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PH Opinion

PH Opinion


Views and comment from Westminster

Peter Hain: Labour lost touch with people

Peter Hain, the chair of Labour’s national policy forum, accepts that Labour lost touch with its members and supporters and points out that a string of reforms are being considered: including letting members of the public vote in internal party elections and selections.

Last year’s election showed, my party, the Labour Party, needs to better adapt to a new world if we are to reconnect and be granted permission to govern again. Over thirteen years in power, Labour lost trust on some policy issues. But it’s also the case that we lost touch with people because our organisation didn’t adapt adequately enough or quickly enough to people’s changing worlds.

That’s why now, with Labour in opposition, Ed Miliband has asked me to head up a review of how Labour interacts with people, and to study what we do well and what needs to change about our organisation and culture. Our consultation isn’t just about how Labour interacts with its current membership; it’s also about how we interact with society as a whole and harness the power of people to make change in their communities. It’s about how we make our party and our politics less remote, and more responsive.

This does not simply mean operating another membership drive, or delivering a sham or inaccessible “process”. It means discovering why so many people don’t believe political parties are the answer anymore, and engaging with those people to put that right. It’s a process the Tories also engaged with during their period in opposition. 

People have already put a lot of good suggestions on the table for what we should do – from offering associate membership for supporters to allowing the public to vote in internal selections; from opening up our structures to better enabling members, supporters and organisations to contribute to our policy-making. We need more such suggestions from you.

We live in a rapidly changing world, a world of ever-flowing news streams, of powerful social media and of shifting global trends and shocks that can profoundly influence our thinking and our direction as a country at virtually any time. 

For those of us in frontline politics, our task is to adapt to and shape that changing world, and to build a democracy fit for our time: in touch with people’s everyday lives, and responsive to their everyday needs; working in their communities but also accessible through modern technologies and other means.
 
Real change of this nature cannot be imposed from above. That’s why I want to hear from everyone. Please visit www.refoundinglabour.org and contribute your thoughts on what you want from a political party – what you like about Labour and our structures, and what you’d change.

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