Labour Transformed: Campaign Machine

Open. Modern. Transparent.

This, increasingly, is the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

A second record-breaking mandate has laid the foundations for a new political trajectory; one where elections are not won by Party elites but by all members, across the country.

Visiting the Labour Party website used to feel like a chore. Bland. Stale. Boring. It offered nothing. Basic info. on MPs, Shadow Cabinet members and vague policy proposals were all it could muster.

Today, information has been replaced with interaction.

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Homepage – http://www.labour.org.uk – 30/09/16

What’s recently been unveiled as a re-design has revealed itself as a treasure trove of campaign material.

Video icons, fact sheets, policy announcements; all linked to social media, enabling viewers to share info. with one click.

But it isn’t just information that’s being shared – it’s a perspective. A philosophy. An idea.

An idea that the Labour Party – far from being old and outdated – is a slick, modern, campaigning machine – involving and inviting all people, everywhere.

The creation of the “My Labour” app linking to policy discussions, digital membership details, events, constituency contact details and more is another exciting development in Labour’s digital transformation. There will even be a Labour “Doorstep App” which will link the current “Contact Creator” to individual accounts, enabling users to door-knock in their own time. (Members can register for the up-coming webinar, here).

The “Call-for-Corbyn” phone-canvassing app; used 110,000 times during the leadership campaign, is being re-developed into a new, Labour phone-banking app; aiming to secure crowd-funding of £25,000.

The launch of Jeremy Corbyn’s “Digital democracy manifesto” was a glimpse of what Labour’s priorities might be in government, and an insight into just how important the Corbyn team values the contribution technology can make not just in winning power, but devolving it, too.

The re-positioning of a Parliament-focused movement to a movement-focused Parliament is the necessary direction for a Party caught between the “wider-electorate” of non-social-media-using voters and the Party grassroots.

The plan is clear: involve everybody – inside and out – of the Party’s grassroots in a way that’s convenient, efficient and effective.

Today, if Labour announces a new policy: boom. It’s hitting your phone. No waiting for the BBC to announce it. No waiting for the Guardian to report it. The announcement is seen by millions within seconds.

Momentum has played no small part in this transformation.

The World Transformed was not just an event to discuss policy, celebrate art, innovation and achievement: it was – above all  -a demonstration of what can be achieved when we work together.

The Jeremy For Labour campaign was no small feat.

Engaging 40,000 volunteers, 19,000 individual donations and 54 national events; Jeremy’s campaign set a new standard for British politics; much like the Sanders campaign in America.

We need to use this material. Use this opportunity. Create our own systems and improve existing ones where we can.

Coders for Corbyn (now Coders for Labour) has done a phenomenal job with its “Jeremoji” app, and we’ve been assured there’s more to come over the next few months (including “Rhizome,” a platform for “the foundation for a multitude of grassroots campaign tools.” (We’re very excited).

News sites like The Canary and Evolve Politics are fulfilling a fundamental role in providing information often “missed” by the mainstream press.

At Heavy Metal Politics, we’re providing a space for hope and solidarity to engage, motivate and inspire our readers, with the aim of ensuring the Left is represented in Parliament and beyond.

With the advances made in Labour’s digital campaigns, the ability to reach new and previously-disengaged audiences is stronger than ever.

The use of social media, of holding rallies (whilst often smirked at by the Right) results in more efficient dissemination of information and provides the opportunity to share content with other Parties and organisations. It allows people of all views to gather around specific causes and share their talents, skills and abilities.

As we wrote just a week ago; to cut ourselves off from other Parties – particularly when other other Parties want to work with us – would be foolish. It would be a colossal waste of the opportunities ahead.

The “My Labour” app could be used to vote on Party-policy. The “Doorstep App” could be used not just to knock on doors but organise meetings and events. The Labour website itself could be used not just to disseminate information; but to upload it too. It could function as an interactive database to allow all people – regardless of organisational affiliation – to upload their own ideas; to form part of a wider discussion of the Left; enabling us to move-forward together with greater understanding and solidarity.

Goal-congruence makes us stronger, not weaker. We have to seize these opportunities.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party is transforming into something more exciting than many thought possible.

Now is the time to Join. To fight. To work together. To help build the world we all want to live in.

What are you most excited about? Are you aware of other projects? What are your thoughts? Let us know! heavymetalpolitics@hotmail.com & Twitter: @heavympolitics.

Progressive Alliance: Needed Now More Than Ever

 

A “Progressive Alliance” must not be built on opposition; but on pro-action.

A Progressive Alliance made-up of genuine, pro-democracy, “pro-Left” organisations is the first step in forming a sustainable opposition – and proposition – to the Tories.

Ahead of Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader, it’s easy to become over-excited. Winning against the odds, for the second time in a year, and with overwhelming majorities, should be celebrated.

But we know how this ends.

Should the PLP launch another coup, or begin paving the way for a split; who’s going to be there to stop it?

As leader, Jeremy Corbyn has limited capabilities. Power remains with the NEC. The PLP will rebel, no matter what Corbyn does; with many MPs ruling themselves out of a new Shadow Cabinet.

A Progressive Alliance – in this scenario – is a necessity. It would provide the support Labour members, supporters and affiliates need.

But a Progressive Alliance cannot just be an affiliation of political Parties. It has to be an integrated web of grassroots activism – affiliated and non-affiliated – to political Parties and Left-wing causes.

We have to be willing to extend our help – extend our support – to all groups supporting a responsible, Left-wing opposition to the Tories.

Several weeks ago Caroline Lucas suggested the Greens, Labour and other Left-wing Parties form “electoral-pacts,” stating she’d “never felt so optimistic about a potential leader of the Labour Party.”

Under the proposals, a Labour/Tory marginal would see the Greens and Lib Dems stand elsewhere; removing the possibility of a split-vote.

Seats such as Oxford East, hotly contested by the Greens, would see Labour drop-out in return for the Greens pulling-out of Tory marginals.

Lucas’ own constituency of Brighton Pavilion would remain unopposed, moving from a tightly-contested marginal to one with an overwhelming majority.

Plaid Cymru would increase its number of seats in the Welsh Assembly in return for increased Labour seats in the Commons.

It’s easy to see the advantages. The boundary review could obliterate over 30 Labour seats and increase the Tories’ majority as Parliament’s largest Party. Marginals would become even more critical than they already are.

An additional benefit of the PA would be for Parties to focus their resources – financial and human – in areas needing it most.

In an electoral system rigged in favour of the two largest Parties, a Progressive Alliance would level the playing field.

During the Labour leadership campaign, members were suspended for expressing even vague levels of sympathy with the Greens.

If a Progressive Alliance is going to work, we need to overcome partisan politics.

We decided to compare Corbyn’s 10 pledges with the Green Party’s “Green Guarantee.” The similarities are remarkable.

10-pledges

Despite a greater emphasis on the environment for the Greens and a greater emphasis on the economy for Labour, these ten guidelines are largely interchangeable.

A Progressive Alliance made-up of a resurgent Green Party, a Corbyn-led Labour Party and a Liberal Democrat Party under the pro-migration, pro-refugee Tim Farron, is not just conceivable; it’s desirable.

The Labour Party rule-book remains an obstacle, stating association with other Parties is not permitted. When Labour’s new NEC members take their seats this week, this should – alongside a review of all recently-suspended voters – be challenged.

The Green Party has launched its own supporters programme, “Friends of the Green Party,” for just £1 a month.

But the differences are astonishing.

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Green Party, Twitter

Whilst the Labour Party has been at pains to prevent its supporters from supporting other Parties, the Green Party has been at pains to specifically-target members of other Parties.

A Progressive Alliance, as advocated by Jonathan Bartley, is not just hot-air; it’s Party policy.

Until Labour can swallow its pride and admit it needs help; until Labour can admit its future is not guaranteed; until Labour can admit that its policies are working against itself; that transparency and openness are ideals to be upheld, not inconveniences: a Progressive Alliance will not be possible; and Labour runs the risk of consigning Corbyn’s victory to the dustbin of history.

Success is a shared enterprise. Let’s go forward together, with our differences, and ensure the ten pledges aren’t just floating around cyberspace; but are nailed to the walls of Number 10, Downing Street.

Jeremy Corbyn – What Next?

Motivation.

Tough word.

Hard work. Resilience. Dedication. Effort.

The motivation when your alarm rings at 6 am on a Monday morning. The motivation to wash the dishes on Christmas. The motivation to brave the cold weather and trek to the laundrette.

Motivation is the bane of our lives.

But what about a different kind of motivation? What about the motivation to launch a political earthquake? To continue the revolution which began one year ago: to change British politics – and the country – forever?

That’s a motivation we can get on-board with.

While some in the Party might have been motivated-enough to “knock the dishes back on their heels,” many of us were forced into two battles: to fight both Tories and Labour at the same time.

It’s easily overlooked.

The past year has felt like an internal battle – a marriage bordering on divorce: one partner desiring unity and stability – the other throwing plates and wielding the nearest (and pointiest) vegetable.

Meanwhile, the bailiffs were coming for the house and you’d been too busy arguing with each other to save the home you made together.

It’s been too easy to become caught in middle – to succumb to the aggression – the unfairness – of the election process.

And yet, even before a leadership challenge was made; the last twelve months have been a constant struggle; with media, PLP and Party hierarchy throwing everything at Jeremy Corbyn and his electors.

If Corbyn wins the leadership election this weekend, we have a huge task on our hands: Can we maintain the momentum that elected him, and secure the motivation to do it? Do we have the energy, drive and passion to ensure not just another victory – but a new foundation for a real and lasting platform for change?

Football teams rarely win back-to-back titles. Man Utd did in the late 90s/early 00s. Liverpool in the late 70s/80s. Arsenal in the 1930s. These teams had two things in common: dedicated supporters and consistency.

When Leicester City won the League last year, the odds were 5,000 to 1. When Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership election just three months later; the odds were 100 to 1.

Leicester City won against all the odds; against all expectations. A consistent team. A dedicated fan-base. A counter-attacking machine.

And yet, today, a repeat performance is a long way off. Currently 11th in the League, Leicester have struggled to repeat the magic of last season and, once again, mid-table mediocrity beckons.

Significance? We cannot let Jeremy Corbyn become the Leicester of British politics.

Jeremy has loyal and dedicated supporters. He has hard-working Labour members all around the country who, against the entire force of the Establishment, could hand him a bigger mandate than he received just one year ago.

Almost half a million phone calls, 40,000 registered volunteers and 54 national events powered by 19,000 individual donations catapulted Jeremy Corbyn from “under-pressure-leader” to “election-front-runner.”

So what about the team?

Should the proposed reforms to Shadow Cabinet elections go through, “team consistency” is going to be difficult.

Labour HQ, backed by Tom Watson, wants a fully-elected Shadow Cabinet by the PLP only. Jeremy Corbyn wants a Shadow Cabinet elected by the PLP, Leader and Party membership; each receiving 33% of the vote.

Both moves would damage the consistency of the Shadow Cabinet.

Cabinets change. But how often these elections would take place or what power the leader would possess under these proposals remains unclear.

The only plan for consistency is to leave Cabinet appointments in the hands of the Leader – as current rules state.

This would allow Corbyn to build the team he wants, as he has tried to do over the past twelve months (on three separate occasions).

With many in the PLP making noises to rejoin the Shadow Cabinet, a united Shadow Cabinet should be possible even if the power to appoint remained with Jeremy Corbyn.

It’s been no secret Corbyn has tried – on all occasions – to form a “Cabinet of all the talents,” at every stage of the rebuild.

That former front-benchers and senior MPs refused to serve was the fault of MPs only; not of the Labour leader.

Whether Corbyn receives a team he desires or not; one thing remains certain: he will have – yet again – an overwhelming mandate for change. One that allows him not just the ability to lead the Party, but provides the possibility of – within the next four years – leading the country.

So what is our motivation?

Our motivation is to repeat the performance. To win. To keep winning. Again. And again. And again.

History does not need to be a “one-off.”

History has been repeated.

History can be repeated.

History will be repeated.

“2-1 is a dangerous score-line,” so the adage goes.

But 60% is a score-line from which there’s no way back.

Angela Rayner – Future of Education

Angela Rayner MP is one of the youngest front-benchers in history. At just 36, she could be forgiven for taking time to settle into her role as Shadow Education Secretary, before tackling the Tories’ education policy.

Instead, the rising star has hit the ground running; pledging to bring back  EMA and university grants for the poorest students in  the country.

Born into a working-class family, Rayner was unable to continue her education after her GCSEs; entering full-time employment at just 16 to support her son and her Grandmother, who was working three jobs.

Rayner is ideally placed to represent some of the poorest in our society; understanding the financial barriers that inhibit social mobility for poorer students.

Corbyn’s detractors often dismiss policy plans as uncosted, yet education policies under Corbyn have rarely been more substantive.

Rayner has already stated that reinstatement of EMA could be paid for by a 1.5% increase in corporation tax, which would raise £3bn per year, as part of a new “National Education Service.

A Labour government would use 50% of the levied £3 billion to increase student support, and 40% of the remaining 50% to reverse the public sector pay freeze. (The remaining 10% would be used for other policies).

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank  suggested  EMA – which was worth £30 a week – helped boost educational participation among teenagers, improve social mobility and  ensure young people from less-privileged backgrounds  were not barred from  further education.

The Coalition government abolished EMA in 2011, claiming it did not represent value for money (a decision Labour opposed).

The last Conservative government made repeated cuts to corporation tax, hoping to encourage post-Brexit investment;  giving the UK  one of the lowest corporation tax bands in the developed world.

Although Theresa May (unceremoniously) sacked Osborne as one of her first acts as PM,  it remains unclear  whether Phillip Hammond intends to reverse this cut.

As Angela Rayner said; “When we can help improve the education of over a million young people with a small increase in corporation tax, it is an investment we would be foolish not to make.”

A Parliamentary Labour Party under Corbyn believes  the best way to invest in a society is to invest in its people. Giving students from poorer backgrounds the support  they need for further education  would create not just opportunities for them, but society as a whole; improving social mobility, increasing access to home ownership and stimulating the economy for the long-term.

The  Tories seem set on pandering to big business as a way of propping-up an already-failing economy. However, they’ve failed to explain how burdening our young people with even more debt would help their life-chances and boost their spending-power in the long-term.  With tuition fees at an all-time high; borrowing-confidence for young people is at an all-time low. This needs to be addressed.

Only by investing in education can we ensure that all our young people, whatever their background, are able to succeed in whatever they aspire to do.

Only the Labour party is committed to investing in our young people the way they need and deserve; extending to tuition-free university education and a life-time adult education service.

Education policy has rarely looked more secure, nor as radical, as it does under Corbyn’s Labour.

In Angela Rayner, we have someone with the passion, dedication and competence to make this a reality.

By V Pearson, @vspearson85