Leading from the front
Phil Glanville wrote an excellent article in Progress magazine recently:
"Where I would advocate serious change, however, is from the top down, with MPs, peers, MEPs, AMs, MSPs and councillors.
There are many, many Labour MPs who work all year round, quietly building the party's presence in their community. Yet, there are many others who haven't knocked on a door in years...The best MPs are already excellent campaigners, but the NEC and party whips should be less concerned with votes in parliament as a measure of loyalty and more worried about how many voters they have spoken to. If MPs aren't up for leading from the front they should be out - deselected. As simple as that.
True renewal will only come when we become closer to the people. Let's take a good look at the Britain we have been a part of creating, look at what works and what doesn't. Let's return politics to the people by talking to them about their priorities."
Of course, regular campaigning activities, talking to people about their priorities isn't much good unless it is linked to the development of messages and policies ("Hello, it's us again. You know all those things you suggested we should do? Well, we haven't done any of them.")
This isn't a panacea or magic cure for all of Labour's problems. But if both elected Labour representatives and also all those unelected advisers who develop policies spent much more time in contact with the people whose lives are affected by the decisions they make, then things would be a good bit better than they are now.
It would also be a better use of, say, Charles Clarke's time then the way he chooses to spend it at the moment.