The thought of going to your first Labour Party meeting can be daunting. New member Christine Ganley talks about what it was like for her.
What is it like to attend a Constituency Labour Party all members meeting?
Well I had no idea. I did a “google search” and found nothing. I am a very new member to the Labour party as I recently felt convinced that now was the time to actually do something about what I believe in. I regularly follow the news and occasionally watch programmes like “Question Time”, but I have never considered myself to be someone who understood or engaged in ‘politics’.
And now I was off to my first members meeting feeling quite nervous but determined to not let fear get the better of me. When I arrived, there were a few people gathered outside the Methodist Church in Dartford chatting and waiting for the doors to be unlocked. I lingered for a few seconds wondering what to do. Would they be cliquey? Would I feel like an embarrassed outsider? Would I feel ignorant about what was being discussed once the meeting started? What a pleasant surprise! Before any kind of panic could set in, I was approached with a very warm welcome from a number of people. I was made to feel at ease before I had even set foot in the building.
The meeting itself was organised but informal. We didn’t sit in rows but in a circle which really helped to make it easier to follow what was being said and by whom. There was lots of discussion about the way forward, not surprising, given that this was the first meeting after the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the new leader of the Labour Party. I wasn’t the only new member, there were quite a few of us, and there was a good balance of men and women and a wide variety of age groups.
Everyone was free to speak and a wide variety of topics were raised, for example, how to find a different and relevant way of doing ‘politics’ for today, but keeping to the same values. How to effectively communicate what the Labour Party in Dartford stand for in 2015, and onwards to the next general election. How to help people engage or re-engage in ‘politics’. Reassuringly, as someone who can’t keep walking for that long, there are many more ways of being involved than dropping leaflets around doors before elections! A wide variety of skills are needed, and I now eagerly await the next meeting to continue finding out more about what it means to be a member of the Labour Party.
Thanks again to all who gave me such a warm welcome at my first members meeting.