What Herbert Morrison would submit to the Refounding Labour consultation
The submission Herbert Morrison would have made to the Refounding Labour consultation (http://www.refoundinglabour.org/) if he was still alive, in his own words from his speech to the Fabian Society on 8th October 1945, “The Labour Party of the Future”:
“the membership of the Party must grow... it is even more important that the individual membership shall grow in its diversity of character, in its representative character, and be drawn from all sections and classes of the community. Particularly, it is important that its individual membership shall be good in quality, in knowledge, thought, insight and absolute incorruptibility.”
“The individual membership must be representative of the nation... it must be a real Party of the nation if it is to do its job.”
“And let me say to the upper classes and well-to-do people who join the Labour Party... “Come if you believe in our faith, but for Heaven’s sake do not come in to get a kind of spiritual and psychological cure of your past.” If you come in ... join and work. Do not as a consequence of coming from the doubtful upper class regions think you are under suspicion, and that therefore the only way you can prove your sincerity is going to the extreme left...”
“We want the Party to be broad, training itself for the responsibilities of local and national government...”
“The Party must consider how a man or woman feels when he or she joins the Labour Party. I remember my first meeting. It was a great occasion for me, something like going as an out-patient to a hospital. I was wondering what reception I would get, and I was feeling very nervous. To the new member his first meeting of the ward committee or whatever is the Labour Party. Remember that.
So we must take the greatest trouble to make our ward and polling district [gulp! Polling district level organisation! LA] and local meetings radiate good cheer, comradeship and fellowship, comradeship even from the people who use the word “comrade” rather too much – fellowship from all, and a spirit of mental liveliness throughout.”
“We need our education work ... educational pamphlets and discussion group pamphlets, and we must have our conferences, so that the education of the Party and of the nation through the Party is steadily going on all the time.”
“When the new member comes into the Labour Party, he [sic] would like to do something for the Party. He may want to do something, but, being a modest person, he does not like to ask. Therefore there is a duty upon the officers ... looking out for youth, including candidates for local authorities. Try to encourage the worthy ones to come along... Teach them what to read. Do not rush them into work if they do not want to be rushed... Help the young man or young woman find out what he or she is capable of.”
“We must always be on the lookout for good quality candidates for local authorities and for Parliament. We need quality and conscious training to help them to become proficient in their work. It is no good promoting people to be councillors merely because they want the fun of having “Councillor”... in front of their names; or of people going to Parliament because they want “MP” after their names. We have to get people going into public life ... not in the spirit of self-glory, but in the spirit of public service, conscientious service to the people. That is one of the finest duties to be found upon the earth.”
“Next, the election agents should be lifted up. They are of pretty high professional status, but not high enough. The election agents have to understand humanity and how to handle it. That is a lifetime study, to understand public relations in the highest sense... Therefore our standards have to be higher, our pay – if we can manage it – has to be higher, and for the good man [sic] the security of the job has to be greater.”
“I hope we will avoid any rigid standardisation in local government. If local government is to be local, let it be local.... never let Transport House [i.e. 39 Victoria Street!] try to produce local authorities in its own image. They must not do silly things, but they must have individuality.”
Herbert Morrison (1888-1965) was probably Labour's greatest ever election organiser, winning control of the London County Council for Labour for the first time in 1934, and organising the campaign for Labour's 1945 General Election landslide. He was a Councillor in and Mayor of Hackney, MP for Hackney then for Lewisham, General Secretary of the London Labour Party, Leader of the London County Council, Home Secretary during WW2, and Deputy PM and later Foreign Secretary in the Attlee Government.