swept to victory with 48% on a platform of withdrawal from the European Union and NATO. Three far-left parties now have combined support in the polls of 43.5%.

Thank heavens for modernisation, eh!

One Comment

  1. I’m willing to agree with David Milliband that organising in the community is one of the things Labour should be doing to reconnect with the legions of voters lost during the Blair/Brown years.

    I’d even give him the benefit of the doubt on selection candidates through primaries, even though they’ll probably bore the public rigid.

    The bile starts to rise though when he talks about ‘registered supporters’ as opposed to ‘Members’. A member is someone who pays his or her dues and accepts the general party line in return for having a genuine say when it comes to policymaking.

    A registered supporter is something quite different; they’re generally treated in line with the mushroom principle, ‘keep em in the dark and feed em…’ Well you can guess the rest.

    If it is to survive let along start winning elections again the Labour Party will have to find a way of recruiting, involving and sensibly reflecting the views of the British public. Anything else is a dead end.

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