The governing body of the British Labour Party, outside of conference, is it’s National Executive Committee (NEC). It meets roughly monthly and directs the governance of the party. Here in New Zealand, the Labour Party has a New Zealand Council (NZC) which is similar in composition and purpose.
One of the constituency Labour Party representatives, Luke Akehurst, regularly blogs for the think tank Progress. Once a month or so he will post his report from the NEC meeting. The most recent one is here.
This is streets ahead of where we are in New Zealand. While our NZC meetings are not a totally closed shop (though I have joked to one or two of the members that they should have robes and a secret handshake), there really seems to be a lack of two-way communication between many of the NZC members and the party members they are there to represent. Perhaps it’s because their reports back are only given verbally at certain party meetings – and no doubt many will feel that is adequate. But I really feel that our hierarchical party structure will only ever work if we improve our communication and operate much more openly and transparently.
Ultimately it’s things like this that require a cultural change within the party. We can have all the party reform consultations we want, and amend the constitution until the cows come home, but we’re not going to see real change unless we alter the way we operate.