Labour democracy task force launches its plan

Submitted by martin on 10 January, 2011 - 1:44

The Labour Democracy Task Force has put out its draft response to the Labour Party's review of structure, arguing that Labour conference must become a place of real debate, rank-and-file input, and decision-making.

The Task Force is now offering speakers to constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and union branches, and appealing for sponsors.

The Labour Party's influx of new members since May 2010 has reached 50,000 - more than one-third of the (very low) old membership figure before May. Although, by all reports, not many of the 50,000 are hard left-wingers,. the influx has increased life in many constituency Labour Parties.

At the top of the "post-New" Labour Party, however, things are not so good. Having been elected as leader by union votes on a promise of reconnecting to the labour movement, Ed Miliband has been retreating ever since then, under fire from disappointed diehard-Blairites.

He has tried to placate the Blairites with things like appointing Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor. He has trimmed anti-cuts agitation to agitating only against police cuts.

Voters in Oldham, said Ed Miliband on 8 January, "can show the government what they feel about police cuts [sic] both here and across the country".

Presumably Ed Miliband has been told by Blairite officials that if he speaks up for disabled people, or students on EMA, or housing benefit claimants, or NHS users, that will associate him with "losers". To appeal to the "squeezed middle" he should stick to "broad" issues like police cuts, VAT rises, and means-testing of child benefits.

So long as there is no real pressure on Ed Miliband from the left, he will continue to drift under pressure from the right. In fact, criticism and pressure from the left is probably the only way to head off a move by the diehard-Blairites, before too long, to oust Ed Miliband and replace him by one of their own.

CLPs can start to build that pressure. But the unions will be decisive.

In the run-up to May 2010, the unions showed a little bit more life, forcing the Labour leaders to concede the restoration of contemporary motions to Labour Party conference and direct election of CLP representatives on the National Policy Forum. Len McCluskey has talked militant since being elected as Unite general secretary.

Inside reports, however, are that TULO (the consortium of unions affiliated to the Labour Party) is minded to respond to the Labour Party review by proposing only small changes in structure, some maybe even counterproductive, and none amounting to the restoration of a real, live Labour Party conference.

Pressure is needed inside the unions.

· Labour Democracy Task Force, initiated by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy:

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