Progress (organisation)

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Formation October 2, 1995; 19 years ago (1995-10-02)
Founder Paul Richards, Liam Byrne and Derek Draper
Legal status Company limited by guarantee
Purpose Political
Headquarters London
Richard Angell
John Woodcock MP
Honorary president
Stephen Twigg MP
Website Official website

Progress is a political organisation linked to the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, founded in 1996. It is broadly viewed as supportive of the leadership of Tony Blair, a former leader of the party and former prime minister. Progress publishes a monthly magazine of the same name and occasional pamphlets, and organises conferences and other events.


Until 2014 Progress stated it was "the New Labour pressure group which aims to promote a radical and progressive politics for the 21st century."[1] From late 2014 Progress stopped using the "New Labour" label and rebranded itself as "Labour’s new mainstream, aim[ing] to promote a radical and progressive politics".[2][3]

Its aims are:

Progress is an organisation of Labour party members which aims to promote a radical and progressive politics for the 21st century.

We seek to discuss, develop and advance the means to create a more free, equal and democratic Britain, which plays an active role in Europe and the wider world.

Diverse and inclusive, we work to improve the level and quality of debate both within the Labour party, and between the party and the wider progressive community.[4][5]


Progress was founded in 1995[6] by Paul Richards, Liam Byrne and Derek Draper, the former aide to Peter Mandelson, as an organisation to maintain a dialogue with Labour's new leadership under Tony Blair. It has organised many events and conferences, and hosted several important speeches by senior party figures. Its annual conference has become a staple of the political calendar with many cabinet ministers and other leading politicians attending.

Lord David Sainsbury has provided substantial funding for Progress, contributing £2 million of the £3 million of donations and sponsorship to Progress from 2001 to 2011.[7] In 2014 Progress was fined £6,000 by the Electoral Commission for accepting donations of £390,000 from Lord Sainsbury while he was not on a UK electoral register, between December 2011 and April 2013.[8][9]

In May 2014 Progress dropped using the "New Labour" label, introduced by Tony Blair, for the Labour party.[3]


In 2012 Progress was at the centre of the debate over the direction of the Labour Party under Ed Miliband, after a widely circulated anonymous report called for Labour’s national executive to "determine the organisational nature of Progress, and whether or not this form of organisation is acceptable inside the Labour Party."[10] Criticism of Progress had concentrated on the generous funding that Progress had secured from external donors, and on positioning, regarded as being on the right of the Labour Party. Following circulation of the report the GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny led calls at the 2012 Labour conference for Progress to be "effectively… (outlawed)…as part of the Labour Party."[11]

In response, a Labour Party statement said, "We are a party that is reaching out to people, gaining new supporters and offering real change for the country in these tough times. The Labour Party is a broad church and we are not in the business of excluding people."[11] Labour leader Ed Miliband was also clearly in support, telling the Independent that “I believe in an open and inclusive party, reaching out to people, not for pushing people away. That certainly does not mean excluding or proscribing organisations like Progress which contribute to the debate."[12]


Progress publishes a monthly magazine and a large number of political pamphlets.[13]

Progress also published The Purple Book, in September 2011, exploring fresh non-statist policies for Labour. Authors included: Alan Milburn, Peter Mandelson, Jacqui Smith, Tessa Jowell, Andrew Adonis, Caroline Flint, Douglas Alexander, Frank Field, Liam Byrne, Ivan Lewis, Rachel Reeves, Tristram Hunt, Liz Kendall and Jenny Chapman. There were ideas such as foundation trusts providing GP services, a credit system in education, crime commissioners, directly-elected mayors and 'hasbos'. The Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, wrote a foreword to the book.[14]

Chairs and board members[edit]

Progress is chaired by John Woodcock. Its vice-chairs are the Labour MPs Jenny Chapman, Stephen Doughty, Julie Elliott, Tristram Hunt, Dan Jarvis, Liz Kendall, Seema Malhotra, Alison McGovern, Toby Perkins, Lucy Powell, Steve Reed, Jonathan Reynolds and Nick Smith.[15]

Progress’ honorary president is former Minister Stephen Twigg, previously chair of Progress.[15]

Progress is constituted as a private company limited by guarantee, with a legal board of directors in 2012 consisting of Jennifer Gerber, Jonathan Mendelsohn, Robert Philpot and Stephen Twigg.[6]

Prior to 2014 Progress was chaired by former Minister Lord Adonis.[16] Prior to 2012 Progress was chaired by MP and former Minister Stephen Twigg, and the honorary president was Alan Milburn, the former Secretary of State for Health. Jonathan Mendelsohn was treasurer of Progress.[17]

Strategy Board[edit]

Progress announced the creation of the first strategy board in July 2012, to enable the organisation's 'growing membership to feel a true sense of engagement'.[18] The first elections were held in August, and the board is composed of three sections; Parliamentarians, councillors and members.

Current members of the Progress strategy board:[19]


Since its inception Progress has had a number of operational directors:

  • Derek Draper (former aide to Peter Mandelson)
  • Darren Murphy (former Special Adviser)
  • Patrick Diamond (former Special Adviser)
  • Jennifer Gerber[20]
  • Jessica Asato (acting director)
  • Richard Angell (acting director)
  • Robert Philpot (retired October 2014)
  • Richard Angell

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Who we are". Progress. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "Who we are". Progress. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Exclusive: 'New Labour' consigned to the dustbin of history as Progress drops the label". The Independent. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "About us - Who we are". Progress. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. 
  5. ^ The Politics of Solutions (PDF) (Report). Progress. June 2013. p. ii. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Companies House WebCHeck - PROGRESS LIMITED". Companies House. Company No. 03109611. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Kayte Rath (15 June 2012). "New Labour group Progress rejects GMB union 'outlaw' threat". BBC. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Sainsbury-backed Labour groups fined by Electoral Commission". BBC. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Electoral Commission fines Progress Ltd and Movement for Change - failure to return impermissible donations". Electoral Commission. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Jon Lansman (20 February 2012). "Call for Labour inquiry into the organisation & activities of party-within-a-party Progress". Left Futures. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "New Labour group Progress rejects GMB union 'outlaw' threat". BBC News. 2012-06-15. 
  12. ^ "Labour leader calls for rivals in party to end their squabbling". The Independent. 2012-06-23. 
  13. ^ "Pamphlets". Progress. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "The Purple Book". Progress. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Chair and Vice-chairs". Progress. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Chair and Vice-chairs". Progress. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "Labour appoints election director". BBC. 9 August 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  18. ^ "Progress Strategy Board Elections". Progress. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "Results of the Progress strategy board elections". Progress. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  20. ^ Marcus Dysch (7 September 2010). "New strategy for Labour Friends of Israel". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 

External links[edit]