Consultation launched aimed at "refounding" Labour - Labour Leader Ed Miliband plans top to bottom reforms.
A document published today argues that since the 1950s, all the main political parties have been in long term membership decline.
Labour must seize this first year in opposition to reform so that the Party reaches out to hundreds of thousands of people who are Party ‘supporters’ but not ‘joiners’ and millions of voters it needs to win back.
Ed Miliband believes that politics has been changing fundamentally and that Labour must be the first Party to embrace new ways of organising.
Last November he charged Peter Hain with leading a review. Party members will hold consultation meetings in May. Reforms and rule changes will be considered first by the Party’s National Executive and then its annual conference in September.
Peter Hain MP, Chair of Labour’s National Policy Forum, says:
“It is imperative we use this period of Opposition to leapfrog the other parties by refounding our own, so that Labour emerges refreshed and reinvigorated.
“Fewer voters are wedded to one particular party these days. Just as politics has become more global it has also become more local. So what matters more than ever is how Labour engages with people in their neighbourhoods on local issues.
“Since the 1950s membership of political parties has been in decline across Europe's established democracies. The UK now has one of the lowest rates of party membership of all. The 1.5 per cent of the electorate who belonged to parties in the UK in 2001 compares to nearly 5 per cent elsewhere in Europe in the late 1990s. By 2005 only 1.3 per cent of UK voters were members of any of the three main political parties, down from nearly 4 per cent in 1983.
“The Labour Party's basic structure is essentially that adopted in 1918. In today's much more diffuse, individualist political culture, how can we maximise the potential for participation by 'Labour Supporters' - those who would not join the Party, but who could be mobilised to back and work for us? How do we manage this in a way that does not undermine the rights of 'full' members?
“How do we equip ourselves as a party to meet the challenges of the new generation? How must we change to better reflect the modern Britain we aspire to govern again?
“The analysis in this consultation paper pulls no punches, so people can expect to feel unease as they confront some facts that we might all prefer to forget, but cannot afford to ignore. The Labour Party is a great organisation but it is only by facing up to our flaws and responding to t he new reality that we will resume our winning ways.”
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