This week the Labour Party leadership ballot opens.
All 610,000 party members and registered and affiliated supporters receive their voting papers for the party leader and deputy leader contest.
Since the general election in May our party has been both electrified and transformed by this contest. Our ranks have been swelled by more than 400,000 new members and supporters, all of whom are eligible to vote in our leadership election.
Horsham’s electorate, who some might consider would be largely indifferent to democratic socialism, has also caught the bug.
More than 300 Horsham residents have signed up as members or supporters of Horsham Constituency Party in the past few weeks, nationally outstripping the membership figures of any other political party and increasing our previous membership figure by approximately 300 per cent.
Even a Horsham District councillor got caught up in the excitement of a new approach to political engagement and registered his support. Our highly effective filtering processes detected that the card he carried was, however, of a different hue and we have politely declined his support.
Horsham Labour Party is thrilled to see such an upturn in our membership. While some of this can be accounted for by the normal spike seen in membership following an election, this time around, however, the excitement around the leadership selection process has ensured that even greater interest has been generated.
Despite what the pollsters may say the result of the leadership election is not a foregone conclusion. The democratic process will take its course and the outcome will be announced at our special conference on the 12th September.
It is clear to everyone, however, that Jeremy Corbyn’s participation in the contest is having a significant effect and this is reflected in increased interest in and membership of the Labour Party .
Horsham Labour Party was one of the first local parties to nominate Jeremy Corbyn and one of the earliest to reflect an almost unexpected level of popularity amongst party members. Corbyn ended up with 152 party nominations, 41 more than second placed Andy Burnham.
He also gained the lion’s share of the trade union backing. Whilst some in the media and some senior Labour Party figures may be less keen on Jeremy Corbyn, discussions that have taken place amongst members in Horsham and around the country make it easy to understand his popularity.
For many Labour Party members Jeremy Corbyn is an authentic voice and does not conform to the stereotypical representation of career politicians that come to mind when people think of their parliamentary representatives.
He is different from the rest, and offers alternatives to the dull consensus politics that we have come to expect from our politicians.
His approach as a party leader would be to listen and to be bound by democratic decisions made by ordinary members and supporters.
His objective in so doing is to identify the real issues that are of concern to our communities, such as the lack of affordable housing, the problems of poverty and low pay, focusing on the day to day struggles of ordinary people and finding solutions to these rather than maintaining a limited perspective within the Westminster bubble.
Our constituency party took the decision to support Jeremy Corbyn for the reasons outlined above, other constituencies have made different choices.
At the end of day the decision on who will be the leader of the Labour Party will be the outcome of a process in which all members have had an equal say.
This is an exciting time for the Labour Party as we take forward a process which has been devised to revitalise our party and engage more people with our politics. The increase in membership is an indication of the success so far.
We hope that members old and new will participate in the process intended to reignite political participation at the grassroots.
Whatever the outcome of the leadership election the change that the process has brought about means that now is an excellent time to be a member of our party, so please contact me on email@example.com if you would wish to learn more about Horsham Labour Party.
Chair, Horsham Labour Party, Clarence Road, Horsham
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