Branches should be units for action

There was a lively discussion at General Committee (known as GC – this meeting was open to all members of West Ham CLP) last Thursday when we considered how we might make branch meetings more interesting and attractive especially for young people.

Many suggestions were put forward including having joint meetings based around community forum areas to debate matters of local interest; have open meetings with topical subjects engaging for young constituents eg the environment and foreign aid ; maintaining a bank of speakers to invite on topics which interest the branch; etc.

The campaigning role of the branch was touched upon and is at the heart of an active ward. We could be reaching out and talking to local community groups and charities to be mutually supportive of actions which reflect Labour values. But first of all we should be energising our own members, who see it in their own interest to come out on the doorstep to secure the election of Labour candidates.

Here are some does and don’ts for a lively meeting:

Contact members using all possible means
Evaluate meetings – what did you achieve/learn?
Adopt a variety of approaches
Consider the location of the meeting and the arrangement of the room
Plan ahead to invite speakers and local groups
Encourage new members
Have a social event

Allow the meeting to go over two hours
Read out reports and minutes
Let business go over ½ hour
Allow sub meetings or mobile phones
Allow any sexist, racist, homophobic (or any other discriminatory) language or comment

Dianne Walls and Neil Wilson



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