The format of Labour branch meetings are different to the Socialist Party meetings once laboriously detailed on this blog (examples here and here). Whereas the SP's are led by a political discussion on one topic or another with business kept to a minimum, Labour branch is one hundred per cent business: politics is only really dealt with at the margins (they're also a monthly affair as well, which with a monthly CLP means the bulk of members have the opportunity of meeting formally only twice a month).
To give readers a flavour of what happened we discussed the intended pedestrianisation of the heart of Shelton (for outsiders, Shelton is Staffs Uni's student city) as part of the University Quarter regeneration project. A number of local businesses are concerned it will cut off passing trade and add to the congestion of the two main roads that run parallel to it.
The agenda moved on to new members. Since the opening of the election period ten people have joined the branch, so we looked at how to get them involved. In the SP this was frequently the most frustrating aspect of our work. We always had a healthy number of contacts come through and they would be chased up, but more times than I would care to mention they failed to come to the branch to seal the membership deal (unsurprising really, for people new to politics turning up at a meeting full of people who know each other can be a daunting prospect). I recommended before the next branch we do a bit of door knocking - it will give us an opportunity to know where the new folk are coming from, why they've joined Labour, and introduce some of the branch's faces so turning up at a meeting won't be an entirely strange experience. Further to that the next meeting will immediately move on to a sociable curry at the conclusion of business.
Related to membership matters are the officers' elections at the upcoming meeting of Stoke Central CLP. Branch secretary Brother A made his pitch for the position he's interested in. I also gave a few rambling reasons why I'm running for the CLP's political education officer. The arguments outlined in this post explaining why political education was essential for SP activists are just as valid for Labour party members. I made it clear I would not be using the position to lecture CLP members for half an hour every month on a hobby horse of my choice: I would use it to bring in outside speakers and encourage members to give their own talks in specially convened meetings. Provided they are sufficiently attractive they could act as recruitment and fundraising tools too.
We then heard a financial report, had a quick discussion about the Co-Op Party, and last of all heard new members have to join the party by September 8th to get a vote in the leadership contest.