Labour movement pursues policy alternative

A grassroots Labour movement aimed at taking policy development away from highly-paid “handlers” and giving it back to ordinary members will be launched next month.

The Campaign for Labour Policies has held informal gatherings since last Christmas — some of which were attended by elected TDs — and will be officially launched on Sept 15.

A letter sent to party members says the group aims to mobilise support for “an alternative political programme to the one now being pursued by Government”.

It will be led by a committee of 20 party members, drawn from constituencies around the country, and could prove a thorn in the side of party leader Eamon Gilmore.

“Our campaign will focus on key questions such as job creation, income inequality, the protection of services, and dealing with the onerous bank debt,” said the letter to members, signed by Neil Warner of Labour Youth.

“As Labour members, we all fought hard to convince our communities to elect Labour TDs. The Campaign for Labour Polices is determined that Labour members will have a voice, and become a voice for change in a radical campaign for labour, left policies.”

Another member closely involved with its establishment predicted “a certain amount of nervousness among the leadership of the party” but said it was still early days. “It depends on how the group emerges and how it plays out,” he said, adding that the group would offer constructive engagement.

One Labour TD, Joanna Tuffy, said groups like this should be welcomed because having a strong grassroots was important for the party.

“I think it’s a healthy development; we’re a democratic party. It would be par for the course in the British Labour Party to have this sort of thing.”

The Dublin Mid-West TD said Labour should always be about its membership: “There is a tendency in politics of late to become too professionalised: It’s about the leaders and the ministers and the infrastructure that is around them.”

The group’s first meeting, which is open to all members, will take place at 2pm on Sept 15 at Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin.

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