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Anyone involved in grassroots Labour politics care to discuss some thoughts?

(41 Posts)
MarionCole Mon 22-Nov-10 22:34:38

And I know it's tempting but, Tory ladies, please don't contribute. I don't want to hear and I may flounce.

Decided to get back involved at CLP level post-election and I'm finding it quite demoralizing. I'm trying to contribute to some of the campaign material (which is frankly quite shoddy, poorly presented, spelling mistakes etc, plus inconsistent messages, clearly I'm not telling them that so bluntly!) but I'm starting to feel that it is a closed community and, although they are very welcoming, they are not letting me in. All of my (I think, constructive) suggestions are being ignored. It seems that the literature is being passed to the regional office for approval but that they are passing it back as they are too busy to look at it.

I'm close to stepping away, but I feel quite upset that they're not representing my ideals adequately and I think I should stick at it and try to effect some change over time. The bloke they have lined up to be next PPC frankly has no chance, and that upsets me too.

Is grassroots politics generally demoralizing? Or is it just my CLP?

LadyBlaBlah Tue 23-Nov-10 16:00:58

I went to a meeting the other week at grassroots. And I was the youngest person there. I am not young. Nuff said.

Labour have never been influential in my constituency - it's Lib Dem or Tory, but FFS they need to get their act together now as the Lib Dems are dead in the water - it's a perfect opportunity.


Eleison Tue 23-Nov-10 16:09:18

I've never been a Labour Party member, so I don't know how things are organised, but would I be right in thinking that the increasing centralisation of the party, the erosion of the grassroots' role in determining policy via the annual conference, and so forth, have really lowered the status of local party organisations to such a degree that fewer and fewer talented and committed people will participate? DH has just joined, and it does seem a fairly sorry affair at local grassroots level (this in an area with a historic huge Labour majority).

Committed people must find the party machine grindingly weak -- and perhaps prefer special interest campaigning groups?

gingercat12 Tue 23-Nov-10 16:58:40

I find it a strange and different planet, and am also the youngest. By far. But ours is a strong Labour constituency, so probably no need for big upheaval.

We are having election strategy meeting this week, so we'll see how things turn out.

I think it might just be your CLP. Although I am still quite excited as D Miliband got lost and came into our offices yesterday. All the ladies fainted.

MarionCole Tue 23-Nov-10 21:51:26

Not just me then. Just back from a meeting, I offered to set up a blog as they thought they should have a website - they looked at me as though I was talking a different language. I think I am probably the youngest too and I'm pushing forty. This has historically been a safe Labour seat which recently turned Tory, so there is everything to fight for. There seems to be an enormous disconnect between party central and CLP/branch level. There is no coordination and no funding.

Eleison Tue 23-Nov-10 22:14:20

That sounds truly depressing, esp in a seat with lots to play for. And I'm guessing that many of the new members the party is attracting now will join over the internet and never ever develop any strong connection with the local party? They will just be passive numbers, voting in leadership/NEC elections in a manner more influenced by media coverage than by internal party discussion. We are moving to a situation where parties are no longer popular movements at all. Combined with the creaking parliamentary voting system, that makes for a really ruined political culture.

cikals Tue 23-Nov-10 22:49:55

I used to be a member of the Labour party and quite involved in the grassroots before I joined the Tories a few years ago. The difference in the quality of organisation is very marked, the Tories are lightyears ahead. I know this might be due to greater resources but there just seemed to be a lot more energy and enthusiasm in the Conservative activists.

gingercat12 Wed 24-Nov-10 12:39:02

cikals That is a bit of a swing.

Our members do not know much about that "Facebook-thingy". But they are quite keen to develop some online presence.

cikals Wed 24-Nov-10 16:36:07

The problem for Labour gingercat is that the Conservatives having been using the internet and social media and networks for years. The creation of things like myconservatives and conservativehome are examples of this

Litchick Wed 24-Nov-10 17:05:23

I've been involved for many years but am bowing out now.

The Labour party to some extent under Blair, but completely under Brown, had no interest in grass roots politics.

It was led centrally and fairly undemocratically from London. The concerns of working class men and women around the country were utterly ignored.

We were constantly raising the concerns about constituents about the economy, immigration etc. These were stamped on. A Londoncentric, statecentric, Guardian shaped agenda was dogmatically pursued.

I got very demoralised.

And we all know what happened in the elections. Traditional Labour voters didn't turn out.

I'll wait to see what Ed's got to say, but don't know if I'll ever return to my previous involvement.

gingercat12 Thu 25-Nov-10 10:02:34

Cikal You are absolutely right about using social media as an asset.

We had the campaign planning meeting, and despite the deep snow there was a very good turn-out. All very enthusiastic and volunteering for jobs.

Sadly, similarly to Litchick's experience, we spent half the meeting complaining about not being consulted by the PLP on issues.

MarionCole Thu 25-Nov-10 19:25:52

I think I might write to Ed.

gingercat12 Thu 25-Nov-10 21:33:01

MarionCole I think that is a good idea. While everybody was whinging about not being consulted by the PLP yesterday, somebody said he heard that Ed will publish his manifesto by probably the Spring. My fellow comrade thought it was a good thing, something like a saviour. But I thought that means no consultation again.

gingercat12 Thu 25-Nov-10 21:34:20

Anyway, I volunteered to write a one-pager on party policy and local issues on childcare / working women etc.

granted Thu 25-Nov-10 21:38:40

Tell them I'd vote Labour again if they stopped trying to be the Tory-lite party.

Otherwise it's Green for me hereon in.

StephenM Fri 26-Nov-10 14:06:12

I'm just getting back involved with the local Labour Party after many years of inactivity and I'm seeing some of the same things as you. It's not that the stalwarts are unwelcoming, it's just that they're a bit stuck in the their ways. They are also a bit defeatist at the moment.

But a lot of them have been in politics for a long time and have years of experience, so you can't discount them quickly. You have to remember that it's difficult for them to have someone new come in and be full of ideas, take your time to get them onside and learn who's forward thinking naturally and who'll take more persuading.

In our branch about 10% of the members are active and attend meetings and socials. The rest are a bit of a mystery. I'm trying to get them involved but it's slow going.

My advice is to keep plugging away, it will be slow but will get easier as you build up some momentum. And start your own blog for yourself, then invite other local Labour people to write on it. That will get you underway.

StephenM Fri 26-Nov-10 14:09:19

Elieson - you're quite right about the new members having joined through the internet and being passive numbers. In this ward I'd like to have someone call every one of them and invite them to a social Christmas event, offering a lift to the venue and a named contact to talk to when they arrive. But just getting hold of the member list is proving hard work.

seteer Fri 26-Nov-10 15:46:20

I agree with everyone else on this thread my local party is very backward in its approach and mentality. When I suggested facebook/blog/twitter etc they just looked at me like I was an alien. If we're to get back in in 2015 then we need to energise the grassroots and modernise the grassroots approach we take

granted Fri 26-Nov-10 17:20:44

Hate to say it, but could you get the leadership to (a) apologize for deserting their core vote for the last 13 years, and (b) come up with some rather better policies.

If we want to vote Tory, we'll just, y'know, vote Tory?

Try to provide some OPPOSITION. Not just more of the same old.

ilovemydogandMrObama Fri 26-Nov-10 17:30:54

There was a local meeting about 3 months ago and I asked when the next one would be and was met by, 'gosh, don't know...' hmm

Total apathy.

pinkteddy Fri 26-Nov-10 17:59:12

Hasn't Ed said he wants to consult the membership? Now is the ideal time to feedback ideas methinks.

gingercat12 Sat 27-Nov-10 18:24:38

Just had an emailfrom Liam Byrne asking for feedback on various issues such as policy.

MarionCole Sat 27-Nov-10 22:30:28

I have been drafting up a letter to send to Ed, also inviting him to our branch. It's definitely the time to give feedback.

breathedeeply Sun 28-Nov-10 14:01:51

I was a lifelong member of the Labour Party (and a Labour cllr) but resigned 6 mths ago. It was a really hard decision, as most of my best friends are in the Labour Party, and the betrayals (on both sides) felt very personal.

The Labour Party needs to change - Ed Milliband has said as much - but the question is whether that change can come from within the Labour Party. I honestly don't think it can.

My neighbourhood is a core Labour area (though the Parliamentary constituency is marginal and has just gone Tory). As a consequence, my LP branch represents a set of narrow, sectional interests - old blokes mainly, who used to work on the railways or the big local factory (now closed), and who moved into the local council estates when they were built in 1960.

There has been no attempt to reach out to a changing demographic (the core vote is literally dying off) and votes are there for the taking by another political party.

I tried for 10 yrs to get them to change, and it was like banging my head against a brick wall. I've joined the Greens, and I am really enjoying campaigning with a fresh set of people in an branch structure that isn't defined by the same old heirachies and intransigence.

kerstina Sun 28-Nov-10 14:25:42

Interested that you are joining the greens as i feel there policies are more socialist and i would have voted for them if they were likely to have got in in my area but i do worry neither Labour or Greens will get in if the Labour vote looses out to green voters.
I tried to join the labour party but it did not accept my card details for some reason .Anyone a member in the B'ham area ? I would be interested in getting more involved.

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