How can unions stop the tide and recruit more members?

In the 1970s, American Sociologist Mark Granovetter posited a theory of social action based on what he called ‘weak ties’. Granovetter argued that the strength of community and social movements comes from the amount of interaction they have with each other. He used the example of two American neighbourhoods, one white working-class (WWC) and one Italian, who were trying to resist redevelopment of their area. He observed that in the WWC neighbourhood, everyone worked in the same factories, drank in the same pubs, attended the same events etc. In contrast, the Italian neighbourhood was based primarily on strong familial relationships, with little interaction between families. In the end, the WWC neighbourhood were able to form a strong community resistance based upon the pre-existing ties between workers and friends and succeeded in protecting their area. In contrast, the Italians were never able to agree on who should be leaders of the movement and could not organise, and they lost their fight.


Employee democracy: a secret economic weapon?

One of the principal reasons for the success of the C4 series Undercover Boss was the emotional punch packed by seeing wealthy individuals recognise the hard work and commitment of their employees. Often alien to the shop floor themselves, they went back to the boardroom with new compassion for their frontline staff.



“In conversation” with Stephen Kinnock MP full speech

Thank you.

It is great to be here tonight to talk about our party, where we are, where we could be going and what that might mean.

The past couple of months have been fairly eventful for all of us in the Labour party and the movement more broadly.

I think all of us here, we are a room full of Fabians after all, will have done some hard thinking about where we went wrong and where should be going.


EU - in or out?

The EU debate throws up emotive arguments – it is something that seems to affect us all. From holidays in Spain to the French cheese selection in the supermarket, we all come into contact with the UKs membership of the European Union someway or other. I have to confess that I am entering this discussion with a belief that generally referendums are a bad idea; we elect our politicians to represent us, and for something as important as our membership of the EU we should have research to back up the outcome not just emotion. But the reality is, for better or for worse, we have a referendum promised to us, and at an as yet undisclosed date we will be walking to our polling stations and voting to stay In or to Leave the EU.


Why Sadiq Khan is right to go negative

Election campaigns are a means to an end, and a pretty clear end at that: winning political office. Yes, while it is true that some can flower into “movements” or “causes”, and become greater than the party or individual they are built to promote, when the dust settles on election day this is the only true measure of a campaign’s success.


The Illusion of Infallibility

“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” This perceptive quote from the final scene of The Dark Knight aptly describes the challenge currently facing the Labour leadership. Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory on September 12 afforded him hero status in the eyes of his many disciples and an aura of infallibility that has so far proved impervious to reason.


An inclusive board: What UK employers can learn from Norway

In 1971 Norway legislated for the rights of employees to demand representation on company boards. This was the result of a debate dating back to before the First World War, about the right of employees to participate in the governance of companies. Among other things, concerns were raised with regards to lack of knowledge on the part of the employee representatives, but now the arrangement is uncontroversial.



Interview with Jess Phillips

On a difficult election night for many activists, Jess Phillips’ resounding victory in Birmingham Yardley was a rare good news moment for the Labour members who braved staying up to watch the results come in. Taking the seat from Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming on a mammoth swing of 11.6%, Philips has since been quick to make a name for herself and to become a darling of the Labour membership.


Why I'm voting for...Andy Burnham

This is one of four articles by Young Fabian members outlining why they are voting for their chosen Labour leadership candidate. The views expressed below are those of the author only. The Young Fabians do not endorse any one candidate for the Labour leadership. 

Okay, okay, so when I heard I would be writing a contribution for this four-way leadership blog battle it instinctively led me to sorting the candidates into Game of Thrones houses. You can probably guess that I’m backing Andy ‘Stark’ Burnham. But despite my locating of him in the far northern reaches of Westeros, I back Andy because I believe he has broad reach and appeal. He can extend Labour’s popularity from King’s Landing to Castle Black – and even beyond the Wall.


Why I'm voting for...Yvette Cooper

This is one of four articles by Young Fabian members outlining why they are voting for their chosen Labour leadership candidate. The views expressed below are those of the author only. The Young Fabians do not endorse any one candidate for the Labour leadership. 

Like every other Labour activist who dedicated an exceptionally large amount of time and effort to trying to get Labour elected in 2015, I have spent a lot of time thinking about why we lost. I don’t believe we lost because we weren’t left wing enough, and I don’t believe we lost because we weren’t right wing enough - because most of the country doesn’t think in terms of left and right wing. We lost because we were not seen to be economically credible, because we let the Tories win on the economic narrative, and because we didn’t offer a holistic alternative to the Tories.


Why I'm voting for...Liz Kendall

This is one of four articles by Young Fabian members outlining why they are voting for their chosen Labour leadership candidate. The views expressed below are those of the author only. The Young Fabians do not endorse any one candidate for the Labour leadership. 

The Labour Party is a government-in-waiting. It is this which makes it distinctive among the chaotic rainbow of left wing groups in modern Britain. And in this leadership contest, Liz Kendall is the only one who has understood, and campaigned on, this fundamental truth.


Why I'm voting for...Jeremy Corbyn

This is one of four articles by Young Fabian members outlining why they are voting for their chosen Labour leadership candidate. The views expressed below are those of the author only. The Young Fabians do not endorse any one candidate for the Labour leadership. 

Over the past two decades, Labour has shed supporters. Behind the headline achievement of three general election victories between 1997 and 2010 is a story of diminishing majorities and a declining membership which, by 2009, was more than 60% smaller than in May 1997. Though membership revived somewhat under Ed Miliband, and national vote share marginally increased, the party emerged from the 2015 general election with the support of 26 fewer constituencies.


The Labour purge backlash could destroy the party

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule.” This saying, attributed to the United States' third president, Thomas Jefferson, rests uneasily on the ears of all who call themselves democrats. Yet in times of crisis, like those currently lived by the Labour party, it bears the ring of authenticity. Supporters of the different leadership candidates have succumbed to a mob mentality in their blunt and unrelenting attacks on one another. Hundreds of thousands of newcomers have joined the fray seeking to push the party into new and uncharted territory.



To AV or not to AV

This Labour leadership contest should sound the death-knell for the alternative vote (AV). A system that was ostensibly designed to allow the party to elect its “least bad” choice has instead led to a hopelessly complex situation in which ‘Anyone But Corbyn’ voters are relying on guesswork and dodgy data in order to come to their decisions. 


Whoever becomes Labour’s next leader, the losers must be told: this is your party too

Labour’s endless leadership election has badly damaged the party.  Whoever is ultimately elected leader, one of their first challenges will be to unite a party only recently rejected en masse by the electorate. To take the fight to the Tories and to stand any chance of winning the next General Election, those who backed a losing candidate must be told: this is your party too.

Whatever the faults of Labour’s new electoral system, its rules were agreed some time ago and it was supported by loud voices across the Labour Movement. Therefore, any talk of “halting” the leadership election at this point should be dismissed for the hogwash that it is. Serious questions will have to be asked about whether “supporters” should really have as big a say as “members” in deciding who leads Labour, but that is for another day.

Nonetheless, the system we have is not going to change at this point and, whichever way the outcome goes, nearly half of the selectorate will be bitterly disappointed. The great swelling of Labour’s support since the General Election must now be built on by whoever leads Labour. Which is why I was so disturbed when someone added me to the below Facebook group a couple of night ago.

 

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I have edited out the names of those involved and the conversations that took place because, to be honest, they would probably do a lot of damage to the participants if shared more widely. Now, the fundamental point that Labour MPs shouldn’t be mounting a coup against any leader – particularly one recently elected – is fair. But that hasn’t even happened yet, has it? So groups like this simply appear like pre-emptive, divisive witch hunts.

I don’t know why I was added to the group in the first place. I’m not backing Jeremy Corbyn and I find groups like this somewhat sinister. As soon as I was added to the group and saw what it was, I posted to suggest that it was a bad idea. This meant that I was immediately set upon in several comments for being “undemocratic”, “anti-Corbyn” and of course, “a Tory.”

Even more strangely, I was immediately made an admin. Laughably, this enabled me to add dozens of moderate members I know of to try and get the founders of the group to see sense. After a wave of condemnation from people explaining that this group was divisive, and hardly the right way to safeguard Labour Party democracy, it was taken down.

You may think that this is all rather trivial. I don’t. I don’t happen to think talk of Labour MPs forming a “resistance” group if Jeremy Corbyn is elected gives off the right message either. Perhaps you have been inspired by this leadership election. Well, good for you. But from the conversations I have had with passive observers outside of politics, the whole unedifying spectacle has merely served to push us further away from electability. And further away from helping the people who need us.

Those who support or are members of the Labour Party must remember we are the people who believe that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone. If, when the next Labour leader is announced, we do not heal as a movement, I guarantee you that we will fail as individuals.

So, please, whoever you are backing to be Labour’s next leader: remember who the real enemies are. And let’s beat them.

 

Sam Stopp is a Labour councillor for Wembley Central, a Young Fabian member and Chair of 'The Labour Campaign To End Homelessness'.

Sam is writing in personal capacity, and views are not representative of the organisation.


In the midst of the chaos

As soon as Ed Miliband stood down, I warned against the party having a long leadership contest. Fearing it would result in a lengthy period of boring platitudes without much of value being said, leaving the public disinterested in us while the Tories were able to set the agenda. More than that, I feared that social media would allow bad blood to fester between Labour’s camps, with not only rank-and-file members but MPs and grandees able to air their discontent in public. Sadly I feel I have been more than vindicated. 


Forget Jeremy, we need to talk about Blair

This Labour leadership contest has been one of competing nostalgias. It has been easy and lazy to dismiss both Corbyn as some kind of mid 80s ‘Bennite’ whilst Kendall can be labelled as a post-Blairite closet Tory. Apart from focussing more on the party’s past than on its future it highlights the key failures of both Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband as leaders of the Labour Party: neither have dealt with the legacy of Tony Blair.