Are the Labour party cottoning on to the idea that we live in a post-party world? It seems like it, with the launch of a “Refounding Labour” consultation by Peter Hain and Ed Miliband today. The press release says:
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.
It’s obvious to everyone that political parties have long passed their peak as either talent-spotters or policy engines. The tiny proportion of UK citizens – 1.3% – who belong to a political party is evidence enough of their unrepresentativeness.
The consultation document (pdf – commentable online would be nice) faces up to some home truths about Labour’s performance at the polls, and the reasons for it, but also suggests a future for the Labour Party (and all parties) as a creator and connector of different politically-aligned networks. Of all parties, you would have thought that the party of the TUC and the Fabians would have got to this point a little sooner.
But I don’t want to snipe. The concept of refounding politics is one we at Demsoc often use in relation to our work, and political parties one way or another will always be a part of that. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the consultation.