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Stand Up for Labour needs you

CRISPIN FLINTOFF writes on why his comedic organisation could energise the Labour Party and how you can help

SOCIALISM brings people together to collectively campaign for a more just and equal society.

To succeed, we must inspire people, make them feel welcome and promote events that bring this about.

In this context, it is surprising that the Labour Party has no strategy for social events, other than to ask overstretched volunteers to conjure something up.

The result of the central Labour Party's reluctance to address this issue is that most constituency Labour parties (CLPs) can offer little more than a quiz, a fish and chips supper or a very expensive gala dinner. And all the Labour Party needs to do is to ask Stand up for Labour.

Stand up for Labour has put on over 200 entertaining comedy and variety nights for CLPs in the past five years. These have included comics like Arthur Smith, Jeremy Hardy, Sara Pascoe and Shappi Khorsandi as well as another 100 performers from all over the country.

Tickets for the gigs cost £10 to £15 and attendance has really taken off since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader — there were 400 people at a fundraiser in Ealing last year and most events attract a sizeable number of non-members.

I started Stand up for Labour in 2012 as I could see that my local Labour Party had nothing exciting to offer Labour supporters in the local community other than lots of leaflets and door knocking.

I put on an event that went very well and it triggered a response from all over the country, from CLPs keen to put on something different.

Since 2012, Stand up for Labour has raised over £150,000 for CLPs but this has only been achieved because I was able to work around flexible, freelance employment. And also because I didn't take a wage for it and only covered my expenses.

I have also tried in various ways to find support for Stand up for Labour from the central Labour Party.

In 2013 I asked to have a exhibitor stand at the Labour Party conference. I thought it would be a good way to let CLPs know what I had to offer. I thought the central Labour Party would think this was a good idea too but they actually asked me to pay £1,800 out of my own pocket to do so.

After that conference, I was offered a short meeting with the general secretary (after shelling out the £1,800) but this ended up not being a meeting with him but with one of his staff for half an hour (in one of the kitchens of the Labour Party headquarters). And nothing came of it.

I also tried to apply for work in the Labour Party, within events and fundraising. However, unsurprisingly, I was not even given an interview.

Perhaps there is a reluctance from within the Labour Party centrally because I was involved in both of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaigns?

Whether that is the case or not, I am determined to continue to offer CLPs a high-quality, entertaining night of comedy, poetry, music and even magic.

I think this is even more important now. As we are so close to a general election and Labour needs to energise supporters in key seats if we are to overturn the Tory lead in seat numbers.

But I am going to have to do this without the support of the Labour Party.

I have contacted trade unions and other donors to ask for help so that the perfomers' costs could be covered outside the ticket revenue, but this is taking longer than I expected.

So I have decided to set up a crowdfund that will help me to kick-start a tour of the country (especially the key seats that Labour must win to form a government).

If you would like to see a socialist Labour government, then it would be a great help if you could contribute or share the crowdfund with your friends.

For every donation that is made, Stand up for Labour is offering badges, ticket offers, T-shirts, mugs, signed posters and, even, curry!

Crispin Flintoff is the founder of Stand up for Labour. You can donate to Stand Up to Labour here: crowdfunder.co.uk/a-tour-for-stand-up-for-labour.

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