Michael Marra, Labour activist and councillor from Dundee, is launching a new way for Labour members to keep in touch during the coronavirus lockdown. The first online event is on April 1.

Sometimes change happens slowly and almost without being seen. Attitudes shift or soften, our population ages, our planet warms. Changes for us all but by small degrees as the years creep by. 

Everyone knows that this crisis, this moment, is not that kind of change. 

There are no good guides to what happens now or where we go next. People are reaching for films and fiction to explain the future of the deserted streets framed in our windows. Last night I was genuinely excited to be going out as far as the supermarket. Even that dull place looked, smelt, sounded strange and different. What was once a chore had become a break from a new normal only days old now. A normal I’m not good at. I’m not as good a teacher as I hoped I would be. The temptation of an extra beer after badly juggling kids, work and Council duties is becoming a little too easy. 

For many of us this turmoil will still be the calm before the storm. We can’t say thank you often enough to those who are caring for us all. It is a moment for unity of purpose. For government to be clear in message. Stay Home, Protect our NHS, Save Lives. 

It is also a moment to think and to talk. Many of us not working on the front line have time to do so. Time spent thinking about how we improve as a party will not be wasted. We need a united, thinking, caring Labour Party and we need it now. The future is scary and it is here. We have to face it together. 

For the last few months I have been talking with friends about how we can contribute to the recovery of our Labour Party. One simple suggestion was a guest speakers list for CLPs, to make our meetings more focused on what unites us rather than divides us, to stimulate debate, to renew our policies, refresh our politics and nurture our people.   

But none of us will be meeting in person anytime soon. So we are taking that list on line and introducing virtual party meetings for Labour members in Scotland. Welcome to Socialist Distancing.

When the crisis is over my hope is that this becomes a resource for local parties so we can attract the best speakers, both in person and virtually. In the meantime it’s a way to keep political discussion and debate going and to keep our Labour community together. These are not official CLP meetings they are run by volunteer members trying to help and are for all members of the party. 

You can sign up here for our first meeting with Professor Hugh Pennington – a global authority on microbiology and one of the most prominent experts in the field of public health and epidemics. Hugh will be discussing the current crisis; the science and the response. He is based in the North East of Scotland. We could not possibly have a better speaker to start off Socialist Distancing for Scottish Labour Members. The meeting will take place online on Wednesday 1st April at 7.30pm. Please spread the word. 

To join the meeting you should sign up via Eventbrite below and we will send you details of how to join the meeting online:

You can follow the project on Twitter at @Socialist_Dista and on Facebook at facebook.com/SocialistDista/

We are all relying on each other now. Take care and hopefully I’ll see you next week.