Labour Strategy

12May10

Sunny has started the ball rolling on what future labour strategy should now be. I agree with the main conclusion that Labour needs to be a broad church, and keep the centre ground, avoiding 1983-esque stupidity. So here are some more specific suggestions:

  1. Don’t have a new leader for the first 18 months. Get a labour veteran in as a caretaker whilst the party sets out to renew itself and discusses what it is for.
  2. Don’t vilify the lib dems for taking the deal. The conservatives were the only ones able to make a realistic offer of coalition, a second election soon would have bankrupted them and left Cameron with a large majority. The lib dems got a far better deal than their position indicated. If they get vilified now, then they will move closer to the tories. It is essential that the possibility of a future deal with them remains.
  3. Let the press do your work for you. Spending cuts will lead to service levels dropping and the media will go out to find scare stories of patients dying. All labour needs to do in this circumstance is emphasise they are the party of public services.
  4. Think Local. In seats with established labour MPs the swing to the conservatives was far less than those where the candidate was new. This suggests experience and local reputation are extremely important. The lesson for marginal constituencies  and other areas when retirements/deaths create vacancies is that candidates need to be local and have established track records locally – whether through local government or as local businessmen or charity directors.
  5. A side effect of this is that central party control and parachuted candidates are not effective. The party itself needs to devolve and de-centralise, and to take a positive view of dissent.
  6. The labour party needs to be the vehicle through which opposition takes place, and expressed in parliament. This means raising concerns and issues not traditionally associated with the labour party; eg: High Fuel Prices,
  7. Build left wing infrastructure – create blogs, fund think tanks and use online techniques to promote the party.
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5 Responses to “Labour Strategy”

  1. Ace! Can we have this on LC as a guest post?

  2. 2 Tom

    I’m not sure about 4 and 5… yes, established MPs did better than new candidates. But is there anything to show that ‘parachuted’ new candidates did better than local new candidates? Luciana Berger, perhaps the most notorious ‘parachute’ candidate, increased the Labour share of the vote by 3.6%; meanwhile Jonny Reynolds lost 10.1% of the vote, despite being a councillor in the constituency and having worked for the outgoing MP.

    Obviously these are just two individual examples (though they are the first that came to mind, rather than having been cherry-picked for the occasion), and I’m sure there are other counter-examples. But I think the picture is too complicated to say that local candidates make the difference, without a more detailed assessment; it’s too easy to confuse local credentials with an incumbency otherwise.

  3. 3 MatGB

    Pretty much agree with those points. Warning though; thinking local didn’t necessarily help the LDs, some of the MPs we lost were very popular, known local candidates, we lost some to both other parties.

    But of them, as with you, some were implicated by expenses &c, so I think that’s a bigger explanation. But yes, we didn’t hold several of our former seats where there was a new candidate, to the detriment of the Parlt party, where our %age of female MPs, for example, went down from an already too low level that this GE was supposed to address 😦

    And yes, as a LD on the very left of the party, who joined partially to campaign against some of the deeply illiberal measures Labour started implementing in the later stages of the administration, it’s vital that the party, and activists, are constructive about this; many of us would have preferred to work with a sane Labour party, and would’ve been happy in coalition in 1997.

    Good to see constructive approach.

  4. Sunny,

    Yeah totally fine – if you see something on here you like, you can use it without asking 🙂


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