By: Anne Campbell
No-one doubts that the National Policy Forum (NPF) is infinitely preferable to the policy-making processes that went before. At the time it was proposed it was an innovative and forward-looking idea and involved Party members to an extent that had never happened before. However, it remains opaque and impenetrable to the great majority. Unless it is reformed and modernized a great opportunity to reach out to parts of the Party that other methods cannot reach will be lost forever.
The NPF is a very odd out-moded beast with no effective means of communicating. Obama’s very successful election campaign and his use of electronic communication led the way in showing what is possible. We could start by having an interactive website on the Labour Party membersnet. All that seems to be there at present is a scanned document called Dialogue, which looks as though this is the last thing it wants to encourage. A space where members can actively input their ideas, challenge draft policy documents and debate with NPF members would be one way in which ordinary LP members can get involved.
Another idea is to do a webcast of the next policy forum meeting with members being able to set out their views online or by text and to have some of these fed into the group discussions. For members to be able to see and hear NPF groups actively discussing their ideas would be a great boost to the inclusion agenda. It would also allow members to observe the actions of their own NPF representatives and to see how active and persuasive they are at representing their views.
I believe that a number of electronic interventions would lift the NPF to new heights. It could take the discussion away from the small group of insiders who are the NPF at present and give LP members a real opportunity to make the Party theirs.