How to rebuild a political party – from the ground up | Linda Grant

In 2010, Linda Grant joined the Labour party as a vague gesture of solidarity, and found her local branch in chaos. Before long, she was the second most powerful official in her ward. Four years later, they won

There is something about defeat that brings people to the Labour party. In the week after the general election 20,000 new members signed up. That figure has now swelled to more than 40,000. Five years ago, days after Labour lost the 2010 election, I was one such person. I joined in a casual act of hubris that assumed party membership amounted to no more than an annual direct debit and a vague but satisfying sense of solidarity. I had always voted Labour, apart from a single Green protest vote in 2001. The sight of David Cameron and Nick Clegg smirking at each other in the rose garden, announcing their coalition government, drove me to ring the Labour party and give them my bank details, but it was never my intention to do anything other than vote in the leadership election. I am not one of nature’s campaigners or activists. I once had a column in the Guardian, in which my role was to snipe thoughtfully from the sidelines – as if critiquing policy made one a more serious person than the drones who did the manual work of fighting elections.

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