The Labour Party is going through something of a self-examination and doing something that I consider pretty fundamental is we are to move on from the 2010 election. There is internal consultation of the membership to work out how we can grow as a party and become a strong, robust and electable in the eyes of the voting public.
I have to admit that in the run up to the last election, it has been really hard not having a solid manifesto to build on. This has been down to Ed Miliband not wanting to rush into producing just any policies, but wanting to do the reviews properly and come up with a solid set that everyone can get behind and push on with. I completely understand that, but it didn’t really help on the doorstep when people are asking Labour Policy on big issues.
That said, I do think this is the right way to do it, given we really do not expect an election before the end of this year at the earliest, it is better to use the time effectively and come up with something robust and sensible.
One of the good moves is a paper by Peter Hain MP called Refounding Labour, which has a very honest review of our party as it is now and finishes with 4 major questions that we need to answer as a party of we are to move on in a successful way. We have dedicated one of our Local GC meetings to it, where I ran a workshop style event to come up with a response from Gloucester CLP, and responses are also invited from individual members too. The questions have ranged from topics covering increasing membership, to the development of policy and how to get grass-roots voices heard. What I have also done, is get some of my non-Labour friends to have a look at it and see what they think and that has proved very useful too.
I think its things like this that will make Labour a strong and electable party again, not short-term quick wins, but getting a credible message, that has substance and depth and I know I keep harking on about it, but a message that people can trust in, and therefore trust us with their vote.
Of course, as with anything, the proof will be in what is done with the results, and how quickly we see change, if any. But I also hope that CLPs have also taken this as an oppotunity to look at how they act locally, and use it as a basis for engaging with local membership too, this is such an opportunity to move forward and re-engage with not only the public, but the membership too!