Movement for ChangeSeptember 5th, 2011
It was good to see in today’s Guardian the plans for party renewal, which include the training of street organisers through Movement for Change. People power is the way to win.
I attended one of the Movement’s training days in the North East over the bank holiday. It was one of the best four or five hours I have spent in the party. People came from all backgrounds – Union Learning Fund organisers, science PHD students, experienced councillors, new members. The day was structured around an introductory discussion of why we all joined the party. That was more than an ice breaker. It unearthed the emotions and motivations of people. Then a real life situation about how people power takes on officialdom. Then strategising about how to change our local parties.
It was moving, passionate, interesting, forward looking – everything you want from a political party. And it was interesting to see how the discussion of Keir Hardie’s life – drunkard father who beat him, trapped down a mine at age 12, locked out of Liberal politics – brought home to people the point that politics is about relationships and motivations. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to more. The type of organising Movement for Change encourages isn’t an alternative to hard electoral campaigning, but it does, I think, complement efforts to win office by investing in alliances, activist base and authentic issues that underpin any successful electoral strategy.
The inaugural Annual General Meeting of the M4C this Saturday was billed as a necessary and probably boring formality. But it brought people together, elected an excellent new Chair, Vice Chairs and Committee, and set the stage for more extensive work.
There are more training sessions this month, and actions taking place around the country and at conference. I am looking forward to coming to Liverpool for Conference and I will be speaking at the M4C fringe meeting on the Sunday evening. We are out of power nationally, but we need to learn how to use, mobilise and create power locally.
I am not doing other events at Conference. As I said after the last Conference, and have repeated throughout the year, Ed is the Leader and he needs an open field in which to lead the party as he sees fit. I don’t want to be a distraction. So I am not going to be a talking head providing commentary on TV, or a media focus for soap opera during the week. It’s Ed’s show and I want it to be a success. As it happens, I have been invited to speak at a conference in Washington on China’s rise and role in the global system, and will be there when Ed speaks on the Tuesday.
I’m proud to be supporting Ed and the party through M4C and a tour of Universities announced over the summer. It’s great that the party is turning outwards and I’m sure Conference will be a good showcase for the new ideas coming through the party.