The Labour Party has admitted that its members are becoming disillusioned with the Government because they have little influence over its policies.
A review of the way the party draws up its programme has backed activists' complaints that they were frozen out when key policies such as university tuition fees and foundation hospitals were announced by ministers.
National party officials propose giving them more say over government policies in an attempt to head off disenchantment with the Government and stem a decline in Labour's membership, which has halved to 200,000 since reaching its peak under Tony Blair's leadership in 1997.
The gulf between the top and bottom of the party is revealed in a report, leaked to The Independent, which will be discussed at a meeting of Labour's national policy forum in London tomorrow. While insisting that its policy- making machinery set up eight years ago has given members 'unique' influence, the document admits its shortcomings have caused frustration among members who feel it is 'too remote' from them. They have protested that the party's policy commissions draw up lengthy documents in a vacuum that bear little relation to the decisions taken by ministers.
'The risk that exists here is that if the process is unbalanced then the relationship between the party and the government will become damaged as party members become disillusioned and frustrated,' said the report. …