Progress

My speech to the Fabian Diversity rally at LPC16

Not the speech that I was intending at the Fabian Diversity rally but the occasion demanded something different.

For any discussion or follow up on the content of the speech, email richard[at]progressonline.org.uk

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Modernising Modernisers

First published on the Huffington Post September 2015; updated 24 September 2016

The result of the Labour leadership election was hurtful – to pretend otherwise would be untrue. I think the candidate that I supported did a brilliant job – tough though her task was. As Jeremy Corbyn said, Liz Kendall ‘absolutely stands up for what she believes in’. Yvette Cooper came out and changed government policy on refugees. Andy Burnham showed he was one of the nicest guys in politics. Congratulations are due to Jeremy Corbyn and his team.

It is horrid losing elections. Internal ones are often more painful. While May’s general election result was hard to take, losing within the party for which you have worked your whole adult life is more personal, especially when your very motive for doing so has been brought so firmly into question. (more…)

Handing over the reins

First published on Progressonline

Progress has tried to lead the field on the representation of women in the Labour party. We were the first grouping to ban ‘all-male panels’ – long before my time, under the leadership of Jessica Asato – and pushed for the party to limit them at Labour party conference. The Progress strategy board is gender-balanced. John Woodcock, the then chair, was the first to sign the Labour Women’s Network #Powerpledge. When the Labour party has no women in leadership positions outside Scotland, Progress has Alison McGovern as chair. My predecessor, Robert Philpot, did lots of work with fellow thinktanks and party groupings on generating new women writers and speakers at events. We now regularly share the names of excellent writers and speakers we come across. Women-only training sessions on political writing and on standing for public office have become regulars in the organisation’s calendar. The first Winning With Women conference, with all-women speakers, was held in 2013. In recent months, the number of women writing for Progress magazine has leapt. But you just need to look at the gender balance of our staff team to see the distance we must travel. We must all do more. (more…)

The week the mask slipped

First published on ProgressOnline

It has been a rocky few months for the new leadership and for all us who worry this experiment in anti-West statism will fall flat with the voters on whom we rely to deliver for those we came into politics to serve.

I for one wanted to return in the new year with the good will normally associated with December. I wanted to feel more positive about my party’s prospects and get stuck into elections for Mayor of London, in Scotland, Wales and local government. We have three seats challenges planned for Sadiq Khan this Sunday and every month until polling day,as well as in South Wales later in January. (more…)

Welcome, Momentum, and here’s some friendly advice

First published on LabourList

As I’m the director of Progress, I doubt many will be surprised I didn’t get the email inviting to join Momentum, the new “grassroots network” and “social movement” being built from the Jeremy Corbyn campaign.

I won’t pretend to have tweeted #JezWeCan, but the Labour Party has a rich tradition of groups with very different views and backgrounds. Progress was delighted to have the Guardian’s Owen Jones, Compass’s Neal Lawson, Class’s Steve Hart, and Blue Labour’s Maurice Glasman speak at our last conference – none of them exactly heirs to Blair. We can disagree without being disagreeable. (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…)