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Progress members seem to want internal democracy after all

When we publicised (and supported) the call for an investigation into Progress as a party-within-a-party, a frequent response was that there was no call for any internal democracy. Wes Streeting, leading Progress supporter, councillor and former NUS President argued that he “did not see the need to vote”. He later added that “if people don’t support it, they don’t have to be in it.” But it turns out that their members are rather keen on it judging by the numbers of their members who’ve put themselves forward for the new stategy board they’ve introduced to answer the snowballing pressure for openness, democracy and transparency.

The Boards powers are limited (see below), but the structure of the board is still cumbersome, a sort of electoral college will elect three sections — no place for OMOV at Progress — parliamentarians, councillors and ordinary members. Twelve councillors and twenty-eight ordinary members will compete for four seats in each section. Only parliamentarians seem to be unenthusiastic about the prospects of democracy.

Unfortunately,after the election of a “board” whose structure clearly indicates a paranoia about handing over any great influence to their members, all its members will be able to do is:

  • Approve the appointment of Progress’ chair, vice-chair and honorary president for a full parliamentary term.
  • Approve any endorsements made by Progress in internal party elections.
  • Approve Progress’ overall political strategy.
  • Have a representative on any interview panel constituted to appoint a new director of Progress.

Note that the wording  of the first (quoted directly from the Progress website) appears to suggest that some other unelected body will actually choose the successful candidate and this Board will merely rubber stamp their decision. The same applies to the second (which, according to Luke Akehurst is usually agreed in a chat between John Spellar MP, the generalissimo of Labour First, and Richard Angell, Deputy Director and chief fixer of Progress.  The third is likely to involve little more. So the real power is to elect one member of an interviewing panel. Nevertheless we do promise more coverage of the election than we normally devote to those in North Korea. We may even come up with a slate – we bet Richard Angell will have  one!

The full list of those standing is:

Parliamentarians (elected unopposed)

Oona King
Gloria De Piero
Nick Smith
Phil Wilson


Cllr. Paul Brant, Liverpool Riverside
Cllr. Brendan Chilton, Ashford
Cllr. James Denselow, Hampstead and Kilburn
Cllr. Rowan Draper, Stafford
Cllr. Rachel Hodson, Don Valley
Cllr. Mike Ion, The Wrekin
Cllr. Arjun Mittra, Finchley & Golders Green
Cllr. Warren Morgan, Brighton Kemptown
Cllr. Sean Newman, Erith & Thamesmead
Cllr. Florence Nosegbe, Dulwich & West Norwood
Cllr. Claire Reynolds, Stalybridge & Hyde
Cllr. Keith White, Hemel Hempstead


Geoff Beacon, York
Alex Burrows, Sutton Coldfield
Stephen Farrington, Bethnal Green & Bow
David Green, Lewisham Deptford
Danny Hackett, Erith & Thamesmead
Mike Harrison, Brigg & Goole
William Higham, Vauxhall
Marcus Hobley, Southwark & Old Bermondsey
Andrew Jenkins, Neath
Patrick Joyce, Rugby
Dermot Kehoe, Islington South & Finsbury
Philippa Latimer, Dulwich & West Norwood
Joe Mann, Broxbourne
Dan McCurry, Bethnal Green & Bow
Edmund Norton, Birkenhead
Tal Ofer, Epping Forest
Simon Redfern, Walthamstow
Vijay Riyait, Leicester West
Jonathan Roberts, Thirsk & Malton
William Roberts, Wells
Philip Ross, North East Hertfordshire
Joan Ryan, Enfield Southgate
Hopi Sen, Tooting
Jack Storry, Brent Central
Sharan Tabari, Westminster North
David Talbot, Stratford-on-Avon
Mandy Telford, Barrow & Furness
Martin Yuille, Manchester Withington


  1. Pete says:

    Surely, by this logic, Labour should be letting the Tories romp home to victory in the PCC elections. After-all, we opposed the idea of electing police and crime commissioners: doesn’t that mean we must not nominate candidates and boycott the ballot?

    No, it does not – just in the same way Progress members who didn’t see internal elections as necessary are now participating in them. I’m one of those proud Progress members who saw absolutely no need for internal elections because Progress is simply a member’s association, magazine and, at a push, a small think-tank. That doesn’t mean I’m not excited for them now that they’re here; even if I think they’re unnecessary, they’re still interesting and I’m still going to vote!

    I’m quite sure I speak for the vast majority of Progress members when I say we’re very content with how the organisation is run; if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be members now, would we? Contrary to the borderline slanderous image blogs like this like to paint of Progress, its administration is actually very good towards and enjoys a positive relationship with its members. If there had been a big demand for greater internal democracy from Progress members before this GMB motion etc nonsense began, I’m quite confident Progress would have accommodated its members. As it happens, there was no such mass demand.

    Throughout this entire debacle Progress has carried itself with dignity and responded to the attacks upon it in a mature, intelligent and reasonable way. It’s shameful that individuals like yourself can’t say the same kind of things about your own conduct.

  2. john reid says:

    pete well said, but I still don’t think LAbour should have candidates for PCC, and if there’s anyone standing we should back independents, we don’t have to back the SDLP in Northern Ireland and we have Lords even when we were opposed to the lords

  3. Mike Homfray says:

    They can have as many elections as they like – they will still be peddlers of views better suited to the Coalition, and are an entirely negative influence on the party.

  4. john reid says:

    Negative, Mike yeah the only endorsed policies that won Labour 3 leections, Something the Left never achieved

  5. Matty says:

    A lot of the 1997 manifesto policies were actually old Labour policies from the Kinnock/Smith era eg devolution, national minimum wage, cutting NHS waiting lists. Blair was able to water down quite a few of the policies eg on the minimum wage (making it lower than it should be) and abandon a few entirely eg accepting privatisation of the rail network (and a decade later Network Rail went bankrupt, not to mention the East Coast line franchise fiascos), .

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