Have I really only been back from conference a week? I did come back confident about Labour and it is that renewed confidence that makes campaigning special. So yes, I have managed to catch up with a little bit of Contact Creator data input from the summer and failed to sort the tecchie bits of making sure our marked register is all on the system before looming deadlines. I have also sent out a notice and agenda for our next constituency coordination meeting (some folks would call it an exec but ours is no longer the top slice of a pyramid). I welcomed a couple of new members into the fold. The latter was the first example this week of deciding it was right to do it my way. There were a few other minor admin matters – enough to make me realise that being constiuency sec ( or is it general manager) can so easily be a full time job.
I had been work ing on a ‘members handbook’ to be given to all members but especially relevant for new ones. It has hit one of those nice difficulties of refounding Labour flexibility. How do you produce a static guide to a moving feast? No longer can I issue the boring notices that say the same thing will happen at the agreed hour of the same date every month. Flexibility is fine but it ain’t half hard to manage! So my first email to new members using a mailchimp template only tells them about the next few events ( my way means I refuse to call them meetings any more).
I have also managed to draft my official conference report and have decided to add that to our local party web-site. But it is difficult to capture the spirit of conference in an official report. For me it wasn’t all about the post-New Labour theory of ‘one nation’, fascinating as that is. It isn’t even about sharing those important little policy commitments that still remain buried – I tweeted that speech saying we would make bus companies pay for free travel for 16-18 year olds straight from conference. It might seem a small commitment, but it really matters. Come on folks – shout it from the rooftops – or get on the school bus and shout it over the bedlum.
No the spirit of conference wasn’t about speeches and promises. It was about community campaigning. Which is why I was so disappointed that the ‘special invite’ to a discussion with Tom Watson and gen sec Iain McNichol wasn’t that special after all. Back in the 1980’s community campaigning was why I joined Labour – and why I managed to become a councillor aged under 30. I set up a community nursery registered as a co-op. So for me it is great to see community campaigning back where it belongs – Labour working with communities at their roots.
There were community campaigns galore on offer at conference. Can I sign up my mum and dad to the www.switchtogether.org.uk campaign even though they don’t have internet or shall I get out on those buses and talk to young folks who lost their EMA? Today has shown me just how complicated talking and campaigning has become. I have tried to do the press release, put stuff on twitter, added photos to facebook and still have the bits to add to the web-site . I haven’t spoken to a real person all day, but my out-box tells me I wrote a fairly average 18 emails, some to multiple recipients. My in-box probably gained far more. Don’t tell anyone I managed most of that from my jim-jams.
It was the debate I had about photos to go with the press release from our event last night that reminded me just what community campaigning was all about. There are two photos from the event that follow. Which one is the Labour Party you want to join? I know the answer, so I am going to do it my way. And full marks to Mark, Police Commissioner candidate here in West Yorkshire for recognising that signing up to a campaign about the importance of domestic violence and rape was worth doing – even if it was being promoted by a bunch of women called Kirklees Labour Women when that organisation hasn’t even met yet. We just had an event round a photo. We will do more. So thanks to Stella Creasy and the #OBRUK campaign for helping put the community back in politics and to Vera Baird for enthusing about how Labour Police Commissioners could bring about change. The press release about our event last night will soon be on http://www.labourcolnevalley.co.uk/ . We are working towards a big 1 billion women rising event on February 14th – and we look forward to working with Mark as Police Commissioner to hold him to those Labour values conference renewed. Community campaigning? Count me in.