Immediately on becoming leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband — in his acceptance speech — laid down the values and the principles that he felt must underpin Labour’s programme in rebuilding after one of the most party’s most serious election defeats. The speech acknowledged the need to take stock of policy and to deal with our failings in office as well as simply trumpeting our achievements. But the speech also began to set out the new Leader’s vision for a re-vitalised Labour Party one that was firmly rooted in community and based around an active membership.
Ed Miliband quickly instituted two reviews, the first on policy led by Liam Byrne MP, and the second on organisation — The Refounding Labour review — led by Peter Hain. In establishing this review process, Ed Miliband has spoken eloquently and passionately about how vibrant local Labour Parties are key to competing with the Tories.
The Labour Democratic Network was formed against this backdrop of discussion and debate, to work towards the creation of a truly modern and democratic Party. Our themes are values were launched by our Steering Committee in June 2011 and can be read here in The Manchester Declaration.
The Labour Democratic Network is not a new organisation but has been created from Save the Labour Party (STLP). STLP was established in 2003 to foster and promote informed and responsible debate about the future of Labour. Uniquely, amongst Labour Party pressure groups, STLP embarked on a major consultation with Party members through the LabOUR Commission — an independent commission on Accountability, Party and Parliamentary Democracy.
The LabOUR Commission was chaired by initially Michael Meacher MP and subsequently by Angela Eagle MP and its members included senior figures from the Trades Union movement, local government and past members of the National Executive Committee. Technical support to the commission came from a number of experienced academics and from the YouGov polling organisation. The Commission was funded through donations from affiliated Trades Unions, Party units and Party members.
The LaBOUR Commission’s report, Renewal — a two-way process for the 21st century — is, perhaps, the most comprehensive attempt to date to set out a new vision for Labour as a democratic and mass member Party. Many of the ideas in the report, and the recommendations of the Report, retain their relevance as we conduct the Refounding Labour review. LabOUR Commission engaged members through focus groups and through properly constructed research that was conducted by YouGov.
The LabOUR Commission report — Renewal — can be downloaded here.
But LDN’s roots go back even further. Save The Labour Party merged with and absorbed the Labour Reform Group which was established before the 1997 General Election victory at around the time of The Partnership in Power Review, which was the last major review of Party structure and practice.
Over the years, Save the Labour Party and Labour Reform have successfully campaigned for the use of One Member One Vote in selecting constituency reps on the National Executive Committee in electing members of the National Policy Forum. STLP (and Labour reform before it) have been active in securing a broad alliance — the Grassroots Alliance — to argue and campaign for better democratic practice within the Labour Party.
The founding members of the Labour Democratic Network have a wealth of experience within the Labour Party which includes: constituency and branch officers; campaigners and campaign organisers; elected politicians; members of the NEC and the National Policy Forum; and ex-employees of the Labour Party.
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