Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Agitate,educate and organise!
When we left beautiful Dubrovnik on Saturday morning we were fairly sure what the result would be from the conference in Liverpool.
we were not disappointed and I suppose we have to thank Owen Smith for confirming what many of us knew, that the Labour Party is no longer a snivelling collection of careerists and policy light clones but is emerging as a Socialist party, indeed now the largest one in all of Europe,and is becoming less and less the 'hollowed out shell' that Jason Cowley described last week in the New Statesman.
That's a bit ironic really given that the NS, along with it whinge-mate Progress and all those other New Labour types has been the cheerleaders for 'moderate' politics, or to be more precise 'do as little as possible to rock the boat' politics of the last three decades.
However there is still a great deal to do if the Party is to be turned into one that can give leadership and hope to millions who are being crushed on a daily basis by austerity and the laughable pretensions of the so called 'political class'.
There is no such thing as a political class, it is a creation of wishful thinkers who believe if they say it often enough then we will get used to the perpetual rule of an elite.The one that the NS called the 'golden generation'-you will of course remember them, Douglas Alexander,James Purnell, the Miliband Brothers and of course the all dancing Ed Balls.
it is now up to all those thousands of new members to move on from hoping for change to creating change.
But some stable cleaning has to take place.The first and most important is that the witch hunt against members by the Party officials must end.It cannot be right that the thousands of new members subscriptions are being used by officials to trawl facebook and twitter and websites to find something someone once wrote eons ago and rehash it as being evidence of 'bullying' or 'deviation' or somesuch old tosh.
I guess when the thought police come to look at my scribblings over the years there is enough to cast me into the outer darkness several times over.(I forgot they already did that,at my last appeal they found stuff I had written ages ago on this blog-strangely enough it was a comment I made about Dennis Skinner becoming a parliamentary character-I'm glad by the way I got that wrong!)
However if these latter day heresy hunters had been around a few decades ago, well old Nye would have been slung out for calling tories 'vermin' .
So the first thing that happens must be the muzzling of the heresy hounds.
Then the Party needs to understand that endless bleating about unity means nothing other than offering a cover for plotting and scheming to go on with endless pious references to 'taking on the Tories'.
You don't take them on by wagging a petulant digit and then having a pop at JC.Neither does it mean stuffing inane leaflets in letterboxes,asking people what they want or offering to collect their litter or empty their dustbins.
In every area people have issues that confront them daily, some are small irritants, others are major problems,caused either by austerity or lousy Tory administrations.
What is required is for Labour Party branches to get involved in local struggles,to play a leading role, ina word to AGITATE.
There are many good examples, the best and most obvious one in Northampton at the moment is the plans by local Tories and big business to construct a highly dangerous and polluting incinerator in the St James area.All the sophistry and preachy resolutions about creating business plans or understanding the problems of waste disposal and blah blah will not help the people living in the potential shadow of the monster.
I am delighted to see some Borough Councillors notably Gareth Eales taking a lead in the campaign, but it i9s just the sort of campaign that the Party should be organising townwide-that is real leadership within the community.
Which leads on to the second strand of what the Party needs to do-EDUCATE.
Every campaign that the Party participates in,if not leads should be about explaining in clear terms what is happening and why.Far too often, Councillors and indeed MP's get caught up in the management speak so beloved by bureaucrats at every level.If you want to know why people are turned off by politicians, can I suggest to those who are the public face of the Labour Party listen to themselves sometime, instead of preening in front of a camera,listen to what you are saying.
The reason why JC so resonates with so many people is that he speaks people-not jargon!
Lastly, if the Party is agitating and educating it needs to ORGANISE.That is the first lesson of the history of our movement.Even those farm labourers in Dorset understood that they needed to organise their workmates in the village-of course they got deported to Van Diemen's Land for their trouble, but at least they knew what had to be done.
Everyone talks about winning the next election, but to put it simply,stuffing semi literate leaflets in letterboxes is not organising, it's political drudgery at it's lowest level.The trade union movement learned what to do 150 odd years ago.
If Labour is to win council or parliamentary seats it won't be achieved by having a top heavy bureaucracy that spends its time sifting through members Facebooks and studying rule books like racing form books.As a simple suggestion with all the new money in the party,why not deploy Regional staff and indeed head office grand poohbahs into local constituencies, not simply to prepare for elections and design leaflets but get out into neighbourhoods and act as political organisers throughout the year.As a matter of fact as well as union officials on picket lines,LP organisers should be there too, offering to workers in struggle facilities to support their actions.
Labour Party organisers,activating and education within the communities,supporting members actions, supporting trade unionists,supporting tenants ,supporting claimants at the Job Centre.
"Where workers strike and organise,it's there you'll find......"
Now wouldn't that be grand.