Following the last two successful Bridport Labour Party Branch meetings, it has become increasingly clear that members not only want the Party to be more open, but that policy must over time come from the bottom up. Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Eagle made this very clear at Annual Conference. Angela promised a review of the national policy forum aimed at reaching out further and involving members more fully, and Jeremy has been saying that there is now a need for change. However, if one looks at the present structure of the Labour Party, any chance of change in the short term seems unlikely, and so change will have to be driven by Branch memberships.
For example, given the geographical size of our Constituency, what should be the role of the Constituency Party if decisions are coming from the bottom up? Here if Branches have agreed policies, should Branch decisions on policy matters take precedence over Constituency decisions? A further question posed is how are Branch policies arrived at? At present Branch Officers can control policy in that members in the past did not attend meetings. But if decisions are to come from the bottom up, it should be the Branch members who drive policy. To this end, I would ask members to think as to how this could be achieved? For myself, I would support the setting up of policy committees to discuss issues such as the NHS, education, public transport and equality. The main Branch Officers would not be involved in these Committees, and these sub Committees would put their recommendations to a Branch Meeting for the membership to either accept or amend. This in turn will make Branch meetings a real political event with the membership driving policy from the bottom up.
Richard Nicholls (Chair)