Friday, September 09, 2005

All three main political parties are losing members. The fact of the matter is, by and large, they have failed to engage with the public and those in power, although anxious to listen to people when they are on the way up... become more remote and distant the higher they climb up that greasy pole. It is easier for the Lib Dems because they exercise such little power they can present themselves as everything to everyone, but even they have a situation whereby the Party leadership will ignore the party membership if they don't like their decisions. Within days of the election Chat-Show Charlie was making noises about dropping the local income tax policy, and they are all over the place on issues like anti-social behaviour and drugs. The Tories are busy trying to take away power from the membership to choose the Party leader, under the misapprehension that this was the reason for their last three election drubbings.

But really, I don't much care about the Tories and their Lib Dem friends. However, I am concerned about the 200,000 or more Labour Party members who have walked away in the last few years. The scrapping of Clause 4 may well have been popular with the 'New' Labour luvvies... but where are they now? And on a whole raft of policies, the Party leadership has ignored the decisions of the Party Conference, particularly on major policy issues like Foundation Trust NHS organisations and PFI. Despite various initiatives about being a listening party, as far as the membership are concerned they want to be in a position to influence policy, not just ever 4/5 years in a General Election, but at internal Party meetings, Party Conferences and policy forums. If they feel they have no more influence than the average voter... they will walk away and use their energies in other ways, most notably pressure groups and single issue campaigns. I am not just moaning about national government. I think local councillors up and down the country have to give some thought about how we engage local party members in the formulation of our policies.

Anyway... Michael Meacher and others are starting the process by setting up a commission to enquire into the fall in party membership. Party members can also sign Peter Kenyon's Pledge to support the Commission.