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Community organising to unseat commuter-town Tories

25 June 2013

As part of TSSA’s political strategy of using transport campaigning and community organising to deliver a string of knockout blows to Tory MPs in marginal seats, over 50 locals attended a recent training day in Hastings.

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TSSA is targeting areas where Labour candidates support our key policy issues on rail and our wider employment rights policy

agenda. The meeting was jointly arranged with Hastings Labour Party and veteran US community organising guru Arnie Graf as the start of a programme to boost the chances of Labour’s Sarah Owen winning in 2015.

TSSA political officer Sam Tarry reports, ‘It was a fantastic event with over 50 local people in attendance, including a number of TSSA members. They were joined by faith groups, Labour party members and others. TSSA President Mick Carney opened the day with a fascinating speech on why community organising is proving a powerful tool for the TSSA, and is helping build our political clout – and power for our members.’

After an introduction from local Labour Party chair Cllr Jay Kramer, Arnie Graf, just arrived from Chicago, followed with an inspiring,
and humorous call to arms, using his life story and the battles that he and the people he organised fought and won.

Arnie explained why, after a lifetime of organising, he was now for the first time in his life, backing the work of a political party. After long discussions with Ed Miliband he had committed to spending months touring Britain, training people and helping the trade union and Labour movement really re- connect with ordinary working people.

Story sharing – to understand peoples’ motivations for being involved, and to practice the skills of relational organising through one-to-one’s were a key part of the day’s learning. Attendees finished the day buzzing with enthusiasm – and ready to put the new organising skills to good use.

The sessions looking at identifying the local issues – and how we could build local power to tackle them – were particularly potent. Transport, including rail transport, fares, and connections from Hastings along the coast and to London, all came out as key issues that people wanted to campaign on. This gives a fantastic opportunity for TSSA to work with locals to take those issues forward.

Arnie Graf challenged all those who attended to bring three more people to the next meeting – planned using collective decision making for 7 September. So we have a goal now of over 150 people attending that next meeting. And he challenged the TSSA to engage more members – and ensure TSSA’s members turned out at what promises to be a really powerful event.

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