Written By: - Date published: 2:30 pm, July 21st, 2009 - 18 comments
Categories: activism - Tags:


Launched last weekend in the UK: OpenLeft.

Open Left is about rediscovering the Left’s idealism, pluralism and appetite for radical ideas. It starts from a belief that the future of the Left requires a new openness for a new era of open politics:

  • Idealism: open about its political values and goals.
  • Pluralism: open about disagreement and debate.
  • Radicalism: open to new ideas and policies.

We want to hear views and ideas from across the family of the Left, whether people identify with a political party or not. We welcome debate about political values and goals, and don’t presume to have a monopoly of knowledge about how to bring about effective and enduring change.

We are starting by asking an essential but contested question: what does it mean to be on the Left today? We’ve asked ten leading Left wing thinkers to answer six questions about their political motivations and beliefs. Check out what they said and then contribute your own perspective.

Wouldn’t be a bad idea here eh? Anyone?

18 comments on “OpenLeft”

  1. Dammit, that was next inthe queue for today…

    Its an interesting idea, and I’m looking forward to browsing through it.

  2. Quoth the Raven 2

    Political strategist for Tony Blair, UK Labour MPs hardly leading left wing thinkers. This looks like more of a social democrat forum. Not a single memeber from a british socialist party, not even the greens. I googled the most important political issue to the left since it beginnings – authority – not one single result.

    • There are a couple of good ones in there – Polly Toynbee and Billy Bragg, for example. But there’s a lot of Blaitites, desperately trying to spin themselves a future. And they’re the poison that needs to be removed.

  3. bobo 3

    Stage exit left it seems for uk labour. Who knows maybe there will be a mmp style change to its system. People are sick of the 2 party system , independents will do well at next election. People here forget why mmp was introduced here in the first place..

    • Bill 3.1

      Did you say exit stage left?

      That’s a fuck of a lot of stage they will have to cover before they can get out of there then.

  4. Quoth the Raven 4

    Phillip Collins was much better. Read his after I commented:

    Which person, event, era or movement from the past should we look to for inspiration now?
    John Stuart Mill, On Liberty: the crucial lesson is that beginning from an overarching vision of what we want, then commanding the state to wish it into being is just about the last way we ought to proceed. For the same reason I would recommend Edmund Dell’s A Strange Eventful History which piles up the evidence to show that the Labour party’s method is bound to fall short of its hopes.

  5. Bill 5

    Getting some vision and strategy developed would be kind of nice. Emulating DEMOS would most definitely not be nice. ( I’m correct in marking them as a Labour Party think tank?)

    Of far better worth in my opinion are these offerings of intelligent vision and strategy which are not wedded to a political party at all, but rather comes from the grass roots and advocates/encourages the agency of the grass roots.

    Something for every one, as relevant to NZ as anywhere and definitely thought provoking.

  6. Peter Wilson 6

    How interesting. At Drinking Liberally in Dunedin two weeks ago we discussed the very same idea, and even came up with the concept of calling it the “NZ OpenLeft”.

    We had planned to model it on open source software development lines, rather than the traditional think-tank model that the right uses.

    The important thing as with anything in the left would be ensuring that it goes from beyond discussion to action!

  7. This idea has been kicking around for a while; I brought up a similar idea at KiwiFoo in 2008, about managing legislation like software – with an open review process and fully traceable.

    It’s good to see that they’ve got pluralism right there from the start – should avoid it being a vain attempt to find a single, true set of liberal values that every point of view is compared to for liberalness. viva la modus vivendi

  8. Jono 8

    Who would take anything from the uk labour party seriously? I don’t like neoliberalism and I don’t like it any more when it’s poorly disguised with british spin doctor approved buzzwords

    Here, on the other hand, a well funded, progressive left wing think tank for a bit more reputable thinkers than blairite hacks would be a really, really good thing!

    • Bill 8.1

      “Who would take anything from the uk labour party seriously?”

      The NZ Labour Party.

    • Ron 8.2

      A good Left thinktank that has the ear of the media would be great. The Right have had that ground too long. It’s time The Open NZ Forum had it’s research and responses published as readily as they follow BRT, Investigate et al

  9. outofbed 9

    yes its a debate worth having, I would love there to be a NZ labour party that I could vote for. I am not a “natural” green supporter , but they have my vote and support because there commitment to Social Justice and the belief that the “markets shouldn’t rule,.
    . I would like to see the ECA reviewed before I would even think about voting labour
    I am afraid that Mr Goff is far to right wing though for that though

  10. Lew 10

    Marvelous idea, just the sort of thing we need. Do you think there are ten ‘leading left-wing thinkers’ with any credibility?


  11. Peter Wilson 11

    You don’t need thinkers – you need ideas and narrative. Narrative especially. Spokespeople come later.

  12. Peter Wilson 12

    Sorry, that should read as “media personalities”, not thinkers!

    • Lew 12.1

      All due cynicism intended, Peter – just a continuation of my pessimism about the apparent state of political thought on the left at present.

      But, seriously – this is just what the proverbial doctor ordered.


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