Worrying information has been reaching the SKWAWKBOX about possible sabotage of the Labour Party’s new membership originating from the party’s HQ and/or regional offices.
It has been a fairly frequent complaint from ‘older members’ that many who have joined since Jeremy Corbyn became leader have not appeared keen to get involved at CLP (constituency Labour party) level, in meetings and local campaigning.
This blog agrees 100% that it’s vital – for a range of reasons – for members and supporters to get involved at the local level, not least because voters who can see their local Labour members rolling up their sleeves to help their community are going to be far less prone to believe anti-Labour propaganda in the mainstream media.
There are, of course, also issues with the way local Labour politics is done – an overhaul to make meetings more attractive and interesting to young/new members more at home with social media than minutes and points of order would certainly not hurt.
But it seems like at least some of the apparent slowness of new members to get involved might not be the fault of new members nor of ‘old’.
The job of contacting new members to inform them of local activities and invite them to get involved falls to the CLP’s membership secretary – and it appears that Labour HQ might be making it hard for membership secretaries to access details and contact information for new members.
Similar reports have reached this blog from around the country, but the experience of one post-Sep 2015 member encapsulates the issue.
This member, who rejoined Labour in a south-east constituency in 2015, told the SKWAWKBOX that she was only contacted by her CLP for the first time last month and went to her first CLP meeting earlier this month.
On asking the membership secretary why it has taken so long to hear from the CLP, the MS talked of the difficulties encountered in trying to get the details from the regional office, which was apparently very evasive and kept pleading the Data Protection Act.
The information was eventually handed over, but not until several requests had been made. The MS expressed a concern that the regional party was deliberately making it deliberately difficult for the local parties to engage with new members. New members would therefore feel the local party wasn’t interested in engaging with them, while longer-standing members would feel that new members weren’t interested in joining them in the local fight – potentially promoting suspicion and antipathy on both sides.
Speaking from conversations this writer has had personally, CLPs definitely feel a strong need for more ‘boots on the ground’ for the important work of campaigning door-to-door and in town centres and can learn a huge amount from new members who may have skills in online communications and campaigning, while new members need help harnessing their enthusiasm to promote the Labour party and its vision that excited them enough to join the Party in the first place.
Of course, some CLPs won’t need much encouragement to want to exclude Corbyn-supporting members – there are some where the right-wingers have entrenched their control – but if someone is hindering this, it’s unforgivable – and needs to to be dealt with immediately.
If you are either a new(ish) member or a CLP membership secretary who has had similar experiences, this blog would like to hear from you. If some person or persons at regional/national HQ level is obstructing the positive engagement that new members and ‘older’ members both need from each other, then the fact that most CLPs .
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