|Founder||Paul Richards, Liam Byrne and Derek Draper|
|Legal status||Company limited by guarantee|
|Headquarters||Unit 317, Chinaworks, Black Prince Road, London, SE1 7SJ|
Progress publishes a monthly magazine of the same name and occasional pamphlets, and organises conferences and other events. It provides training and mentoring for likeminded candidates seeking selection as Labour MPs.
Until 2014 Progress stated it was "the New Labour pressure group which aims to promote a radical and progressive politics for the 21st century." 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".
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.
Progress was founded in 1996 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.
In May 2014 Progress dropped using the "New Labour" label, introduced by Tony Blair, for the Labour party.
In February 2019, a group of MPs left the Labour Party and founded The Independent Group. All seven founding members of this group were members of Progress and regularly contributed to the work of the organisation.
Historically, Progress had little connection with Labour First, an older Labour party factional organisation on the right of the Labour party. The rise of Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum in the Labour Party have seen Progress and Labour First, while remaining distinct organisations with different traditions, carry out more joint activities, including joint endorsement of moderate candidates in internal party elections.
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." Criticism of Progress had concentrated on the generous funding that Progress had secured from external donors, and on its 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." 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." 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."
In 2013, Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the Union, claimed Progress was manipulating the selection procedures for Labour parliamentary candidates to get its candidates selected. Progress responded: "Progress helps to train and mentor candidates going for selection, to whom we do not give money. The details are open, plainly explained on our website and approved by a strategy board elected by our members."
Data from the Electoral Commission shows that between 2001 and August 2019, Progress received almost £4.7 million in donations. Of this £3.5 million came from Lord Sainsbury, who stopped funding Progress in 2017. Another source reported that Lord Sainsbury had contributed £2 million of the £3 million of donations and sponsorship to Progress from 2001 to 2011. 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. During 2016 he had donated £260,000. After the 2017 general election Lord Sainsbury announced he will no longer provide financial backing to Progress.
The second largest donor to Progress during this period is listed by the Electoral Commission as a 'Permissible Donor Exempt Trust'' set up in the name of Lord Michael Montague, which made donations to Progress for two years following his death.
The British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association has given Progress £57,000.
It was reported in 2012 that Progress had received more money than both the Green Party and Plaid Cymru, and that it had received more than 122 times more funding than any other members' association within the Labour Party. This level of funding has led to accusations that Progress is operating as a "party within a party".
Progress publishes a monthly magazine and a large number of political pamphlets.
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 school voucher system, crime commissioners, directly-elected mayors and 'hasbos'. The Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, wrote a foreword to the book.
Progress is chaired by Alison McGovern. In 2014 its vice-chairs were the Labour MPs Jenny Chapman, Stephen Doughty, Julie Elliott, Tristram Hunt, Dan Jarvis, Liz Kendall, Seema Malhotra, Toby Perkins, Lucy Powell, Steve Reed, Jonathan Reynolds and Nick Smith.
Prior to 2015 Progress was chaired by MP John Woodcock, and prior to 2014 by former Minister Lord Adonis. 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.
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'. The first elections were held in August 2012. The most recent elections were held in 2016.
Current members of the Progress strategy board:
Since its inception Progress has had a number of operational directors: