Where now for Labour?

More experienced minds than mine will speculate on Labour's crushing defeat in the General Election last week, especially why it was such a shock with the polls getting it so wrong. A post-mortem would not be too strong a word to use for the process.

I'm sure they will have something to say about the leadership and the direction of the campaign, but I shall put forward my view about how the election was organised at the constituency level as a long-standing ordinary Party member in one of Labour's top target constituencies.

First of all I want to state that I have been a Labour Party member and a member of my Union all my adult life and would not, could not, vote for any other party.

That said, I did not knock on any doors, deliver any leaflets, man any phones or put any posters in my window. The reason for this is that the local party is just so awful. I don't mean to disparage a group of well meaning individuals but the meetings are exercises in extended bloviation, only a solitary few get out on the streets and there are too many people I'd rather not be in the same room with.

Harsh I know, and then there's the decision making. Some very inappropriate people were selected to stand as councillors, me included. Some of this comes down to just not having enough people willing and able to stand in elections, but really, some terrible candidates were chosen to stand in wards that we needed to win.

The selection meeting to choose our prospective parliamentary candidate was the last meeting I went to. There were four people on the shortlist, three of whom were very weak and we chose the best of the bunch, but she never stood a chance.

My constituency is ageing, white, and with a large retired population. While it contains a middling sized town it also covers a large rural area. We managed to choose a young, Asian single mother as our candidate - anathema to our voters. It was like we weren't even trying to win the seat. No matter how talented and committed our candidate was, and she had many admirable qualities, she never stood a chance in a constituency we had to win.

I was devastated when we lost the election, but I wasn't surprised. Our local parties need to be effective election machines, put appropriate candidates in place and properly canvas. Anything less means we'll always lose.

The solution? We need to attract new blood committed to the ideals of The Labour Party. It won't be easy, but one conversation at a time, we'll get there … we have to.

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