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Open Labour
Formation2015; 7 years ago (2015)
PurposePolitical advocacy
Location
  • United Kingdom
Chair
  • Tessa Milligan
AffiliationsLabour Party
Revenue (2018)
£3,114[1]
Expenses (2018)£1,147[1]
Websiteopenlabour.org Edit this at Wikidata

Open Labour is an activist group in the British Labour Party which acts as a forum for members to discuss ideas, tactics and campaigning. It is in the soft left political tradition, to the right of left-wing groups like Momentum and to the left of New Labour groups such as Progress.[2]

History

Open Labour was founded in 2015 following the 2015 Labour Party leadership election with the aim of giving voice to the soft left tradition within the Labour Party, which many felt had been largely absent from the debate.[3][4][5]

The soft left tradition within Labour goes back to the 1980s. While many Labour MPs, including the recent Labour leader Ed Miliband, had at times been characterised as coming from the soft left politically, there had not been an internal group advocating for this strand of politics since Compass unaffiliated from the party in 2011 in order to open up its membership to political parties.

Since 2015 Open Labour has produced and published a number of essays across a range of topics on its website, and has held several meetings and conferences to establish its strategy and political positions. It has also held a number of political fringe events at Labour Party conferences. Open Labour has offered its backing to candidates in internal party elections and candidate selections for local and general elections. Several Open Labour activists and members were elected to Parliament in the 2017 United Kingdom general election, including Open Labour Treasurer Alex Sobel, Jo Platt, Emma Hardy, Anna McMorrin, Paul Sweeney, Marsha de Cordova, and Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

Founding committee member Ann Black was a longstanding member of Labour's National Executive Committee, with the group backing her in her failed re-election bid in 2018.[6]

In the 2019 General Election a number of Open Labour supporters and members were elected to parliament, including Nadia Whittome, Olivia Blake, Feryal Clark, James Murray, and Abena Oppong-Asare.

Open Labour made no endorsement during the 2016 Labour leadership elections. During the 2020 Labour leadership elections, Open Labour endorsed Lisa Nandy for Leader and Angela Rayner for Deputy Leader after an extensive ballot of its members.[7]

In the 2020 National Executive Committee elections, its members voted to endorse Ann Black and Jermain Jackman for the CLP section, George Lindars-Hammond for the new disability section and Alice Perry for the local government section, with Black and Perry winning election. In 2021, the organisation said its membership stood at 1,500 and it plans to make a number of endorsements for upcoming local and devolved elections.

Political positions

Coming politically from the soft left tradition within Labour, Open Labour looks to recast this ideology as the "open left", defining it as "a practical, open-minded and tolerant type of democratic socialism". The group promotes a "democratic, participatory and pluralist culture".[8]

Their beliefs include advocating an economic platform of transforming the UK economy to a higher-investment, environmentally conscious and more democratic model. They are also generally pro-European, and call for Labour to maintain a close relationship with Europe and its sister parties' on the continent, and for solidarity with those campaigning for social justice here and internationally.

Open Labour has roots in the history of organisations like the Tribune Group and the Labour Coordinating Committee, but also through local government and through trade unions.

In an article about the 2017 Labour Party Conference, Isabel Hardman described the group as "[carrying] the Corbynite flag", arguing that it and the wider soft left in Labour had shifted to the left after that year's general election.[9]

References

  1. ^ a b https://openlabour.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2018_Accounts.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ Waugh, Paul (9 February 2018). "Momentum 'Slate' for Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) Axes Veteran Ann Black". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  3. ^ Wintour, Patrick (9 December 2015). "Labour Activists Launch New Group on Party's Left". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  4. ^ Azim, Jade (9 December 2015). "More Than Just an Interim".
  5. ^ Lawson, Neal (24 July 2015). "Without the Soft Left, Labour Is Doomed to Splinter". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  6. ^ Hurst, Luke (25 June 2018). "Why Non-Factional Members Are Supporting Ann Black for the NEC".
  7. ^ Rodgers, Sienna (31 January 2020). "Open Labour set to back Nandy for leader based on member ballot". LabourList. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  8. ^ Robinson, Emily (27 September 2016). "Open Labour: A Return to the Old New Politics?". Prospect. London. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  9. ^ Hardman, Isabel (24 September 2017). "Labour's Soft Left Goes on the Offensive". Coffee House. Retrieved 22 February 2018.