Akehurst on tour part 2
Last night saw me go to Greenwich & Woolwich CLP to debate Trident replacement against Kate Hudson, national Chair of CND.
As the CLP Chair will be reading this, I'll take the opportunity to thank them for being a polite and very well-informed audience. There were a lot of very experienced activists in the room who could cite memories not just of the '80s (when both the then Greenwich & Woolwich constituencies fell to the SDP) but of the start of CND in the '50s. In the audience was David Gardner, the man whose number crunching in Walworth Road helped Labour come out of the early '90s parliamentary boundary review some 20 seats better off than was expected.
As with my debate on the same subject with Walter Wolfgang at Harrow West, no vote was taken, but I think the majority in the room took the opposite view to me.
What did come across was that there are a lot of people out there in the party with intelligent contributions to make to policy debate and a lack of opportunities to contribute - NEC and NPF please note and start thinking about how to involve CLPs more in policy-making.
It was one of those good debates where you come away with respect for the integrity and thoughtfulness of the position taken by your opponent - and as Kate Hudson is a Hackney resident I got a lift back north of the river (on condition that I agreed not to talk about Trident all the way home).
Historical footnote: Greenwich & Woolwich was the first CLP in the Labour Party to have a ward structure (to fight the 1906 election) and the first to have individual members as opposed to just union, ILP and Fabian affiliated branches - so you could say it is the birthplace of the current organisational model of the Labour Party.