Hain: Help us build a modern, outward-facing progressive party

Labour's Peter Hain, chair of the Refounding Labour project, invites Left Foot Forward readers to help "rebuild a progressive political party fit for our time".

Peter Hain MP (Labour, Neath) is the chair of the party’s National Policy Forum on Refounding Labour

As last year’s general election showed, and as Ed Miliband reminded us in his speech to Progress Conference on Saturday and again in London on Monday, the Labour Party still needs fundamental change if we are to win again. We need to understand that politics and society are currently undergoing a shift.

Social media is democratising how people access and perceive information and build relationships – as we’ve seen in recent weeks over super injunctions. Meanwhile, the old lines of tribe in Westminster and across the country are dissolving as the world becomes more atomised. And the old politics, driven to distraction by so much division and partisanship, is no longer fitting of our democracy.

For a brief moment last summer, David Cameron and Nick Clegg thought they could stake out new ground as the consensus politicians of their age, responsive to the new world and to people and their demands. But their broken promises have only entrenched the idea that politicians are out of touch – detached from our everyday lives – and that how political parties interact with people needs drastic change.

That’s why I launched Refounding Labour last week, to learn more about what people want from Labour and the types of relationships we should build with our members and supporters. And it’s why this consultation is being led by you, progressively-minded people everywhere who may believe that Labour lost touch or lost its way but who believe in the values that have always been at the core of our movement: fairness, justice, equality, democracy, liberty and rights for all.

So, whether you supported Labour last time or not, I’m inviting Left Foot Forward readers for your ideas on how we build a modern, outward-facing progressive party fit for our time:

• How can we make our membership offer as attractive to you as possible?

• How can we open up our policy-making process so that it is led by you, and in touch with the lives of people up and down the country?

• How can we build stronger relationships with the campaign groups, trade unions and charities that already do so much incredible work in our communities?

I’m encouraged to see so many contributions already coming in.

Scott Eastwood has stressed the importance of building small, local and rural Labour parties to take our arguments to the public, and not just to focus on building Labour in big cities and towns; Lisa Mitchell thinks our structures can be daunting for new members, and has suggested a mentoring scheme so people can find their feet in the party; Sue Saunders thinks our policy-making systems are not transparent or accessible enough, that ideas can disappear to a:

“Great black hole… never to be heard of again.”

We are determined that Refounding Labour itself will not be like that. We will read, and report back on your ideas for how we rebuild a progressive political party fit for our time. And we will respond to your thoughts on how we harness the voices of those who go unheard inside and outside our party.

For all those people, now is your chance to get involved, and be part of building what Steve Lydon calls a:

“…broad church that allows people to come together to bring about real and effective change.”

That’s the type of invigorated party, and the type of vibrant movement with collective purpose, that Ed Miliband is seeking to build.

I hope readers of Left Foot Forward, of all political persuasions and none, will contribute to our consultation. This is your chance to speak up – to tell us what’s working, and what we need to work harder at to put right.

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