I’m not sure that sitting in David Shearer’s office on the day he and I had been elected Leader and Deputy Leader, discussing a root and branch review of our Party I actually believed we would see the most thorough review in a generation done and dusted in a year.
One of the other people in the room that day, Party President Moira Coatsworth deserves huge credit for making it happen- swiftly and inclusively. She and David Shearer had both committed to a thorough review, and between them, the working group, the review group and thousands of party members- we did it.
As it happens a couple of things (candidate and list selections particularly) have been pushed off to next year, but what has been achieved is nothing short of remarkable.
The reforms are exactly what we need to be a modern, outward looking and democratic organisation. The review meetings made clear what many people had felt. The way people look at joining organisations has changed significantly over the decades. The cynicism for politics of all shades is at an all time high. We needed to turn outwards and provide people with hightened levels of engagement, influence and fun.
The importance of being campaign ready and ‘party vote’ focused drove the creation of the “hubs” which I think will go from strength to strength. The more democratic process for election of the leader is a huge step forward for recruiting, involving and engaging members.
I want to specifically mention the significant change in terms of member involvement,the Policy Platform. Actually, it has been well covered by Anthony over at The Standard. This is a great development for Labour. It means that we will have an enduring Party endorsed statement of our policy. It will clearly state our values and priorities, and guide the creation of election manifestos. It’s in draft form now and through next year we will finalise it. I want to congratulate Jordan Carter and the rest of the Policy Council for the work on getting us to this stage. As the Chair of the Policy Council I am hugely impressed with the calibre of people we have involved in our policy work.
At the conference itself the robust debate was on the level of Caucus support to trigger our new democratised leadership process. What there was universal agreement on was the need for the process itself, in particular member involvement. Despite the impression one or two people want to make, no one was opposing the 40:40:20 process, and indeed over the review many Caucus members, me included, have strongly advocated for it.
The process is a balance between democratisation and stability, and throughout the review meetings I went to, and submissions I read, most members were very aware of the need for this. It’s interesting to note that a motion to not have a Caucus trigger for the Februry vote was soundly defeated by the conference.
In any event no one could mistake over the last year in the many review meetings and conversations, nor in the enthusiasm and passion at conference that the review is going to see a different party in the future. It will be more energised, dynamic and member driven. That will not be without its challenges and upsets, but it will be a very, very good thing for us and I hope for politics in general.