The Labour party needs to focus more on new institutions than policy

Originally published on Liberal Conspiracy

Perhaps the lack of concrete policies at this stage is not such a problem for the Labour Party.

Policies are often designed to be no more than quick hits or media sound bites, often trying to be a magic bullet for a multi-faceted problem.

But this approach only panders to the current media culture rather than delivering change. The electorate says they want a change in politics so let’s grant them their wish.

If we are to ensure that we improve people’s lives by giving them consistency, sustainability and empowerment then we should shift our focus onto institution building.

The most stable and secure institutions are those which are rooted firmly within the community they are part of. They are managed by local people and are held dear by the local residents who use its service. It ceases to be viewed as a government initiative and becomes part of civic society.

Take Sure Start Children’s Centres. Whilst the original scheme was launched by a Labour Government in 1998, they had become cherished by the local community and had become part of civic society.

Furthermore, whilst there have been substantial cuts to this scheme by the current government the large swelling of support for these centres is not based on a partisan point but rather a community one.

But there is even more Labour could emphasise; institutions need to be a conduit for users to be empowered to make change. Devolving budgets and responsibilities to locally managed institutions will enable the local community to create a bespoke service.

From this point, an initial Westminster-based policy is irrelevant when local people can make local change to an indispensible service.

A change in politics requires a shift in attitude. Why are we involved in politics? Surely it is to ensure that people’s lives are improved for the better by ensuring our party political principles are sustained.

Labour should absolutely focus on how it would build the institutions which would maintain and deliver the principles it holds dear.

It may not be glamorous politics but the only way worthwhile policies can survive is to root them into a legitimate, community-cherished institutions.

Joe Sarling is an economist and blogs at Comment Today and tweets from here.

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