community organising

Our island story

First published in Progress magazine

Straight after the local elections Labour will embark on selecting its first 26 candidates for general election 2015, all in seats we lost at the last election which have been designated ‘island’ seats, unlikely to be adjacent to other Labour seats after the forthcoming boundary review. In every constituency the Labour candidate will be up against incumbent Tories, apart from one Liberal Democrat, in Norwich South. Spread across the south, Midlands and eastern England, they are key targets for Labour and tests for the leadership. We must win all of these to gain a Labour majority in the next parliament.

Being selected so early in a parliament has obvious downsides – it is going to be a long old slog till the next election. But those willing to grasp the nettle have a unique opportunity to prove themselves and trial a new style of organising.

Selection for these seats will provide a vital voice for Labour in areas where we currently go unheard. With Cambridgeshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Kent, Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex and Wiltshire all without a single Labour MP, those willing to start campaigning now will deliver real change locally. Important seats like Crawley, Dover, Harlow, Hove, Ipswich and Waveney are miles away from any Labour MP’s route home to their constituencies, so visits there from shadow cabinet members and MPs are going to take extra effort, time and resources. Just having candidates in place making these demands of the upper echelons of the party will push their seats up the agenda. We desperately need to reacquaint ourselves with voters in these regions and motivate new and existing party members to fight back for Labour. (more…)

Neighbourhood watch

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

It is time for the Labour party to appoint a vice-chair to champion community involvement.

A year ago, Gordon Brown had his so-called ‘Clause IV moment’ with the unions, making radical changes to the Labour party’s constitution and decisively leading the party into a new era. Building on the creation of party vice-chairs, he sought to modernise our structures and get local parties consulting their communities. (more…)

Labour must do more to encourage community participation among its members

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

I have recently received the honour of being invited to join the governing body of a school based in the heart of Lambeth. I was pleasantly surprised at my first meeting that I was one of about four or five under 30 and wondered how representative this was on the sector more widely. The uniqueness of my situation will not amaze anyone.

I have long been an advocate young people becoming governors, especially current students in secondary school. I am proud that the Labour-led Welsh assembly government has pioneered requiring every secondary school to have two pupils on their governing body. If only Westminster would follow suit. (more…)