The way politics works is changing. Too centralised and too London-centric, there is a real need for Labour to change too by opening up the way it makes policy.
200,000 people have joined Labour since May, meaning our membership has nearly doubled. There is now a much wider range of knowledge and expertise for the party to listen to, but the way the party currently makes policy is outdated. Power is too centralised in the hands of a small, London-centric body and we should be honest that it can feel out of touch to many party members.
The way Labour makes policy has to be far more inclusive than it currently is if we are to put together a manifesto that has wide enough appeal to win in 2020. I’m running for the NEC not because I think I should hold power over policy but because that power has to be shared among the membership and the wider public.
Labour members want to have a say in policy and the party is missing an opportunity if it doesn’t listen.
But we need to listen to those who are part of our wider movement. Our party is proud of its strong links to the trade unions, the co-operative moment and our affiliated socialist societies, which bring together a variety of people with the common goal of a fairer society. They have huge expertise on areas from housing to employment, and it is a mistake to ignore them by sticking with a centralised structure.
And there are those in the wider public who deserve a say in the future of a party which was founded to fight for them, if we are to truly broaden our appeal. For example, private sector workers or the self-employed, who aren’t yet unionised and work for low pay and in bad conditions, must be made to feel welcome within a growing and diverse Labour Party.
In local government, Labour councillors are improving services despite awful Tory budget cuts, and spend their time listening to their constituents’ concerns only to find Labour doesn’t listen to them very much. Labour’s policy-making has to take into account the experiences of councillors on the ground.
Our policy is richest and has the widest appeal when we are effectively engaging all of these people in our policy-making and enabling them to participate fully in our fight for social justice.
I’m proud that, as the party of equality, Labour reaches out to and fights for the rights of those who are marginalised (although we still have much further to go): women, disabled people, black and ethnic minority people, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Keeping power in the hands of a few people at the top makes it so much harder for those who are marginalised in society to find a home in the Labour Party.
As an NEC member, I will continue to argue against centralising power to the NEC. We need to engage our new members, members who have been around longer, and especially the wider public if we are to create a manifesto that has wide enough appeal for us to win the general election in 2020 and put our values into practice.