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Labour needs internal democracy to win in London

Sadiq Khan LONDON MAYORWith campaigning kicking off for the London Mayoral Election it would be easy to forget that Labour’s manifesto is yet to be written. We can all see that winning in London requires a strong set of policies which deal with the issues facing Londoners, particularly housing and transport.

As Labour Party members, we understand that good ideas do not come from individuals alone but from discussion, debate and democracy. This means that the best way to ensure that we get the radical manifesto we need is through a genuinely open and democratic policy-making process within the London Labour Party. Labour’s members are its links to communities across the capital and the stronger the voice they have, the more likely it is that we will get the manifesto we need.

In this vein, London Labour Party members have recently been invited by our candidate, Sadiq Khan, to take part in a ‘consultation’ on Labour’s Manifesto for London. The consultation has a website which can also be found online here. The website has six policy papers, which members are invited to submit responses to before the 27 November.  A week after the consultation closes, on the 5 December, there will be a one day policy forum featuring a workshop on each policy area. CLPs, Labour groups and affiliates have been invited to send representatives. CLPs can nominate two representatives to attend (at least one of whom must be a woman), Labour groups can nominate one representative and affiliates can send four representatives.

It is clearly a welcome development that Sadiq Khan wants to the views of Labour Party members to shape the 2016 manifesto, but there remain serious questions about how this process is being carried out.

Firstly, the scope of debate is being limited by pre-decided ‘questions for consultation’ which appear at the end of all the policy papers. These pre-decided questions could severely limit the discussion at the policy forum. Unless delegates can shape the agenda of the policy forum, grassroots initiatives risk being stifled. 

Secondly and importantly, it is far from clear what actual weight this policy consultation will have. Labour Party documents says that this process will ‘will be used as the foundation for Labour’s manifesto for London’, suggesting that the whole process will have little concrete power over. This leaves a very real risk that members voices could simply be ignored on key policy positions.

Finally, there seems to be a worrying little effort to engage Labour Party Members in this process, with a great deal of people unaware that this consultation is even taking place. Unless there is proper communication with members and genuine grassroots engagement, this whole process will have been in vain.

No one wants to see this consultation turn into a untimely dispute, but Labour members deserve real guarantees that their voice will be heard.

Every Labour Party member wants to see us win in 2016 and to do this we need the strongest possible policies. The manifesto we need will not appear out of thin air but will only come from genuine and comradely debate within our Party. All those concerned with Labour Party democracy must organise to make sure members’ voices are heard at the policy forum on the 5 December.  This means working to ensure that CLPs, Labour groups and affiliates send delegates to the conference who use their places to push for a genuinely democratic manifesto writing process. 


  1. David Ellis says:

    I think the days of people turning out like the sycophantic minions in some sect to back some New Labour clone in the hope there might be a job in it for them are over. Labour needs the masses to survive and the masses aren’t middle class on-message careerists. They either get to participate or they fuck off and if they fuck off Labour dies. Labour and the trades unions used to be the most central most important thing in workers’ lives now they are almost irrelevant captured by graduates and public school boys or greasy pole climbers looking for a place in the House of Lords. Consultation, the most bugus of all democracies, won’t cut it. What difference does it make who the Mayor of London is they all dance to the tune of big business? They have to. What the labour movement really needs is a new charter or manifesto for socialism.

  2. David Pavett says:

    Thanks for the tip-off about the policy papers consultation. I suppose that I had an email about it but a lot of that stuff goes straight into my junk folder and I don’t always check. I will certainly respond to one or more of the papers and encourage others to do the same.

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