Is Labour HQ making it hard for CLPs to contact new members?

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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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  1. One issue I’m finding with my CLP, St Ives, is that meetings are only held in one town, Penzance. The towns of St Ives and Helston (where I live ) no longer have meetings held there. Those of us either without transport or in my case a carer, cannot get to these meetings. I imagine this to be an issue in many rural constituencies.

    Damo (@Cornish_Damo)

    Sent from Samsung Mobile on O2

  2. My local party has broken into ‘clusters’ of a few wards for meetings to avoid the problems that Damien outlines, although there are all-member meetings too. I have heard of problems accessing member contact details.

  3. Our local branch secretary is not getting new members’ details coming through. It’s an issue.

    Three examples known to me: My son’s details were unknown to her, so no notification of meetings; A friend had the same problem; A Momentum supporter I spoke with had no idea where or when our branch meeting would be staged, no contact whatsoever.

    Something is afoot, in my view.

      1. I doubt it – person is from the right of the party and probably won’t entertain Skwawkbox.. I’ll approach privately at next mtg, though. So far the explanation has been “the records from HQ are a mess, and I’m just not getting the info”. At first I was sceptical, but hearing her I think she’s honourable and efficient and that the problem is, indeed, upstream.

  4. Something’s afoot.

    Our Branch Secretary is not getting a reliable flow of info on new members. I know of three examples of people who have not heard anything about branch meetings despite joining last year.

  5. Are there any other members you can buddy up with to share one car to go to those meetings , not the most helpful I know , or is it possible to get one of the members going to the meetings to use Skype so that you can see and hear what’s happening and even participate . This was used last year at Momentums World Transformed event very successfully .

  6. I’ve been MS of my CLP (Winchester) since last June. I found the summer freeze on meetings quite Orwellian in nature, leaving me with little faith in Labour’s hierarchy. However I have full access to memberscentre and can access reports. I also receive the complete fortnightly Membership Action Report, so there is no blockage where I’m concerned. However I would say that the summer freeze did real damage (perhaps intentionally?). It left at least 600 new members and supporters lacking a friendly greeting and early engagement which would have helped them get involved. I’m still trying to catch up. To me it feels as if Labour Central has a lack-lustre attitude to us in the grass roots, and that Jeremy’s pledges and leadership are kept at a distance, reluctantly acknowledged if at all.

  7. Everytime I received a letter from my CLP about meetings they explain to me that only delegates can vote. So what is the point in attending?

    1. Challenge this CLPs are not just about decision making they should be about meeting people and sharing ideas and also education and improving communications for future and present campaigns.
      It’s also finding out who can best represent us in all and many roles

    2. Our CLP is the same. But at the next AGM there’s a resolution to ditch the delegate arrangements and move to one member one vote. Most of the existing delegates agree so soon, hopefully, we’ll have a more democratic inclusive arrangement.

  8. My husband and I are both on the EC of our CLP in the South East. He is the membership secretary and he can go straight to the members’ centre on the LP website to access the full data for all CLP members. He’s also sent an email update from HQ every couple of weeks. Our membership has more than tripled since 2015. My husband always sends a welcome email to new members. Emails are sent to every member inviting them to CLP meetings and campaigning. We also have social media pages. Some new members join us campaigning but it is difficult to motivate many newbies. We hope for big campaigns that more will join in. So from our experience, we don’t recognise what you describe in your blog. As for the suspensions during the second leadership campaign, well that’s another matter …

  9. Our CLP had problems with emails going out to new members and it turned out to be down to Labour HQ as it’s all routed through them.

  10. I was branch secretary and our paper membership increased massively after Corbyn..I had access to the full database of members, £3 supporters and other supporters, who I contacted with all papers for meetings….approx 100. Had to snail mail about six of them

  11. The monthly branch and clp meetings are important, but having to attend them physically to participate in any discussion or vote leaves a swath of members without any voice. I’m housebound due to health reasons – I am certain there are others too, some will have childcare problems, some won’t have the time because they are working a lot of hours to pay the bills. To make the clp’s and branches more inclusive different ways of particpation, such as a local on-line forum, or email, or telephone or proxy voting etc need to be implemented for local party democracy to work for all.

  12. As Vice Chair membership of my CLP i have full access to membercentre and i can even search for new members with the tools available. I can see what members are in arrears what members are pre lapsed and members that have lapsed. Plus every 2 weeks i get an email from Labour Party HQ telling me if we have new members, members in arrears and pre lapsed members so sorry who ever told you this is lying and i would say that it is actually the vice chair membership or the CLP membership sec that cant be arsed to do the job

    1. I’d recommend a bit of care with your conclusions. I’ve had a lot of people echoing the experience of the person in the article – are they all liars or lazy?

      1. All I know is the Labour Party have given everyone that holds a membership role the tools they need

  13. A CLP Secretary here. We get regular member updates from Labour HQ. They don’t go via the regional office, but getting them does depend on HQ knowing who to send them to. Telling HQ who the CLP officers are is the job of the regional office. It sounds like this bit failed, in the SE constituency reported here.

  14. As a newly elected VC membership I’ve had no problems. As soon as you have access to MemberCentre on MembersNet you can communicate with all. I’ve specifically encouraged branch officers to do the same. Branches are better placed to directly involve members in their local communities

  15. CLP Sec here. Disagree entirely. I have the list. I email all twice a month. New members don’t give a fuck and don’t come to anything.

      1. Doubt all you like but I am Sec of a London CLP with 2,400 members.

        Everything is self administered it’s not difficult.

        Since 2015 I can maybe count about 15 members who have joined since who regularly come to stuff. 15/1500 new members since Ge15.

        We have relegated events and fundraisers at all price levels, we do regular campaigning doorstepping street stalls phone banks etc.

        I use NationaBuilder and can see who opens my emails, I have a 40% open rate. Most new members don’t even read the emails.

  16. Have a feeling that members old and new are ashamed of the infighting between those who represent the Labour party. I’ve never known the party be so negative and showing no signs of coming together for a common aim. Which should be representing us the people who need them to make sure we are considered in any decisions made. Even the local council party members apart from one, couldn’t support or give advice concerning a petition we presented in January. If the party don’t present a united front, I will find it difficult to engage in any local discussions or events. I’m a granddaughter of someone who stood by his fellow man fought for change for workers rights and was not afraid to stand up and be counted when supporting a party he believed could bring change for everyone and not just the chosen few

  17. Hi. Yes happened to me. It took 6 months from my joining date to get a dry single paragraph welcoming me to local labour. I spent weeks trying to make contact through the local membership at head office . The reason they gave for not contacting sooner was he ‘did not get the new members files sent though from head office’ I have been attending ever since but ostracised and treated like a leper meetings leave me feeling sick but I will continue to attend. ‘The labour party forum’ on face book are tearing me apart for posting this article and are slaughtering the credibility of this brilliant news paper. Shame ,what I experience in real life labour makes them look like puppies and I am not the only one .

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