Our Recent Activity
Quarter 1 Report
Labour Beyond Cities was founded the day after Labour’s 2019 election defeat. In the aftermath of the election it became obvious that the Labour movement has dense support, membership and energy in large cities but has declined in strength in areas such as those constituencies referred to as the ‘red wall’ in Northern England, Wales and the Midlands.
We believe all parts of our country matter and want to demonstrate this through action. We pledge to work to make Labour’s energies less concentrated and more spread around the UK. We will work on finding ways to take the energy and skills of Labour’s passionate activists to those areas that might want extra help. In doing so we hope to learn about one another and the different challenges different regions face.
Our headline work so far:
The creation of an online organising platform that can match pledged activists skills to campaigns regardless of their geography - i.e. a volunteer in London could be called upon to do graphic design work for a campaign in South Shields.
‘Proof of concept’ outreach for solidarity actions in areas outside of our city base.
This report covers our actions in the first quarter in more detail.
KEY PROGRESS IN QUARTER 1
We are a volunteer led group with a wide variety of skills, abilities and background. Our work is organised by working groups on several themes.
This group was formed to look at formally constituting LBC, looking at methods to fundraise and to create a democratic membership structure - allowing us to fund things like a website, emails, meetings, events and solidarity actions. Also allowing us to potentially work on fundraising for community organising and community development to help in areas that have been held back and where Labour needs to reestablish trust.
Esther of our Fundraising group writes:
“A constitution was drafted and Board members selected. They are David (Chair) Trevor (Secretary) and Esther Freeman (Treasurer). These positions will be re-elected annually and others in the group encouraged to stand.
The group voted on free membership and voting rights for all. Members will be invited to pay a voluntary monthly donation of £2 which will go into the community fund to cover our campaigning costs.
Attempts to open a bank account have been held up by the COVID 19 crisis, but we are still pursuing options. Some fundraising will be impossible until we have that, but we are looking at other sources, including. crowdfunding.”
Our fundraising group is setting up our bank account and looking at various fundraising platforms.
2. COMMUNICATIONS AND EVENTS
The Communications and Events group was formed to look at ways to define and communicate the greater purpose of our work to others. Through web copy, social media, websites and events we will show others what we are about and what they can do to understand our challenge of rebuilding in areas such as the ‘red wall’.
The events group reached out to MPs and speakers for event in London and at Labour conference, aiming to teach activists in Labours metropolitan strongholds about the experience of MPs and activists in the ‘red wall’ and other areas. We have applied to Labour conference for an event space and will also approach The World Transformed.
During Covid-19 we are also exploring a means of holding these events on zoom.
Web and social media:
Over several meetings the group agreed a body of copy to illustrate our purpose and to form a mission statement, we use this on our website.
We worked with illustrators and web designers to set up a website that can register activists and help point them toward projects they can support.
We liaised with an MP from Swedish left party Vänsterpartiet to investigate using their Zetkin organising software.This will help us to build a network in which an organiser in an area like Blyth Valley will be able to call upon the various skills of pledged activists in nearby cities such as Newcastle or Leeds.
3. SOLIDARITY ACTIONS AND LOGISTICS:
Our Solidarity Action and Logistics working group was set up to perform outreach to areas that might benefit from campaigning and to figure out how to go about helping other groups - cost, skills etc. to answer questions such as ‘how would we help fight a hospital closure and how much would a coach to another region cost?’
Phil from our Solidarity Actions working group writes:
‘The initial goal of the outreach team was to establish contact with the Defend Dorset Hospitals campaign group and offer our support in any way possible.
This was to be the test case for some of LBeyondC's core values. We hoped to mobilise city-based Labour activists both physically, in terms of bodies-on-the-ground support, and remotely, in terms of a skills-based offer (fundraising, graphic design, etc.) to bolster direct action and foster a link with an area of the country that would not traditionally have a substantial labour movement support network to draw from.
We made an initial link with Debby, a Labour town councillor and one of the key figures within the DDH group. She caught us up to speed with the campaign and it was agreed that we should focus our efforts on reversing cuts to ambulance services in her area which left many people in a precarious situation should they need immediate hospital care.
Plans for a door-to-door petition drive were drawn up. We looked into hiring buses to transport activists and mapped out a concept for a flyer to go out at the same time. Unfortunately, just as the dates were being finalised, the Coronavirus outbreak brought us to a halt.
We are now waiting until it is safe once again to bring the fight to Dorset.'
The Research working group has a wide remit–looking for speakers for events, looking for ways to map the regional and geographical presence of Labour members, performing outreach, finding speakers for events, finding reports to better understand regional inequality and challenges, and building the LBC presence within Labour by attending events and speaking. To date several CLPs have been addressed about our work. We continue to work on these various research projects and will be adding assets to our website.
TIMELINE OF ACTIVITIES:
Labour Beyond Cities is informally founded the day after the general election. A callout recognising the fallback of Labour in ‘red wall’ areas around activist whatsapp groups leads to a new group ‘Labour Beyond Cities’ filling to capacity in two hours
First informal meeting occurs before Christmas 2019
Our first formal meeting
General discussion about the aims of the project crystallises into working groups
Copy is completed and a dummy website created
Outreach begins to areas like Poole to look into support opportunities
Meeting with Vänsterpartiet representatives to discuss Zetkin
Informal launch of website
Approach of MPs for London event and approach conference for events