David Miliband is the man to rejuvenate Labour’s grassroots

David Miliband, through his Movement for Change, has identified people who are passionate to change their communities and then paid to train them in community organising.

Our guest writer is Jonathan Cox, of the College of Community Organising, part of David Miliband’s Movement for Change

Many senior figures in the Labour Party have responded to the election defeat by calling for reforms to our structure, for more local campaigning, and to make the Party a living, breathing movement, to complement the electoral machine. No-one doubts that Labour can learn from the success of the model of community organising that has been pioneered by London Citizens and CITIZENS UK.

But so far, only one candidate has understood that the most enduring legacy of community organising is not the winning of the campaign, but the development of people as local community leaders.

That is why David Miliband, through his Movement for Change, has not imposed an issue from above and then sent activists a campaign letter and press release with identikit instructions for action.

Instead, David has identified people who are passionate to change their communities and then paid to train them in community organising so that the 1,000 people enrolled in the Movement for Change’s Future Leaders programme are equipped to take action with their local Party on the most pressing issue in their area.

Having undergone the training himself, David understands one of the central tenets of community organising: that to build a movement you have to put the development of people before policies. So the answer to the rejuvenation of the Labour Party’s grassroots is not to adopt other organisations’ campaigns and turn them into Labour campaigns, but to invest in the development of our members and harness their desire to tackle local issues.

The Movement for Change is training people on a housing development on Tyneside to work with the local Labour Party to get the developer to tarmac their road after three years of delay and obfuscation.

We have trained young leaders in Manchester to work with a local councillor and residents and on their estate to identify worthwhile and winnable issues. And, we have developed leaders in Norwich to organise a campaign against the harsh Conservative Council cuts to street lighting. The Movement for Change is working with people right across the country to organise and win campaigns on local issues – people who will gain skills and experiences that will far outlast the length of the campaign.

And, if you are really to put people before policies in the Labour Party, then we must do more to move towards a less bureaucratic and more relational culture.

Over the past few months I have asked almost everyone I have trained why it is they joined the Labour Party. Not a single person has told me that they joined to pass resolutions at GC or approve the minutes of the last meeting. I have heard some amazing stories that really help to understand people’s motivation to be Labour and provided a basis for collective action – but precious little time is devoted to such relational activity in our Party meetings.

If we are to be a Movement for Change we have to be able to understand and relate to fellow members in our constituency. It is very difficult to do this unless we invest time in getting to know them – and the best way to do this is through the 1-2-1 meeting, which we train all our Future Leaders to do. Our Future Leaders are already seeing that taking the time to meet other individual members and understand their concerns can transform the ability of a local party to act effectively as well as ensuring that it meets the needs and desires of its members.

Putting people before policies is both radical and counter-cultural. It requires a party leadership that respects and trusts its membership to take autonomous action to address local injustices and make the Labour Party relevant to local communities, whether we are in government or opposition, either nationally or locally.

We rightly treasure our traditions and institutions, and a relational culture cannot spring up overnight, but unless we change to our focus from policies to people the Labour Party will not become the movement for change we know it needs to be.

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65 Responses to “David Miliband is the man to rejuvenate Labour’s grassroots”

  1. Liz McShane

    Anon – you will be please to know that now I am officially on holidays (and when I am not I am pretty good at multi-tasking!.

  2. Jonathan Cox

    Thanks for the constructive comments – good to see the interest in community organising and the Movement for Change.

    LC Prestes – community organising honours and respects trade union organising, but it is substantively different. Come to the training and find out. Anyone can come – you don’t have to be a David supporter and we even welcome Ed supporters!).

    Many Labour members are not members of trade unions, but everyone is a member of a community and their local CLP – so community organising is more inclusive and can reach more people.

    For anyone who wants to experience community organising in action, you can register for the Movement for Change National Assembly (16:00-18:30 on Bank Holiday Monday) in Westminster by emailing movementforchange@davidmiliband.net.

  3. Chris

    @Mental Mouse

    “Chris – I assumed you’d headed off to look in a mirror dude – nice to see you back!”

    I didn’t go anywhere, your the one who picked up his ball and said you were going “elsewhere”. I thought for a brief moment you would but then I remembered you wouldn’t get your money if you didn’t hang around leftie blogs trashing Labour.

    “Can I ask (again) that you please keep a grip on the compulsive and obsessive side of your nature and REREAD what I’ve said and then come back and ask your question – no one else here seems to have a problem in understanding it.”

    Yawn, the quotes I picked out show the total inconsistency in your arguments and opinions. Obviously, suffering as you do from NPD; you can’t admit that and thus can only resort to bluster and crying to teacher. As Liz said, your position seems to change with the direction the wind blows; I wouldn’t quite agree with that as I believe your suffering from an acute mental illness. Your changes in opinion represents the different personalities that inhabit your drug addled brain; for example, you’ve stated on previously your a LibDem, then you refuted that and stated your a trade unionist. Now your back to LibDem again. As I’ve said before, a lobotomy is the best treatment option your’ll be far happier soiling yourself than overworking your brain cell on politics.

    “I have some good & long standing Lib Dem friends (well 1 actually) who is frankly shocked and pleased by their party going in to coalition with the Tories and she sees Clegg & Cameron as one and the same.”

    Yawn, this really backs up your argument mouse; makes it fucking irrefutable… What about your dead uncle, have you contacted him recently, what does he make of Clegg?

    “Now go and get some work done woman”

    Ah, your an unreconstructed misogynist as well, okay, one your personalities is; another is probably a feminist.

  4. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – You are the gift that just keeps on giving!!!

    Ok once again you are telling lies about things that I haven’t said please READ what I have said.

    Even though you know I don’t – you claim I get paid for “trashing Labour” in blogs. Chris if by blogging about Labour’s faults I got paid I could have retired by now.

    Labour lost the election for a reason Chris – that’s why I told you to look in a mirror.

    Liz did not say my position changes, she asked a question – you are once again telling lies in a public forum over something I didn’t say. Next my Lib Dem remark was in response to Liz’s remark – do you not follow threads before you comment?

    Lastly you have removed the smiley from my last comment to Liz to try to portray me as a misogynist. That isn’t true and your action there is pretty low Chris. Really.

    Again in a public forum you are lying about things I haven’t said. Please stop it and be polite.

    Third time of asking Chris: You linked to a person’s opinion who was called “Alien from Zog” claiming that was “evidence” to support your incorrect statements about PFI.

    On that same page you linked to, three other people’s OPINIONS were linked including Allyson Pollock’s Guardian newspaper item.

    Please tell me why your “Alien from Zog”s opinion is more valid than hers…

  5. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Have a nice holiday woman – get back to the home country I say – I didn’t doubt for a minute your ability at multi-tasking btw…

  6. Liz McShane

    Anon – thanks! Will do my best. No plans to visit the home country just yet – i want some decent weather!!

  7. Liz McShane

    Anon – I meant to say re:

    “Now go and get some work done woman”…
    You are not the metrosexual man that I thought you were!!!

  8. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – :-}

  9. Chris

    @Mental mouse

    Mouse said:
    “Liz did not say my position changes”

    Yes, the following quotes show Liz clearly thinks your the epitome of consistent and logical comment…

    Liz said
    “What drug is the man on?”

    Liz said
    “One minute you are criticising Labour for being too right wing & not working class enough and the next minute you are saying or at least inferring the opposite”

    Liz said
    “just out of sheer curiosity, does your political mood/compass depend on which day of the week it is or what the weather is like…?”

    Mouse said:
    “Please tell me why your “Alien from Zog”s opinion is more valid than hers”

    I don’t why do you dismiss the alien’s opinion? Why are you dragging up questions from threads which you said were closed, shall I post a few of the points I’ve raised that you never countered as they’re not on central offices script.

    PFI allowed Labour to build a lot more without increasing the national debt significantly, an extremely important point in today’s economic climate. But that goes beyond your central office supplied flow chart, doesn’t it, your brain cell can’t compute that your’ll go into the foaming at the mouth anti-Labour tirade.

  10. Chris

    Oh and

    “Again in a public forum you are lying about things I haven’t said.”

    Where have I lied?

  11. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Where to begin?

    Liz said – “A budget that was fully endorsed by your Lib Dem mates and now Clegg has the cheek to criticise the IFS’ findings saying you can’t measure poverty with numbers…? What drug is the man on?”

    She obviously means Clegg not me. So aside from lying time after time about what you THINK I’ve said regardless of my posts, you’re now saying I take drugs as well. Are you?

    Liz said: “just out of sheer curiosity, does your political mood/compass depend on which day of the week it is or what the weather is like…?”

    Chris if you look at the end of Liz’s sentence you’ll see a character that looks like this – £. That is called a Question Mark Chris and it makes the sentence a question rather than a statement.

    I realise that the educational achievements under Labour have resulted in huge numbers leaving school without the ability to do the 3R’s to any degree but I, obviously incorrectly, assumed that as a university graduate you would at least have a basic grasp of English. (I don’t believe you there Chris. No one could be as comprehensively incorrect so often or so dogmatic in approach)

    Finally I do not dismiss the Alien from Zog’s OPINION. You sited OPINION as EVIDENCE of your incorrect position on PFI.

    This is an EVIDENCE based blog Chris. I hated PFI when the Tories invented it and even more when Labour implemented it. Still do.

    Tell me why, from the very page you got me to look at, those other peoples OPINIONS aren’t equally as valid as yours?

    You said; “PFI allowed Labour to build a lot more without increasing the national debt significantly, an extremely important point in today’s economic climate.”

    That again is NOT TRUE. What it may have done was allow the government of the time to defer payment on buildings it didn’t want to finance immediately and the link you gave shows that is debatable but in any event they have cost us £BILLIONS – or is the BBC’s EVIDENCE of this wrong – has the Office of National Statistics (under Labour not the current government) got it wrong as well? Why are you right Chris and everyone else wrong?

    And these PFI contracts were taken out in yesterdays economic climate – not todays – or are you now saying Gordon Brown in the early days of Labour was wrong and in fact the country wasn’t going through economic good times?

    What is not an opinion is the fact you said I was paid to trash Labour in blogs. That is lying about me. Please stop it Chris.

    Remember Chris: Labour lost the election for a reason…

  12. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Not a £ I meant a ? !!!

  13. Chris

    @Mental Mouse

    “She obviously means Clegg not me. So aside from lying time after time about what you THINK I’ve said regardless of my posts, you’re now saying I take drugs as well. Are you?”

    No, she means you!!! ffs irony and sarcasm are well beyond the limits of you brain cell even when not chemically coshed.

    “Chris if you look at the end of Liz’s sentence you’ll see a character that looks like this – £. That is called a Question Mark Chris and it makes the sentence a question rather than a statement.”

    FFS! Mouse she is taking the piss out of you! Inferring that your political opinions vary from day-to-day or with changes in the weather! LOL, I thought Billy was the thick troll but I’ll have to revise my opinion, compared to this Billy Blofield is a fucking genius.

    “I realise that the educational achievements under Labour have resulted in huge numbers leaving school without the ability to do the 3R’s to any degree but I, obviously incorrectly, assumed that as a university graduate you would at least have a basic grasp of English. (I don’t believe you there Chris. No one could be as comprehensively incorrect so often or so dogmatic in approach)”

    wtf? You really are mental, you must be suffering from something! Do you not go out much or interact with people? You seem to totally misunderstand irony, sarcasm or when somebody is taking the piss.

    “Finally I do not dismiss the Alien from Zog’s OPINION. You sited OPINION as EVIDENCE of your incorrect position on PFI.
    This is an EVIDENCE based blog Chris. I hated PFI when the Tories invented it and even more when Labour implemented it. Still do.”

    I’m no great fan of PFI but it allowed Labour to quickly set about rebuilding the countries decaying and broken infrastructure, Brown liked it because it didn’t put debt on the gov’s books – looks like a smart move at the moment! But I still don’t know what this has got to do with DM and whether he is the man to rejuvenate Labour.

    “What is not an opinion is the fact you said I was paid to trash Labour in blogs. That is lying about me. Please stop it Chris.”

    I’m taking the piss, ffs doesn’t the central office supplied flowchart deal with piss takers?

    “Remember Chris: Labour lost the election for a reason…”

    No, they didn’t lose for a reason. They lost for many reasons, one of those many reasons was the constant drip, drip of LibCon attack lines poisoning public opinion against some of Labour’s real achievements. Just look at central office’s script and flow chart, its just to the right of your computer:

    Raising millions of children and pensioners out of poverty -> attack social mobility, 75p pension increase, etc.

    Improving failing schools, increased exam attainment across the board -> grade inflation, state schools still not as good as public schools.

    Dramatically reducing waiting times in the NHS -> bluster about money wasted on “managers”.

    Now, go look up irony and sarcasm in the dictionary and discuss at the next therapy session with your caseworker. They can organise some day release in to the outside world with an appropriate adult to help you recognise the subtle social cues which signify them in everyday life.

  14. The Briar Patch « @Number 71

    […] of which he was such a prominent part. With or without the support of Jon Cruddas, however, and laudable grassroots focus aside, can Labour afford to elect be led by another politician in favour of the Iraq War, or one […]

  15. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – If you’re correct about Liz meaning me in her comments on drugs then it is out of character for her. She and I have been disagreeing and agreeing on Labour since this blog started and unlike yourself she conducts herself without the need to be insulting, smearing or swearing in a public forum.

    Labour lost for a reason Chris – it’s people like yourself who justified the things they were doing that were wrong by constantly excusing them.

    You must have known how useless Brown was – you cannot be that naive not to have – yet still your sort kept telling everyone he was great and how he had lead the world out of recession.

    Labour will spend years in opposition if their supporters keep ignoring the truth and coming up with excuses like “No one won the election” and so on.

    In your world the truth is ignored and the same machine spins away, never answering questions just repeating the mantra while taxes go up and the gap between rich and poor increases.

    And how do you respond Chris? Smear the messenger, never answer the question.

    It seems to me Labour is clearly alive and well and with your attitude if the party doesn’t go bust I think it will just become the irrelevance it deserves to be. If excuse merchants like yourself stay active then the Lib Dem’s have no problem at the election – why would anyone vote for the Labour Party?

    Labour lost the election for a reason Chris, oh yes.

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