Labour Must Return Power to Members

Membership within the Labour Party has been in decline over a number of years and the contrast with the SNP is not just the difference in numbers, but the amount of young people distancing themselves from our party and embracing something different.

When I joined the Party as a teenager one of the selling points of being a member was that I could have a say in the party, its policies and direction. This was absolutely true as I was to find out when participating in a debate at my Trade Union branch on a motion for Scottish Conference on the minimum wage, and later when my local party branch put a motion for conference that went to the CLP, was debated, amended and put forward to conference where I then spoke as a constituency delegate at the conference in Perth City Halls.

I remember that conference and the wise guidance I received from my fellow delegate Mrs Jean Lockhart, who recently re-joined the party after leaving for a few years, not being sure what the direction of the party was. She, along with many others who have given a lifetime to campaigning, voted Yes in the referendum because as she told me: there was a message of hope and change that Labour have failed to deliver.

If we are to re-gain the trust of the hundreds of thousands previous Labour voters who in May chose not to give us their vote, we must give them a reason to vote Labour again.

We must be the party of hope, vision and direction, that’s the party I want to help lead, and I have been setting this vision out in speeches and articles.

But if we want to be a successful party again we must build our membership, and that means giving people a reason for joining Labour again. For me that means giving people a voice within Labour.

As I have talked with members across the country it is clear that so many feel excluded from policy and decision making. The truth is, our policy forum process is disconnected and marginalised from the majority of members.

I want to double our membership in the coming years by giving people a reason to join Labour. I think we can do this by scrapping the policy forums and return power to the grassroots, to the branches and the CLPs who feed into conference as the policy making body of the party in Scotland.

In Scotland our Parliament and our Country have grown in confidence and the demand for change is widespread in communities the length and breadth of Scotland.

For Labour in Scotland there is a clear choice: embrace that change, be progressive and build a movement for change within Labour, setting the future direction of our country; or do more of the same and become an irrelevance in modern Scotland.

I am clear what I stand for, I stand for real change. I have been clear that if Labour is to revitalise itself in Scotland then we have to get on the front-foot of the devolution debate.

That means a Scottish party that has greater autonomy to meet the hopes and needs of modern Scotland – the appetite for this across the country is clear. It also means a Scottish Party that is active, vibrant and leading the debate at community level, and it means a party that is led by its membership from the grass roots.

Our members want a party that is proud of our roots but also fit for the future. We must rebuild trust so we can take the battle of the hearts and minds of the Scottish people to the SNP full-on.

More of the same or safety first politics won’t turn our fortunes around. That’s why I’ll be using every minute from now until the close of the campaign to debate and shape the agenda for change with as many of our members as possible.

Post Author: Alex Rowley