Community campaigning, DM-style (aka not even knowing how your members vote)

In Mark Ferguson’s excellent expose of “community campaigning” in South Shields under David Miliband’s watch, he reveals that the voter contact rate (the percentage of people in the constituency for whom the party has a record of voting preference) in the constituency was as low as 0.2%. Based on the electorate in the by-election, that is 0.2% of 62,979 people, or just 126.

Last year, according to the published conference voting figures, South Shields had 392 members. Can it be that not even the party’s members were marked up on the register? Continue reading

Movement for…Blairite continuity?

In the last few years so called “community organising” has become the latest trend in the Labour Party. Advocates of this approach among the Labour Party seem to base it on American-style Democrat political campaigning and use Saul Alinskey’s “Rules for Radicals” as their bible.

The big organisation to first bring this type of campaigning to this country has been Citizens UK; and David Miliband’s pet project, “Movement for change”, is spearheading the effort to bring this approach into the Labour Party. Indeed this effort has been taken up by the party’s youth sections, with Labour Students’ big campaign priority being winning a living wage for University staff and Young Labour’s new campaign being help for young homeless people. Continue reading

Labour’s Party-within-a-party: latest funding figures

Progress, Labour’s Blairite party-within-a-party, has now raised over £2.8million to fund its activities. Its annual income is now well in excess of the maximum ever achieved by the Militant tendency (which raised £283,818 in 1986 according to its published fighting fund totals) and it doesn’t finance the production of a weekly newspaper. Although it is understood that Ed Miliband has privately urged Progress to avoid factional activity within the party, they continue to promote candidates for internal party elections and to provide training for their supporters in parliamentary selections.

At present, Progress offer superficial support to Labour’s leader, and is careful to invite some MPs who backed him in the leadership campaign to participate in their events. However, few can doubt where Progress would stand should Ed experience another period of bad media coverage like that to which he was subjected prior to the riots and phone hacking scandal. Continue reading