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Today we launch Open Labour, a forum bringing together activists to build a Labour left which is committed to a better quality of debate and political culture within Labour, while focussing on the question of how to win power.

Labour’s democratic left has for too long been defined by other currents in the party and has been without any form of organisation. The elections of Ed Miliband and now Jeremy Corbyn have not changed that. Now is the time for those who believe in equality, democracy, solidarity and the emancipating power of the left to come together. Open Labour believes that there must be a place within Labour to debate and shape these values in a respectful way free from the divisive and intolerant voices that have come to dominate Labour debate especially on social media.

The need for a renewed democratic left within the party is clear. This debate cannot be reduced to how ‘left’ or ‘right’ Labour is. It is about how we tie our opposition to austerity and concentrations of power to a strategy where we persuade those who haven’t yet felt the confidence to vote for us.
Open Labour is a grassroots-powered organisation and will stay that way. It will argued for and practice a new style of left politics which is tolerant, forward looking and seeks power for a purpose. We urge anyone who sees truth in this letter to visit openlabour.org and join us.

Signed:

Cllr Tom Miller, Brent
Cllr Alex Sobel, Leeds
Cllr Bev Craig, Manchester
Jo Rust, North West Norfolk CLP
David Hamblin, Cardiff North CLP
Jade Azim, City of Durham CLP
Shelly Streeter, Alyn and Deeside CLP
Josh Fenton-Glynn, Calder Valley CLP
Yue Ting Cheng, Hertsmere CLP
Ann Black, Labour Party National Executive Committee Member
Tom Copley AM, Greater London Assembly
Kaveh Azarhoosh, Bethnal Green and Bow CLP
Rose Grayston, Islington North CLP
Abby Tomlinson, South Ribble CLP
Tom Williams, Manchester Gorton CLP
Lauren Day-Cooper, Birmingham Selly Oak CLP
Cllr Sam Tarry, Barking and Dagenham
Cllr Lesley Brennan, Dundee
Cllr George Lindars-Hammond, Sheffield
Cllr Beth Marshall, Manchester
Cllr Grace Fletcher-Hackwood, Manchester
Cllr Carl Ollerhead, Manchester
Cllr David Levene, York
Cllr Kevin Rodgers, Doncaster
Cllr Alon Or-Bach, Barnet
Cllr Rosanne Kirk, Lincoln and Lincolnshire
Cllr James Roberts, Liverpool
Cllr Neil Walshaw, Leeds
Cllr Julie Heselwood, Leeds
Cllr Sam Stopp, Brent
Cllr Neil Nerva, Brent
Cllr Bernard Collier, Brent
Cllr Liam O’Rourke, Rochdale
Cllr Guy Lambert, Hounslow
Cllr Aidan Smith, Greenwich
Cllr Ralph Berry, Bradford
Steve Yemm, Mansfield CLP
Beccie Ions, Dewsbury CLP
Baris Yerli, Ilford North CLP
Mo Ahmed, Stretford and Urmston
Andrew Achilleos, Dagenham and Rainham CLP
Jacky Holyoake, Halesowen and Rowley Regis CLP
Thomas Sadler, Lewisham Deptford CLP
Linda Williams, Charnwood CLP
Richard Bell, Bethnal Green and Bow CLP
Arthur Baker, Greenwich and Woolwich
Garry Chick-Mckay, Leyton and Wanstead CLP
Samuel Marlow-Stevens, Bath CLP
Professor Steve Eales, Cardiff North CLP
Nick McGowan, Manchester Withington CLP
Neil Watkins, Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP
Carl Morris, Leeds North West
Frank Podmore, Greenwich and Woolwich CLP
Dave Toulson, Coventry South CLP
Matthew Donoghue, Wantage CLP
Ben Gregg, Bradford South CLP
Thomas Kirkwood, Hampstead and Kilburn CLP
John Tibbetts, Birmingham Northfield CLP
Dr Simon Raphael Picker, Chelsea and Fulham CLP
Andy Howell, Birmingham Hall Green CLP
Gerry Ramsden, Richmond CLP
Peter Kenyon, Cities of London and Westminster CLP
Trevor Fisher, Stafford CLP

55 responses to “Welcome to Open Labour

  1. It is time for the Left to unite, and become a growing platform for real change in Britain.

    “Together we stand, divided we fall”

  2. Best of luck
    Philip Lewis
    Camden UNISON Vice Chair & Branch Health & Safety officer & Conv.ASC in HASC & UNISON National & Regional Health & Safety Comm.
    Member of London Hazards Trust Chair of London Hazard Asbestos group
    UK National work stress network steering Group member

  3. Civilised debate does not mean division but is the best way to unite the party to find the way forward for our common goals. United we stand, divided we fall.

    1. I am a little confused.
      You state “united we stand, divided we fall” whilst you cheer for the creation of an organisation set up in opposition to another, momentum. How is that united? Why not simply join Momentum?
      Do you simply mean united the OPPOSITION stand? A rallying cry for the fightback. I think the readers must be told.

  4. Do we really need another group? I cant help but feel this is a group formed in response to another group “momentum” and this is so damaging to the party. How about we try to use our differences to better the party, diversity of ideas can only be a good thing but fundamentally I think we all agree that we have the same aims and we cannot abside those aims without power. So, my suggestion to you is ; unite begin our leader, if there are differences within the PLP make your point behind closed doors because whilst you lot are fighting amongst yourselves people are going hungry and we are doing them a disservice by not being in government. Tristan hunt, Simon Danczuck, form your own party. I did not vote for Jeremy Corbyn but he is our democratically elected leader. Labour had to unite before we get tory rule for life.

  5. Do we really need another group? I cant help but feel this is a group formed in response to another group “momentum” and this is so damaging to the party. How about we try to use our differences to better the party, diversity of ideas can only be a good thing but fundamentally I think we all agree that we have the same aims and we cannot achieve those aims without power. So, my suggestion to you is ; unite begin our leader, if there are differences within the PLP make your point behind closed doors because whilst you lot are fighting amongst yourselves people are going hungry and we are doing them a disservice by not being in government. Tristan hunt, Simon Danczuck, form your own party. I did not vote for Jeremy Corbyn but he is our democratically elected leader. Labour has to unite before we get tory rule for ever.

    1. Agree with most of that. Do not agree with Tristan and Simon forming their own party. I know they sometimes act divisively but, for the sake of unity, I believe it’s best to turn the other cheek. We must rise above tribalism.

    2. Congrats on forming Open Labour. Much needed at this difficult time in the Party.

      Trust you will concentrate on removal of inequality, defeating austerity and pursuing
      adequate funding for health and social care.

      Comradely,

    3. Amen!
      I’ll stick with Momentum – this sounds like a blue-Labour plot.
      Using all the words stolen from the other campaign (like the Tories – using words to attain their own ends with no intention of acting on them – is that called Blagging?)

      It’s not Momentum who are causing the rifts it’s just some of the PLP who don’t realise they’ve lost. They are frightened of losing their seats and will use any underhand method to hold on to their privileges.
      Good luck with this undemocratic exercise – shame you are not using your energy to fight the Tories as they dismantle Britain.
      #jc4pm

      1. Hi Audrey,

        No plots here, and we are not Blue Labour. We are also not in opposition to Momentum or any other group. We are all grassroots activists and councillors.

        I don’t think it’s fair to call us undemocratic just for having the audacity to stick our heads up and give our views. Labour members have a right to do that – including us…

  6. Although I’m not overly sure that we need another group within the Labour Movement, it’s had a Great Start, let’s keep up the pressure.

      1. Coming as I do from a modest bauogrkcnd, I’m typically aspirational. Labour may represent the poor and less well-off, but it also has to understand the sort of ambition and drive that causes a chap to work hardI recognise those words. They’re from Hazel Blears’ hustings speech. Haha. Very funny.

  7. This seems to have been sparked in opposition to the “hard-left”.

    Please could somebody define “hard-left”?

    An overview of Corbyn’s stated policies:-

    1. New politics- A kinder approach- no abuse, no personal attacks- focus on policy.
    2. No deselection.
    3. Make the Labour Party a transparent, democratic, bottom-up social movement.
    4. Adopt policies similar to those of Germany or the Nordic model. Very limited nationalisation. Focus on green issues.
    5. The most controversial ideas seem to be:-
    a) Not replacing Trident
    b) Peoples Quantative Easing (even this has been qualified- only to be considered in recession and/or in a period of deflation).

    In my opinion- the above does not equate to “hard-left”.

    I accept Corbyn and Momentum have attracted some entryists. Are they really significant or just a vocal minority? What percentage of the hundreds of thousands of new Labour members are entryists? Would it not be more productive to expose and stand up to the entryists?

    Usually Labour members opposed to Corbyn are happy to discuss abuse and entryism endlessly (and that’s entirely right and understandable) but refuse to debate why Corbyn’s actual policy ideas and approach to Labour democracy could be be described as “hard-left”. This debate needs to happen. Everything else is internal squabbling.

    1. We don’t have any specific policies so we can’t agree or disagree with point 5, but we certainly favour points 1-4.

      We aren’t here in opposition to the ‘hard’ (Benn inspired, if we want to be kinder) left.

      We’re here in the tradition of an open minded left, and open spirited left, and one which looks outwards – starting with evidence about what voters currently think and how we can win their support for left politics.

      We are certainly against abuse and we think that the issue from people both on the left and right is now big enough for our party culture to become an issue in itself, and something we need to take seriously when we debate.

  8. Looking at the dismal standard of debate on social media recently (from all sides), yes we do need this group. We also need some clear water between the democratic left and the Kamikaze left. The open letter puts it well.

  9. Open Labour whilst I wish you luck I am intrigued to know what distinguishes yourselves from the LRC? Why didn’t you join them? Are they “too socialist” for you or perhaps not socialist enough?

    1. Well, the LRC presents itself with a name and branding based on the original founding of the Labour Party, and it carries a lot of policies (and more importantly a style) which seem very rooted in the past.

      We are about testing new things. We think that the public is always changing and socialism must to. It doesn’t mean dropping it and heading rightwards, but it does mean giving it regular overhauls and making it something that mainstream people in the wider world can connect to if they don’t already feel part of it.

      Nevertheless we are not here to be hostile to the LRC (or anyone else). We’re here for Open Labour.

  10. I like the idea of a Labour group which will discuss policy ideas & not took back at what went wrong or right in previous elections. WE are, where we are. One thing is clear = we should unite behind the elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn.But as others have said, “united we stand, divided we fall”, so let’s not get into arguments about other groups.

  11. Please add my name. But please can this be the last internal faction – it’s getting a bit embarrassing when observed by the outside world.

      1. I’m not a Labour Party member but I’m told by local Labour mrmbees, and ex-members, that here in Allerdale the local CLP has dropped from almost 1000 mrmbees to under 100 in the last few years.Welcome to the Labour heartlands.

  12. This group sound very reasonable but why do we need any groups sects wings ect unless we focus on getting into power by putting forward credible workable policies that the majority of the people who vote will support then what is the point we have Clp Meetings All members meetings a wide variety of forums on social media also special meetings with invited elected members. TU officials ect I just don’t. See any point or need for more groups meetings obvious that those setting up these groups are unaware how hard it is to get people to attend meetings CLP all members meetings attendece no way reflect members. Tenants groups local campaign groups community council meetings ect attendece pathetic.so in my opinion use of social media properly administered would be more effective and productive groups can be administered and by party members numbers

    1. Hi Douglas, we think all of these things are of top importance too. I suppose that if there are four strands of the party (New Labour, traditional right, soft left, Bennite left), it was a bit weird before that only one of those did not have a home.

      But we’re not just that home. We’re also arguing for Labour to start facing outwards and to have a strategy for persuading more voters. That’s a lot more complicated than Jeremy just saying what he believes!

      For us, it seems to be the first time that people on the left of the party have been calling for this post leadership election.

  13. No Pascal Rascagneres this is not a response to Momentum but an attempt to revive the soft left which died in the 1990s as Blairism rose to dominate the Party – Really New Labour rather than Blairism. I joined Compass after the Labour Co-ordinating committee which I had belonged to collapsed, as Neal Lawson told me all would be well when Gordon Brown took over. Brown was part of the New Labour Project and not even electorally successful, so I left the Labour Party. As the open letter says, Miliband and Corbyn are neither of them soft left and so the space is open which Open Labour =is presumably trying to fill.

    It has potential, because the soft left is the majority of the party, as I have been arguing on Labour Uncut since the summer. Corbybn did not have enough support to win, the middle of the party simply voted for him because the other three candidates were still too New Labour. Not my choice, I voted for Burnham and Cooper, knowing they might provide unity. But even if they had won, the need for a soft left organisation was paramount. Without a replacement for the soft left organisations of the past, as Neal Lawson himself argued in the GUardian in July, the Labour Party is doomed. Sadly his own Compass organisation ruled itself out in 2011 by opening to all parties which they thought progressive, a fundamentally incoherent position, so I left Compass.

    Having rejoined the Labour Party, I have been involved in soundings to start a new soft left organisation, but feel that Open Labour is the best option to do this and will support it – hence signing the Guardian letter. There has been no viable soft left organisation and the terms of the Guardian letter and the founding statement set out a perspective which can be developed to fill the gap in a party which cannot afford the civil war that elements of the hard left and the blairite right so clearly want to see happen. Or an SDP type split, which would again put the TOries in for two elections minimum with all the other changes going through.

    It is too early to say whether this will work, but the need for a soft left organisation is plain. It gets my support.

    Trevor Fisher (ex Labour Co-ordinating Committee 1979-93, Executive 1987-1990(

  14. So is this the Judean Peoples Front or the People’s Front of Judea? A party divided against itself shall not stand. Let’s just have Labour shall we? Not New, Old, left or right, open closed or new cherry flavour. Let’s decide policy and agree to stand by it and our leader. Last thing we need is another schism.

    1. Hi David, we are set up to argue for the opposite of schism. We are a bit of a bridge between people in the centre of Labour’s range of views and people right on the left of it, so we will help bring that together.

      But more important than any of that is making sure that as well as having left politics we have a way of making it connect with the majority in the wider country. We are for looking outwards, not in.

  15. Utterly appauling this group is! Give the poor guy Jeremy Corbyn a moment to breath. The shallowness of this forum is evident from this very fact that you have put ed and corbyn in the same basket. They r two very different people. Ed had 5 years to prove himself whereas Jeremy has not even had 5 months to his credit and hes already shown his haters by winning Oldham!

    1. If you read what we’ve said we’ve actually acknowledged that Labour under Jeremy did well via Oldham. Can I ask why you think we are attacking him? Definitely not our intention.

  16. I am too old and decrepit now for any active engagement in political affairs, ans our local little LP disappeared some years ago, but I remain a party member – largely because years ago a young lady on the telephone persuaded me to give a small donation monthly to the party – which continued until some person at HQ told me that this now meant I was a member again – I suppose at the time they were trying to increase the dwindling membership numbers. I had never ceased to be a supporter- since I reached voting age (21 at that time)I failed to vote Labour only once – in a European election when the Labour campaign was so lacklustre and unconvincing I voted Green in disgust – we got 2m votes and no seats, because of the barmy first past the post way we run things – a system no one can defend nor change.
    Recently I was persuaded to increase my sub as the fees had increased. I voted for Diane Abbott for the leadership, knowing she could not possibly win, but other women possibles had shied away – and gave my second choice to Ed Milliband – promised to a young lady on the phone – EM was the only candidate who hd uch people working for him. I thought he had the possible capacity to be an Attlee type PM – but he never got the chance. This last time I voted for Corbyn – I read what the other candidates had to say, and found nothing there that chimed with what had brought me into he Labour fold. What Corbyn was saying was things i really believed in, as I always had, and as he obviously did – something none of the rest could convince me of.
    He has succeeded in putting back on the agenda things Labour should never have forgotten – and Oldham has showed, I think, that lots of people have not forgotten, though many MPs and would-be leaders have moved on. Blair and his pal did their best to turn the LP into a capitalist party – we have three or four of those and need another like we need a hole in the head, I note with pleasure that you actually use the word ‘socialist’, which is virtually a dirty word in Westminster – we shall be calling each other ‘Comrade’ next.
    I wish you all success in your campaign. I hope to live long enough to njoy it.

  17. In my county Suffolk Labour needs to ally with other progressive
    Parties to gain power for a purpose so the need for Open Labour

  18. I first voted Labour in 1983. I joined the Party in 1994, following the death of John Smith. I left the Party last year and rejoined this year so that I could have a say in the leadership election. I voted for Jeremy Corbyn & Tom Watson. I am a member of Momentum and I should like to join Open Labour. How do I join your organisation and contribute to the debate?

  19. What you are proposing sounds positive and interesting, so I have signed up and look forward to hearing more. As labour members we need to take a stand against intolerance and bullying in the party, which I have seen both from the left and the right of the party in the course of 2015.

  20. Very happy to sign & join. Will be coming to the conference hopefully. We need a debate on the left, & not one that is dominated or bullied by the extremeists.

    Robin Moss
    NE Somerset CLP
    Bath & NE Somerset Cllr (leader, Labour group)
    LGA Community Wellbeing panel – Labour group
    (all personal capacity)

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