Letter: A friendly alternative to tedious Labour meetings

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The Independent Online
NEAL ASCHERSON is right: Labour has to be turned into something worth joining ('Labour needs more members not funds from the state', 4 July). Interesting meetings and political branches with a broader base than at present are part of the answer. The problem is how to get there.

Neil Kinnock tried to build a mass party and failed, partly because the constituencies are controlled by people who have run the show for years and intend keeping it that way.

Any attempt at reform which relies on the existing membership is bound to fail. There is a wealth of talented support for Labour which stays outside the party because of the suffocating, out-of- touch culture of the 'activists'. People with fun and fire won't go near their local Labour Party branch, but that does not mean that they don't want to see the party triumph.

Labour should encourage the setting up of local 'Friends of Labour' groups. They could campaign locally, raise money and become 'that social focus where citizens meet'. The groups, which would attract people who are repulsed by their local branch and do not yet want to become full members, would for a time run parallel with the existing branches and could be the embryo of a new Labour Party.

Roy Bland

St Ives, Cornwall

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