Saturday, 13 June 2015

Labour must genuinely connect with voters

There's been a lot of talk and a lot of jargon about where Labour should go next - be it to the left/being more bold, or carrying on with a Milibandite philosophy but making less mistakes and with a more centrist message or blatantly going after the Tories in supposed 'New Labour' fashion. None of these attempts will work if they aren't rooted in what voters truly think - however, any could potentially work if they are really based on the people.

Instead of thinking about actual policies, we are rapidly descending into a factionalist war between the left, centre and right factions of the Labour Party generally supporting Burnham, Cooper and Kendall respectively regardless of how left or right they really are. Whilst it is somewhat beneficial for there to be a debate on Labour's general direction next, we need to think about how in practical terms we can adopt policies that the electorate really wants and make it as easy as possible for the leadership to win an election off the basis of that.

To some extent, I endorse this 'war' by despising what Kendall has said so far by being too Tory (her support of free schools being a big example), but, as I said, if Labour is truly embedded in the people then what leader we select will matter less.

Labour branch and constituency parties should be talking to constituents constantly, through questionnaires and the like. They should create report and consider the opinions on their constituents and come up with practical policy suggestions, which are both popular and match the party's overall agenda and message, for the Party on a national and local level. Local Party policy can be changed directly, national Party policy should be influenced by National Policy Forum representatives.

With the people from all constituencies genuinely influencing the Labour Party at a local and national level, Labour will be able to change without compromising on its values and win in 2020 - even if Boris is the Tory leader by then!

Stella Creasy, in particular, has a penchant for rigorous campaigning and community-based activism as well as a passion for social justice and she managed to increase her vote share in the last disastrous election. If she makes it onto the Deputy Leadership ballot, and wins, she would do much to restore Labour's reputation in a grassroots fashion which would be independent of who the leader is and, ultimately, what direction they take. But she has far fewer than the 35 MP nominations she needs to get on the ballot and the candidates have only until Monday to get the needed nominations - let's hope she gets there.

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