I know from talking to people in Wyre Forest that many think politics in Britain is broken. David Cameron hosts dodgy donor dinners in No.10 whilst too many local people feel disconnected with the decisions made on their behalf in Westminster.
We need a new politics that is transparent and open to new people and new ideas. Ed Miliband’s bold announcements this week show Labour is determined to lead the change we need to fix our politics, and that change begins within our own party.
Twenty-one years ago former Labour Leader John Smith began the journey to make Labour a more democratic and open political party by introducing the principle of One Member, One Vote, into the way we select Parliamentary candidates. I hope the reforms announced this week will complete thisunfinished business and restore trust in our democracy.
I’ve spoken to local people who really care about issues in our area like the cuts to Home Start in Bewdley, Kidderminster and Stourport. But too many are unsure of how they can go about changing things for the better. That’s why we’ll give people the opportunity to become Affiliated Labour Supporters and get involved in the local campaigns that matter to them.
This is about letting people into our politics as well as our party. I hope we can attract more people who share Labour values and who are passionate about improving our communities.
Trade unions are hugely important institutions that helped found our party over one hundred years ago. They fight for working people and I’m proud of Labour’s links with the thousands of nurses, teachers, shopworkers, carpet workers and bus drivers in Wyre Forest that are in affiliated trade unions.
But it’s no longer acceptable for people to give money to a political party without having made an active choice to do so. Therefore every individual member of an affiliated trade union will be given a straight “Yes or No” choice about whether they want to pay a small sum to ensure their union’s voice is heard within the Labour party.
Members are the lifeblood of the party and these reforms ensure that they retain rights which are not available to anyone else. Members’ votes in leadership elections will now carry as much weight as anyone else’s. Members will also remain the only people who can select parliamentary candidates, become constituency delegates to annual conference or stand for election as Labour representatives.
All of these changes, which will be debated across the party this month, provide us with an enormous opportunity to open up the Labour Party. I hope they will ensure that more people from every walk of life have a say on the issues that matter to them, their family and their local area.
Dr Matt Lamb Wyre Forest Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate