Ed Miliband’s Clause I moment
I am quite taken with Sunny’s notion that Ed Miliband need more ‘stunts’ to raise his profile:
Ed Milband says he hates stunts – he’s just not that kind. I agree. But the pendulum has swung too far the other way – he needs to avoid looking too invisible. And a flurry of speeches alone won’t do the job – he needs symbolism.
Miliband seems to be trying precisely that with his Shadow Cabinet election-removal controversy thing, but that just makes him seem inward-looking; no-one beyond the Westminster Village really gives a shit.
So here’s something else to rival Blair’s Clause IV moment. It’s Miliband’s Clause I moment.
Currently, Clause I para. 1 reads:
This organisation shall be known as ‘The Labour Party’. Its purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country a political Labour Party.
This is a rubbish clause.
Saying we run a Labour party in order to have a Labour party is pretty feeble as an opening statement.
I recommend that the circularity inherent in this statement be removed, and a firmer commitment be made to those who actually benefit, or should benefit, from the existence and activities of the Labour party.
Something like the following may fit the bill, though of course the exact wording should be a matter for debate:
This organisation shall be known as ‘The Labour Party’ Its purpose is to contribute significantly to the economic, social and psychological well-being of the people of Britain, and where possible the wider world, and in particular those people who suffer systematic disadvantage.
Like Blair’s Clause IV change, the power of such a change is in the symbolism.
As Sunny rightly says, Labour wasn’t realistically going to nationalize ASDA if Clause IV stayed around, but Blair changed it to make it look like he’d changed the party all by himself. Miliband can do the same with this clause.
First, the change sets out a clear message that the Labour party does not exist simply for its own sake, and that it has a clear sense of who should benefit from what it does (while being wide enough to allow of different political principles and mechanisms for the achievement of that benefit).
Second, it moves the objects of the party closer to those that might be expected of a charity or non-profit organization. The Labour party needs to develop a more modern organizational form and culture, if it is to become the party of political and community organization.
Third, it is a clear statement that the party is moving away from its overwhelming concentration on electoral campaigning and towards a party which both sees community and political organization as synonymous, and is confident that electoral success will follow as a consequence of its grassroots work.
This is not to say that electoral campaigning will become superfluous, of course, but it does mean that the party should always build its campaign on a record of real achievement and benefit for those whom it exists to serve (just as good local councillors do need to campaign to get re-elected, but find it easier to do so because they have been good at serving their constituents).
Ed Miliband should forget the Shadow Cabinet guff, and focus on Clause I if he wants to look decisive.
The piece above is drawn from the full Though Cowards Flinch Refounding Labour submission, which is bloody good but which we realize very few people can be arsed to read, lazy set of bastards that you are.