party reform

Stop the McDonnell amendment

My New Year’s resolution is to stop the hard-left lowering the threshold to stand for Labour leader from 15 to five per cent

First published on ProgressOnline | Featured in the Guardian

2016 was obviously a total disaster for those who want to see a Labour government in the not too distant future. Disappointing local election results, coming third in Scotland, losing the European Union referendum and the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn followed by near silence. Since 24 September 2016 there has been little done to unite the party, nothing done to flesh out of policy ideas, campaign days on grammar schools and the NHS were so poor few voters noticed and the Labour leader appears at prime minister’s question time and that’s about it. Labour finishes the year with a 25 per cent standing in the polls – some 17 points behind an unelected Tory leader that is bereft of ideas and vision. Only 18 per cent of the public like our economy team and just 17 per cent our leader. The Corbyn project has clearly failed and many who voted for him, even the second time, are rapidly coming to the same conclusion. (more…)

One tiny change makes Labour unrecognisable

First published on the Times Redbox

Last year I left Labour party conference in Brighton exhausted. Moderates had fended off attacks on Trident and Labour’s defence policy, the rulebook was left largely unchanged, and the mistakes made in full view of the public were all homemade, by Jeremy Corbyn and his Short money-employed staff.

Recently I was back in Brighton for the Labour First/Progress Road to Conference tour. While Labour itself heads to Liverpool this year, conference is back in Brighton in 2017. Could the party be unrecognisable by then? (more…)

Time for NEC reform to strengthen members’ and councillors’ voices

First published on Progressonline

The events of last weekend were historic and unifying. The changes will be meaningful and, let us hope, lasting. Giving 2.7 million trade unionists the chance to step closer to the party their forebears helped create is no small thing. And asking the nine million people who stayed loyal in 2010 when the party got the second-worst electoral thumping since 1918 should chart a new opportunity for the people’s party. All make it more likely we win the coming general election.

Missing from the reform package, and Refounding Labour before it, is the necessary changes to the committee that is now to implement the Collins proposals, the NEC. (more…)

Inviting the public to the party

First published on Progressonline

In the last 48 hours both the new Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, and Ed Miliband have announced significant reforms to their parties. Both are extending new rights to their members and in turn to the wider public. Both are opening up their parties and inviting the public in, recognising that it is in partnership with the voters that we can clean up politics and restore it as an honourable pursuit for those who want to make changes for the better.

Two weeks ago few would have predicted that either of these men would be making speeches of this kind, let alone the speed of implementation being proposed. (more…)

Embracing reform

First published in Progress magazine

In the run-up to the last general election, it was not uncommon for fewer than 200 party members in safe Labour seats to effectively decide the constituency’s next member of parliament. In power, Labour shied away from creating opportunities for non-members to help select our candidates. At the same time, we saw our membership decline and disengage, allowing smaller and more vocal groups to dominate stagnating CLPs.

Paradoxically, opposition presents an opportunity to revitalise the party and put this disturbing trend right. Our growing membership now offers us the chance to look with confidence at how to broaden Labour’s engagement with non-members in the selection of both our candidates and party leader. (more…)

We learn by history, we don’t live in it

First published in Progress magazine

Richard Angell talks to the former foreign secretary and Labour leadership contender about New Labour, ‘Next Labour’, and building a movement.

It’s the first weekend of David Miliband’s much-anticipated leadership campaign and the candidate is in buoyant mood. ‘I think the resilience of the Labour party, the determination of our voters to see through the money and the media that was being thrown at them, the power of real conversations that were happening in constituencies all around the country are encouraging and a source of pride to each of us’ says the former foreign secretary of this month’s general election results.

But Miliband is hardly sanguine about the scale of Labour’s losses on May 6: ‘It was a bad defeat and we lost more than 95 MPs. In the three southern regions of England we have got 12 MPs out of 209 MPs outside London. We were below 30 per cent of the vote and all this against a Conservative party that was fundamentally unconvincing and not particularly credible nor attractive to the voters.’ In short, he says, the party received ‘a kicking’ and there’s only one response to that: ‘The most important thing when you have been given a kicking, is to respect it, to feel it, recognise it and reflect on it.’ (more…)