By Liverpool West Derby’s Lana Orr:
I joined Movement for Change back in October 2011. I’d arranged a training session for my CLP, Liverpool West Derby, after hearing about M4C during Labour Party Conference. Being a relatively new member I was thrilled (and slightly daunted) to be asked to co-deliver an M4C session for International Women’s Day. Having previously attended M4C training sessions I’d been inspired by their message of enabling Labour Party members to become involved in their communities, campaigning on the local issues people care about and genuinely making a difference. It also demonstrated to me that M4C was serious about developing its members and showcasing what they have to offer.
Labour Northwest had organised a fantastic programme for International Women’s Day with experienced speakers covering a wide range of issues from fuel poverty, the NHS, the economy and many more. Women from all over the region had come along to meet with fellow party members discuss the issues facing women today and how women can be a positive political force in a time when the Coalition Government’s policies are disproportionately hitting women hard. The Movement for Change session I then delivered was then focused on delivering action.
Ben Maloney, M4C community organiser (and the only man in the building apart from the security guard!) gave an introduction about the organisation and why building capacity in our communities is so important. Then it was my turn. It was up to me to ask each woman why she had joined the Party in the first place. We wanted to avoid abstract answers such as “to fight for social justice” in order to get down to the detail and find out what really pushes someone to become a member of a political party.
The responses that came back were really inspirational; some had joined as a reaction against policies they didn’t agree with, others had joined because family members had instilled in them a sense of wanting to do the right thing, while many had joined because other women had encouraged them that politics was meant for them and they could really bring about change. The last one really struck a chord with me.
Given it was International Women’s Day it was uplifting to hear so many women members supporting one another, and encouraging those in the room to become activists by using community organising techniques. This part of the session was followed by a section teaching about ordinary people who were instrumental in history who had inspired those around them to become politically active and fight for what they believed in.
For example Tommy Williams, who was one of the reasons I joined M4C. I’d never heard of him before he was mentioned during a speech at the M4C conference fringe event. So who was he? Tommy Williams was an ordinary, working class docker who recruited Clement Attlee to the Labour Party. What a inspirational tale. Ordinary members of the Party recruiting people who have a desire to bring about change can have an enormous effect on our political landscape. Clement Attlee, a leader looked up to by so many, may never have been in a position of power if he hadn’t followed the advice of Tommy Williams.
I think this story resonated with everyone present. Grassroots activism can make a difference. It’s up to us to get to know our members and what they have to offer, and it’s up to us to encourage and support each other. It’s up to us to make links with our local communities and show that the Labour Party wants to be visible and active in every community.
Weeks after I received an email from Ben saying that a lady who had attended had gone away feeling motivated and enthused, so much so that she wanted to co-deliver a training session in her CLP. This made me smile as I sat at my desk.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed co-delivering the session and I hope anyone reading this may consider becoming more involved in this aspect of Movement for Change. Delivering training is not that nerve-wracking – I promise!