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Harriet draws on her experience as MP for Camberwell and Peckham for 24 years, representing a Constituency Labour Party of nearly 800 members. Harriet was elected by the national membership of the party to serve on the Labour Party's National Executive Committee, replacing Tony Benn in 1993 and serving until 1997.
A decade ago changes in the party brought Labour out of opposition and into power. Now it is time to renew our party and to secure Labour’s fourth term.
During the run-up to the Deputy Leadership election Harriet has been listening to Labour Party members, councillors and trade union supporters from all over the UK. From hard-pressed activists in constituencies without a Labour MP to councillors in Labour strongholds and they all say we must face hard facts:
Ø Ten years in government has seen membership fall from 400,000 to 200,000
Ø The electoral challenge is a difficult one for all party activists starting in May 2007
Even where we are successful (97 women MPs from 10 in 1982) we see David Cameron attempt to position the Tories as a party where women are prominent. This must be challenged.
We all know the issues that need attention:
Ø We must be more democratic with the party, connected and communicating at all levels
Ø Our campaigning should be at the heart of communities with issues that matter to local neighbourhoods
Ø Those who voted for us and left must be brought back. We must recruit first-time voters and young voters
Ø Links between party and government have to be stronger
A new leadership team offers us an excellent opportunity to really work on the issues and emerge as a Party that is dynamic, committed and confident. This paper should start a debate about how we can seize the renewal agenda and engage our grass-roots members as the power to renew lies within our own Party. Then we can move towards that fourth term.
In her paper Harriet proposes:
1. An Elected Party Chair.
2. Connecting the Party at all levels with Trade Unionists.
3. Strengthening the network of women in the Party.
4. Strengthening the National Policy Forum.
5. Building the future of the party through young members and young councillors : A new Youth Strategy.
6. Community activism as a key part of party membership
7. Embracing the new and less “controlled” methods of communication.
8. A new relationship between Labour ministers and Labour constituencies without a Labour MP