All too often, Party members outside of London feel that they are far removed (and not only geographically) from the key debates and major events which seem to shape the course of our Party. In my experience, this perception is particularly acute in our ‘heartland’ areas.
That’s why, as a Labour Party activist in Yorkshire I was delighted to hear of a Yorkshire and Humberside based initiative called “Winning Labour” which has decided to hold its inaugural event this Saturday in my home city of Leeds.
But it’s not only the proximity of the event to my own doorstep that made up my mind that I would register for this event – it’s the proximity of Winning Labour’s mission statement to the reality of my experience ‘on the doorstep’ as a Labour Party activist and in the workplace as a trade unionist. In the e-mail invitation I’ve received from Winning Labour, the three core themes of an “agenda for victory” are described as being:
- an economy based on fair taxation, public investment, and regulation of the market to benefit the many, not the few
- the development of responsive, accountable, and high-quality public services free of damaging marketisation and privatisation
- the vital role of trade unions as champions of working people and public services, and developing their crucially important place in the Party
As someone who wants to see our Party rooted in reality and looking forward positively, not gazing nostalgically into the past or defending the status quo, an invitation on these terms instinctively appealed to me.
Ed Miliband has set out the challenge of developing policies and a party organisation that will win back “Labour’s Lost Millions” – the five million votes that our Party lost between 1997 and 2010. Whilst there are groups already energetically co-ordinating and expressing their prescriptions for our Party’s future, the voices and views of many Party members are not yet being fully heard in this debate. I’m going along to the Winning Labour event on Saturday because I hope that it will be part of the process of making sure that all voices and all views in our Party are heard loud and heard clear. I believe they must be in order for the Party to be able to win back the five million votes we have lost since 1997 and form a government that governs in the interests of working people.
“How Do We Win?” Speakers and Debate: An Event for Labour Party members, Leeds Civic Hall, 10.45 am to 1 pm, Saturday 9 July 2011. Speakers: Tim Roache, GMB (Chair, Regional TUC); Jon Trickett MP.
To assist with arrangements on the day, please register by e-mailing your name, CLP and union to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Burgon is Vice Chair of Leeds East CLP, has played a leading role in trade union disputes in Yorkshire and was a shortlisted candidate for the Barnsley Central by-election.