Labour: growing a movement
16 year old Kieran Cowan (@FiferCowan) from Mid Fife & Glenrothes CLP outlines why he thinks Stella Creasy is the right person for the deputy leadership of the UK Labour Party.
Having just been to her Edinburgh campaign workshop, I think Stella Creasy has certainly proven she would be a deputy leader that could turn Labour into a movement, not a machine.
We know things shouldn’t be as they are. Right now, Ed Miliband should be passing the bill which would have repealed the bedroom tax. Instead, David Cameron is calculating devious plans to snatch our human rights from us, whilst George Osborne sells transparent lies about Britain ‘getting a pay rise’.
Labour struggled in 2015 for many reasons. If we were to examine each of the factors that resulted in defeat, one thing would likely be transparent: Labour as a party was not trusted in May. Voters didn’t trust us. This lack of trust has to be addressed if we are to stand a chance of winning in 2020. Who we elect now will have a huge impact on how capable we are of achieving this.
The million dollar (or voter) question, then, is how can we regain the electorate’s trust? Well, whilst the answer cannot be clear or else someone would have already found it, ‘it’ surely lies in showing what the Labour Party could do for the many in society, house by house, street by street, community by community. If we could show why our values being put into practice would be of benefit to everyone, then mustn’t it be the case that people would eventually consider the great things a future Labour government could achieve – for them, and for all of us?
Only turning up at elections to ask for people’s votes just won’t cut it, like it hasn’t for the last two elections. Nor will the current infrastructure of the party. The party machine needs upgraded. Preferably more than a social media add-on, but a heart transplant (someone call Tony Blair). The people’s party needs to renew itself and evolve from the days of just using voter ID and focus groups into a movement which also engages in community campaigning.
Further to this, the new Labour leadership needs to convey, without ambiguity, the purpose of our party which extends further than just trying to win elections. Where is the why in Labour? To replace the Tories and the SNP? Great, but to do what? People need to know and we, frankly, need to spell it out. This will be one of the first tests for the new leaders in Scotland and the UK.
Ingraining ourselves into the communities we seek to serve is essential if we are to connect our values with the views and wishes of the wider public. For one, it shows people what the Labour movement and a Labour government could do for them. More crucially though, it could also anchor our policies around the concerns of the wider electorate. Essentially, becoming a movement again could link us with voters, and voters with Labour values of fairness and social justice.
Of all the candidates in either of the contests, only one of them has really made the running on the need to become a community-based movement. Surprise, surprise, this person is one who has not been a member of the previous (shadow) cabinets. Who is it?
Stella is the only UK Deputy Leader contender who, more than just acknowledges the necessity of becoming a movement, actively lays out her plans to transform the party into a community, people-powered organisation – which proves we can trust her to deliver this. Whether it be modernising the existing voter ID system, her experience of winning for the Labour movement on things such as payday lending (because if we are honest, scaring George Osborne off the Today Programme is, by any measure, a definite win) or her fresh ideas for involving young people in the party and on fundraising – Stella offers the starting point for turning Labour into a movement. This picture of a mass movement is her pitch to members and it is why she is best placed to be Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
Labour obviously needs to win in 2020, for the sake of the people we are in politics to stand up for; and the next Deputy Leader has to play a major part in regaining people’s trust. Being deputy requires implementing reforms to the party and how it operates, not just going on Question Time after a tough day. Likewise it also requires someone who can be on the ground fighting with the rest of us, not just someone who sits in the backroom planning. Stella as deputy would do all these things.
So, why do we need Stella? Her ideas are new, her track record on community campaigning is strong and her vision is exactly what Labour needs if it is to have a hope of winning the elections that really matter. Labour needs to grow a movement as part of the process to win the next general election – electing Stella is the first step towards this.