Saturday, 17 January 2009

The world has changed - so manifesto must open up again

I wrote to Ed Miliband at the start of last week making the simple point that since the government and everybody tells us that the world has changed, it must follow that Labour needs to rethink and reopen its manifesto process - which the current National Policy Forum process is not well set up to do (as Anne Campbell has also argued this week on Next Left).

You can read my letter on LabourList.

Ed Miliband told the Fabian conference this morning that he agreed with the idea of opening up the debate about the manifesto. It will be interested to see what comes of that - and I am sure ideas about how to do it will be welcome.

That might mean what party insiders would call "Warwick III" with a further session to close down the manifesto.

Or it might - as I think - mean a more open process, which tries to put all of this 'learning from Obama' talk into practice, by asking how Labour's manifesto can take forward fairness in the downturn.

The key test is about trust that the offer to engage is real, more than the exact process.

With the party talking about opening up - how should it be done?

UPDATE: This was Ed Miliband's initial response, according to the text of his speech.

Of course, there is more we could do, and in all these areas, our economy, our society, our democracy, we need a manifesto that is radical and transformative and we need your ideas and input.

The Fabians have argued we need to open up the process and I agree.

Next week we will be launching a dialogue on the internet precisely designed to stimulate ideas.

Between now and the manifesto it will be canvassing the best ideas, and a chance for a two way dialogue, so please go to from next Wednesday.

And in many other ways, we need to open out the process and I want to hear your thoughts on this during the course of today.

1 comment:

noel said...

Excellent suggestion Sunder. I worked for Desirs d'Avenir who facilitated a similar manifesto process out to party members, progressive activists and ordinary citizens. See here for more on this -

A few of us worked together to try and open up the manifesto process last year, having been rebuffed by the Labour leadership.

The process is as important as the policies to get people inspired and involved. If people don't feel they can shape the process, they won't join in.

But at the same time, just because you've opened up the process doesn't mean that you've empowered everyone. The activities that shape the process need to be developed in ways that make people feel comfortable and confident to join in.