28/09/2011 11:19 BST | Updated 28/11/2011 10:12 GMT

Tristram Hunt Praises Tea Party And Big Society During Conference Fringe

The Labour MP Tristram Hunt has praised the Tea Party as a model for re-engaging people with politics, and also encouraged Labour activists to support David Cameron's Big Society project.

The MP For Stoke On Trent was speaking at a conference fringe event, organised by the RSA on reaching out to disengaged former voters, when he said:

"Should we be wholly opposed to the Tea-Party? I mean of course politically we are opposed to the Tea Party, but is it a bad thing in terms of politics? Here is a group of people, upset by the way politics is going, they've got together, formed pressure groups, demanded political change, they're influencing politics. Seems quite a good thing.

"I dont like the way it's going, but as a political model, is the Tea Party necessarily a bad thing? I don't think it is. I want more tea parties on the left, in a sense."

The charismatic TV historian made some other comments which seemed rather off-message, saying: "I think we should support the Big Society, I'm very pro-Big Society. We're organising an event in Stoke On Trent for charities to come together to work out how to raise funds. That is the Big Society and I think it's the Labour tradition, the co-operative, mutualist tradition and I think we need to be doing more of that."

He went on to suggest changes to Britain's unions over the past decade may have led to the Labour Party itself being less democratic.

"The amalgamation of the trade union moment over the last 10 to 15 years, has that increased democracy, has that increased an active civil society? Is our politics a better place...just as our corporations have amalgamated, the amalgamation of the unions has, for the Labour party, affected our democracy."