Since the election of Ed Miliband as leader, the Labour Party has been (and still is) messing around in a highly undemocratic fashion altering its structure and rules. The cover for this has been two disgraceful procedures under processes known as "Refounding Labour" and "Partnership Into Power". Policy formation has been on the back foot, although mainly non-party members were at one time supposed to be listened to under a sham consultation procedure called "New Politics, Fresh Ideas". But it now seems that policy-making in the Labour Party will at last get on the move from the time of the 2012 Party Conference. There is still time, however, for any Labour Party members who can follow what is going on to submit ideas to Shadow Cabinet Policy Review Groups. Although from past experience, we know that this will be like throwing paper darts. In fustration, instead of discussing policy democratically inside the Labour Party, would-be activists are driven into setting up pressure groups such as Blue, Purple, Red and Black Labour. Having not fallen for colour schemes there are other groups such as "Winning Labour".
The problems about pushing policy ideas via the procedures of the Labour Party are revealed in the following extract from Ann Black's unofficial report of what happened recently at a meeting of the National Executive Commitee of the Labour Party. Without Ann Black we would not even be able to look through a glass darkley.
Here is the opening of her report of the National Executive Committee meeting of 24 January 2012 -
"Peter Hain, Chair of the national policy forum, gave a report. He circulated a list of shadow cabinet review groups, though these had not been updated since the reshuffle and it was still not clear how to engage with them. A shining exception is international development, where Ivan Lewis has written:
“Following my appointment as shadow secretary of state I have been contacted by many grassroots Labour members across the country who passionately believe as we do that Labour should continue to vigorously fight for the rights of those living in poverty across the world.”
He invites people to sign up for their newsletter at http://fresh ideas.org.uk/international development or by emailing David.Courcoux@parliament.uk. Hopefully others will follow his initiative.
The policy-making cycle would start in earnest after conference 2012, following the review of Partnership into Power. Several of us again pointed out that in two years the NPF has held only two rushed one-day meetings. Conference calls and e-mails are useful, but not a substitute for direct dialogue. No dates have yet been set for 2012, and I wondered if the party could afford the NPF in any meaningful form. The latest joint policy committee was again poorly attended. NEC members, particularly the new trade union contingent, suggested that consultation documents should be open to formal amendment, and asked where final authority lay: with the NPF, the JPC, the NEC, conference, or elsewhere?
In the meantime please keep writing to the policy commissions, and copy me in. Their addresses are:
Britain in the World: email@example.com
Sustainable Communities (housing, environment, local government, transport, culture, media, sport): firstname.lastname@example.org
Crime, Justice, Citizenship and Equalities: email@example.com )
Education and Skills ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Health ( email@example.com )
Prosperity and Work - economy, welfare, pensions, workers’ rights ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
See Ann Black here